May 12, 2011

What do we do with Insecurity?


The below missive is our weekly editor’s letter by elephant’s ed-in-chief and founder, Waylon Lewis, which heads up our blogs of the week email newsletter, lovingly designed by the good folks at Namaste Interactive. It’s a simple, succinct way to stay in touch with elephant articles, videos, interviews if twitter or facebook aren’t working for you.


…This experience of sad and tender heart is what gives birth to fearlessness. Conventionally, being fearless means that you are not afraid. Real fearlessness is the product of tenderness. It comes from letting the world tickle your heart, your raw and beautiful heart.

You are willing to open up, without resistance or shyness, and face the world. You are willing to share your heart with others. ~ Chogyam Trungpa.


I’ve been insecure my whole life. I’m not sure why, but I’ve always been a bit of an outsider. Not a complete outsider—I’ve been inside, too, just on the edge. Perhaps that’s why I became a writer—writers need to be on the edge, not in the club, but welcome there. Not outside, but welcome there.

But over the last 10 years, I’ve felt more and more confident, day to day. More and more joyful, and sane, and productive. Probably because, even if it doesn’t make much money, I’m doing what I’m good at, what I was born for. I’m fulfilled, I’m doing my bit to be of benefit.

But three things over the last few months have reminded me that I still have a big, red, raw, bleeding heart of open insecurity and vulnerability.

1. For the first time in my life, I’ve been meeting with a therapist. It’s a therapist I respect, so while I don’t particularly respect the institution of therapy, I’ve appreciated the chance to listen, and to be heard, and to get deeper into some of the fundamental questions I have about my life as it goes forward. Also, I’ve reconnected with a lifelong mentor, a meditation instructor, who just two days ago in teaching me meditation techniques reminded me that meditation begins when you feel a faint hint of sadness. When I ground my busy mind enough to remember that sadness.

2. I’ve been traveling, a bit, for the first time in years. Getting out of my hometown cocoon, as uplifted and sunny and healthy as it is, is healthy. It stretches my envelope and surrounds me with folks who don’t know who I am. Being in new situations offers me the choice between 1) hiding that vulnerability and being loud and stupid, or 2) learning to enjoy life from the inside, out…of 1) willing to be lonely and walking to the beat of my own drummer, or 2) trying to go with the flow.

3. A number of longtime elephant colleagues and now-friends just visited Boulder, and I was overcome for the first time in forever with a sense of shyness. I love and respect these people—and, partially due to having had a hard time over the past few months, my lungta or genuine heart confidence was already low. So I found myself awkward, foot-in-mouth, in a way I hadn’t felt since…what, Junior High?

Recently, one of my interns posted this on his Facebook Wall:

“Inner peace / sense of personal worth fleeting, failing… Seeking refuge in illusory external world, where at least I can see the demons, and drink them.”

It was as if I’d found a comrade, someone willing, if in a somewhat poetic manner, to wear their heart on their sleeve. I responded, talking as much to myself as him, with some Buddhist 101:

“Remember insecurity is ego’s way of letting us know that ego isn’t working…insecurity might just be cracks in the firmament through which we can be raw, vulnerable…read Shambhala: Sacred Path of the Warrior, it’s good stuff and you don’t have to sign anywhere or join anything!”

So what do you do with insecurity? Do you go with it, and let that wound remain open, so it can heal and you can live and enjoy life genuinely? Or do you cover it up, and try and act happy, or cool? Put that way, the choice seems obvious. But it’s scary, and tough, and awkward, and lonely.

And that’s the warrior’s path.


Waylon Lewis
editor-in-chief, host
elephantjournal.com, Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis

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