Can you remember back far enough into your infancy or early childhood to a time when the world was your oyster, and you felt utterly secure in your own skin and under your own power?
Let’s all think back to what it must have been like at birth: we were utterly helpless without the nurturance we received from our parents or other caregivers, but by squalling when we were hungry or tired, we got the help we needed to stay alive and comfortable. That’s how early we learned about our ability to make things happen — and sometimes even how to make things happen, how to raise a ruckus to get help NOW!
If your earliest caregivers were decent, they let you explore and create, experiment, and learn without causing you to doubt your own proficiency, even as underdeveloped as you were at that age. They never let you question your ability to create something from nothing, or to learn a new skill.
Even as you learned to crawl and walk, every advance in your motor skills level was celebrated with smiles and applauded as if you had just won the Gold Medal in gymnastics at the Olympics.
And as you segued from having training wheels on your first bike to balancing and riding on your own without them, you were followed by someone shouting encouragement and fanfare: “Good job! Way to go! Look, you’re doing it!”
And when you fell while learning to walk or ride (as you certainly did, many times), no one castigated you or called you a loser. You were always a champion; sometimes a downed, bruised champion, but a champion still!
One of my students told me she remembered falling onto her belly one time when she was very young, and quickly looking over to her mom, wondering whether she should cry because the fall had surprised and shaken her up. Her mom, wisely, looking equally surprised and certainly unsettled by the fall, but realizing her child hadn’t really been hurt, said, “Oh, my!” Then she asked quickly, “Did you hurt the ground?”
Immediately, her mind as a child went from “Am I hurt?” to “Did I hurt something else when I fell?” Assessing the potential damage, she assured her mother that no, the ground wasn’t hurt (which she knew because it wasn’t crying), and her mom said, “I’m so glad you’re both okay!” And with that, the child could claim another victory, even though she had reached it by falling!
Her mom didn’t caution her to be more careful next time, or get her to question her own ability, or to begin to worry about falling again. In this way, she was shown that falls and missteps happen when you’re on the way to getting better at anything.
On the opposite end of this parenting example are the helicopter parents and caregivers, people who are so fear-based that they communicate to their offspring at every step, “Be careful!” “Don’t get hurt!” “Don’t talk to strangers!” “Don’t touch that!” and negative parents (I won’t call them by the misnomer “caregivers”) “Don’t be a loser!” “Don’t be stupid!” “Don’t even think of trying!”
Before long, children of fear-based or negative caregivers become afraid to get out of bed every morning, or indeed even to go to bed at night, since their nighttime prayer will likely be, “If I should die before I wake…”
Now, obviously, there are times when yelling, “Stop!” and “look out!” is prudent and even lifesaving. But when every new adventure begins with, “Now, you be careful! Don’t get hurt!” it can stunt your ability to feel in control of, and secure about, the outcome. We need to learn to discern for ourselves how dangerous something is, based on our own intuition and degree of expertise.
Just imagine being instructed on how to walk or ride a bike by a helicopter parent or worse! Or maybe you don’t even have to imagine. Perhaps you were raised by a someone like that.
If so, at some point, you probably adopted their cautious/anxious way of viewing the world. Unlike Einstein, who considered the universe friendly, you may consider your world riddled with landmines, any one of which can blow up any minute.
In fact, most insecurity stems from paying far too much attention to other people’s fears, beliefs, and agendas. No one starts out afraid of their ability to make things happen. And everyone starts out wanting to make things happen.
So, at what point do some decide to pull back into their shells, lock the doors, endeavor to be neither seen nor heard, and hope, in this way, to avoid all the perceived danger inherent in making the world the kind of place they want to become a part of?
That point actually happens sometime before starting school. And that’s why it can be so hard to relearn what every infant knows: you’re in charge of your outcome. If you want something, you must ask for it, reach for it, and grab onto it tightly. You must be single-minded, laser-focused, and intent on achieving the outcome you want.
And then, slowly, over time, people start telling you what you should want, what you should think, and what you must do and avoid doing if you want to get along in society without being shunned or cast out.
Fear-raised people listen to those voices and twist themselves into pretzels trying to fit the mold.
Faith-raised (I’m not talking religion here; I’m talking about faith in oneself) people aren’t afraid to color outside the lines. They feel confident and certain of their ability to make their own way based on their developing skill sets and intuition. They know what they are meant to be and do in life. It might mean 80-hour work weeks, like mine, but when you love what you do, it’s a joy to do it. One of my favorite sayings is:
My goal is to create a life I don’t need a vacation from!
How Insecurity Can Show Up
Insecurity can manifest in many ways: procrastination, fear, anger, one-up-man-ship, criticism, and/or the blame game; let’s see if any of them fit.
- Procrastination. If you frequently find yourself putting off things that you know you’re required or need to do, ask yourself why. Which feeling/emotion/fear raises its head whenever you think about tackling the task? Fear of failure? Fear of measuring up? Fear of telling the person you’ll be submitting the result to that you don’t want to do the work? Or perhaps … fear of success? (“If I hit this out of the ballpark, I’ll probably get slammed with more work, throwing a monkey wrench into my best efforts at work-life balance!”) How legitimate is the fear? What would happen if you failed at the task, or if you told your supervisor the task just isn’t in your wheelhouse, or palatable? (The truth will set you free! Most fear is an illusion. Remember, you can set boundaries.)
