Why we feel insecure
In our mind we develop images of who we are. Our imagination develops a story of our self and we imagine our self in different roles. Those images and story roles in our imagination can be of a success, or of failure and rejection. It is through imagining our self in various stories that we create emotions of insecurity.
Some of images and stories can be created when we are young, but we can create them as adults as well. One of the most powerful elements in creating emotions through our mind this way has to do with point of view. Imagination gives us the ability to shift our point of view to the character, or image in our mind. When this happens we view our self, and other people through the interpretation of the image we have imagined. Adopting the point of view, or perspective, of this distorted image in our imagination is the cause of many emotions, including insecurity.
If we are imagining that we are a success, a winner, or that people love us, we view our self from this perspective. Not only do we believe our self to be that image of a success, but we look at our self from that point of view. We could call this having positive self esteem. The perspective that we adopt has as much, or more to do with feeling confident than the image we have of our self. However, both are part of creating the feeling and emotions of confidence.
If we have an image in our mind of being a failure, loser, or that nobody loves us, and believe that this negative image us is, then we will feel the corresponding emotions. Belief in that negative self image will cause us to shift our viewpoint to the perspective of a loser, or failure. The result is that our beliefs, perspective, and emotions become congruent and we really appear to our self as a failure that nobody loves. We can call this having negative self esteem.
Feeling insecure is not just based on a mental image in the mind. Creating the feelings of insecurity, or confidence, is a combination of self image, belief in that image, and your point of view. Just changing your self image will do little to overcome your insecurity if you do not change your beliefs, and your point of view as well.
Why it is difficult to get rid of feelings of insecurity
First there is an image in our mind of who we are. When we believe that the image is actually us, we meld our point of view to that perspective in our imagination. When our perspective is shifted to this negative self image it is difficult to see, or believe, anything positive about our self.
When people attempt to get rid of their feelings of insecurity, they try building in their mind a positive a self image. This approach will likely fail or be difficult at best for two reasons. First, it will be difficult to believe in that positive self image while you are in a negative self image point of view.
Second, as long as you still have belief that the negative self image is you, that belief will continue to pull you towards that perspective of your self. The belief (faith) you have in the negative self image acts as an anchor weighing you down until you dissolve this belief. Changing this false belief about your self is critical to dissolving feelings of insecurity. Recovering your faith from this false belief about your self will keep you from creating feelings of insecurity. It is also a key to shifting your point of view about your self.
Building a positive self image does not do anything to dissolve the existing negative self image that is creating the feelings of insecurity. Creating, and believing in a positive self image can help you feel better, but it will be limited. Without dissolving the belief in the negative image feeling confident will be limited. It can also create a conflict in your mind.
Confusion about Self Esteem
What is self esteem? “Esteem” means high regard or opinion.
Self esteem is having an opinion of high regard for your self.
You could also call it self respect.
The imagination is an extraordinary mechanism that allows for may possibilities. We can have negative and positive images of our self, and we can believe in both. We can also perceive our self and our beliefs from different viewpoints. This makes it possible to feel very confident in one moment, and feel very insecure in the next. A shift in our point of view can change depending on who we are talking with, or as fast as the topic we are discussing. We can feel confident in one area of discussion, and insecure about something else.
It is also possible to feel both positive and negative self esteem at the same time. This happens because we can simultaneously hold conflicting beliefs about our self. An example of this might be when you have to give a talk or presentation. Intellectually, you consciously know you are prepared and trust that it will go fine. However you might still have feelings of worry and nervousness. This is because elsewhere within your belief system remains some faith in a failed outcome stemming from a negative self image story.
If you don’t understand how your mind can run multiple stories, has beliefs based on different self images, and how different points of view affects your emotions, it can be very confusing as to why you feel different emotions about the same thing.
Attempting to shed feelings of nervousness by telling your self positive thoughts can help some, but probably isn’t going to do the full trick. Thoughts are not nearly as powerful as beliefs in the negative images or ideas of failure. Beliefs have a lot more power than thoughts because they contain the power of your faith that you invested in them.
Good Self Esteem vs. Bad Self Esteem
Odd feelings can happen when we attempt to make our self feel better by enhancing our positive self esteem, or self image. If we attempt boosting our confidence with tools like affirmations, we can create a conflict in the mind. We envision a positive image of our self and attempt to put faith in the idea that that image is us. The problem we run into is that we might be looking at that image from the point of view of a failure with the feelings of low self worth.
When doing this practice from a negative image point of view we can feel like a fraud. From the negative image point of view we don’t really believe that the positive image is us. If we have awareness we will also know that the image we are projecting is false. It is a good positive image, but still not what we really are. The voices in our head can engage in self judgement over this disparity and possibly push our self esteem lower. As a result we end up feeling worse about our self than before we started trying to improve it.
The Third Option to Overcoming Insecurity
The beliefs that we developed about our self essentially fall into two categories. They have to do with the negative self images we have created in our mind, and the positive self images we have created. When feeling insecure we are in the point of view of the negative self images. From this perspective it appears that the solution is to build positive self images for more positive self esteem and confidence. This is just an appearance from a limited point of view. This approach will help us feel better, but it has problems. The essential problem is that we are not the image we have in our mind. No matter how wonderful and terrific that image is… it is still just an image in our imagination.
The beliefs we have of our self are based on a mental construct we call a self image. They are not based on what we really are, therefore it is not a solid base of confidence. These images exist only as construct in our imagination. Supported by our belief (or faith) in them, they can seem real. However, our self images in the mind are not real. They are not who or what we are.
Basing our emotions, self love, behavior, actions, and self worth, on a mental image in our mind also causes us to be false. When we pretend to be that image in our mind, even a very positive one, we are not in our integrity. We are not genuine or authentic. Having a positive self image, one that you put a lot of faith in, will help you to feel more confident. However, those feelings will be built on a shaky foundation of an abstract mental picture of your self. Anytime your opinion of your self is altered, or your point of view wanders from that perspective, your emotions will follow.
Having a solid base of confidence in which to live your life involves having faith in your Self,,, not in an image of your self. To accomplish this you will have to take your faith out of the beliefs in both the negative and positive self images. This will not only free up your emotions from insecurity, but will allow you to put that faith in your authentic Self. This is a much stronger foundation for confidence than an image in your mind. It will require that you first gain some awareness and control over what is going on in your mind, including your point of view. However, once you do this you discover some pretty interesting things.
One of the things that you discover as you gain control over your beliefs and imagination is that you are not what, or who, you believe you were. You were not those images in the stories that ran around in your imagination. You discover that you can decide story you will create in your imagination and what you are going to believe about your self. With awareness you also learn what perspective you will adopt in any moment about any situation. This will allow you to decide how you will feel emotionally about your self, people, or events in your life.
When we don’t have awareness we developed stories and beliefs about our self and learned to live in emotional reaction to those beliefs. When you learn to change and control your beliefs, you aren’t subject to emotional reactions any more. Learning to control your point of view gives you control over your beliefs, and control over what you believe gives you mastery over your emotions. This takes a little more work than just building a positive self image, but the benefits are bigger, and last you for your life.
Practical exercises in awareness for dissolving false self images, beliefs, and changing your point of view can be found in the Self Mastery Course. The first 4 sessions are free for you to sample.