Insecurity. It’s something we’re shamed for having if we’ve grown up being told that we could be perfect. It’s confusing. If you like to follow your instincts, it’s the kind of threat feeling that tells you to run, but when you do run, you sabotage the good things in your life.
Vulnerability, opening your heart, living your truth… All such big concepts that can land on your life with a feeling of fear that isn’t easy to understand.
I once had a healer “open my heart” and I had panic attacks all night because I wasn’t used to the rush of energy moving through my body.
In all this discomfort and sometimes true panic, Brene Brown and Deepak Chopra and scientists and pop culture all swear that your vulnerable state is where your genius resides.
I wonder if you, like me, have made your life smaller than it needs to be because of your insecurities. I wonder if you’ve struggled to know what this magical vulnerability really feels like? I wonder if you’ve been able to find your way forward even in the face of what feels so wobbly in the service of living your dreams?
In Psych Central’s lovely post 5 Things To Do When You Feel Insecure, #1- recognizing that there’s beauty in insecurity- stands out as so indelible:
“Insecurity — vulnerability of spirit — is essentially humility, which is a divine quality. In fact, since pride is considered to be the origin of sin (Saint Augustine), then humility would be the greatest spiritual virtue. With insecurity, we admit that it’s not all about us, and that philosophy in this world of self-centeredness is quite lovely. Says Stephen Fry in “Moab Is My Washpot”:
“It’s not all bad. Heightened self-consciousness, apartness, an inability to join in, physical shame and self-loathing—they are not all bad. Those devils have been my angels. Without them I would never have disappeared into language, literature, the mind, laughter and all the mad intensities that made and unmade me.”” (you can read it all HERE)
There’s beauty in vulnerability. Being able to feel deeply human is all of art and life and love and awesome.
There’s not any beauty to be found in making your life small because of this vulnerable feeling.
It’s sad, stuck, introverting, spiralling downward and self-weakening. Or at least it’s been that way for me. And most of the people I know who’ve played it safe.
I can’t tell you the number of times that, in moments of feeling weak and defeated, I’ve said NO to big things… or decided not to show up… or shut the door on opportunities that were great… Or totally sabotaged them… because I felt I wasn’t worthy or I wasn’t ready.
Are you making your life small because you don’t feel ready or worthy of a step in the direction of your own dreams?
Fast Company published an amazing piece called “Why Insecurity May Be The Key To Success” and it focuses on Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic’s book entitled “Confidence: Overcoming Low Self-Esteem, Insecurity, and Self-Doubt.”
There is arguably great value in sitting in your own insecurity and learning from it. Whatever reasons you are esteeming yourself unworthy can be the key to making yourself worthy. Whatever fears (or real facts) you feel about not being ready for something can lead to the improvements that make you great.
In New Jersey I grew up with people saying, “Don’t get too cocky.”
In this article, the idea that over-confidence (being too cocky) is brought to light as a huge crutch. It’s not the answer to life, to be supremely confident. If you think you know everything, you have no room to improve. Feeling insecure can force you to do more, prepare more and actually achieve more than your super-confident counterparts.
“But, as Chamorro-Premuzic writes, “the truth is often painful, but less painful than ignoring it.” Realistic self-doubt has some big advantages. “It is a motivating force, because being dissatisfied with yourself is the best reason for wanting to improve.” If you’re aware that you have limitations, you’re open to feedback on how to improve. You understand that there are things you need to practice.”
If you can accept yourself as someone with a whole lot to learn, insecurity can guide you rather than setting you running in fear.
Have you ever sabotaged great things based on your own insecurities?
If you’ve watched people being abused (or you’ve been abused) it can be tricky to let yourself feel vulnerable. If you’ve been pressured to be perfect your whole life, it can be a threat feeling to be imperfect.
If there’s one person I know who has gone well out of her way to make sure that her life was impervious to these threats, it’s me.
After a string of traumas that landed on me like a pile of bricks, I decided to stick to what I know how to do well and ardently avoid other things. I avoided scary situations, I avoided real love, I avoided any competition. I stopped reaching in directions that were “out of my lane” where I excel naturally. And, in a grand conclusion to that chapter of my life, I rather unconsciously nearly destroyed one of the more important relationships to ever enter my own life.
Assumptions. Deep emotional and hard-to-shake reactions to things.
Have you been there?
We all have crazy childhoods and our own traumatic pasts. Growing up watching my mom with her generous open heart being abused in front of me until she was hysterical, chain smoking into a cloud… shelving her dreams for this emotional storm… letting her life unravel…
My own reaction was to not ever let anyone close to me challenge me. Deep fear. Loads of vulnerability. Insecurities that I just couldn’t bear to feel. After all, in my mind, if I do that, if I let myself become too open, I open the door to my own life unravelling, you know?
We’ve all made these kinds of false equations in different ways.
If we didn’t see and hear and pick up different negative ideas about life early on that didn’t serve us, we’d all likely be 100% free and communally linked in powerful ways and literally soaring in a love-fueled blaze every day.
And I believe we can do that. Now.
Because no matter what you’ve taken in, what experiences, what assumptions, what traumas and fears… No matter what limiting ideas or pressures to be perfect or pressures to fix things that weren’t your problems to fix…. no matter what… you can fix them.
I’m lucky I had the chance to make the unconscious come to my conscious awareness and address it before I would live to regret it.
My own A-Team of healers, the brilliance of EFT (aka: tapping), a journal filled with pages and pages and pages, my Buddhist practice that helps me to change my own patterns… and a decision to let go of this horrible stuff that was making me feel unworthy: it set my whole life free.
The rewards for staring down the pain still unfold around me. All the ways I didn’t reach out in life because of these unconscious feelings that festered fall away every day, and all the opportunities spill forth.
We all have the chance to make the unconscious come to our consciousness awareness.
We all have a change to set things straight when we see them happening.
I don’t think there’s one universal way to do it. Some of you run, do yoga, meditate, pray…Radically forgive… Some go to therapy… You’ll find your ways. There are infinite ways.
The only one universal thing that holds true for everyone I know and I’ve been shown: the need to see that these feelings are your own to own. To see them. To be OK with them. To know you can, however you do it, become free of them.
Where do you repeat the same cycles over and over again, that end in quitting, running away or getting stuck in deep frustration and anger?
Where in your home are things in disrepair but you’re plagued with excuses? (I still have a few big home projects of my own to finish!)
Where are you not really bringing it 100%… and where are you blaming other people? Or life? How it isn’t fair…
And finally… why do you keep doing it? Are you willing to live a smaller life or lose people you love to keep these ideas in place, pretending to keep you safe while they keep you stuck?
All these questions were posed to me in many different ways by all the people who help me bring to light my own insecurities. Answering each one showed me just how radically responsible I am for every single thing in my life.
It’s not a self-blaming kind of responsibility, either. It’s deeply freeing.
All this is to say, if you’re plagued by feelings that you aren’t worthy or you’re not ready, they can ultimately lead you to greatness if you don’t judge yourself for this, but see it for what it is— an opportunity for a major shift into greatness.
And, you are worthy of greatness.
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