How many times have you tried to convince someone else (or yourself) to not be insecure?
I hate to break it to you, but you were wasting your energy.
We spend time arguing with people over their insecurities, trying to show them how wrong they are about not being pretty, or smart, or cool, or talented, or desirable, or thin, or successful enough.
But having insecurities is an irrevocable part of being human. If you don’t have insecurities, then…you’re probably a robot.
We don’t need to prove people wrong about their insecurities. In fact, many insecurities have some aspect of truth to them. Arguing over insecurities just keeps us resisting reality and in denial.
Instead, we need to help others (and ourselves) understand the true purpose of insecurities so that we can see them for what they are.
Insecurities are self-preservation.
Insecurities are the buoys that keep our identity afloat. It doesn’t matter how much someone tries to convince us that we don’t need the buoys, we are not going to let go of them if we think we are going to drown without them.
Deep down in our subconscious mind, we actually believe that we will not be okay without our insecurities to cling to.
Think about it this way: The ego is to our identity, what the immune system is to our health.
If a germ enters your body, your immune system kicks into high gear and produces white blood cells to fight it. When the germ is gone, everything goes back to normal.
But the body has memory cells that will immediately recognize that germ if it ever comes in contact with it again. Then the body can quickly produce antibodies to attack and eliminate the threat.
The immune system is made up of a network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to protect the body. Similarly, the ego is made up of a network of thoughts, beliefs, and fears that work to protect the identity.
The ego is rooted in fear and self-preservation. All it wants is to maintain its beliefs about itself. The ego wants the identity to win, to dominate, and look good in front of others and to be safe.
An experience of failure, or rejection, or embarrassment, or disappointment is like a germ to our identity. So the ego kicks into high gear and produces beliefs that help ensure that this disruption to the identity will never happen again.
For example, let’s say you get broken up with. The ego is threatened, because it thinks that everything that happens means something about you.
But it doesn’t want to identify with rejection—it wants to win and dominate, remember? So it has to produce something that is going to protect you from rejection happening again.
It produces a belief in your unworthiness. It thinks that if you believe that you aren’t good enough to be loved, then you won’t get your hopes up and be disappointed again.
Just like the body remembers the germs that harmed us in the past and secretes antibodies to preemptively protect us from them, our ego recognizes situations that harmed us in the past and secretes beliefs about our inadequacy to preemptively protect us from taking that same risk again.
That’s why all our old insecurities resurface when the ego recognizes a similarly threatening situation. So, the next time a great guy comes along, that belief surfaces to prevent you from trusting him.
You beat him to the punch. You already know that he doesn’t really love you before he has to say it. You never have to be wrong about how much someone loves you again, as long as you believe that you’re not lovable.
It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. You start seeing life through the lens of this belief and create the circumstances that validate it. The ego wins.
Insecurities are simply beliefs that justify inaction. Insecurities prevent us from taking risks and being vulnerable. Insecurities are like a metal shield that protects us from risk.
We wouldn’t carry around a metal shield if we didn’t think it was protecting us from something—it’s heavy.
We carry around our insecurities because we think we need their protection to help us justify not asking the guy out, or trying out for the play, or starting our business, or speaking our truth.
The reason we think we need its protection is because we think that if we fail, we are a failure. If we get rejected, we are unworthy. If we lose, we are a loser.
But this isn’t so. Failure, rejection, and loss are a necessary part of self-discovery. They are an incredible opportunity to do the inner work of releasing false identification with external validation.
Failing doesn’t reflect anything about who we are. Being rejected doesn’t reflect anything about who we are. Losing doesn’t reflect anything about who we are.
We are still pure potential, no matter how many times we fail, or lose, or get rejected.
We don’t really go after a dream so that we can win at it and get validation. We go after a dream because it gives us endless opportunities to grow and discover who we really are.
Failure, rejection, and loss are good. They help us grow. There is no use in fearing them.
Just like our immune system gets stronger as we’re exposed to more germs, we get stronger as we’re exposed to more failures.
In fact, I invite you to challenge yourself to fail even more.
Letting our insecurities shield us from risk is not doing us any good.
So while staying safe does protect our identity, that’s not truly what we want when it comes down to it. A protected identity does not guarantee our growth, peace of mind, satisfaction, or fulfillment. It doesn’t even guarantee our safety.
The difference between the ego’s defense system and our immune system is that the immune system actually does keep us healthy and safe. The ego doesn’t. It creates defense mechanisms that leave us feeling isolated, misunderstood, and disconnected.
So although we can’t ever really escape the ego, we can learn to tune it out when we understand that our insecurities are rooted in fear—which is just False Evidence Appearing Real (FEAR)—and they actually have no power over us.
We can feel insecure and still go for it. We can feel insecure and still take the risk.
When we recognize that insecurities are not an actual barrier to action, then we are able to accept the fact that we have them and still go after what we want.
We are able to let the fear voice speak, but not let it control us.
You can’t argue with the body and tell it not to produce antibodies, just like you can’t argue with your ego and tell it not to produce insecurities. The only thing to do is to understand why it does that, let it happen, and live your life in spite of it.
We don’t need to argue with our insecurities, and we don’t need to eliminate or fix them.
Our insecurities connect us to our humanness.
We need to accept them, honor them, and recognize their purpose—and then take our life by the freaking horns in spite of them.
Author: Brandilyn Tebo
Image: Flickr/Andréa Portilla
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy editor: Travis May
Social editor: Cat Monkman