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4 Ways Insecurity Hinders Personal Growth

4 Ways Insecurity Hinders Personal Growth

Every person struggles with insecurities of some kind. If you’ve met a person who looks and acts confident, get them away from the cameras, and they will tell you that it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Some people are good at dealing with their insecurities honestly, and others are good at hiding behind a facade of pseudo-confidence.

We worry about what people will think, how people will respond to us, or whether or not we’ll be accepted by a certain group. We obsess over whether we’re good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, tough enough, bright enough, strong enough, tall enough, shapely enough, athletic enough, or educated enough. Yet we don’t get anywhere beyond the mirror. Social media doesn’t help much either. Fighting for likes, retweets, views, and reposts only exacerbates the problem.

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And why do we struggle more with our insecurities instead of fighting to overcome them? Well, it’s very hard to deal with something that you won’t face. You can’t overcome something that you won’t acknowledge exists. This goes for anything including insecurities. Overcoming our struggles begins with an acknowledgement that we are struggling, and having the courage to face what we ultimately want to defeat.

Here are four ways insecurity hinders personal growth:

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1. We live for approval, acceptance, and affirmation

Many people live to hear someone say “good job,” “you look lovely,” or “you’re so smart.” Anything that approves of their behavior, actions, or looks makes them feel valued and worthy. There is nothing wrong with feeling this way. Every person has a healthy need to know they are loved and valued. When it becomes an obsession, however, it’s a real problem. When we don’t hear these lovely words about ourselves, we fear we have run out of favor with people, and then our self-image is stripped away. When our goals and dreams hinge upon the acceptance of other people, we will rarely ever reach what we are trying to aim for. Approval, acceptance, and affirmation are good only in healthy doses. Too much of it can leaves us smothered and stuck in a cycle where we crave approval so much that we question everything people do and say in both real life and social media.

2. We allow doubt to kill action

Everyone faces doubt at some point in their lives. Whether it is about our abilities or we don’t think we can come through on a deal, we face doubt on a regular basis. I am not too sure that is normal. Perhaps, research in the very near future will tell us if it is. Whatever the case, you and I must learn to overcome doubt every day in order to reach our goals. We can be said to be growing when we intentionally put a hand up to the voice of doubt. That little voice in your head that says “you can’t,” “you’re stupid,” “you’ll never succeed” will always be there. It is your job to fight it. Instead of focusing on what is the worst that could happen, think about how you can take action to bring about a desired outcome. Doubt kills action before it even begins. You must shut the door to doubt and its loud voice in order to succeed.

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3. We harbor a negative self-image

When people criticize us, we can begin to internalize what is being said against us or about us, and start to criticize ourselves. Harboring negative criticism while doubting our abilities and seeking out approval by the people around us leads us down a steep road of always comparing ourselves to other people and produces a negative image of ourselves. We can be the exact opposite of the criticism that is being leveled against us. We can be smart, gifted, and competent, but if we see ourselves as dumb, stupid, and a failure, that is how we will act. People act according to the belief they have about themselves. They may be the very best at something, but if they don’t see it and don’t believe it, they won’t act like it and will sabotage themselves.

4. We don’t accept ourselves (or anybody else) as we are

This is one of the biggest obstacles to overcoming insecurity. Acceptance. Sure, we are not perfect, and we know it. But trying to be perfect looks on the surface to be a lofty goal, but it isn’t helping us very much. The result of trying to have the perfect shape, the perfect body, the perfect hair, the perfect look, is that we end up rejecting ourselves — the real parts of us that matter. It is really weird because we envy other people for how they look but those people don’t like very many things about themselves either. They are just as insecure as we are. What good does it do to envy another insecure person? Externally, we reject ourselves because we’re overweight, we have too many curves, we have big ears, we have pimples and dark spots. Internally, we reject ourselves also because we don’t like the parts of us that are arrogant, lazy, dishonest, and hateful. Accepting ourselves doesn’t mean we let things go that are in our power to change. However, not accepting ourselves (and other people) is a major problem that only makes us more insecure, distrusting of others, and unhealthy physically, emotionally, and mentally.

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Featured photo credit: Morwen / Flickr via flickr.com

More by this author

Daniella Whyte

Psychology Researcher

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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