It’s not what you say out loud to everyone else that determines your life – it’s what you whisper to yourself that has the greatest power.
If you feel unsure of yourself sometimes, I know exactly how you feel. I used to be incredibly unsure of myself… and sometimes I still am.
But it’s not all bad. Heightened self-consciousness, anxiety, an inability to join in, and feeling “different” – they’re really not all bad. Those inner battles have been my angels at times. Without them I would never have disappeared into literature, language, the mind, passionate work, and all the wild intensities that made and unmade me, and shaped me into the person I am today.
But a harsh truth remains: The enemies we encounter in life, especially our own inner demons, use the things we’re insecure about against us.
Which means we can’t hide forever. We have to emerge. We have to grow through our insecurities.
At some point we have to free ourselves and take our power back by being secure in who we are – flaws and all.
This isn’t easy, of course – it’s a journey. And as you embark, here are some important things to keep in mind:
- The story you tell yourself is the story you live by. – Everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Every day. All the time. And that story makes you what you are – it lays the foundation for every action you take or don’t take. You build yourself out of that story.
- Every belittling, insecure thought is unreliable and changeable. – Once you become self-conscious, there is no end to it if you don’t address it; once you start to doubt yourself, there’s no room for anything else until you make a change. You’re going to have to let truth shout louder to your soul than the lies that have infected you.
- A moment of truth is one of your most powerful assets. – Instead of smiling to be polite, just cry when you need to. Instead of laughing when you are nervous or uncomfortable, just speak your truth. Instead of acting like everything is all right, proclaim it isn’t all right – talk about your feelings! Honor yourself. Honor your truth. Be real.
- A little self-focus and self-care goes a long way. – Whenever you are self-conscious you are really just exhibiting that you’re not conscious of who YOU are. You don’t feel comfortable being yourself. If you did, then there would be no problem – you wouldn’t be seeking opinions from others. You wouldn’t be worried what others say about you – it’d be irrelevant! When you are self-conscious you are in trouble. When you are self-conscious you are really showing symptoms that you don’t know who you are inside. Your very self-consciousness indicates that you have not given yourself enough care. (Read The Mastery of Love.)
- The biggest critic lives in your perception of people’s perception of you (not people’s perception of you). – One of the greatest journeys in life is overcoming insecure thoughts and learning to truly not care so much about other people’s opinions. In fact, you will never make a great impression on others until you stop thinking about what sort of impression you’re making.
- Everyone has their own way, which has nothing to do with you. – One big reason we judge each other so bitterly in our society of social comparison and social status: we perceive anyone else who’s doing things differently than what we’re doing as criticizing our decisions. This, of course, is something we need to let GO!
- Your greatest beauty is completely out of sight in shallow social interactions. – Outer beauty is only skin deep. And everyone has ugly days – we’re only human. Focus within, not without. Acting right is better than looking right. Realize that evil can look pretty on the outside. Realize what makes you beautiful beyond looks. You are far more than what can be seen at a glance.
- Unconsciousness can cripple you. – A human being will be imprisoned in a room with a door that’s unlocked and opens inwards, as long as it does not occur to her to pull rather than push. An open, conscious mind is the key. (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Adversity” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- Your struggles have been making you, not breaking you. – Sometimes you must go through difficulties, breakups, rejections and painful wounds, which shatter the flattering image you once had of life, in order to gradually discover two powerful truths: 1) Life is not exactly how you thought it was. 2) The loss of one wonderful pleasure is not necessarily the loss of true, long-term happiness and well being.
- The more you live through and learn through, the more you will realize how much you don’t know. – Research suggests that the so-called “impostor syndrome” that takes place when we suddenly don’t feel “good enough” gets more intense as we grow wiser. The more experienced or accomplished we become, the more likely we are to rub shoulders with ever more interesting, talented and skilled people, leaving us feeling even more inadequate by comparison. So, in a backwards way, if you’re concerned that you don’t measure up, that could very well be a good sign that you actually do measure up just fine.
In the end, you will ultimately come to realize this:
Insecurities have the ability to shape and mold your mind to live with everything that’s bad – like crying on the inside constantly, while smiling on the outside… thus creating endless anxiety.
But there is a solution:
- Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart.
- Forget about what you thought for a moment and appreciate exactly where you are.
- Think positively.
- Be mindful.
- Focus on the ONE meaningful task you can handle in the present.
- Notice the slight, gradual progress you’re making.
In what ways have you struggled with feeling unsure about yourself or your circumstances? How have you coped? Please leave a comment below and share your insights with us.
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Photo by: Theresa Gjolaj