All of us are insecure about some aspect of our lives or what we are like as people. There are many ways that you can deal with insecurity; for example, you can address underlying low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy, or try to refrain from stacking yourself up against others or what you believe the expectations or standards of society are. Another useful way of combating personal insecurities is to turn them into strengths, which this article will focus on.
The Strength of Humor
One of the most effective ways to turn insecurities into strengths is to gain the courage to laugh at them, to see the funny side to them. This doesn’t mean you have to diminish the things you are insecure about. The point of making fun of your insecurities is to lessen their seriousness. This is often what comedy aims to do, especially when it comes to dark humor.
The late spiritual teacher Ram Dass communicated something to this effect when talking about his neuroses. He said that, despite all of his training as a psychologist, his years of psychedelic use, and meditation, he hadn’t got rid of a single neurosis. Instead, he found it better to treat his neuroses as little schmoos rather than these massive issues to contend with (schmoos are the fictional cartoon characters created by the American cartoonist Al Capp; they are idiosyncratic, unthreatening creatures).
Rather than see our insecurities as a massive problem to be solved, denied, hidden, or ignored, we can treat them as these much smaller things; this funny, ridiculous way we trip ourselves up from time to time. We can change the quality of our insecurities in a significant way through mockery and a lighthearted perspective, making insecure thoughts and feelings less controlling in our lives.
Seeing the Silver Lining
When we are insecure about something, we are usually stuck in black-and-white thinking, only seeing the negative in the thing we are insecure about. It’s important to get out of this unrealistic way of thinking and to see the mixed nature of our personality and where we are in life. Say, for example, that you are insecure about being quiet. You may come to believe – perhaps due to the generally extroverted society we live in – that being quiet is a weakness. But in actual fact, there are many upsides to having a quieter, more introverted inclination. People who are quieter can be very adept at listening and thinking deliberately before they speak.
There is often a silver lining to the things that make us most deeply insecure and uncomfortable, although it may be hard to see at first. To take another example, say you get to a point in life where you become sick and tired of being so insecure and you go to a lot of effort to work on yourself. In doing so, you may develop certain virtues and characteristics that you may not have developed – or at least not to the same degree – if you were never insecure in the first place. By trying to view insecurity as a source of motivation, you can turn your insecurities into all kinds of strengths.
Meta-insecurity is the term I use to describe the feeling of being insecure about being insecure. I think this is something that a lot of men struggle with. The idea of feeling insecure, about anything, is seen as unmanly, as a sign of weakness. Macho masculinity encourages men to be ashamed of insecurity, based on the assumption that true men must feel secure and confident at all times. The problem that results from this way of thinking, though, is that you cannot expel your insecurities through sheer will alone. The insecurity will remain and due to masculine standards, you’ll just end up feeling insecure about the insecurity. This further compounds the mental suffering you’re already going through.
In order to avoid meta-insecurity, you need to allow yourself to feel insecure and own up to that fact. There is nothing unmanly about doing that. In fact, learning to accept and confront your insecurities will help you become mentally stronger as a person.