Let’s be honest, we are our own worst critics. We look in the mirror and spew self-abusive proclamations like “I’m fat” or “I’m old.” Sometimes the beliefs are even worse like “I’m a fraud” or “I’m worthless.” The one that breaks my heart are the people who believe “I’m not lovable.”
Why are we so hard on ourselves? How do these beliefs support our personal development? Where does the self-abuse come from? Our insecurities are seemingly inescapable beliefs that have become persistent truths that highlight our perceived flaws. Unfortunately, our brains filter the world to find evidence to continually reinforce our negative self-talk. Worse yet, we don’t even listen to the people that we trust like our closest friends, partners, spouses, and parents. For example, I said to my husband the other day that I was “fat.” “No you aren’t. You are perfectly proportioned” was his sweet response. Did I believe him? No! He’s obviously biased.
Insecurities come in five basic types including:
- Contemptable Attitudes are negative personal judgments about particular characteristics that you do not like about yourself. For example, I’m fat.
- Diminishing Beliefs are positive characteristics that you minimize. My hair does look pretty good except for that gray hair.
- Deceiver Opinions are rooted in complements that you receive, but do not believe the person telling you. My example with my husband is a good example of a Deceiver Opinion.
- Narcissistic Convictions are insecurities that have you fretting that someone is talking about, looking at, or projecting something unwanted on you.
- Evaluation Judgments are when you compare yourself to another person who you feel is better at the characteristic than you. For example, I’m not as good looking as (fill in the blank)
I am sure there are more types of insecurities, but these represent the bulk of insecurities typically expressed by my clients. What is even more amazing is that you believe every one of your thoughts, and you honestly believe the whole world believes it too.
Let’s take a moment and be honest and candid. Yep, I am not as young as I was. Yes, I am heftier than I wish to be. Sure, someone else may look better than me. Of course, someone may be talking about me. And, holy cow, I am not perfect! But here it is, I will never live up to the idealized version of myself that is taking up space in my brain. AND NEITHER WILL YOU and that’s ok.
If you could normal or perfect or better, then why don’t you? Some say that if you can dream it, you can be it. But how does one become normal or perfect? You can’t because it is unrealistic and impossible to be these things. But this begs the question, what is perfect? Is being perfect like being normal? Is it being better than normal? What is normal? Who is the standard for normal? Who is the standard for perfect? Can you define either perfect or normal without using just opposite of either word?
Humans are funny creatures. We categorize EVERYTHING! If you name something, it is a category for something. Dog, cat, pet, friend, color, smart, building, pretty, food, red, word, funny, glass, etc. Everything in our world is categorized, so the concepts that you believe about yourself are categories in which you, including your family, culture and society, have created and then placed a value onto it. You judged it to be better or worse than something else. Categories are not inherently right or wrong. It means that we made a CHOICE to make the categories right or wrong.
I will let you in on a dirty secret. No one is normal and no one is perfect. Why? Because these ideals are mental concepts that we have placed in our brains by which to categorize ourselves. Of course we compounded the problem because we assigned judgments onto these categories. If we aren’t perfect or normal, then there is something wrong with us. We must be flawed, and in our culture, flawed is bad. We have been brainwashed! Flawed and imperfect is amazing.
Now that you have some insights that your judgments about yourself are flawed, let’s look at overcoming them.
- Awareness is the first step to overcoming everything. Hopefully the discussion earlier brought about some awareness that you are choosing to own, accept and believe your insecurities as being real, honest and important. Basically, you are making a choice to believe that your perceived flaws invalidate who you are as an interesting, special and unique human being.
- Believe your friends. Right now, you have people in your life that love you and, hopefully, like you. Why do they love and/or like you? Can it be because there is something wrong with you? Do the people that love you focus on your perceived flaws and judge you? Nope! The people around you don’t care about the things you see in the mirror; your friends see someone special, amazing, loving and beautiful. Instead of trying to prove yourself right and only seeing your flaws, prove your friends right. Find and believe in the person they love.
- What we resist, persists. Whether you want to believe it or not, your insecurity comes down to a choice. Your conformity to a category (fat, ugly, dumb, old, etc.) is different than the opinion you assign it. What does this mean? Basically, you may be overweight. You definitely are aging. You may not be as skinny as someone else; you might not be as smart as Sheldon Cooper. Own the truth. Accept that there is a truth to it, but also know that it does not define who you are; you define you. Your friends love you despite these truths because they know you are special; you are exceptional, and you are distinct.
But what about the beliefs that you are worthless, a fraud, or unlovable? Like the other beliefs, you found evidence to prove them right. However, the evidence was a self-fulfilling prophecy. At some point in your life, you were told or you told yourself (usually both) that there was something wrong with you. Since humans love to be right, you created the scenarios in which these beliefs became true.
I will let you in on the biggest secret. You are loved. You are gifted. You are worthy. You are special. You are beautiful. You are a light in this world.
These steps take time and practice. There is no magic cure that makes all of your insecurities just vanish in a flash. It took years to build them up, so it will take some time to reverse the damage.
Drugs, alcohol and plastic surgery only mask the real issues. Besides, it is exhausting to pretend to be something or someone other than yourself. Here is my new rule of thumb – Just be your silly, old, fat and disagreeable self. Frack it! No one else gives a shit because they are too worried that they are too old, silly, fat, and disagreeable. What you really need is a bear hug! It can heal all emotional wounds.