Insecurity. The cause of much suffering.
As every human being in history has struggled with their insecurities, so have I. Some of us have overcome ourselves more than others but no one gets through life without getting burned by the flame of inferiority at least a few times. Just when you least expect it, that ugly beast rears its head. One day you’re feeling all good about yourself and then, all of a sudden someone says something that triggers a deep wound within you. The next thing you know you’re playing defense…or crying…or running away to hide from the world.
I’ve spent some time thinking on this because I’ve genuinely concerned myself with how on earth people can overcome this HUGE roadblock that trips up so many from reaching their greatness. And by just saying, “who cares what other people think” is useful only if you actually feel that way. Which obviously most people don’t feel that way. Most people super duper care what other people think, therefore that phrase is useless for them. Words are nothing if you don’t act them out. That’s why I’m interested in breaking this apart and giving practical insight as to how to grow and learn from your flaws and the criticism of others.
So, that being said, I’m going to share my insight and two cents on how I overcame and still continue to overcome my own insecurities.
Insight #1: Don’t be a blind dummy. Know your flaws and work to be a better version of yourself.
What it seems like to me is that most people aren’t interested in looking at their flaws. I mean no wonder, it’s not exactly a fun thing to do. Most people would rather avoid them and deny them all together. This appeases for the time being but it’s not functional in the long term if you want to do anything significant with yourself (which you should want to do something significant with yourself… considering you’re a super complex human being with god knows how much potential within you).
When you’re not aware of your own flaws then you are at the mercy of your insecurities. You’re at the mercy of other people if you don’t address your flaws. That’s so obvious. They know something about you that you don’t seem to know about yourself, therefore they have the upper hand. Make yourself brutally aware of where you could improve because then it comes as no shock when someone else points it out.
Now obviously there are other factors that play into this insight. Clearly you should have some discernment about who you are letting hurt your feelings. If you’re out doing your thing in the world and some ass hat decides to rip you apart with their words from behind their computer screen, move along. You’re doing things in the world, they are not. Remember that. The individuals who will hit you below the belt the hardest are the people who are lashing out at life because they aren’t living theirs.
Insight #2: Fail with a smile on your face
WELCOME failure because at least you’re TRYING. The people who will criticize you most ferociously are the people who aren’t trying. The people who are trying have no time to criticize you, they’re busy. The one’s whose criticisms can be taken in and used are the people who want the best for you and also the people who are also *TRYING*.
Insight #3: Stop worrying about being EQUAL to everyone else (or being as small as everyone else is acting).
It’s almost like we’re trying to overcome our own weaknesses all to be held down by everyone else’s weaknesses. WHY!?! Why are so many striving to be mediocre these days? We have this idea that if we are all perfectly equal we would be perfectly happy. Who are we kidding??? We love competition and striving. We love to overcome and stand out. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. If you put in the work, you deserve to stand out. Why should you sit around pitying the one who puts in no effort and still wants credit? I know this seems harsh but my god, you’re wasting your greatness if you do that. Be an example. Show other people around you what it looks like to develop and expand, what it looks like to LIVE. Don’t let your insecurities (or your family and friend’s insecurities) keep you small because you don’t feel like you deserve to be great. You deserve it if you strive for it. If you earn it, you’re allowed to own it.
Insight #4: If you’re extremely insecure it’s because you’re working against yourself.
No one else is going to believe in you more than yourself. As soon as you start believing in yourself then everyone else may hop on board. You’ve got to muster up as much confidence as possible in the beginning, knowing that you’re going to suck at first at whatever new thing you’re trying. Give yourself some time to get a hold on what you’re working on and you may be surprised at what you accomplish. If you are interested in something, PURSUE IT, no matter what others are saying. I truly believe that we all have a very unique purpose and if you let your interests lead you, that will unfold your potential into the world and everyone will be very thrilled with you for doing that (whether they’re thrilled with support or thrilled with envy, their choice, not yours).
Insight #5: Now this may come as somewhat of a contradiction but that’s just how it’s going to be because I think it’s useful. Every single person has something to teach you.
Even the hater of all haters has something for you. It may not be much, but it’s still something. Every single person you encounter has something useful for you if you can learn to see it that way. Whether you learn that they are small-minded and their words are not to be taken seriously or perhaps there is one tiny grain that you could take away from their critique that could do you some good. For instance, one random guy commented on one of my videos and said “Lauren, shut the f*ck up and stop telling people what to do and go live your life because you look miserable”. See, I’m not going to shut up because I have things that I want to say BUT that day I probably could have used a reminder to go out and live a little and get out of my books, so I took his words seriously. I went to the park and had a great day thanks to that dude.
And then another situation with my brother comes to mind. He tore me apart about a creative project I was working on. He basically told me everything I was doing was wrong and that I needed to use my little pea-brain (just kidding, he didn’t say pea-brain but that’s how I felt that day) and that I needed to come up with something better. I felt deflated. I thought “well I’m just going to go home and never come out of my house because I’m good for nothing”. I did that for a day or two and then I decided that wasn’t a sustainable long-term plan, so I got some balls and faced what he said. He was right… I did need to be greater than that. So, guess what, I figured it out, I made it better and wah-lah! I’m much better for it.
It’s more about knowing what to do with the criticism, that’s what makes or breaks a person. Having a reasonable amount of discernment so that you can make use of guidance from other people who are also trying and then disregard nonsense from those who are not. It’s not always about not caring about what other people think. Sometimes you should care because they are directing you to greater parts of yourself. If no one ever pointed out what I was doing wrong, I’d think I was perfect and doing everything just right and I’d never grow. Allow people to be tools along your journey. They may have something to offer you that you’ve been missing and that could catapult you to the next level if you are wise enough to take their gift.