What do we do with Insecurity?

Via Waylon Lewis
on May 11, 2011
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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

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

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About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


22 Responses to “What do we do with Insecurity?”

  1. p.s. of course i'm often insecure too… which is why it was nice to read your post … 🙂

  2. I do the exact opposite of whatever I am feeling whenever I find myself not feeling the way I wish to feel. It works every time.

  3. Beautiful letter, Waylon. I can TOTALLY relate as a writer and fellow shy human. Always feel like the outsider–unless I drink. But that's just not practical on a day-to-day basis!!! xo

  4. elephantjournal says:

    Chaabouni: Such beautiful timing you have. Thank you for this message.

  5. elephantjournal says:

    Thank you, Mary. Great to hear from you, and thanks for taking the time to leave such a sweet and thoughtful comment. Best to you— ~ Waylon

  6. JarrodHomer says:

    Great article Waylon! This really resonated with me, I as well as thousands of others—I'm sure— are right there with you. While we may feel alone, we are together in our aloneness; sometimes thats just enough.

  7. loved this – thanks thanks thanks – u r being your best when u r most vulnerable and most direct – so what if it brings tears for fears ( wasn't that a music group?)

  8. linda buzogany says:

    Hey what's the sadness in meditation thing Waylon? I haven't heard of this before (but experience it almost all the time).

  9. […] you embodying the wisdom of the practices you study? Is your heart open? Are you honest and real? Do you know your shadow? Can you feel the pain here on earth and cry for the sadness that we feel […]

  10. […] of imparting knowledge to others continued to feel overwhelming and daunting. I finally suffered an embarrassing emotional meltdown in a student teaching class, dissolving into tears, helplessly unable to rise from my mat to stand […]

  11. […] For the first time in my life, as mentioned in my recent editor’s letter, I’ve been attending biweekly therapy sessions. […]

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  13. […] indeed, I know I am not the only one who is feels like everything around me is spinning too fast, moving from […]

  14. […] I actually felt, sitting on my therapist’s couch, was relief as a great weight was lifted from my shoulders. I didn’t have to pretend to have it […]

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  17. […] get so busy in our own little bubbles. We walk around texting. We worry so much about our own insecurities that we don’t reach out to others. We insulate ourselves against strangers—people even tell their […]

  18. matthew says:

    Well, Waylon, it must be nice to know you are inspiring people on a daily basis, in spite of how daunting being insecure is. I have been that way my whole life too, plagued either rampant silliness of crippling shyness and have let so many good opportunities pass me by. You have everything you need and I am happy you are using your platform to raise awareness and open yourself up.

  19. בידסון ישראל says:

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