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Reclaiming Your Power

Monday, July 06, 2009

I found this article on Insecurity over at the Daily Om. It seemed appropriate to this project, because I have this idea that a person with a good sense of self-worth wouldn't be plagued by insecurities and self-doubt.

self confidence

What I had hoped to find was something useful, new, thought provoking, or interesting -- maybe even a solution to my own issues of inadequacy and defeatism. I was disappointed. By itself, this article is just a lot of pretty words and nice talk. However, and this is why I'm posting it here, when I take it apart, piece by piece, I began to discover what my own ideas are.

So, here's the dissection - I'd love to read your thoughts on it as well.

  • There is an innate awkwardness to being human.
    I love this sentence. It gives me a sigh of relief, a knowing that it's OK to be awkward and human, like I now have permission to be me, and I'm not alone in my imperfection and gracelessness.
  • With each decision we make, there is the potential for self-doubt
    Yes, with each decision we make there IS the potential for self-doubt and that's because our decisions don't always take us where we want to go. Sometimes a decision is a good one - meaning that the results feel good, bring us what we want, or put us on a path that is rewarding and interesting.

    On the other hand, the decisions we make often take us into uncharted, uncomfortable, and even dangerous territory. If that happens too many times, we find ourselves unable to just "leap" into life without first testing the waters, creating a safety net, assembling our allies and helpers, talking endlessly about all the "what-ifs," and putting it off until either the decision is made FOR us, or the way is so obviously clear that failure is either inevitable or impossible.
  • and it is this-self doubt that forms the root of insecurity—a complex emotion that is a mix of equal parts inadequacy, isolation, fear, and hopelessness.
    Actually, I'm not sure that insecurity is exactly that. I did an online search for synonyms and came up with the following from and I think it's more expressive of how I feel when I am experiencing self-doubt and insecurity:

    built upon sand, critical, crumbling, dangerous, defenseless, endangered, exposed, expugnable, fraught with danger, guardless, guideless, hanging by a thread, harborless, helpless, in danger, insecure, nightfoundered, not out of the wood, on slippery ground, on the brink, on the edge, on the rocks, on the verge of a precipice, on the verge of a volcano, on the wrong side of the wall, precarious, shaky, under fire, unprepared, unprotected, unsafe, unshielded, unstable, unsteady, untrustworthy, vulnerable.

    I especially like "nightfoundered." It brings up images of storms, and sinking ships, and lost at sea, along with an element of excitement and aliveness... life on the edge... where at least you tried - maybe you tried and failed - but at least you tried, at least you were on that ship, heading for that port in the storm, and maybe the furies will take pity on you... and will you be washed up on some exotic beach, in some totally new place, and how bad would that be really ...

