What does it mean to feel insecure? Insecurity is the feeling of inadequacy. It may have various stories in our head or feelings in the body. Insecurity is more from the stories and thoughts we tell ourselves and believe than it is from actually being inadequate. One of the most common stories in our head with insecurity is that other people are judging us or will judge us. The thought of others rejecting us is happening in our own head. So in effect, we are creating this thought of rejection, and then imagining that others are doing it.
There may be areas where we don’t’ measure up to others in some areas, and this may make it appear that our insecurity is based in something real. Except that the external measurement of height, looks, money, or accomplishments don’t directly produce emotions and feelings. Emotions and feelings such as insecurity are created by how our mind interprets and emphases these differences. Everyone could be compared to another person in some way and find them selves less then. They could also pick a different area for comparison and find themselves better than the next person.
The issue of insecurity has more to do with how certain parts of our mind fixate on specific issues, generate judgmental thoughts to produce emotions, and ignore other aspects. This means that resolving insecurity issues means effectively addressing what is happening in the mind to create those feelings.
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In the narrative of these thoughts we create a story about ourselves. In that story in our mind we have a character that is judgmental of us. I call that the Judge. There is also a part of the mind that receives and accepts all the criticism of the Judge. I call this part the Victim. The victim part in the judgmental stories acts as a false identity of who we are. When we are in the perspective of the Victim character we feel like what the Judge says is true. We feel unworthy the way that the Victim character in our story of thoughts would fee. When we identify with the Victim character we see ourselves as unworthy and inadequate. One of the keys to self awareness is to step outside the false identity of the Victim aspect of our mind. This shift in perspective is necessary to not believe the judgmental thoughts.
One of the solutions to this is self-awareness. How does self-awareness help with insecurity and depression? The first way awareness helps is that it allows you to notice that you are not the false identities of the Victim and Judge characters in your mind. Awareness also allows you to see your assumptions and thoughts that are not true. Instead of believing what is going on in your mind, you will be able to be skeptical. With more awareness you will change your beliefs and emotions.
One of the keys to Awareness is to shift perspectives to an Observer. This is a perspective that is different from the Judge and Victim perspectives. From the Judge and Victim perspective all the negative thoughts will appear true. From the Observer perspective these same thoughts will look like lies. If they don’t look like lies right away, you will at least begin to be skeptical of them, which moves you towards changing the beliefs they come from.
The mind is projecting that other people are judging you. This assumes your mind knows what is in other people’s minds. It assumes that other people are judgmental, and that all their judgments are directed to you. These are assumptions with no evidence about how others think. Questioning your thoughts in this way helps to invalidate them. But to do this skepticism effectively you need to be out of the Judge and Victim perspectives. Awareness allows you to be skeptical of your own thoughts.
The mind has this imagined scenario, usually driven by unconscious beliefs, that other people are rejecting you. What is more likely happening is that your mind has a program of beliefs that create rejection, and feelings of rejection, and then hides those beliefs in the story that other people are the ones doing it. The story of it coming from other people distracts you from noticing it is taking place in your own mind. Awareness helps you direct your attention to these false beliefs in your mind and take agency for them so that you can create change. As long as you fall for the mis-direction that these judgements come from other people, you will blame them and not work on what your mind is doing.
Self awareness presses you to be truthful and honest about what is going on. You do not know what is in other people’s minds. You can know what is going on in your mind, and it is a story of rejection. Your mind is creating a story and using the idea of other people rejecting you. If you change the story in your own mind you will solve the self-rejection you imagine coming from others. In doing so you will be relieved of the victimization, feelings, sense of unworthiness and inadequacy the story of rejection creates.
So far the process involves effectively shifting your perspective to the Observer. Become skeptical of the thoughts from the Judge and Victim. See the false assumptions in these thoughts. Take responsibility that this is happening in your own mind instead of in other people’s minds. Some of this might already be intellectually known to you. There is quite a difference in “knowing” what to do, and the action of doing it. The skillful action will make the difference.
Self awareness will also help you solve one of the most wasteful endeavors to insecurity. One common false solutions is to try to be perfect. As a way out of the pain the mind looks for a solution. Since the belief is that the problem is the judgement of other people it creates a solution based on this false assumption. The false “solution” it creates is for you to be “perfect” so that no one will judge you. The goal you attempt to achieve is to be so incredible that no one could criticize you. But no matter your success, and how much others are impressed with you, your inner Judge is still finding flaws and full of criticisms. Being “perfect” or excelling in an area doesn’t solve the issue of your inner Judge and Victim beliefs.
This image of “perfection” is only an image. Your mind now has an “image of perfection” that the Judge points to as the standard for what you should be. It then compares you to that standard and criticizes you for failing to meet that standard. You may or may not notice this self-judgment directly as it often happens at an unconscious level. What you are more likely to notice is the emotions of inadequacy or feeling of failure. Even as you improve in areas you are working on you can feel worse as a result of believing the Judge and identifying with the Victim perspective. You feel insecure because you do not meet the standard the belief system of the Judge has set. The good news is that you can change this standard and make it reasonable. You can also tame the Judge so that it is not harsh in its treatment creating those awful feelings. You can also shift your perspective out of the Victim perspective. These are skills and can be learned when you gain control of your attention.
