Nearly all of us, on some occasions, are plagued with insecurity. Are we good enough, we ask ourselves? We often don’t feel confident to be who we are. We often feel less than most people. We feel we are failures in life. These feelings of smallness are exacerbated when we see our friends, family, and loved ones becoming successful. Although mentally we feel happy for the person, deep down we feel sad that we haven’t obtained what the other has.
The problem in all of this is that our sense of self-worth is born out of comparison. Nearly all people do what they do, not because of an inherent motivation to do it, rather due to the need for recognition. We must understand this fact deeply. We do things for recognition, for love, and respect from others. This is true of nearly all of us.
Human beings crave love. And this is born out of the fact that we were born helpless and weak. We needed our parents to nurture us, to protect us, and provide for us. This forms the basis of Bowlby’s attachment theory. All children need a secure attachment base in order to become independent. Unfortunately, nearly all parents are not ‘perfect’. Parents often under an enormous stress of bringing up children, cannot give unconditional love to the children, although they may want to. The stresses of parenting often percolate unto the children, and we often develop our core personalities during these formative years.
If children attach securely to their parents, then by the time they become teenagers, they begin to slowly wean away from parents and begin to attach to their friends, to pop stars, to movie actors. I remember as a teenager my room’s walls were plastered with posters of cricketers. This is a normal transition from parents to the social peer group. And as we begin to mature, we look to our partners to form a secure attachment base.
The challenge with needing another person as a secure attachment base is that people aren’t perfect. They cannot be available at all times for you. They have their own fears, insecurities, and uncertainties that they have to deal with. And therefore, the dysfunction in most relationships. With each asking to be loved but missing the point.
Then there are others who recognize that nobody can provide this support and therefore they disengage from all relationships. They keep it casual, loose and lacking in any substantial depth. Deep relationships involve emotional vulnerability. To tell the other, “I am going through this” and not always discuss movies or sports. It’s not that movies or sports are bad, and they can indeed be a part of any good relationship. But the true test of a deep connection, is how vulnerable you are to the other. These people who avoid emotions are often escaping from their own pain of not getting the love they need.
What is the way out? How can we deal with our insecurities and the need to have reassurance? In my own experience, we need to begin to know who we are. The final stage of attachment is to attach onto oneself, or in other words, to be free of all external attachments. This doesn’t mean that one is reclusive or doesn’t form warm social bonds. On the contrary, the more secure one is with oneself, the greater they can be present in relationships, the more kind and compassionate they can be to the other. The lack of support, the lack of warmth and the lack of emotional intimacy in relationships, are not because you are bad, but perhaps the other has not ‘attached securely with themselves’. How can we begin to become secure in ourselves?
We can begin by looking inside ourselves. The more we look into our natures, we begin to realize that what forms the core personality of every human being is a strong desire. This could be the desire to cook well, to paint, to solve mathematical problems, to work with communities. These core desires are who we are in the innermost essence. It is important to understand that this isn’t a desire to eat chocolate ice cream or visit Paris or win a national award. Those are desires linked to external pleasure gratification. Core desires on the other hand are linked to our will to express ourselves. The need for a creative outlet of our energy, of our expression.
However, very often, we neglect this, because we are still looking for external affirmation. Perhaps, your mother told you that only losers became artists, and therefore you lost the enthusiasm to pursue this. We were not encouraged adequately and in the right manner. And therefore, we continue to look for external validation and do the things because others want us to do it. This is also the basis of all social media – like me, love me, complete me.
One of the first things to do to overcome insecurity is to begin to connect to your deepest will, your core desires. Who are you? What makes your life worth living. Know this and become comfortable with this. This needs a lot of courage to do so (read my earlier post on courage). One needs the courage to sit with one’s innermost yearnings and say “Yes this is what I feel”. At this stage it is important to realize that we don’t say “what’s the use, this is not possible. I can never achieve this.”. No. We must learn to simply look at our yearnings and not worry whether they can be manifested or not. This is the courage we need.
Once we begin to know who we are in the deepest essence, people’s opinions, their own achievements do not bother us so much. For we know who we are and we love this aspect of ourselves. Nobody can take these core values from you. Do you want to be in a kind, loving relationship? Why? That’s because you value this. And even if your partner doesn’t give these to you, you aren’t disturbed. That’s because you are kind since you value it immensely. Do you want a meaningful job where you can contribute positively to the world? Those are your innermost yearnings. And even if the present job is boring and repetitive, your desire will make you naturally take action in meeting the right people or looking online for the right job. And you shall find it. This is the law of manifestation and actualizing your innermost yearnings.
Therefore, to summarize, we feel insecure because we live life in a comparative manner. In order to be secure, we needed our parents to attach to, then friends and then a partner. However, true security comes when we attach to ourselves. And in order to do that, we need to begin to look at what our innermost will and yearnings are. Once we find this and become firmly established on this, we begin to notice how life aligns with those innermost yearnings. We manifest ourselves. And that brings the greatest confidence, which cannot be taken away. That remains as long as we remain here.
May all of us find that space!