    I like that image so much that I'm going to make it part of my self talk the next time I find myself in that insecure doubting anxious place... I'm just going to say - "Looks like I've nightfoundered! Toss all the excess baggage overboard!" And I think I'll need to do more than just say it... I think I'll have to go outside and yell it into the wind!
  • Yet these feelings of insecurity that prevent us from fulfilling our potential by inducing us to abide by arbitrary self-limitations are nothing more than erroneous perceptions.
    Here is where I begin to disagree in a big way. If you grab a hot pan off the stove and burn your hand, that's not an erroneous perception. When you find yourself in one abusive relationship after another, or when every money making idea you have goes up in flames, when you decide to drink and drive and wreck your car.... Those are NOT erroneous perceptions. They are the results of decision making gone awry. When I decide to do X and ABCD and E falls on my head, and it's uncomfortable, and hurtful, and I'm reeling from it emotionally, that's NOT an erroneous perception. That's a life experience.
  • We feel unconfident and unsure of ourselves because we judge ourselves to be so.
    I'll concede the point here. Yes, I do think that our stories about ourselves create who we are. If I am "nightfoundered" and the story I tell myself is that I'm alive, and resourceful, and that it was a whale of a storm, and thank God the lifeboats are intact, and immediately turn my mind to how to get off the rocks and on to shore - then I'm no longer paralyzed and lacking confidence. On the other hand, if I'm wringing my hands, and crying, and saying "why me" and "how could I be so stupid" and more of the same, then yes, the story is quite a bit different, and maybe I'll be staying on those rocks, or bobbing around in the icy dark for way a lot longer than I have to.
  • Banishing insecurity is often simply a matter of challenging ourselves in order to prove that we are indeed intelligent and able.
    Yes, this is probably true. And it's way easier said than done. I don't especially like the flippant way this is tossed out - "simply a matter of..." Newly acquired insecurity might be simple - you get on a bicycle for the first time, and when you fall off, you "simply" get back on until you learn how to ride it. The more times you fall off, the less frightening it is, and pretty soon you've got bicycle riding mastered. On the other hand, deeply rooted insecurity has a long history of painful failure and humiliation fueling it. So, let's not call it a "simple" thing. Let's call brave and daring. I think it takes courage to put yourself on the line like that. Real courage.
  • When we feel insecure, we not only perceive ourselves as incapable of meeting life’s challenges but also fraudulent and unworthy of true happiness.
    This is true for me, and I wonder why. Why would I tell myself that I'm fraudulent and unworthy of true happiness when I feel inadequate to the task of meeting the challenges of life?
  • We move through life plagued by a sense that others have judged us and found that we are lacking.
    Yes. This is big. I don't even know what to say about it except that this is exactly how I feel much of the time. How to get over it? I don't know.
  • As a result, we are robbed of our personal power and rendered unable to feel positive about the choices we make.
    And this is how give our power away. This is where we sell out. The opinions of others become more important than our opinions of ourselves. The needs of others become more important than our own. How other people see us becomes extremely important because it feels as if our very survival depends on their good opinion. So we base our decisions, we make choices, we do what we do in an attempt to control the people around us, to persuade them to think well of us. We hide who we really are, we forget who that even is because we focus and concentrate so hard on what we imagine to be "good" and "acceptable" in someone else's eyes.
  • Everyone feels insecure from time to time
    OK... I agree that everyone has feelings of insecurity. I am pretty sure that every person you meet is struggling with self-doubt, worries about how their decisions will turn out, and might even be assuming a completely false identity in order to win YOUR approval. And that's something to think about, isn't it? Your false face meets their false face, assumptions are made, adjustments are done, and you lose even more of your self even as they lose more of themselves. Pretty soon nobody has any integrity, we're all running around trying to find approval in the pretend people we think we know but don't really know because they are pretending as well. WOW. That's a mind boggler isn't it?
  • because each of us is born into the world with unique strengths.
    I know this is true... and yet... not really. It sounds true, but do I experience it as true? Do I even know what my own unique strengths are? I'm not sure I do. I'd probably have to ask someone... Wow! How's that for an "approval seeking" idea! What about you? What are your unique strengths?
  • If you should find yourself with feelings of insecurity, however, endeavor to understand its source.
    This sounds like a good idea. Worth investigating.
  • Perhaps you were repeatedly berated as a child
    We were all probably berated, humiliated, and possibly beaten or abandoned as children. I don't know a single person who didn't have a painful childhood. I actually have a theory that our painful childhood experiences give us tools and grit and that without them we might be weak and inept. Look at what happens if a baby eagle is not allowed the long and difficult process of pecking its way out of the egg - it dies.
  • or seldom receive positive reinforcement in the present.
    Every person around you was humiliated at least once, berated a thousand times, put down, knocked down, slandered, and wrongly punished in those long difficult growing up years. So... be kind. Be kind to the people around you, and be kind to yourself. You are not "less than" and no one else is "more than" we are just how we are. And who we are is fine. Who we are is acceptable. And, actually, who we are is pretty amazing! You don't need someone else to give you positive reinforcement - you need to give it to yourself.
  • A tendency to withdraw from risk or uncomfortable situations can amplify feelings of insecurity.
    I totally agree. So just get out there and do it. if you want to run with the big dogs, you have to get off the porch. If you want a life that's worth living, today is the day to get started.

