Author: Amanda, Yoga Instructor
Let’s say you decided to sign up for a new hobby, maybe you have always wanted to try paragliding, or yoga, or scuba diving!
You do the research, find out where they are teaching it or maybe a club to join, and now it’s time to make a call or to show up for practice.
Immediately you are filled with dread, you start asking yourself all these questions and have all the negative thoughts:
”I am going to embarrass myself.” “I am going to fail” and you almost convince yourself that you shouldn’t even bother trying.
This is insecurity and fear talking here.
They are always going to show up when we begin something new, because the unknown and the uncontrollable are always scary.
How do we step out of the comfort zone then? How do we use our insecurity and embrace our vulnerability to try new things?
The first step is understanding where your insecurity comes from.
There are three major sources of insecurity.
Past failure or rejection
Maybe you’re insecure about starting a new job or dating someone new because it didn’t work out so well in the past and you are projecting that outcome into your future. This past experience affects us in two different ways:
First it lowers our confidence going into the experience. We naturally tend to fill in an ending before we even start, and if our past experience wasn’t great we tend to attach the same ending, because it is what we know. We are already setting ourselves up to fail in this regard because we don’t even believe we can do it in the first place.
Second, we begin to replay past criticism over and over again. Our self image goes down because of our past mistakes or outcome.
Maybe you’re OK with failing a bit, you know it’s part of the process and show up to your first class or session anyway. When you get there though, you start to see everyone else and you start comparing yourself.
Thinking “I’m not as…. (fill in the blank)”.
You begin to feel like you don’t belong or you are not good enough.
These feelings can stem again from the past; past bullying, past failures, or past criticism both external or internal.
It also comes from your own self image and sense of worth.
Social media and media in general portray perfect, beautiful people doing perfect, amazing things.
We are judging and comparing ourselves based on these measures.
If you are constantly beating yourself up for being less than perfect all the time you will start to feel unworthy, insecure or give up.
This comes from an all or nothing mentality.
The belief that being perfect will protect you from feeling the pain of failure and rejection is only hurting you and preventing you from really being seen.
How to overcome insecurity
First know that you can never get rid of insecurity, but you can face the source:
Live in the present moment.
- Let go of the past- Use your past experiences as learning experiences rather than blueprint to the future. If a job or relationship or experience fails, look deep to see why. It is not because you are inherently a failure. Maybe the fit wasn’t right, your approach, or maybe you actually gave up because it was hard. Looking to see why things failed is hard but it also takes it out of the notion that you are a failure.
- Accept failure- Failing is part of the process. Thomas Edison failed a thousand times creating the lightbulb before he succeeded. Can you imagine if he gave up on the first try? Part of pushing past the comfort zone is that you’re doing something completely new and different, give yourself grace that you won’t be good at it right away and try anyways.
- Be open to a different outcome- instead of fantasizing about the outcome be in the moment. Already imagining the outcome can be great motivation but it can also be very discouraging if things don’t work out that way. Instead set up a realistic long term goal and achievable short term goals to set yourself up for success and build confidence along the way.
- Enjoy the process- You signed up for a reason, to enjoy it, and not just achieve the outcome. So enjoy the ups and downs of the process.
Let go of comparison
- Understand that what you see isn’t the whole picture – In social media and the media there are edits and filters. There is also a lot you don’t see behind the camera. The struggle and the reality. Most people you think are judging you are mostly too busy judging themselves, or if they are picking you apart, it is typically to hide their own insecurities.
- Accept yourself – We are all different, due to lifestyles, past experience and even genetics. There is no way we can look and be just like anyone else. It is beautiful that we are all not uniform. Be happy for their happiness but know that they are on a different path than yours.
- Strive for excellence rather than perfectionism– Perfectionism relies on so many other forces outside of control. Work on what you can control which is your effort. Strive for excellent effort, work hard and diligently knowing then it won’t always be perfect.
- Love the grey– Perfectionism is an all-or-nothing- black and white world. Learn to enjoy the time in between in the grey area. There is a big gap between 0 and 100%. 10 percent of something is better than nothing. Knowing that by trying you are so much closer to success then waiting for things to be perfect to even start.
How to use Insecurity
Elizabeth Gilbert has a great analogy to living with fear.
She says about fear:
“There’s plenty of room in this vehicle for all of us, so make yourself at home, but understand this: Creativity and I are the only ones who will be making any decisions along the way. I recognize and respect that you are part of this family, and so I will never exclude you from our activities, but still—your suggestions will never be followed. You’re allowed to have a seat, and you’re allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to have a vote.”
Switch from letting fear drive your vehicle, your actions, to being a passenger.
Let fear drive you to what you need to work on
Be aware of the moments that drive up these feelings of insecurity and rather than burying them dig further. Find its source and then work on that aspect. Self acceptance, self worth, letting go, embrace imperfection etc.
Let fear show you what you really want to do
Those times when your heart beats faster or your palms get sweaty are the things you should be doing. We tend to be most afraid of the things that really are going to help us. So do it anyways.
The most important is letting go of the fear of fear. Understand that it is a part of you but doesn’t need to control you.
Understand also when you need help, that there is no shame in that. We all have fear and insecurity, some are just further along the process or understanding and using them.