Insecurity is described as a lack of confidence in your abilities, worth and not being sure that people like you1.
We all have that one thing or things about ourselves we wish we could change. These can result in the development of insecurities about ourselves, which can decrease our self-esteem and negatively affect our relationships with others.
No matter how long you have had your insecurities, you can overcome them and become your most confident self.
Our beliefs about ourselves are immensely influenced by our upbringings. Someone might have said or done something to you that made you feel and see yourself as inadequate. It might have been comments on your appearance or your abilities, you might’ve been bullied at school or had something tragic happen to you that left you with a lifetime of emotional scars.
On the flipside, your insecurities might’ve been caused by something that was never said or done that you needed to hear/feel.
You might’ve never heard the words “I love you” or “you’re beautiful”. Maybe no one ever did anything for you on your birthday, or you didn’t get into that team you so longed to be part of.
Whatever the reason and whoever it was, the only way to free yourself is through forgiveness.
Holding onto grievances hurts you more than it hurts the people who caused it. Some of them may not even be aware that they’ve hurt you, others may know and not show any remorse. Just remember that forgiving them doesn’t mean you’re condoning their actions or that justice shouldn’t be served, you’re doing it to liberate yourself from the anger and bitterness that comes with holding on to hurt.
You should also forgive yourself for the mistakes you've done, the lies you've believed about yourself and the unkindness you've directed towards yourself.
Forgiveness is a journey, the negative emotions will still be there for a while even after you’ve taken the decision to let go.
Be patient with the process and with yourself.
Also, don’t take everything people say or do personal, most of the time it has nothing to do with you. People project their self-image onto others, which is why you must invest the time to heal your hurts; so you don’t project them onto others. Love yourself first and take good care of you.
Check out these self-care tips for some ideas.
2. Words of affirmation
The mind is an incredibly powerful tool and you can use it to work for you. Your mind believes whatever you tell it, if you’re constantly feeding it negative information about yourself it will believe it without question.
So feed it positive things. When negative thoughts come along, challenge and counter them with positive things about yourself.
You are enough, you always have been. No matter what your flaws may be, no matter how many mistakes you’ve done in your life, how you look or what you have/do not have. You have an innate worth that is priceless.
You can write a list of positive affirmations down and paste them on your wall or mirror, any place that you see every day.
Another great place is the wallpaper of your phone. Speak these out loud to yourself every morning, night, or whenever negative thoughts arise.
You won’t see the changes instantly but overtime you’ll start to notice you’re developing a positive self-image and it’ll show in your confidence.
Meditation and prayer are great ways to gain self-awareness and clarity on life.
Unless you are self-aware you cannot execute any changes that need to be made or accept what cannot be changed.
So take time during your day to meditate, focus on what truly matters and realise your worth.
Find a quiet and comfortable place, take deep breaths and clear your mind. It will be hard to silence the noise in your mind at first but with time and practice it will get better.
This will make you more conscious of your thoughts & actions and equip you with the power to change them to your best self.
4. Embrace your whole being
Your uniqueness is your superpower, embrace it. Even the things you consider to be your flaws are the reason why there is only one you, your life purpose doesn’t need you to be a copy of somebody else.
If you can change something you don’t like and you want to then by all means go ahead and change it. Some things though cannot be changed; embrace them.
Change the perspective with which you view them, they only become limitations when you think of them as such.
Remember that nobody is perfect but we all have something good to offer the world.
5. Keep good company
The people we spend most of our time with greatly impact our thinking.
If you’re repeatedly told something negative about yourself you end up believing it even if it’s not true.
That is why you should hang around people who inspire you and bring out the best in you, who speak positively of you in an honest manner. How those close to you see you will affect how you see yourself, so choose wisely.
Sometimes it's also how they speak of themselves, certain behaviours are contagious. If they have an inferiority complex you might start believing you're also not good enough. Surround yourself with people who see the beauty in themselves and in you inspite of whatever you consider to be flaws.
6. Control your social media feed
Ever heard the saying “the grass always looks greener on the other side”?
Before the era of social media the only people whose lawns you saw were your neighbours, now you have the whole world to compare against which has its pros and cons.
One con is that it can make you feel inadequate seeing others live a seemingly perfect life.
What you must remember though is that people only post their highlights on social media, nobody has a perfect life. We all have problems even though they come in different forms and sizes.
One way to make sure social media isn’t feeding your insecurities is to limit the time you spend on it and the type of content you consume. Only follow content that is useful and edifying, if it leaves you feeling and thinking negatively about yourself then you should unfollow.
7. Don’t compare
Comparison is a big thief of joy and peace. Do not compare yourself or your life to somebody else’s.
We’re all created differently and our journeys are not the same.
Instead of comparing yourself with others (which can breed jealousy, envy and feelings of inadequacy) focus all that energy on your growth, healing and achieving your goals. Once you do that, you’ll start to see you have a lot to offer and many wonderful things to be grateful for.
8. Do what you’re afraid of doing
Our insecurities can create fears in us and they’re all based on the lies we choose to believe about ourselves.
You might be afraid of public speaking because you’re afraid people won’t like you. Or you’re not pursuing your dreams because you’re afraid you’ll fail.
Whatever it is, sometimes the only way to overcome your fears is to face them head on.
Start small, start afraid, start even with the limited resources you have, just start! You’ll find that you are more than capable and the monsters you’re afraid of are just shadows of ants.
Written by Babalwa Mpolongwana