We don’t like to talk about our insecurities. We feel vulnerable and exposed. It makes you feel like there’s something wrong with you. No one else will understand how you feel. Even worse, what if they laugh at you?
Your mouth feels dry, you can’t breathe, and you suffer from headaches or muscle tension. You can’t work. Nor can you focus. Oh! You don’t even feel safe taking calculated risks as you don’t trust yourself.
Guess what! You are not alone.
Almost everyone else feels the same way.
Even the loudest (and the proudest) guy at the party is putting up a show. Deep down, he is only overcompensating for a sense of inadequacy. Sure. We need fear as a protective instinct.
Without it, what would stop us from peeing on the electric fence, going swimming in a pool full of crocs, or putting our hands in the blender — along with other things? After all, the programming of fear used to save our butts from wild animals back when we used to live in caves.
I mean, who wouldn’t want to be saved from the occasional saber-toothed tiger or woolly mammoth? Those guys were no joke.
However, the game is quite different nowadays. Today, if you have a roof over your head, food on your plate, and people that care about you, then it’s more than likely that your basic needs are being met.
In that case, you no longer need to be on alert 24*7.
Yet, most of us are. That’s precisely when the feature becomes a bug. And as I mentioned earlier, it can be a pervasive feeling. But there’s a way out.
01. How To Let Go of Your Past
Your unhappiness cannot be blamed on your past or your environment. And it isn’t that you lack competence. You just lack courage. One might say you are lacking in the courage to be happy.― Ichiro Kishimi, The Courage to Be Disliked
Yes. According to Freudian psychology, you are a product of your past experiences. But if you keep letting your past dictate how you act, feel, and think today, you will be forever miserable.
So if you want sustainable happiness, consider the Adlerian stream of psychology. According to this theory, you can choose your actions at any moment. You don’t need to let your past define you as an individual.
So how to take back control of your happiness from your default setting?
- Know that you are not your thoughts and feelings. They don’t control you. You control them.
- Be self-aware. Seeing yourself from beyond the lens of your own bias lets you rise above your toxic behavioral patterns.
- Let go of the things that are beyond your control. Instead, focus your efforts on problems that either you have caused or those which you can solve.
- Stop taking yourself too seriously. Enjoy the absurdities of your existence, and if possible, find humor in your hardships.
So long story short quit being a chronic victim.
02. How To Quit Comparing Yourself to Others (the Wrong Way)
Yes! There’s a right way! We’ll get there in a minute. But first, let’s talk about what most people are doing wrong:
- Falling for other people’s curated self-image: When the grass is unrealistically greener on the other side — (chances are) those are plastic. People only show the best bits of their lives on the internet. If that’s what you are going up against, you are bound to feel insecure.
- Playing the status game: The only way to win this game is by not playing it. And to break free from ‘what are people thinking about me?’ you must first stop judging other people. Just like social media image, social status can be very deceptive.
- Being offended by other people’s success: Our ego doesn’t like to admit that others can be better or more successful. As a result, when we see someone doing better than us, we start making excuses, belittle their achievements, and take it as an attack on our existence.
If you keep repeating these mistakes, you will spend the rest of your life whining when other people live your dreams. But if you want to do it right, here’s what you need to do.
Admire, don’t envy. And learn from people more successful than you and compete against your past self.
How to do that? Simple. Whenever you see someone doing what you dream of doing and winning:
- Instead of getting insecure, you feel inspired.
- You try to understand what they are doing right and what you are doing wrong.
That’s the easiest way to do a better job, learn newer skills, and live a more productive and meaningful life.
03. How To Conquer Fear of Failure
If you are ambitious, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the fear of failure and give up on your dreams too early. I don’t blame you. Your fear is justified.
Failure might have real-life consequences on your physical and mental well-being, relationships, and finance. So there’s no use trying to counter your fear without mitigating the chances and severity of your failure.
Fortunately, I have just the framework for that. No. You don’t have to give up on your dreams. All you have to do is break them into smaller, more achievable goals.
How would it help? Here’s how.
- Increased motivation: Setting smaller goals can help to increase motivation, as it allows you to see progress and feel a sense of accomplishment along the way.
- Improved focus: It’s easier to focus on smaller goals and be more productive. It allows you to zero in on specific tasks and to make progress without getting overwhelmed.
- Greater adaptability: By breaking a dream into smaller goals, you can also be more adaptable and flexible in the face of changing circumstances. If something unexpected comes up, you can adjust your smaller goals accordingly without losing sight of your overall dream.
- Enhanced problem-solving skills: Following smaller goals (that are not too difficult) can help us to become better problem solvers because they provide an optimal level of difficulty.
- Improved self-confidence: Achieving smaller goals boosts your self-confidence. It allows you to see that you are capable of achieving success.
That’s why knowing how to break your bigger dreams into smaller goals can (not only) help you beat your fear of failure (but also increase your chances of success many times).
04. How To Be More Resilient When Things Aren’t Going Your Way
Short-term stress is (actually) good for you. It keeps you from slacking off into the rabbit hole of complacency. However, when it becomes chronic, it can really mess you up.
The solution is pretty simple. And it has helped me outlast obstacles far bigger than me. Here, it goes.
Let go of what you can’t control and focus on what you can.
Sounds good! Doesn’t it? But is it even actionable? What are the things that we don’t control? What are those that we do?
As an old emperor said 1800 years ago:
You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.
Do you know what’s funny?
Even today, despite most of us holding no position of power, we are still plagued with our delusions of control. We need to be in charge of everything. And that’s what keeps us bogged down.
No. It’s not just any random stoic philosophy.
As Amy Morin, psychotherapist, and international bestselling mental strength author, quotes in her Forbes article while talking about individuals dealing with depression, anxiety, and stress-related issues:
Rather than controlling their emotions, they’re always trying to control the environment.
So do yourself a favor, and stop doing that.
05. How To Stop Being a Jerk to Yourself
I’ll keep this one brief.
Don’t wait until you are successful to be happy.
If you attach your happiness to solely your desires, you starve yourself of any sense of fulfillment until you get them. And even when you get them, you will keep asking for more.
It doesn’t come on its own. Like everything worth having, it requires deliberate practice to find sustainable happiness.
And one of the best ways to fight insecurity and find lasting happiness is learning to stay in the moment. It frees you from the guilt of your past and the stress of your future so you make the most of your now.
It all starts with a choice. Do you continue to feel sorry for yourself? Or do you want to make your journey more memorable?
Don’t stress about it. You don’t have to choose.
Your actions will do it for you.
That’s why you need to ask yourself “Who defines your actions? You, or your default setting?”