Insecurity is one of the most cunning and inhibiting ways our minds keep us from developing healthy self-esteem. It’s like a game our ego plays on us to go down the rabbit hole of negative thinking, making it seem almost impossible to get out. When unnoticed or part of our everyday repertoire, insecure thoughts no longer become an occasional lack in self-confidence, they turn into a way of life. Insecure feelings often leave one more inhibited in their life. Negative beliefs can snowball into avalanches, contributing to low self-esteem, anxiety and depressive thoughts.
It’s been said that we have about 50,000 conversations with ourselves a day. According to much of the research, 80-90 percent of this self-talk is negative. Imagine how much higher it is when you are feeling insecure? One of the tools to overcome insecurity is to know that it is not a diagnosis or a fixed way of thinking, rather insecurity is a trick our minds play on us. This can be a game or a battle; you have the choice to start looking at it as all-consuming or a strategic game you can master.
Three Great Ways to Stop Feeling Insecure
- Reframe Your Past
You can choose to look at the past with logic or with emotionally charged, self-deprecating thoughts. This will guarantee your feelings of insecurity stay strong.
Instead, look at the past and learn to let it go or re-frame it. Now, this doesn’t mean discount your feelings about it, rather think of the experience, what you learned, instead of letting it define you.
How to Reframe Your Past
Sandy went through a painful break-up. Feelings of rejection and unworthiness ensued. Is she single and unlovable? Only if she chooses to believe the insecure thoughts. Instead, she can acknowledge that it was a painful experience and see this as a past event that pushed her into a new life phase.
She is now learning more about herself and what she wants in a future relationship. She can even move into a more positive, loving mindset. Thank goodness she didn’t marry someone who treated her that way. She can look at this past experience with gratitude for showing her what she does deserve in a future partner.
- Remember Your Accomplishments
Acknowledge your positive past; make a list of as many accomplishments or successes you can think of. Jack Canfield, America’s success coach, uses this tool in many of his workshops and books. He says, “Knowing that you have had successes in the past will give you the self-confidence that you can have more successes in the future … It builds self-esteem.”
Think of 20 to 30 accomplishments in your life. Make a list. They can be things from this year or 15 years ago. Just start writing. The A+ you got on your science project in 10th grade or the new client you acquired at work last year all count. When we focus on the things that we are proud of, without judgment, we can become more in flow with our secure sense of self.
Remember that you are different now. When we are insecure, we go back to how we handled things in the past and often times feel a sense of powerlessness. “Well, since I handled it that way, I will likely do it again.”
The real truth is here: you have changed significantly since the past, even five minutes ago! Rather than being stagnant since your last insecure thought or experience, you have gathered some insight into yourself and situations.
- Let Go of Negative Self-Descriptions
In your mind, what adjectives do you use to describe yourself? If they are more negative terms, it’s time to take a second look. Single, unemployed, ugly, fat, unlovable, are all highly charged words that are not true. There are nicer, more productive ways to characterize how you are feeling.
Rather than unemployed, one could be in transition to a new career or job hunting. Unlovable, could be phrased as open to finding love. When you focus on self-deprecating labels, even if they feel true to you, it’s not serving you. If you want to change your insecure feelings and increase your self-esteem, practicing this skill daily is extremely important.
The bottom line is you can look at thoughts a bit differently than before. This is possible. Some may challenge this and say “But it takes years to work through or I’ve always thought this way, how can I change it now?” Each moment is a choice. Focus on the process rather than the outcome. Waiting for our minds to miraculously shift is self-defeating. Doing the work to talk-back and challenge these insecure thoughts is powerful.
What lies ahead is an adventure, not necessarily adversity, when we can begin to think of life this way and shift our thinking to a more conducive mindset. You’ll find the result is long-term healthy self-esteem.
Emily is the author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Being Who You Are.You can visit Emily’s Guidance Girl website. You can also find her on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.