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In the past few months, I’ve been trying to know myself better - aiming to become more self-aware and thereafter accepting myself. I must confess - reading it is at least 100 times easier than actually sitting down to understand myself, my emotions, and my values. It’s the difficult conversation we run away from - a straight to the point example is how when we are addicted we do not wish to accept the same and, many a time, do not even realize it.
It is intriguing how we fear talking about ourselves to ourselves!
In this write-up, I’ve tried to explore my insecurities - and wish to know more about how individuals around me cope up with their insecurities. I sincerely thank every individual out there in my life who have been accepting of my insecurities, helped me become better, and provided me with the courage and motivation to know myself on a deeper level.
Insecurities are with everyone - or at least believing so makes me feel good. I have had been living my life without acknowledging my insecurities and that made my relationships with others shaky - a small emotion that I was not prepared for, and the entire world would turn upside. I then decided it was time to do something about it and dedicated time to understand the cause behind a feeling - not the immediately apparent cause, rather going deep as to what is it that is giving me the pain (more on this later).
And thus I began exploring my insecurities to build emotional resilience and make my life more stable. While I’ve written the last sentence with ease, I must emphasize that it is one thing to say and decide, and a whole another game to be able to sit down, introspect, and accept even the most unkind and disgusting parts of ourselves. Just a few days back - after having explored my insecurities for a month - I faced a sudden emotional challenge and the default scripting of blaming, hurting, and bad-mouthing kicked in instantaneously. So, it’s difficult… very difficult!
Heart Inside A Cage Surrounded By Knives | Illustration By Aditi Maurya
Let’s imagine a cage of sharp knives, and these knives are surrounding our hearts - that’s how I feel insecurities are. We do not have control over when someone may push one of those knives a little inside and leave us bleeding. Can we remove those knives? I don’t know - maybe we can, maybe we cannot. Can we not bar everyone from pushing it in the first place? That’s difficult to think.. and has it’s own implications if we try to run away from all the hurt in life. So, what can we do? Let’s take a detour and come back to it later.
Everything’s in my mind, and as a writer, unless I’ve made myself vulnerable it is hard to connect. You may be thinking - “What are you talking about? What insecurities? You have everything in life”. Or in the very least, whenever I open up about my problems to anyone that is what they say to me (and not just keep to their mind ). So, I’d take this opportunity to share a few of the knives I’ve been able to recognize to help us connect better.
Just a few weeks back, a celebratory event happened in my life. Out of excitement I called my best friend, and they seemed to be preoccupied with their plan - I said to myself, “That’s cool! I’ll let them know later” and everything seemed chill. After a few hours, I was scrolling Instagram and saw a story where they are celebrating with another person on some occasion - boom! Having already accepted the fact that they may be busy, they may have made prior plans, I sunk into sadness. Why? I felt they had chosen this other person over me - what a ridiculous claim now that I think of it. It is not just events like these but trivial events - such as expecting a friend to sit next to me and they aren’t able to - that would bring up this insecurity of mine and push me on a rollercoaster of negative emotions.
While I can’t say with a cent percent surety, I believe the insecurity has been with me for a few years - I had a crush during my coaching and later on, she started dating another person in the same batch. This event has made me fear even small actions of others that may indicate they are “choosing” someone else over me.
Another very familiar insecurity for me is the feeling of not wanting to let people know me well. As I’m writing this blog, a tiny part of me wants to erase it all lest there are judgments and shattering of a “without-cracks” image of mine a lot of individuals have. I recently read the following insightful thought (in a blog by Yashica) that has helped me feel better - while the responsibility of the image is not on me, it’ll be my irresponsibility if I let that image thrive in the name of my fears and not let the person see the real me.
I’m not responsible for your version of me in your mind!
Though I have not been able to understand if there has been a cause for this insecurity or if it is natural, I’ve started to proactively interact with others so that I come face to face with my fears more often. Ahh! That’s a spoiler, so let’s quickly get to discussing how I’ve been trying to improve.
How do we develop muscles? By consistently exercising so that the muscles are “damaged” and get repaired (if you don’t understand what I’m talking about, I highly recommend seeing the explanation by TedEd). Can we do something similar to build emotional resilience? Yes! I think so - and here’s what I’ve been trying in my life.
First and foremost, I have to have hard conversations with myself. Once I find an insecurity, I try to understand it better and look out for a root cause or an occasion that might have made me fearful of such an event. While this is not the most important step, it helps to target the core idea in a narrowly focused manner - writing down situations that may trigger the insecurity, imagining myself being in those situations, feeling the hurt, and thereafter reminding myself that this insecurity is only there in my mind.
From the cage of knives analogy point of view, we are finding the handle of one of the knives, firmly holding it, safely (according to our resilence) pushing it towards our heart, damaging the muscles, and let the muscle-building take place.
Fair enough! Why am I pushing the knife myself into my heart? That sounds crazy! To add to that, in the entire process, I’ve come to realize that there is no way to completely get rid of insecurity once and for good. So, it makes the answer to “why” of even more significance. The decision to choose to go through the pain needs a strong why, and while I do not have a universal reason applicable to all, I’ll share mine.
I’ve seen a drastic change in myself, the emotions I feel, and how I respond to my friends, family, and individuals in other relationships with me. I feel it has made the significance, depth, and bonding of my relationships better. The practice has helped me appreciate being vulnerable to others as I know I’ll be able to handle the hurt that they might inflict - it’s a liberating sense of self-awareness and self-acceptance. As an icing on the cake, being aware of my insecurities has helped me be more accepting, understanding, and accomodating of the insecurities of people I care for.
Being honest, when I started with this practice, I did not have a strong “why”, all I wanted was to not feel such strong negative emotions in my life due to trivial actions of others - a feeling of others having too much control over what I feel. Now, after practicing it for some months, I see that’s the last of the reasons - it has made those negative emotions to a bare minimum, improved the quality of all my inter-dependent activities, and helped me focus better. Just to give you a glimpse - if you’ve known me you’d know that it took me more than six months to accept breakup with no focus, no dedication, no quality work, nothing during that time; now I faced a similar situation and was able to get myself back on feet in 15-20 minutes.
Where should we go from here? I’m going nowhere, you may choose to go somewhere. My purpose with being more aware of my insecurities has been to add more quality to my interactions with others in life, and I see it is going to continue forever since there will always be some or the other insecurity that’ll pin me down, I’ll learn to handle it, a new one will come up, and the cycle will repeat itself [without fail ].
It’s an eternal improvement: a dance I ought to perform without knowing when, how, where, and with whom it’ll end, if it’ll end!
I’m sure with the uniqueness and intellect all of us possess, you may have been coping with your insecurities in a manner completely different than mine - I’m excited to understand your ways and, somewhere, it may help me deal with mine better