I’m just not …

   Written by on July 27, 2017 at 11:18 am
Cheryl Gowin and Dennis Gowin.  Call us at our counseling practice with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions at 434-808-2637.

Cheryl Gowin and Dennis Gowin.  Call us at our counseling practice with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions at 434-808-2637.

Do you find yourself filled with self-doubt?  How would you describe yourself: overweight, boring, stupid, timid, or ugly?  Do you find yourself not able to accept your accomplishments?  Have others said you are insecure?

So, what does it mean to be insecure?  An insecure person is a person who is not confident or assured and who is plagued by feelings of uncertainty and anxiety.  Does this sound like you?

You may not be aware of how your insecurities play a role in your actions and relationships with others.  However, your insecurities seep into your thoughts about marriage, parenting, body image, your job, and life in general.  Ellen Hendriksen, PhD, a clinical psychologist at Boston University’s Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders, likes to refer to a saying “the mind makes a wonderful servant but a terrible master.” Psychologists have a name for these lies we tell ourselves: cognitive distortions.  These thoughts are tricky, because on the surface, they seem accurate, and more importantly, they feel accurate.  Therein is the problem; our cognitive distortions keep us feeling stupid, boring, inadequate, or otherwise insecure.

Yes, we all feel insecure from time to time.  The problem comes when we truly start to believe and let our insecurities control our lives.  We can reduce the control our insecurities have over our lives.  The first step is to recognize the insecurities that cause us to struggle.

Insecurity based on failure or rejection.  What has happened in your life recently?  Research on happiness suggests that up to 40% of our “happiness quotient” is based on recent life events.  Have you had a job loss, a negative health report, a death of loved one, or other major losses in your life?  Unhappiness, failure, and rejection can deliver a double whammy to your confidence.

There are strategies you can use to overcome failure or rejection based insecurity.  Give yourself permission and time to heal.  Reach out to supportive friends for help.  Turn to people you trust to help you revise your cognitive distortions.  Remind yourself everyone fails.  Before becoming president, Abraham Lincoln lost his job, was defeated for nomination to Congress, and failed twice in Senate bids.

Insecurities related to social anxiety.  Many of us feel insecurity when faced with job interviews, first dates, public speaking, or social gatherings.  Do you view these activities as a time when others are evaluating you and you fear you don’t measure up?  Yes?  Then it is understandable that you experience insecurities.  Your cognitive distortion about the extent to which people are evaluating you supports this insecurity.  The reality is, most of the time, people focused more on how they are coming across than on judging others.

Let’s look at a couple strategies to combat insecurity in social situations.  Talk to your inner critic.  Remind yourself of all the reasons that you can be interesting and fun.  Set realistic goals for the next social outing, such as talking to two new people or finding out more about one person’s hobbies.  Deliberately focus on others and avoid intense self-focus.

Insecurity motivated by perfectionism.  How high are your personal standards?  When you were in school, did you always want to have the best grades, always picked first, have the perfect outfit, and the most friends?  As an adult, do you want the perfect house, the most polite kids, or the ideal spouse?  Unfortunately, life doesn’t give us a yardstick to measure perfection.  Are you constantly blaming yourself for being less than your definition of perfect?

There are ways to combat perfectionism.  Evaluate yourself based on how much effort you put in, which is controllable, rather than on the outcome, which is dependent on external factors.  It is ok to give yourself an A for effort.  Change your goals from all or nothing to finding a grey area.  Focus on your inner qualities like character, sincerity, or good values.

We all deal with insecurities.  Even when we overcome them, we still have to remain vigilant, to fight off thoughts that stir up feelings of insecurity.

And since we are his children, we will share his treasures—for all God gives to his Son Jesus is now ours too.  Romans 8:17

Call us with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions; our phone number is 434-808-2637.

About Cheryl & Dennis Gowin

Cheryl Gowin, Counselor and Dennis Gowin, Director of Discovery Counseling Center. Contact us with your feedback, comments, issues or questions at 434-808-2426 or dgowin@discoverycounseling.org.

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