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Rising Above Insecurity: Strategies for Self-Exploration and Empowerment

Man at the beach

Insecurity can be rooted in inherent traits, personal experiences and trauma. Our current society enhances insecurities. Media and social media's pervasive influence encourages unrealistic beauty and lifestyle expectations, fostering insecurity by promoting unreachable ideals. The detrimental cycle of repeatedly failing the comparison to unrealistic expectations shapes negative self-talk and self-perception, hindering personal growth and negatively impacting self-esteem.

Recognising and challenging insecurities is vital for overcoming self-doubt. Questioning perfectionistic standards and engaging in self-exploration and self-care are crucial steps in breaking free from the cycle of insecurity and encouraging personal empowerment. Understanding how insecurity works and where it comes from can help you work on yourself and overcome the obstacle keeping you away from the authentic you.

Woman at the mirror

Pretending to be someone that you are not is hurting yourself.

It’s telling yourself that the real you is worthless.

Ritu Ghatourey

Insecurity: Exploring Your Narrative

Insecurity can have diverse sources:

  • Innate personality trait

  • Difficult early childhood experiences

  • Complicated relationships between close family members

  • Challenging attitudes from peers in childhood and adolescence

  • Traumatic experiences

Experiences of shame, guilt, or feeling unworthy can deeply scar one's self-esteem, making space for self-doubt and insecurities.

Furthermore, when unwelcome feelings persist, one might subconsciously accept them as true. Childhood is a self-centred age; children absorb information broadly, and their immature cognitive ability makes them believe everything turns around them, making them vulnerable to every emotional element surrounding them.

For instance, criticism, even when not expressed directly to the child, will make the child feel automatically responsible for what is happening, influencing their self-perception and beginning a pattern of engaging in self-criticism.

All these aspects mould the inner critical voice, leading to the building of self-deprecating thoughts, which gradually becomes everyday norm. Common thoughts are:

  • I'm unattractive.

  • I never manage to do anything right.

  • I'm fat.

  • I'm such a loser.

  • I'll never make friends.

  • No one will ever love me.

  • I’ll never accomplish anything.

  • What’s the point in even trying?

This inner voice often amplifies when approaching goals or taking on new challenges. Subtle reactions often start subconsciously by making one shy away, focusing on what is going wrong, finding excuses, ending relationships abruptly, leaving school, or quitting a job. While maintaining self-sabotaging attitudes, one wonders about these persistent life patterns.

faith over fear

It's when we play safe that we create a world of utmost insecurity.

Dag Hammarskjold

Insecurity: Challenging Unreasonable Ideals

Fortunately, there are ways to break free from this cycle. Once aware of your insecurities and their impact on your life, you can start challenging them.

Start by challenging negative self-talk and changing old useless habits with new positive ones. But first, you need to self-examine to understand how to overcome the issue.

  • Can you distinguish between your current feelings and your overall identity? Feeling sad doesn't make you a sad person.

  • Are you a perfectionist? Examine if these standards were self-imposed or influenced by others. Adjust expectations if they no longer serve you.

  • Observe your self-talk. Pay attention to the language you use with yourself.

  • Reflect on when self-blame began. Were you once happy and outgoing? Small events might have significantly shaped your current self-perception.

  • Evaluate your beliefs. Differentiate between what's real and what's influenced by insecurities. Challenge negative thoughts about yourself.

  • Do others seem to have a better life? It is simply a different attitude to cope with challenges. Everyone carries their invisible burden.

woman at the beach

“The real difficulty is to overcome how you think about yourself.”

Maya Angelou

Insecurity: A Path to Personal Empowerment

Being aware of the source of your insecurities will allow you to challenge negative self-talk and begin to have a more realistic view of yourself. To help you improve this situation even further:

  • Practice self-compassion and mindfulness regularly. 

  • Use the same talk toward yourself you would use with someone you love.

  • Journal to become aware of negative thoughts and fears. Transform them into positive ones. 

  • Notice the positive aspects about yourself, and keep them in mind.

  • Practice regular self-care, find what helps you get closer to your true self, and explore your values.

  • When anxiety arises, turn down the struggle switch

  • Set up realistic goals.

  • Be open to changing plans when necessary.

  • Allow family and friends to be a source of comforting feelings.

Final Thoughts

Releasing long-established patterns requires effort. Overcoming the inherent resistance to change can induce anxiety, especially when challenging familiar habits. As you approach change, expect resistance. Insecurities won't vanish instantly, but persistence will reduce them over time. Recognise your strengths, align with your values, and practice self-compassion to evolve into the person you aspire to be.

When unpleasant feelings sit too long, it's time to reach out. Remember that you don't have to face everything alone; find someone you can trust to talk to. A helpline, a support group, your GP or a counsellor can make a difference and offer support.

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