Insecurity is like your shadow, always at your side. It whispers in your ear and undermines your confidence. But it doesn’t have to.
Growing up, I was always shy, intimidated and afraid to speak. I am the youngest of five, and it was hard for me to be outgoing, vocal, and secure among the stronger personalities of my older siblings. This continued through my childhood, and I developed behaviors and coping skills around this. That was a big mistake and I ended up, as an adult, being ruled by anxiety, shyness and insecurity.
I especially noticed this in my dating life. I always felt insecure—unsure of myself and my actions, full of doubt and second-guessing myself. This perpetuated thoughts and beliefs that undermined my own confidence. They left me feeling inadequate and with low self-esteem. I felt awkward in my own skin.
Feeling like a failure not only fed my bipolar, depression, and anxiety, but it fed my shyness and insecurity too. I felt extremely uncomfortable and awkward getting close to anyone. I had a hard time opening up, being myself, being vulnerable and being authentic. Constantly in my own head, I over-analyzed every moment and let insecurity fill my thoughts. It was always the same mental condemnation, “He is not going to like me.”
As I went on a string on dates, I saw that the “common denominator” for my lack of success was my own insecurity. An experience with one guy who wanted to connect, but felt that he couldn’t, was really eye-opening. I didn’t realize how much I was in my head, in my hurt, in my flaws. I’d erected emotional walls, hiding my bipolar, depression, and anxiety behind them. Worse, I was hiding my authentic self behind them!
Though it didn’t work out with this guy, he served an important purpose. He motivated me to finally work on myself. He was the sign I needed! I had gotten comfortable being alone, being the eternal “single woman.” This created a life of independence and autonomy, but also of loneliness and complacency. This was not what I wanted for myself! I wanted love, happiness, connections, and a life partner. I was willing to do whatever I could to achieve this, even if it meant changing myself and my ways. Nothing was getting in the way of my love and happiness, not even myself.
Breaking down barriers
They say removing all barriers to love is the way to accomplish it. It was hard for me to deny that I was what was in the way. I was my own barrier. The beauty of the situation was that the problem and the solution were two sides of the same coin.
I began working on what I thought my barriers were: shyness, insecurity, repetitive negative thoughts. All my negative thinking was hurting me, not helping me. It wasn’t protecting me; it was preventing me from living the life I wanted —I just hadn’t been conscious of the effects.
First, I reflected on my thoughts and my actions. It was easy to see that I was very insecure on dates. No matter the guy, the carousel of negative thoughts would start spinning. I’d get shy and nervous, unsure of what to say or how to act. I’d always end up assuming the worst—that he wouldn’t like me. While the guys changed, the mindset never had.
I needed to dismantle this belief structure. I started recognizing what wasn’t working for me. Guess what? Instead of unconsciously perpetuating all the limiting and erroneous beliefs and behavior patterns, I started recognizing they were ineffective. I wasn’t going to continue to fall for these self-sabotaging practices anymore!
Deconstructing the shell
I had constructed a protective shell, made it my home, and I lived in it with my doubts and insecurities, with my shyness and self-sabotage. Now I needed to come out of it because this was not what I wanted for myself—my one life. But to work on my insecurity, I had to work on my fear. Change is scary, but it is truly scarier being stuck where you don’t want to be. Fortunately, I learned the more I came out of my shell, the more I built confidence and new effective ways of being.
Overcoming the hurdle of fear was well worth it to make positive change. I was willing to do this, was willing to not let anything stop me, not even myself. I intended to allow myself to open up and be more vulnerable. It didn’t come easy but it did come. It was as if I had fallen into a pit of insecurity. Now I had new coping skills to use to get out and to keep from falling back in.
For many years, I lived with what didn’t serve me. I didn’t know I could make positive changes and learn new ways of being that did serve me. I could though, and I did. This is what it means to take on yourself. It means confronting what gets in your way, challenging what isn’t serving you, and reclaiming your authentic self. This is how you increase your happiness, your quality of life, and your confidence. All of us can do this, even those of us
Debbie Jacobs is an advocate, writer, and healing specialist living in Alexandria, Virginia. She lived most of her adult life with a diagnosis of depression and anxiety, and then was diagnosed with bipolar. She speaks out on how self-improvement is life improvement and believes we all can live happy lives by making positive changes to ourselves. Her influences are Louise Hay, Napoleon Hill, Les Brown, and Tony Robbins. She does positivity life coaching and is in the process of writing her first book on her healing process of accomplishing positive thinking, positive effective coping skills, and healthy self-esteem—what she calls “freedom and happiness.” She shares her work to motivate, inspire, and help others make positive changes to themselves for their freedom and happiness, too.
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