- Fear. What are you afraid of? Break it down. Envision the absolute worst-case scenario. What’s the worst that would happen, as a consequence, if the worst-case scenario manifested? Now ask yourself, what are the odds of the absolute worst-case scenario happening? As likely, or less likely, than driving your car and getting into an accident? (It’s likely you do a slew of far less risky things every day than simply putting yourself in a tin can on a busy roadway, including the thing you’re afraid of doing!) It’s easy to “catastrophize” when thinking about stepping outside your comfort zone, but where your comfort zone ends is where every grand new adventure begins! (Crawling, walking, biking, parasailing, skydiving, moonwalking, cosmos cruising!)
- Anger. Are you staying stuck because of anger? Are you mad at the person who made you as insecure as you are, or at yourself for being such a Sky-is-falling Chicken Little and not doing anything to evict the imposter?
- One-up-man-ship. Is someone messing with your head? Are they always finding ways to make your accomplishments appear pale and puny compared to theirs?
- Criticism / Compliments. Does a critique, a criticism or even a suggestion for improvement stick in your craw for days, even when you know it’s unfair or off-base? Or do you frequently deny or off-set genuine compliments because they make you feel uncomfortable or fraudulent? That’s insecurity squared! If someone called you a giraffe, you’d just laugh it off. So why do you stew when someone says something unfair or off-base? And why don’t you embrace being complimented by way of a heartfelt, “Why, thank you! You just made my day!” (Denying or minimizing a compliment is a slap in the face to the commenter.)
- Blame Game. Do you blame others for keeping you stuck, or for marginalizing goals or minimizing your advances toward them?
Five Sure-fire Tips to Eject Insecurity
- Forgive. Forgive yourself for buying the lie about your limits. Your ability to create the world and mindset that you want is limitless. Forgive whoever taught you to be insecure. Reclaim the energy that has been set free as a result of your forgiveness, and let it work for you to go after the goals you set aside under the mistaken impression that they were “probably” unachievable or too hard to achieve.
- Meditate. Go inside to your Highest Self and let the knowledge that’s there confirm for you that you’re not late, you’re right on time. You needed to learn what you just learned to take the next step. Start tomorrow walking in faith that you are going to honor your goals by achieving them, step by step.
- Consult Your Spirit Guides. There are scores of spirit guides who help us on Earth reclaim innate powers which we believe we lost due ham-handed upbringing and the resulting insecurities that they set up inside us. There’s a cosmos brimming with guides who exude unconditional love and wisdom who have elevated people just like you and me for as long as there has been a universe and sentient beings (humanoid and other) in it.
- Keep a Journal. Explore the genesis of your insecurities. Realize that they didn’t originate inside you. They were programmed into you by other insecure, fearful, or spiteful agents. You don’t have to claim them; they’re bugs, not features of your operating system. You’re free to delete them. They don’t belong to you. They never did.In your journal, set your insecurity teachers free. They were damaged by whoever taught them about the world. Hurt people hurt people, quite often innocently and without meaning to. They lived with the consequences of the limits that insecurity built; you don’t have to.
- Find an Instructor, Hire a Guide, or Seek a Mentor. If someone you know has succeeded in the ways you’ll need to succeed to reach your goals, see if they’re willing to share with you their secrets for which steps to take to sidestep the mistakes they made and/or the top things they did on the way to reaching their level of success. Now that you’re more confident and committed to attaining your goals, you’ll start thinking about the people who took the path before you, whether you know them or not, so ask them. Most successful people love to be asked because a lot of personal and professional journeys are spellbinding, and most people don’t ask about them.
Successful people are a cornucopia of wit and wisdom about what worked and what didn’t and unless you’re seeking to beat them at their own game, most will be happy to spend some time filling in your knowledge and experience gaps.
One final note on insecurity. You don’t need to banish insecurity to defeat it. All you truly need to do is not let it stop you. We consider first responders and military personnel brave not because they are fearless, but because they rush in where angels fear to tread despite their level of anxiety about the situation and the very real risks they’re taking.
So, whatever your insecurity is trying to keep you from doing, do it anyway. That’s what successful people do. Lots of them are also afraid or insecure: they just don’t let it stop them from doing what they know they are here to do. I know of actors (Sir Laurence Olivier, one of the greatest of all time among them) and speakers who feel ill before every performance. They just don’t let their insecurities keep them from offering their gifts.
So, let the curtain on your tomorrow rise and step onto the stage. Get the help or instruction you need to perform at your best, nerves, insecurities, and all. Over time, as you discover that you that will survive the internalized ordeal, you will begin to relax and enjoy the process of nerves followed by accolades and victories, and then you’ll have others asking you how you did it.
Insecurity is just one of the results of early traumas that we all have to face throughout our lives in one form or another. How these traumas manifest, and when, actually shape us – spiritually, psychologically, and even physically. The key to overcoming these past traumas, to identify what is both drives us and holds us back subconsciously, is to identify your mind/body type first. And if that’s something that you are interested in, consider registering for our never-before-released course: Inner Secrets of You. You can learn more about it by clicking here >>