Blog

March 20, 2019

Freedom From Insecurity

Insecurities are part of the universal human condition. Some people are more adept at hiding their insecurities while others struggle with them more openly, but everyone experiences them. Simply living in the world, with all its expectations, judgments, and comparisons, is enough to plant the seeds of insecurity—even in relatively secure individuals. For those struggling with substance abuse, this natural tendency toward insecurity is amplified by the social stigma surrounding addiction.

For many people, on-the-job worries, academic demands, social media issues, personal or familial difficulties, and medical problems are enough to generate anxiety and resulting insecurity. Now, imagine adding the extra burden of a chronic, relapsing disease into that troubling equation. Imagine being psychologically assessed and diagnosed, voluntarily or forcibly admitted into rehab, and ordered to undergo treatment. Imagine how it would feel to alienate family and friends, experience or live in fear of legal repercussions, and watch as your life gradually spirals out of control. This is a daily reality for millions of people suffering from active addiction—or in recovery—and it helps put the issue of insecurity into proper perspective.

There are a multitude of reasons why people become insecure as illustrated below:

  • Past judgment, criticism, and abuse—unfortunately, people frequently grow up in critical or abusive environments. Beyond the heavy burden of childhood guilt and shame that may occur with divorce or other unanticipated family dynamics, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse can take a devastating toll on self-esteem, leading to a host of long-lasting and potentially permanent insecurities. People tend to internalize the impact of whatever environment they grow up in, and for those suffering from unrelenting guilt and shame, the burden may be overwhelming.
  • Negative self-concept—although external judgment, criticism, and abuse help negatively shape self-esteem, they are not the only reasons. Certain people are highly sensitive and naturally harder on themselves. This innate tendency may collide with adverse experiences to form a troubled self-concept.
  • Inability to trust—social or familial abandonment and rejection are common causes of damaged trust. Although certain people grow up in families and have life experiences that are relatively healthy and inspire trust in others, others are not so fortunate—and the consequences are long-lasting.
  • Self-comparison—as we age, we are increasingly exposed to societal norms concerning beauty, attractiveness, and success. People often fall short of these largely superficial ideals for numerous reasons and suffer from unfavorable comparison and heightened insecurity as a result.

Fortunately, insecurities do not have to blossom into a self-limiting, emotionally defeating condition. The following steps can be followed to help significantly ease the burden and reinforce a positive self-concept:

  • Self-acceptance—one of the greatest yet most rewarding challenges in life involves accepting ourselves exactly as we are, flaws and all. Most people readily accept and even love those parts of themselves that are considered attractive or socially desirable, but experience much more difficulty when it comes to accepting—let alone loving—undesirable traits. However, by seeking ways to love our imperfections, we will find freedom from constant insecurity and eventually experience greater peace.
  • Forgiving the past—insecurity is often rooted in adverse past experiences, especially the ongoing criticism of loved ones. Forgiving the people or situations responsible for hurting our self-esteem helps release unnecessary resentment, empowering us to rise above the crippling voice of insecurity.
  • Developing trust—trust is a deeply spiritual faculty necessary to living a positive, functional life. Without trust, our lives are ruled by fears of the past reliving itself, and the future enveloping us in its bleak shadow. With a little spiritual faith and practice, we can turn this destructive habit around, breaking the chains of our past while remaining hopeful about the future.
  • The art of non-comparison—comparison is a popular but dangerous tendency, one that erodes self-esteem and magnifies insecurity. One proven way to overcome this tendency is by learning to be genuinely happy for others and blessing them. For example, if we notice feelings of jealousy and low self-confidence around a popular or successful friend, we can always practice being grateful for their presence in our lives and wishing them well on their journey. Although jealousy is a natural human emotion, it doesn’t help relieve our own burdens; on the contrary, it frequently increases them.
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