Reading time: 3 minutes Dec 5th 2016

One of the issues I have come across a lot over the years is that of ‘insecurity’. I have met so many people who struggle with how they feel about themselves. They see themselves as less than others and not ‘good enough’. They compare themselves with people around them and find themselves wanting. Nowadays, with more information available to us than ever before it is even easier to compare ourselves unfavourably to others. It is easier than ever to feel insecure.

If security suggests safeness, insecurity suggests danger. In most cases, it is the danger of the ego being negatively impacted. Insecurity suggests we are uncertain of our own self, unconfident. I think it is fair to say almost everybody can relate to feeling insecure every once in a while. Some of the most confident actors out there have explained how while on the outside they look like they have everything under control, on the inside they struggle immensely with their confidence. Herein lies the first lesson. When feeling insecure realise that the image of others you may be comparing yourself to is the external image and not the internal one. The external image can seem flawless, the internal image never is.

Often we check out Instagram photos or Facebook status updates and get the impression that everyone except us is killing it, everyone except us is doing terrifically and everyone except us is winning at life. The reality is that we tend to show to others that which we want them to see. We market to ourselves. Understanding this and acknowledging there is a lot more going on for every person inside their head, is the first step.

Next, becoming more ‘secure’ in ourselves involves understanding what is constant about us and what is within our locus of control. Our constants are the true aspects of our character, the parts of us that are true regardless of our mood or our circumstances.  They involve answering the questions: What is true of you no matter what? What about you can you control? When you focus on what is true and what you can do, you start to realise your fundamental value.

Lastly, changing your way of thinking about how you value yourself is critical. In behavioural economics, there is a term called ‘reference dependence’. It suggests that we often create a subjective value for something based upon what we compare it to. So if you compare a house to a better house it seems worse than if you compare it to a worse house. What this means from an insecurity perspective is that you take back how you evaluate yourself. Instead of gauging how good you are by comparison with others, you simply strive to constantly improve. You evaluate yourself compared to how you were before. If you are worse than before than you understand what went wrong and what you need to do differently to get back on track. If you are the same, then you figure out what you need to do to improve. If you are better then you discover how you can continue to improve.

Understanding that others are not as perfect as they may sometimes seem, knowing what is true about us no matter what and evaluating ourselves by a comparison to an earlier version of ourselves are three important steps to becoming more secure with who you are.

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