Everybody has insecurities.
I don’t care how objectively perfect you may seem, if you don’t have insecurities you are weird. For those who struggle with life, insecurities are a burden. For those who excel at life, insecurities promote humility.
The question is not if you possess insecurities, but what do you do with them?
The answer is simple—you get rid of them. You overcome your insecurities and make people happy by following this simple rule: stop projecting your insecurities and start protecting them.
Most people project their insecurities. It might be one of the worst human traits. We possess an uncanny ability to identify and detest our own flaws—or lack thereof—in others. We dislike people who possess those traits that we envy, and we dislike people who possess traits that we are ourselves insecure of.
The bulky athlete may bully the scrawny nerd for jealousy of their intelligence, while the nerd will forever hold the athlete in contempt for their brutish aggression. The homophobic person may be insecure of their own sexuality. Highly opinionated people will almost always detest others who are highly opinionated. Quiet types will dislike other quiet types for seeming standoffish and rude.
You Don’t Need to be Perfect
Why do we do this?
It is because very few of us can accept our own imperfection. Objectively we can accept that nobody is perfect, but subjectively we are riddled with envy for our ideal selves—that fictitious entity, however radically different from the person we are, who we idealize ourselves as being.
And this isn’t a weakness to be mocked. To accept our own imperfection is to accept that life is not fair, and this terrifies us.
Protect Your Insecurities
So I return to the rule of this article: your insecurities are for protecting, not projecting.
If you are insecure about something, that’s okay. It’s unlikely that others will judge you for it to the same degree that you judge yourself. When it comes to insecurities, you are much safer in the eyes of the world than your own fear will let you believe. So accept your own insecurities. Put up the protective barriers that you need to but don’t lash out against others.
For example, if you are insecure about your weight, don’t criticize your fit friend for being a health nut, gym freak or any other derogatory designation typically given to health-conscious people. Don’t judge them for being more enthusiastic than you are to go to the beach or to post swimsuit pictures on social media. So what if they look better in a bathing suit than you do? That’s their thing—let them have it. If you don’t feel comfortable in a bathing suit, don’t wear one.
The second you decide that it’s a competition, you’ve already lost.
Instead of envying your friend, choose to be happy for them. If the feeling stings so bad that you can’t let it go, take action and change it. Indulge in your friend’s interest in health and exercise, and make them feel appreciated. Because when the time comes that you’ve worked hard to shed those pounds and build a body that you are proud of, you know that your friend will be happy for you and that they have supported you all the way.
Body weight is only one example of the infinite insecurities that we all face, but this basic principle applies to them all.
Why This Works
Every time that you envy another for what you don’t have, or hate another for what you don’t like about yourself, you are reinforcing that insecurity in yourself.
When you separate the identities of others from your own ego, you allow your insecurities to vanish. Without expression, your insecurities cannot flourish—safely internalized, insecurities fail to materialize and eventually die. To take no issue in others is to take no issue in yourself.
Many of us see protecting our insecurities as weakness, but the true weakness is in allowing them to manifest in the way we interact with others. Protecting your insecurities is necessary; they keep you humble and remind you that you aren’t perfect. They remind you of what you can improve upon and allow you to become a better person. Without allowing insecurities to surface in negativity, they will cease to hold meaning and slowly disappear.
So tell me, what are you insecure about? And what are you going to do about it?
Author: Patrick Wiltse
Associate Editor: Kendra Hackett/Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photos: BK, photo Christos Loufopoulos/Flickr