I have mastered quite a few things in my life that I know I can do exceptionally well. But if truth be told, there are quite a few things which I have mastered, in which other people are even much better then myself. Initially it bothered me as I went down the lane of unfair and unwarranted comparisons. It even had the effect of me feeling somehow inferior, my confidence took a bit of a puncture and I even wondered whether I am cut out for this specific assignment in life.
Insecurity is that inner feeling about being inadequate in some way or the other, lacking the necessary confidence and even feeling threatened by this state of affairs. We all grapple with insecurity at times on issues such as performance, looks, influence, material wealth, social standing and acceptance within friendship circles, to name but a few. There is nothing wrong with experiencing a fleeting thought about some of these issues but chronic insecurity can have a devastating effect on how you relate to yourself and others. Even in a marriage relationship, we might have thought that we love each other and know each other well, yet there will not be lasting fulfilment if one of the spouse’s mind gets perpetually pre – occupied with questions like: why can’t it be like in the beginning? I wonder does he / she still finds me attractive? Am I good enough? Am I satisfying his / her emotional and sexual needs? Insecurity is like a cancer, destroying your self – worth and confidence from the inside out.
We have all been born into this world for a unique assignment in life and our Creator endowed us with the unique capabilities to bring it into fruition. Insecurity threatens our true sense of identity. Firstly, it will make you to adopt a superiority complex whereby you overcompensate for acceptance. You will frantically try at all times to be seen, heard or acknowledged. You become so obsessed with yourself and will even use others to bolster your ego and make you feel better. Your favourite cliché is always – they could not get anything done without me. Secondly, insecurity can also lead you into a situation where you adopt an inferiority complex. In this type of environment, you always feed on the negative inner voices about yourself like – they are better than me, I am not good enough, I have nothing to offer why even bother, if I was not born in this family and rather in that family this, that and the other would have been much different.
INSECURITY CAN DEVALUE US
The world thrives on a celebrity culture. Everyone wants to be a star and makes the media headlines. We can at times put these celebrities on such a pedestal based on criteria we’ve created in our minds. In a lot of cases some of those celebrities want to escape back into normality but they are ensnared in this artificial world of glitz and glamour. Yet some of us are yearning for that kind of lifestyle based on external considerations and not fully knowing the degree of hollowness that is experienced by the incumbents. The facade makes these people appear to be having a greater life than ordinary people.
When we get around those people that we in our minds have created a picture of being greater and better then ourselves, it fans the flames of insecurity within us. It makes us to feel of lesser value and falling short of the mark based on some distorted criteria. We can progressively develop such a myopic perspective of greatness and in the process we devalue ourselves.
You do not need to be rich, handsome and famous to be of any value. There are some inner qualities that have tremendous brand value and define who you really are. Are you trustworthy, kind, honest, friendly, having a healthy sense of humour, courageous, competent in your area of expertise, graceful in communication, a visionary, endowed with wisdom, passionate, disciplined, compassionate, God fearing ….? In our world where compromise, expediency and lack of commitment are the major currencies in which people deal with each other, these are indeed very rare qualities. Let me tell you without any fear of contradiction, you definitely got something of value to offer the world. Instead of focussing on what you lack, rather focus on what you’ve got and excel in it.
RUN YOUR OWN RACE
In a leadership context, I have learned the hard way that I have to run my own race in my own lane with my eyes focussed on the finishing line. I am competing in this race of life to be the best possible me. Carey Niewhof puts it so aptly “There is a world of difference between wanting to do your best and wanting to be the best. Competitive leaders feel they have to be the best. Healthy leaders simply want to do their best.”
Having a healthy sense of self – confidence is not merely a matter of complying with a checklist of rules and regulations based on a set criteria, it is a true reflection of our hearts. It is for this reason that Solomon once wrote in Proverbs 4 : 23 “ Above all else, guard your heart, for out of it springs the issues of life.” In order not to create havoc, panic, drama and confusion amongst those in our immediate sphere of influence, we guard our hearts by:
- Not insisting on always being right and deliberately misinterpret people’s motives to suit our case.
- Walking in humility. It will enable you as a leader to lead in the good times as well as the tough times. Proud people only show up when things go well and they can take the glory.
- Surrounding ourselves with people that can hold us accountable and can at times challenge our own perspectives and refine it to be much more appropriate.
- Never looking down on people and merely see them as a means towards an end. We appreciate the value and potential in them.
- Being teachable and remaining on a journey of life – long learning. We will open up ourselves to the impartation of the best possible ideas and insights.
The other day I read a story about The Tale of the Two Wolves. A grandfather from the Cherokee tribe is talking with his grandson and he says that there are always two wolves inside of us which are always at war with each other. One of them is a good wolf which represents things like kindness, bravery and love. The other is a bad wolf, which represents things like greed, hatred and fear. The grandson stops and thinks about it for a second then he looks up at his grandfather and says “ Grandfather, which one wins? “ The grandfather quietly replied – the one you feed.
Are you going to feed your insecurities or are you going to feed your sense of self-worth, dignity and confidence? Whatever you feed will determine your identity.