    What's the worst that can happen? You'll fall on your ass? So what! That's how you learned to ride your bike. You'll fail miserably? OK... again, so what! Every one is bound to fail at any number of things. No one will like you? Oh come on... that's just silly. People love a loser because it makes them feel compassion, and people love a winner because it makes them feel hopeful, and people love you for your faults and your flaws more than your perfections because it makes you more human, more approachable, and more real. You'll lose everything? So, think about this. Eventually, at the end of this thing called life, you're going to "lose" everything anyway. Afraid of something different? I'm sure you can come up with your own "So what" answers.

There you have it. I've pretty much said everything I can think of. Here's the rest of it:

  • When you have pinpointed the origin of your insecurity, focus on your abilities. The more you utilize your personal power—by taking risks, boldly facing challenges, and acting decisively—the stronger it will grow.

    Remember that insecurity is not objective. Rather, it is an emotional interpretation of your value unconsciously based on doubt, shame, and fear. As you overcome those underlying emotions through courageous action and copious self-love, you’ll discover that you are capable of achieving more than you ever thought possible.

Want to read the original article without my observations and comments? Here's a link: Insecurity - Reclaiming Your Power


Cindy H said...

I like the way you broke it all down and talked about it. Very illuminating! I had to LOL about the part where it talks about what our unique qualities are and you said you don't know, you would have to ask someone - I was thinking the same thing! It is very unfortunate that we subconsciously constantly seek others' approval whether we are aware of it or not.

I have to disagree about the painful childhood thing, though. I did NOT have a painful childhood and I know others who also did not, yet we struggle with self doubt and self worth, too. I also know lots of people who did have painful childhoods, yet overcame them.

And then there are those whose perception of their childhoods is painful, even though it may have not really been. Case in point, my son, who had lots of love, encouragement, never went hungry, always had a warm dry place to live and plenty of toys, yet according to him, had a "horrible" childhood. Really??

I think sometimes too much blame is placed on one's parents and childhood when the problems may have already been there - maybe we wrote them into our chart when we came to this life, maybe we had a difficult childhood in a previous life. But I think it's a cop out to blame our parents for our problems.

I am amazed at "perception" and how even the most simple idea can be perceived by different people simultaneously as good or bad. Even within ourselves, perception changes depending on our moods.

I think the crux of the matter is to try to change our self-talk, try to see things in relative terms, and try to stay positive.

I hope all this made sense???

shirley said...

Hi Cindy - good point about the painful childhood thing. And you are absolutely right about perceptions - I love that insight about how our perceptions change with our moods.

msvb19 said...

sometimes i think people think it is the "in" thing to have a painful childhood. mine did the best with what they had. you can always find someone that had it worse and i just keep on working on making mine better. like this one lady that wanted to know if the med i was taking made me depressed no it just helped with the problem.

Michelle said...

I really liked the breakdown on this, too. I know that feelings of insecurity and inacequacy plague me all the time, and even though they were rooted in my childhood, it is me that can not seem to overcome them. Yesterday, when we talked about friends, and what they meant to us, my list was pretty short. And I realized that I don't expect a lot out of people because I don't want to end up disappointed. However, I expect humanly impossible things from myself. And when I don't live up to those expectations, I am totally disappointed in myself. If I can't even accomplish what I think I should, there is where a lot of my inadequacy comes from. Then, because I feel inadequate in my own mind, I project that on to other people and feel insecure about what they think about me. I feel that because I have made horrible decisions where men are concerned, that I can't trust myself. One of the biggest things I need in a friendship is trust....the next big thing is I have to respect a friend. I don't respect myself because I feel constantly disappointed about not living up to my own expectations about myself. The next thing on my list was being nurturing, which I am to everyone else but myself. Because of all the disappointment in myself I feel I don't deserve to be nurtured. This causes even more insecurity because if I don't deserve it from myself, then how could I deserve it from anyone else? It's interesting to uncover all of these revelations, but now, how to stop it? I have no idea. Then I feel insecure about my own ability to fix this problem. Obviously, all of this inadequacy and insecurity is definitely directly related to the lack of self esteem I have. Whether it is caused by it or a symptom of it, I am not sure. However, this is definitely making me have a lot of self-dialogue about my own idiosyncrasies. Now we need some concrete methods to overcome these feelings and perceptions of ourselves. :)

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