Many people feel insecure at least some of the time. Some people feel insecure most of the time about most things. Other people may occasionally feel insecure or only in certain situations or with certain people.
Sometimes insecurity is the result of trauma. If youve experienced a betrayal or hurt, such as cheating or lying or abuse in your current or past relationship, its normal to want to protect yourself from further hurt. You put up your guard and feel anxious, on edge, or worried. Your nervous system goes into overdrive searching for evidence of danger. You might also notice that these feelings of insecurity remind you of childhood wounds. Children tend to internalize harm caused by others and believe its their fault because theyre bad, flawed, unworthy, unlovable. This sets the stage for feeling insecure in adult relationships.
Other times its not so easy to spot where insecurity began. You may have a pervasive feeling that youre not good enough. You worry about what people think. You dont want to disappoint or displease others. You try to live up to someone elses expectations or standards. Comparison leads to insecurity. It makes you feel less than compared to others that seem prettier, thinner, smarter, stronger, or funnier.
Most people think the solution to insecurity is having others love and accept them. It isnt. I remember a painful experience I had in middle school. I had a great group of friends, felt accepted, cared for and wanteduntil they rejected me. Friends and lovers will come and go. Sometimes they drift away. Sometimes they storm off after an intense fight. Sometimes they die. If youre counting on others to make you feel secure, you will eventually be disappointed.
When people feel insecure in a relationship, they often turn to their partners seeking reassurance and validation. A partner can never provide the sense of security youre seeking. Relationships are always uncertain. There are no guarantees that your partner will be dependable or faithful or with you for the rest of your life. The only way to feel secure in your relationship is to seek security and confidence within yourself.
Feeling safe and secure means that you know you can cope with whatever life throws your way. You cant control what your partner does or if this relationship ends, but you can control your response and your feelings. Its empowering to know that you can cope with the unexpected and messy parts of life. This doesnt mean that you wont be hurt or angry or heartbroken. It just means that you have confidence in your ability to get through really tough situations and feelings.
Chances are youve already gotten through some pretty challenging things in your life. When I reflect on my experiences, Im in awe of some of the things Ive overcome. I didnt always do it with grace, but I did get through more pain than I imagined I could. I suspect the same is true for you.
Life experience shows us that we can endure a lot of adversity and uncertainty. You can not only survive, but thrive when you choose not to let lifes curve balls keep you down or feeling like a victim. This is where confidence comes from. It doesnt come from reassuring words or promises from your partner or anyone else.
Look inside yourself for the validation youre seeking. Honestly, no one can give you want you cant give to yourself. Your partner might say the words you crave: Youre the most beautiful woman Ive ever seen. I cant imagine my life without you. The problem is, if you dont believe this to be true deep in your soul, youre not going to believe it when anyone else says it to you. If you want others to make you feel worthy, youll always be chasing this approval. Instead:
- Tune into your own feelings. Spend some quality time with yourself.
- Identify your feelings. A list of feeling words can be helpful (try this one).
- Validate your feelings. Its normal to feel angry when my roommate drinks all the coffee and doesnt buy any to replace it. Or, I understand why I feel anxious when Mary comes home from work late.
- Identify your strengths. Everyone has good qualities. Remind yourself every single day of your positive traits and skills. I promise you wont become conceited.
- When you catch yourself worrying about what might happen, gently bring yourself back to the present. You can ask yourself: How likely is this to happen? Is there anything I can do about it?
- Remind yourself that you can cope with whatever happens.
- Soothe yourself. Recognize when you need comfort and give it to yourself. You can calm yourself by listening to music, taking a hot bath, engaging in repetitive motion such as walking, massaging your temples, sipping a cup of herbal tea, or using essential oils.
Photo: freedigitalphotos.net 2016 Sharon Martin. All rights reserved.