Read more about my problem with perfection here.
No matter how impressed others are, you will not fully believe that the “perfect” self that you put out there to others is your authentic self. You will have a sense that you are projecting something false about yourself with this “Perfectionist” approach. The more you get others to believe the “perfect” image you project, the more of a fraud you may feel you are pretending to be. The more they believe the false image you project, the more you might judge yourself as a fraud. You will feel less genuine, and more inadequate. You may feel insecure that they will find out you were just pretending.
The belief system of the mind will double down on false solutions to insecurity. Despite this false solution causing more self-judgment and creating more insecurity or fear of being discovered as a fraud, the voices in your head inform you that you must try harder to be “perfect”. Trying harder at a false solution won’t make it work any better. Self-awareness can help you see this failed approach, and in that awareness free yourself from pursuing the false solution.
Here is an example of a false solution. Some men and women feeling insecure will look to their physical body as being inadequate. They make a commitment to go the gym, pump up some big muscles and become strong. While you are there you notice people who started 3 years earlier. They have big defined muscles compared to where you are. Maybe this motivates you, or maybe it makes you feel insecure. Three years go by and you have worked really hard and you now have bigger defined muscular body. You have lots of reasons to feel good and insecure.
Except that as you have progressed you pay more attention to power lifters or body builders and you have a new standard of what is possible. You look at where you are in comparison and your Judge is telling you how you are not measuring up. Your victim feels inadequate compared to world class body builders and weightlifters. Your standard for comparison is much higher and so the self-judgment comments continue. Your judge insists that the new higher image of perfection will be the solution. When you get to the next level you will feel good about yourself. Of course, each level you get to is a short celebration before you have to improve more to feel good again for a brief moment. You are chasing a goal that keeps moving and the judgments and inadequacy continues. You have a lot to feel good about in your changes, but the self judgment and insecurity remain unresolved.
When you are not operating in awareness you misunderstand the problem in the mind. When you misunderstand the problem, then you apply an ineffective solution. Awareness will help you see what is working and what is not.
If other people are judgmental, it is because they have a Judge character in their mind. It is likely not under their control any more than yours is. No amount of you being perfect in some way will make their Judge become accepting. Their mind doesn’t change its programmed set of beliefs because you change. In the same way, your beliefs, and mind doesn’t calm or become less judgmental because someone else changes. Your Inner Judge changes because you address the beliefs that drive it. Other people’s judgments and criticisms only change when they address their beliefs that drive them.
Awareness is going to help you be honest about what is going on in your mind and address the actual problems instead of the imagined ones. Awareness is also going to guide you to address the real solutions instead of the falsely projected ones.
Taking your power out of the false beliefs causing self-judgments will allow them to collapse. You can only do this with awareness and skepticism. You will need to build new neural pathways that have new thoughts and create different emotional responses. You will need to create thoughts of self-acceptance instead of self-rejection.
The “self-consciousness” that is often associated with insecurity is not the same as self-awareness or being “conscious”. “Self-conscious” is poorly defined. Self-consciousness more accurately describes the self-judgment and self-criticism that creates insecurity. “Self-conscious” is really just the Judge and Victim parts of the mind being active.
A self-conscious, or insecure person gets caught by their Judge thoughts and is brought to feel victimized by believing it. It feels as if the thoughts are accurate and true when in the Victim perspective. A self-aware person perceives their mind is just making up nonsense. The difference in perspective produces a very different feeling and emotional response. Self-consciousness is a state of insecurity. Self-awareness provides you a feeling of calm, peace, and quiet confidence. In the beginning stages of becoming self aware you will still have an active mind of judgments and insecure thoughts, but you will be more and more removed as the observer perspective builds.
To get rid of the self-judging thoughts all together requires a deeper level of commitment. The shift in perspective from the Judge/Victim mind to the observer is a skill in controlling perspective. It is a skill that once learned will benefit you the rest of your life. The process also involves identifying the core and unconscious beliefs that the self-judgments and self-criticisms arise from. This is done through taking the process of a belief inventory and dismantling the false beliefs. It is work. It takes energy. However, that energy will be returned to you many times over when you no longer expend it creating feelings and thoughts of insecurity.
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Changing your mind can’t be done from the same consciousness that created it. That means you have to build new neural pathways and create a new mind. Then you dissolve the old one.
|#56: Social anxiety from unconscious beliefs
A man shares what he discovers as the source of his social anxiety that began when he was in 3rd grade. In this podcast I describe a process to dig into the layers of your unconscious beliefs, and release the emotional beliefs trapped there.
|August 23, 2018
|#43: Overcoming insecurity and develop confidence
Attempts to develop confidence often fail because they revolve around projecting a positive self image or achieving success. Unfortunately these two things don’t eliminate other beliefs causing feelings of insecurity.
|April 19, 2012
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.
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