Insecurities are a mirror of our deepest fears—and, like fear, they can sneak into your life and manipulate your success.
When you give into self-doubt and insecurity, they steal the joy of your present and your future. They weaken your self-growth and hinder your ability to love yourself.
Related: The Business of Self-Esteem
So while everyone has insecurities, not everyone is controlled by them. What makes the difference? How can you outsmart your insecurities?
1. Identify the illusion.
“The task we must set for ourselves is not to feel secure, but to be able to tolerate insecurity.” —Erich Fromm
Fromm, a psychologist and philosopher, reveals an important detail about one of the sneakiest ways insecurities gain their power: illusion. Insecurities expose expectations and these expectations turn into standards. Growing up, you absorbed certain standards about who you should be and what you should do to merit acceptance. Some standards can be valid and healthy, but more often, they become intertwined with false, harmful illusions. Those illusions become toxic to your self-esteem.
The most commonly accepted illusion is that it’s possible to exist with no insecurity at all. You begin believing that strong people don’t ever doubt themselves, or that confidence is a gift some people are born with (and you didn’t’t win that lotto), so you continue striving to eliminate your insecurities to meet that standard—instead of learning to neutralize them. This misdirection can leave you frustrated and discouraged.
2. Neutralize the threat.
Accepting that every person you meet faces some form of self-doubt can show you there is nothing special about yours. That is an empowering place to stand. So you begin looking at others who have conquered theirs and glean inspiration from them. You restore control back into your choices, not your personality type.
Become an observer of yourself. Listen to what your insecurities are telling you and respond back. I’m not good enough—for who? I’m not attractive enough—who said that? My boss hates me because I messed up my last report—what about the last five years of stellar performance? By facing your fears, you remove their power.
3. Laugh at yourself.
Learning to laugh at yourself is the best remedy to self-doubt. Of course no one wants to fail, no one wants to be embarrassed, no one wants to be “less than.” But one thing is guaranteed: It happens to all of us at one point or another. And when it does, the smart ones laugh it off. If you know you gave your all and it didn’t work out, all you can do is your best—and laugh at the rest.
Once you have identified and neutralized your insecurities, you can walk with a renewed sense of ability to take new risks. To try new things. To be different today than you were yesterday. With that comes new adventures, new experiences, new growth and a new, happier you.
Related: 8 Ways to Be a More Confident Person