Everyone has insecurities. Even if you have your life together and feel confident, there are still moments that may cause you to feel insecure about something. Insecurity shows up in so many different places.
Think about the last time you felt unsure about something. Maybe it was at the dinner table having a conversation about a topic you don’t know much about or at a Zoom meeting for work. How do you handle it when you feel insecure? So what can you do when you face insecurity?
In this article, Jay Shetty lays out three of the most common insecurities people face. Then he provides several exercises that can help guide you through the moments when insecurity takes over.
It Starts Young and Grows
“The interesting thing about insecurities is that if you do nothing about them, they continue to grow,” Jay Shetty explains. “They continue to get worse if you ignore them and just hope they're going to go away because unfortunately, they don't.”
A survey in Vogue magazine1 found that 99 percent of people can remember the first time they experienced insecurity. The average age was 16 when it occurred.
Men were more likely to be insecure about their abilities or personalities and expressed that those thoughts mostly came from within. Women were plagued with insecurities about their bodies but felt the insecurity resulted from things others said, even if the comments weren’t directed at them specifically.
It Affects Body Image
We are bombarded by the expectation of beauty around every corner. Social media is filled with beautiful people doing beautiful things. Glamour and beauty grace the pages of magazines. Headlines on how to lose 20 pounds this month reach out and grab us as we scroll through social media or pass the newsstand.
“What we hear, read, and see is going to influence who we think we should be,” shares Jay Shetty. “If we're only reading gossip magazines and scrolling social media, we're going to feel pressure to be what we see and hear.”
According to Yale University social psychologist Irving Janis, it’s very common for people to change their thinking or feelings to match the mindset of those around them. He coined the phrase “groupthink bias” and describes it as being persuaded to think a certain way because everyone else thinks that way, even when it is something you may have felt differently about on your own.
Be Careful What You Feed Your Mind
When you feed your mind junk, it affects your mindset. If body image is an insecurity you struggle with, take note of what you are feeding your mind, then make a change.
Jay Shetty suggests exposing yourself to positive body image campaigns and following uplifting, impactful social media that aligns with your beliefs. When you change your environment, it helps you make a change from the inside out.
According to Jay Shetty, saying your body defines who you are is like saying you let your clothes define who you are. In the same way, your body is a set of clothes that covers your consciousness. Just as you would not allow a simple piece of physical material like a shirt to define you, so your body does not define your life. It’s just the garment that houses who you are.
“If you really value your qualities and your abilities, that will supersede how you feel about your body,” Jay Shetty explains. “That doesn't mean you neglect your body. It just means learning to love yourself for who you truly are.”
“Confidence is a feeling of self-assurance arising from one's appreciation of one's own abilities or qualities,”2 explains Jay Shetty. “Confidence doesn't come from other people valuing and validating you. It comes from you valuing and validating yourself.”
But there is that voice in your head, that built-in inner critic shouting that you are not good enough, don’t know what you are doing, and are not smart enough, pretty enough, or talented enough.
So how do you quiet that voice that tells you that you don’t measure up?
“You have to communicate with that voice,” Jay Shetty explains. “If you try to ignore it, it will get louder and louder like an alarm. What that voice is doing is showing you something you may want to improve. It's a signal and an alert.”
When you open up to that signal, question what level of desire you have to be involved, whatever the situation is.
“You get to make a decision, but don't make a decision before it's moved on from being a distraction,” Jay Shetty explains. “We tend to make the distraction our decision, but wait a bit longer and decipher whether it truly is something that you want to care about.”
Here’s how to get started valuing your abilities and qualities. Take a sheet of paper and make a line down the middle of it. On one side, list all your abilities. On the other side list the qualities you value. By listing these things, you will become more aware of your capabilities and qualities, and you will put them into practice more often.
To make it more real, choose one quality from your list per day or week to share with others. Let’s say you choose empathy. Ask yourself how you can experience empathy or share it with others, and determine how your empathy can help someone else. Then go out and do it.
Jay Shetty explains that we've been brought up to believe that the only thing to offer to someone is our body and our appearance. When you feel that way, you question yourself at every step. Beautiful things can happen when we realize that we have qualities and abilities beyond our body to offer to others.
“Actively working on loving things about yourself one step at a time may help you find self-acceptance,” explains Shetty. “When you write down what you love about yourself, you practice it more, you become it. You love yourself more. It's a beautiful methodology.”
Three Signs of Insecurity
Are you a people pleaser? Is no a word that escapes you? Answering yes to these questions, is the first sign that you struggle with insecurity.
Saying yes to everyone and being a people pleaser means you are basing your security on providing security to others. How is it possible for you to provide security to others if you don’t feel it yourself?
Another sign of insecurity is criticizing others.
“When you let yourself criticize someone else, you become those qualities,” explains Jay Shetty. “You lose yourself completely because you start to do what you are criticizing. Let's say you don't like someone complaining. Now you complain about them complaining, what have you become? You have become a complainer.”
Overcompensation is the third sign you deal with insecurity.
“A lot of people overcompensate in their careers,” shares Jay Shetty. “Some people chase success and fame because they felt unwanted when they were younger. Some people chase money because they felt unstable when they were younger. The thing you pursue today is based on your insecurity.”
If your pursuit is based on insecurity, even when you get to the top you will still feel insecure because the feeling didn’t come from a lack of something physical. It came from a lack of confidence.
This is why it is essential to face your insecurities head-on. Don’t try to sweep them under the rug. Attack the root of the problem and stop seeking validation from others. Figure out why you are not checking in with yourself before relying on the opinion of others to make decisions. Find your own confidence.
Helping Others With Insecurity
If you have a friend struggling with insecurity, telling them they are amazing doesn’t help the situation. Instead, it plants the idea that they need to constantly adapt to portray more of the qualities you praise, which only leads to more insecurity.
Instead, try to help them develop the skills to believe in themselves. There is a difference between you believing in them and them believing in themselves. Jay Shetty encourages you to share the exercise where you write your abilities on one side and your qualities on the other and teach them how to use one ability or show one quality per week or day.
“If all of you are discovering your passions and understanding your strengths and qualities, you elevate the atmosphere surrounding you,” explains Jay Shetty. “When you are with a group of people with high self-esteem, you're going to learn from each other, you're going to grow together, there's going to be a lot more abundance in that space.”
The Vogue study stated that developing insecurities when you are young doesn’t mean that they will stay with you forever. It showed that 50 percent of men and women surveyed came to love and accept themselves fully.
The good news is that dealing with insecurities gets easier with age.
More From Jay Shetty
Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode on “3 Deep Insecurities We Have” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at jayshetty.me.