Insecurity – A Painful Waste of Time

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You have no reason to feel insecure. None whatever.

And here is why.

Insecurity is generated by what you tell yourself about a situation. For example

  • You attend a cocktail party and nobody even seems to notice you let alone speak to you. So how do you respond especially if you are an introvert?  Some people adapt to the situation and find one person who seems interesting and start a conversation. Others say to themselves, “This too shall pass!” and then hunker down and endure the event.
  • You pass your boss in the hallway and he does not even look at you. In fact he has a sour look on his face.

Both examples are quite typical and normal.  But it is what some of us do next that produces personal misery. We take the situation personally and ruminate

I was completely ignored. They did not like me. ”

“The boss is mad at me. What did I do wrong?”

Now think about that for a minute and examine the logic of the situation.

Are there not other interpretations of these events?

Could not everyone at the party have been equally self-conscious except for the extroverts who were holding court and/or working the room?

Could the boss not have just had a fight with one of his kids and is still simmering with anger?

Why were you so vulnerable to a look or body language?

Here are some facts about insecurity. You are vulnerable when

  1. You were raised in a family where you were consistently criticized or actively ignored with the withdrawal of love. It becomes a “hot button” issue for you.
  2. You were marginalized or bullied at school because you were different from the other children. A real sore spot for you.
  3. You are, as they say in AA, hungry, angry, lonely, or tired (HALT). A physical weak link for you.
  4. The negativity flowing your way was not imagined. It really happened and is especially toxic. It is a real downer for you.
  5.  You begin to analyze the problem from the perspective of the other by labeling them neurotic, entitled, snobbish or whatever you imagine them to be. You are not really qualified to diagnose.

Here are some ways to manage insecurity.

  1. Choose not to take it in.

Let what you think people are thinking be more like water on a duck’s back than water on a sponge. Easier said than done you may say. But think about it. The thought that disturbs you e.g. “He was looking at me critically” is just that – a thought and not a fact. And even if it were a fact and the person in question had an intense dislike of you, do you really have to melt down? Does one’s life rise and fall with the opinion of one disgrutled person?

2.  Recognize that most people are self-focused.

The unfriendly look on the person’s face may be because they are feeling embarrassed or have gas! Or it could be an artifact of culture that confuses us. When I worked in China I learned that a smile could mean several different things from “welcome to my country” to “what strange ways you Westerners have”.

3.   Be aware that there is nothing wrong with the real you.

We can grow to recognize that the real person in us is “acceptable as is” and “unconditionally loved” (See my previous blog on the Message of the Universe to you)

4. Practice detachment from the opinion of others

If I don’t really know what another person is really thinking/feeling (unless they are giving me actual verbal feedback) I may as well just accept the fact that “I don’t know”. The recognition that I don’t have control of the situation does a lot to minimize the thrashings of my mind trying to control the situation. Some call this surrender. It does not have to be fatalistic but just an acceptance of what is.

So relax. If you are going to laugh about this situation one day you might as well do so now. That’s far better than twisting yourself into an emotional pretzel in a situation that you can’t figure out or control.


Why spoil your day based on something you misinterpreted or overanalyzed?

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About cedricj

I am a licensed psychologist and management consultant and have always been intrigued by how leaders can inspire people in their organizations. The bottom line is that people are not always motivated by material rewards, the use of the carrot or the stick, fear and intimidation,and command and control, Five human needs inspire and drive us. Kristine S MacKain, Ph.D and myself describe these inspirational forces in our book "What Inspirational Leaders Do" (Kindle 2008)
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