Beyond the unhelpful messages about our insecurities many of us encountered growing up, we also live in a society which either tells us to be confident, or to work on being confident. What gets missed is that the latter often implicitly means the former, which is that anything other than confident is not okay. At best, we’re told that our insecurities are to be managed, amended, overcome. At worst, they’re something to get rid of, to be kept at bay, to cover up. Working with people therapeutically made it clear to me how damaging living in that societal feedback loop can be.
With constant messages like, ‘be better’ and ‘be the best version of yourself’, it is not hard to see how we are led to strive for a version of us that is empowered and just feels good. There may be times when that is the case and it may feel lovely, but if a person were just that, they wouldn’t need anyone. These words are designed to give you a sense that you always need to look forward, and not around. There seems to be a denial about the relational aspects to living, the idea that whether we like it or not, whether it is safe or not, we do depend on each other.
What often feels like a personal lack is really the sense that we once needed something that wasn’t there. And it isn’t as if the messages we receive make these insecurities go away. They don’t have that kind of power. But they do achieve something: they can numb us to parts of our experience. We can then become desensitised to the point where we lose touch with needing others and believe that we can do it on our own. This is how we gradually stop being available to the information these insecurities hold, which is that actually we do need people, whether it is for reassurance, for support or just for company.
It is no easy task to come to terms with parts of you and parts of your experience you wish not to have. There is solace though in recognising that wishing them away is something that most of us share, partly due to the context in which we live in.
What seems important to me to hold onto is that as much as insecurities are painful reminders, they can also help us feel closer to each other. They hold the possibility of creating intimacy, which can heal the sense of alienation your insecurities emerged from in the first place. It is on these intimate grounds that you can begin to show how you actually are, instead of how you would like to be. These conversations then can lead to relationships that have the most potential to reframe your insecurities as being worthy of owning. It is the norm of one dimensional characters, which our society is flooded with that needs fixing, not you.
As published on welldoing.org