Insecurity thrives in the cases of war, not finding work, growing up within a troubled family or violent atmosphere, or feeling that your systems of belief and thought are not helping you within today’s world. Here, we will focus on emotional insecurity. A mysterious cold feeling of fear that grows inside you, changing you and many things about your life. It is a feeling that forces you to shrink and cuts your eyes from seeing the world. Most often, it is associated with feelings of lack of confidence, self doubt and a desire to withdraw.
It is a feeling we learn and keep most of the time within our difficult environments. In our Arab societies, it is ok for a female to feel insecure, while society pushes men towards hiding their feelings, which helps insecurities grow and take control of peoples lives for many years. Men lose the ability to realize how they feel and they end up building walls to hide their feelings. Insecurity is a feeling of constant fear and a questioning of the self. A critical voice emerges within you that tells you you are in danger, that you are not good enough, that you are a loser who has no control over his life, that you are less than everyone else.
The Origins of Insecurity:
- The unsafe surrounding environment: When you live in a place that is not safe, when you feel that your life is in danger in many times, it is normal to feel insecure. You learn that feeling and it stays with you even sometimes when things are beautiful and safe. It is not your fault, but you can become stronger, and overcome it.
- Realistic self criticism is necessary for you to grow. However, the critical inner voice that often paralyses you from doing what helps you move forward in life is different. It is something you heard before which over expanded. The critical inner voice was once an escape method for someone who felt insecure or afraid. Perhaps a parent or a grandparent who went through difficult conditions in their lives that made them insecure, when they don’t give themselves the time to heal, when they run away from it, they could eventually pass that critical voice to you. When you are young, maybe you had someone always blaming you for things you tried to do. Someone who told you you were not smart enough, not good looking or not able to do something. Someone who made you feel you were not good enough or that you were different in a negative way. Or perhaps one of your parents was not there for you when you needed them. When parents are not there when their children need them, children develop an insecure attachment style, feeling that they are not worthy of love and care. That the world is not a safe place for them. We will speak about that later.
- Besides having origins in early childhood attachment, insecurity can come from societal pressure that makes you feel less than others. When you use Instagram for example, studies show that you are very prone to feel insecure, when you compare your appearance, your lifestyle and so on, to others. Excessive use of social media, or chasing money and power rather than a meaningful life can make people feel insecure and empty. It is a symptom of our modern lives. People nowadays are often evaluated by how much capital or power they have, most insecure people keep judging others, covering up for their own insecurities by judging others and making them feel insecure. Your own perfectionism can be a cause of your insecurity. When you have a perfect image of yourself, that can put so much pressure on you in a way that actually paralyzes you from becoming what you want to be. Insecurity often grows after a recent failure, it takes time for you to regain your confidence and become functional again. You can reduce that time with practice and learning.
Sometimes people should really should be feel insecure, when things are difficult in their lives. It is a natural response. The problem arises when that feeling is passed through generations and when it takes over your life even at times in which you are actually very safe.
You could be laying in your bed having many thoughts you don’t know what to do with, making you feel very negative and steeling you away from living your life. When people are judged so harshly that they can’t live their lives authentically, they could hide who they are, or how they want to be, not showing that to others, giving insecurity space to grow under the surface of whole societies, such as in our Arab societies.
How to begin defeating insecurity:
If that critical voice within you keeps putting you down, you can learn to observe it when it starts, put it in its right place, and develop your self esteem to replace it. You can start by not making yourself your own enemy, and realizing that that voice sometimes is irrational and not helping. Insecurity is an emotion you learnt, that finds words you talk to yourself with. Self esteem is also a feeling. It is not a perfect image you develop about yourself. You need to start by supporting the feeling in you that you are good enough. You are a person in this world and no one is perfect. No one has to be, because perfection is an illusion. The second thing you need to change is your image of success or perfection. You can’t change everything overnight. It takes years for people to develop and evolve. The way our economies are structured pushes you to feel a constant need to grow, we’ll talk about that later.
A step to changing this belief is to recognize that we the one observing the “self” image. We can not be the “self” image we are looking at. We are the one doing the looking.
Overcoming critical inner voices:
1- The first step of Voice Therapy involves vocalizing your self-critical thoughts in the second person. Imagine someone scared and weak telling you: “You are so stupid. You will never be successful.” This process helps you to separate from these vicious attacks by seeing them as an external enemy instead of your real point of view.
2- Reflecting on where these voices come from, do they remind you of anyone in particular within your past? To feel more empathetic with yourself and others.
3- Usually the hardest step. You will answer back to your voice attacks, expressing your real point of view. As if someone else is saying these ideas to you, you should answer realistically and empathetically.
4- finding what areas of your life are most influenced by the presence of insecurity.
5- Final step, making a plan to change behaviors, don’t expect miracles, it takes a lot of time.
this process will not be easy. With change always comes anxiety. These defenses and critical inner voices have been with you your whole life, and they can feel uncomfortable to challenge. When you do change, expect the voices to get louder. Your insecurities aren’t likely to vanish overnight, but slowly, through perseverance, they will start to weaken. Whenever you notice an attack come up, stand up to it and don’t indulge in its directives. If you want to study, don’t fall for the trap of escaping till it’s late and then giving the rest of your attention to critical voices.