We all feel insecure about something. That is a sweeping generalization but I believe it is true, all of us have something. Most of us have several things, I know I do. Insecurities are a deeply personal feeling that can be very hard to discuss with others, even those closest to us and that can leave us feeling alone. So where do these feelings come from and how accurate are they?
The feeling of insecurity is defined as believing that you are vulnerable or inferior in some way. This is true on both counts, because we are vulnerable both physically and emotionally, and you are inferior to everyone in some way. You may be the greatest in the world at one skill but terrible at another. There is no way to be completely safe all the time and it is equally impossible to be better than everyone else at everything. Now I don’t mean to make anyone feel bad but those are the facts, accepting them and learning to do amazing things in spite of them is the key.
The first thing to realize about the feelings of insecurities and fear of judgment is that they have a very long and important history. They go back to a time when the earliest humans lived in very small groups. An individual may only see a couple of hundred other people in their entire lifetime. When you spend your entire life in a group that small your social acceptance is crucial to survival. It would have been very important to make an effort to conform and make others happy. To be ostracized from the group would mean that you had little to no chance of breeding and a greatly increased chance of death. This selection process made sure that the genes that were passed on were those of the conformers. This is where your need to be accepted evolved. It served an extremely important purpose for the majority of human beings’ time on this planet.
However, this started to change about 10,000 years ago when our tribes became villages. As the number of individuals in an area increased it became much harder to please everyone and to conform. Because we are so tribal in nature, as the population of areas increased so did the numbers of groups within groups. These groups developed their own unique characteristics that distinguished them from others. Once this happened it became much harder to please everyone because each group had different criteria of what was acceptable. We now have seven+ billion people on earth and so many different groups and beliefs that being accepted by everyone is impossible.
The major issue with this rapid change of social dynamic (remember in evolutionary terms 10,000 years is rapid) is that our internal drives have not evolved to match it. Your brain chemistry still wants to make everyone happy and is terrified of rejection. The solution is to recognize this and work around it.
Being nervous about approaching someone new or being scared of public speaking engagement is totally normal and will probably never go away. However, if you have a basic understanding of why you get that feeling in the pit of your stomach then you can make realistic choices based on the facts and not based on a reaction that the ancient part of your brain is having. I do realize that it is easier said than done. To undo a lifetime of fear takes time even if you understand where it comes from, however, it is not the internal struggle or missed opportunities that are the worst part, it is the destroyed relationships.
The feeling you get inside when the insecurities kick in is something we all know but the way this feeling makes us act is something we may not have noticed. It is extremely difficult to be kind and compassionate or even understanding another perspective if you are terrified that you aren’t good enough to be here. When we feel insecure or inadequate, we become defensive and we tend to overreact or overcompensate to protect ourselves. This is particularly true when both people in the conversation or relationship is feeling this way. If you are both defending yourselves then it is nearly impossible to have any kind of meaningful connection. We have said this before but vulnerability is the key to connection. In order to have a truly meaningful connection, you need to open yourself up a bit. This is not easy, especially with people you don’t know well, so maybe start with those closest to you.
If you or your partner tend to snap at each other for what seems like trivial things, or you get defensive about something, step back and look at the big picture and the facts. When you look at things objectively is there fear there? Are you protecting some part of your ego because it is fragile? If so, share that fear with your partner or someone you trust. Many times once we express the fear or insecurity you will feel relief even if nothing else changes. This also gives the other person a chance to explain themselves and perhaps be vulnerable with you as well. Remember you can’t change anyone else and you can’t make them open up but if you go first and make it safe for them to do the same they are much more likely to. It takes both sides to be understanding of their own fears and to be willing to be vulnerable about them to really make a connection.
This is not an easy road, but believe me, the end is worth it. The first step is to observe your own fears and insecurities and to remember that they may just be the primitive part of your brain trying to protect you in a world it doesn’t understand. Then you need to share them, so those closest to you have a chance to help you with them. If the insecurities run really deep then it may also be advisable to work with a professional. Someone who understands the dynamics of this can be very helpful to bring things to the surface so they can be dealt with, these sessions can be done alone or with your partner. Especially in the beginning, it can be helpful to have some guidance so you don’t fall into past patterns when something deep gets triggered.
Fear and insecurities are a part of our everyday lives, but by looking at them from a new perspective can give us the tools to not let them control our actions or our relationships. Remember that being vulnerable is not a sign of weakness but of strength, and it is the most sensor route to lasting relationships.
Keep Evolving ~E