My clients continue to teach and inspire me every week. My teen clients have taught me about cyber bullying, young love, and the pressures of social media. Older clients teach me about the grief and pain of losing their children to college or marriage. I love entering the intimate worlds of young girls and women alike and learning about them and their interpersonal findings and reaching growth. One thing that has struck me recently has been a theme across the board with us girls/women and comparison and insecurity. Worthlessness, competition and even shame – these triumphant entities seem to hold no limitations or qualifiers in whom to overtake or when to appear. And so, from decade to decade, the stories jump from terrible boyfriends to infertility to comparisons about house buying and preschools to soccer teams and college qualifiers. It continues with our grandchildren and even aging and health. These insecurities about where we stand as women and the comparing of those around us sound different as stories, but inevitably hurt just the same.
May I share some observations on ways our insecurities hurt us?
- Insecurities follow or precede depression and anxiety. When I witness or partake in the misguidance of insecurity I invite myself into a deeper place of shame and unworthiness. It is dangerous to notice the slippery slope of feeling bad to the pitfalls of self-hatred. Therapy is such an excellent, safe place to depend on someone to help you off that slippery slope. We want to know we can safely explore our fallacies and still hold on to our truth in a way that is reliable and containing.
- Insecurities isolate us. I hate seeing how insecurity takes away our voice. I see women lose clarity, language and social confidence that they can navigate their usual surroundings. When we feel bad about ourselves we find a smaller world to feel safe in. We are not sure we are worthy enough to get help from others. It’s a lonely place and we don’t feel like ourselves.
- Insecurities make us meaner. Have you been in that season when everyone around you seems to have what you can’t get? Perhaps it is 30 engagement ring pictures in a row on Instagram or perhaps it seems like all of your friends but you have lost the baby weight. I hate to say it, but I have definitely been here. It hurts me to take note of a darker, less kind, less compassionate part of me that arises. It is a part of me that is unhappy, ungrateful, hurt and lost. When I put the work in to believe I am worth it despite shortcomings I witness myself re-finding the “me” that I like. I feel happy for others, I compliment more, I am a better friend. Do any of you resonate?
- Insecurities take away opportunity. Most folks are pretty astute. As humans, we are intrinsically designed to pick up on the energy of those around us. That means, unfortunately, that when we are sitting in the discomfort of insecurity, most people already know that. They see us move away from them, settle into unhappiness, and act out. They choose not to hire us, promote us, or be our friends. They choose not to trust us in ways that invite social and emotional intimacy. It’s completely our own loss when we do not address our insecurity.
- Insecurities impact our health. When I am working with a client on self-worth, I do not first hear about this as one’s most critical need. I hear about insomnia, change in appetite and feeling down. I hear about substance abuse or lack of care for our bodies. Our body is wise and knows when our mind and hearts are not aligned. Though we may not pick up on the subtle signs of fear, worry, insecurity and dissociation, our body knows immediately and acts out with fatigue, lethargy, weight gain/loss and so much more.
This may feel like a tough topic to read or think about. I only hear courage when women of all ages speak to the vulnerable parts of them that bubble up when challenged with our own value in our relationships and in this world. I’d love to talk more about it with you.