Below is an article I wrote for Paramount Business Coach blog and website.
The word alone elicits feelings close to shame, self-doubt, and embarrassment. Feelings we like to pretend aren’t there. But over the last several years, as I have observed, researched, and uncovered all I could about this word Insecurity, for my book In_Security: Break Free from what Holds You Back, I’ve discovered everyone struggles with some form of insecurity or another. It is not gender specific, age specific, or career specific. It is a human problem, manifesting itself in as many different ways as the individuals it infects.
It is fascinating to me, really. All the different facets that come from such a universal feeling that most are unwilling to talk about. And why are we unwilling to discuss it? Because of insecurity. We don’t want to look weak. We don’t want to admit that, we too, have moments of doubt, fear, and uncertainty. This might ruin our reputation. People might not take us seriously. After all, we’re taught that “positive thoughts breed positive action” and while that may be true, complete avoidance of our insecurities may not be the answer. Through much of my research I have discovered a surprising, yet helpful fact about our greatest insecurities.
“The path to your greatest impact is often through your greatest insecurity.”
I’ll share from my own journey. I’ve struggled for years feeling insecure about writing. Not just writing, but sharing my writing with others. Putting myself out there for acceptance or for ridicule. Because of this, I remained in a state of apathetic complacency, swatting away the gentle reminders to use the gift I had been given, convinced it was worthless. I knew for ten years I was supposed to write a book—not only a book—but a book about overcoming insecurity. The ironic thing is I was insecure about writing a book about insecurity! So I put it off. For ten years. Doing nothing also left me empty. Not only empty, but feelings of self-contempt continued to increase for the constant procrastination and waste of precious time and talent. I didn’t know what was worse: Facing the fear of completing, publishing and marketing the book, or living with regret. I finally started writing, and I can tell you from experience, facing the fear is the way to go.
Along this journey, many others have confirmed the same feelings as they’ve shared their insecurities with me. Is it possible that the very thing holding us back could be the launchpad of a great calling we’re too afraid to step into? Could our insecurities be an indicator of the path we need to take?
We could say it like this: insecurity is the neon sign that points to a life of purpose, freedom, and fulfillment. The more insecure and fearful you are about that path reveals just how important it is that you take it. We just have to fight our way past the insecurity that threatens to leave us stagnant.
Here are three things to watch for as you embark on your own fight to overcome the insecurity holding you back from your greatest impact.
Your personal self-regard will reflect in every interaction you have. The way you think about yourself will teach, inform, and direct others to think about you the same way. The problem with this, is oftentimes, we are riddled with self-doubt, fear, and insecurity when faced with a risk we want to take. We want others to believe in us, but we first must believe in ourselves. Do you want to know a great way to have a better self-regard? Do the things you say you’re going to do. Not just the promises you make to others. Keep the promises you make to yourself. That’s where the real test of self-integrity is given and where positive self-regard will grow. Have a phone call you need to make? Put it on your calendar and make it. That idea you’ve been sitting on? Get the prototype going. The thing on your list you are most afraid of? Do it first. Taking small steps to keep the promises you make to yourself will help foster personal trust. If you can trust yourself that you’ll do what you know you need to do, you’ll be unstoppable.
What Will People Think?
This fear is deep-rooted in our human desire to be accepted and most of the time we tend to avoid moving forward if there is a chance of rejection or judgement. What if I fail? What if this idea doesn’t work? What if they say no? What will people think if…? The great news is: people don’t think about you. Do you want to know why? They are too worried about themselves to put any real emotional energy into thinking about you. And even if they do think or speak negatively about you, it’s most likely because you’re doing something they aren’t doing and they misplace personal resentment into negative jealousy. Holding yourself back based on a fear of what others think is a waste of time and a trap designed to keep you from moving forward. Recognize it, and walk through it.
Whether we agree or not on the existence of a Higher Being, a Master Creator, Mother Earth, the Power Within, or God, I know we can all agree that we have an enemy working against us. I call it a spiritual enemy because I believe in God and the spiritual realm that’s waging war in the unseen. Steven Pressfield simply calls it Resistance—the enemy within, who, by the way “is always lying and always full of shit.” If you have ever dreamed of becoming more than you are, you have experienced Resistance. It’s that little voice inside (or big voice, depending on how good we’ve gotten at ignoring it) that wants to take us out.
What insecurity holds you back? What is keeping you from taking the next step in your journey, business, dream or life? Is it any wonder you feel uncertain, cautious, or doubtful in your approach to this sensitive issue? There is so much working against you. Our enemy knows your potential and fears what could happen if you not only knew your greatest calling, but walked in it confidently. Why do you think he works so hard to make you feel incompetent, unqualified, fearful, or even undeserving? So you’ll avoid the work.
So, maybe you don’t believe in the devil, but you know the Resistance I’m talking about. Think about it. Oftentimes, it is the unknown that makes us feel unsure or insecure. It is the risk that makes us fearful. Most of the time when we’re faced with insecure feelings our instinct is to back-track or avoid those situations or talk ourselves out of what we know we need to do. If we but understood the path to our greatest calling is often through our greatest insecurity, we could plunge headfirst into that destiny, knowing that great blessing is waiting on the other side.