Of all the forces that impede our ability to achieve success, one root cause stands out among them all: Insecurity. Insecurity has many names and many faces: Doubt. Fear. Distrust. Uncertainty. Skepticism. Cynicism. Indecisiveness. Avoidance. Ambiguity. Complacency. The list goes on. To be insecure for a short period of time is natural. But when insecurity persists, and takes on persistent indecision, and time passes, a deep paralysis begins to fester and grow inside. On the surface level it can often appear completely functional: Insecurity can be explained away and be even justified as healthy caution, when in truth it really is nothing more than a mask for fear and doubt.
If you are in a pattern of self-sabotage and/or underachieving, it is healthy to evaluate your sense of self-worth and your self-confidence. Our fears, inhibitions, and low self-confidence thrive when we don’t have clarity. To build the confidence you need to be successful, look at your insecurity and its causes carefully. What has shaped you?
Your current environment
How much does the external world shape you? We live in a world that is often not supportive of us. Modern society is a competitive environment in which people use each other; a “rat race” often driven by the cardinal rule: survival of the fittest. Is your work or social environment toxic? What expectations and pressures are you subject to? How to they impact your choices and your self-esteem? The constant pressure to perform — to keep up with and satisfy others, instead of living up to your own inner voice, inevitably leads to feelings of inadequacy. It brings on doubts whether you will disappoint others and, in turn, erodes your confidence. Are you being shaped by your inability to measure up to unreasonable expectations from outside yourself?
Children are naturally confident; they have an innate sense of adventure and fearless exploration. Children begin to develop feelings of self-doubt and fear due to the adults and peers in their lives who project their own fears and subject impressionable children to criticism and judgment, undermining children’s inborn confidence. What kind of childhood did you have? If you were invalidated and criticized, you’re probably already living on the defensive. Did you parents or teachers give you the message that you were not good enough or that you were incompetent? Did the adults in your life support you or shut you down?
Romance and intimacy bear and reflect on your self-esteem. Do you seek relationships to fill a void — to compensate for your own inadequacies and lack of love? Are you desperate? Self-destructive? How high are your standards? Does your intimate life cause you to experience cognitive dissonance? Do your romantic relationships build you up or break you down?
Exercise: Evaluate and identify the origins and roots of your insecurities. How do you currently reinforce your negative self-image? Find ways to overcome a fear. Act with confidence. Do something that you think you are not capable of. Journal about it in your MyMLC journal.