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We all experience moments when we see something in ourselves in a negative light, and we’re not always easy on ourselves when dealing with it.
The pain these insecurities yield is what Buddhists have long called “dukkha.”
Dukkha is a concept that refers to the inevitable suffering we go through during our lifetime. This doesn’t mean that our life is meaningless or constantly painful. When the Buddha spoke of suffering, he referred to the impermanence and changeability of all phenomena.
Everything is bound to change or end. And when it does, it likely causes us suffering. That said, an unexpected outcome, trauma, failure, or rejection is what often gives birth to our insecurities.
Nevertheless, the same way that the Buddha spoke of suffering, he also spoke of a way to dissolve it. Everything that has a negative impact on us, we have the choice to properly deal with it.
To work through an ordeal, we must first understand its roots. There’s a speck of fear lurking at the core of anything about which we’re insecure—the fear of not being loved or worthy enough, the fear of disappointment, loss, or not fitting in.
“Feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck.” ~ Pema Chödrön
Our natural response to fear is to believe it and surrender to it. Slowly, patiently, we can redirect our feelings of helplessness by bringing awareness to the fear itself. Fear is a fast river current, and the next time you’re caught in it, try to hang on to a fallen tree and stop—don’t get taken by the current.
Hold on to that fallen tree and break down your fear into questions, such as: “What’s the event that has shaped my present feelings?” Get honest with yourself and continue: “What am I particularly scared of?” With time, our answers help us understand our insecurities better. Fear, then, becomes the teacher and the guide rather than the obstruction.
Outer circumstances often give birth to our insecurities, which then grow and spread in our minds. Meditation helps us comprehend our mind’s nature. When we sit in meditation, we expose it. We watch it as it clings to a story, categorizes it, analyzes it, and judges it. We realize how easy it is to get caught by the sways of its creations.
“Meditation is not to escape from ourselves, but to come back to ourselves and see what is going on. Once there is seeing, there must be acting. With mindfulness we know what to do and what not to do to help.” ~ Thich Nhât Hańh
Practice meditation at least five minutes daily. You don’t have to sit in lotus position or go to a special place. At your desk at work or while sitting on your couch at home, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and observe your thoughts. In every sitting, try to be okay with the thoughts in your head. Don’t cling to, judge, or overanalyze them.
Remember that our insecurities are, at the end of the day, a story of our mind’s own creation. Then, we can incorporate our meditation practice into our daily life. Whenever our insecurities sneak up on us, we gradually put an end to them through mindfulness.
Insecurity often breeds self-blame, self-judgment, and shame. We become so hard on ourselves that we forget to practice self-compassion. To be compassionate with oneself means to give ourselves permission to be imperfect, to not always be okay. But it also means to allow ourselves to heal, grow, and alleviate our own suffering.
“Kindness is not just about how you treat others; it’s rooted in how you treat yourself.” ~ Lodro Rinzler
The Buddha said that most of our suffering is self-created. Consequently, we might double our “dukkha” without knowing. When we judge ourselves, we don’t accept who we are in this present moment. We hurt ourselves by thinking we’re unworthy or undeserving of love or kindness. Think of yourself the same way you’d think about any other person you dearly love and respect. The next time you demean yourself, affirm that you are beautiful inside and out, and that you are worthy of all the good things in the world.
Open up to what is unfolding.
When we are insecure, we indirectly exert control over the outcome. We might worry that our partner will leave because we aren’t good enough for them. That we won’t get that job position because we’re not worthy of it. That we don’t look good because we’ll never be in a good shape.
“Buddhism teaches that joy and happiness arise from letting go. Please sit down and take an inventory of your life. There are things you’ve been hanging on to that really are not useful and deprive you of your freedom. Find the courage to let them go.” ~ Thich Nhât Hańh
To stop being anxious or insecure about a particular situation, we need to rest in its uncertainty. As the Buddhists advise, we need to open up to what is unfolding rather than worry about it. We can only do more when we release more. With tension, anxiety, and pushing, we rarely attain the results we want.
Always remember, worry is useless. Let things be.