Whether you’re 14 and walking into a classroom or 41 and walking into an interview, everyone has bouts of feeling anxious and insecure. For a lucky few those feelings are brief but for many others the feelings are constant unwelcome companions.
Eliminating the negative energy of long-term insecurity cannot be accomplished solely through affirmations, self-help books, or pharmaceuticals. Those are simply stopgap ways of masking the issue. As long as insecurity is lurking beneath the surface, no amount of masking, cosmetics, money, or bravado is going to keep other people from sensing, and responding to, that negative energy. Fortunately there are ways you can eliminate feelings of self-doubt and the subsequent negative energy that the feeling produces. Altering your energy takes work but if you’re serious about wanting out from under the anxiety of insecurity, and you want to significantly increase your positive energy, the six tools to get there are:
Compartmentalizing, Outward wonder, Abdominal Breathing, Perspective, Mannerisms, and Resigning from policing.
Outward Wonder. A common trait among people suffering from insecurity is that when they interact with others they frequently worry and project about what the other person is thinking about them. Practicing outward wonder is the simplest and the most important step in eliminating insecurity. It boils down to training your mind to look at and listen to others without thinking about how you are being perceived. An effective way to begin to use this skill is to challenge yourself to find the most attractive quality you can in every person you encounter, in the first 20 seconds of coming face to face with them. Change your inner dialogue from “I wonder what they are thinking about me” to “What do I think is the greatest thing about this person”. Because you are actively seeking something good, you will be generating and presenting positive energy and because you are doing this instantly you are not giving insecurity an opportunity to surface. Others will naturally respond in an overwhelmingly positive manner when you focus on their good qualities.
Compartmentalize. Think of this step as addressing the drama gene. In this context learning to compartmentalize is simply training your thoughts to not allow a local issue to be a global concern. An overly obvious example is the teenage girl with a pimple. 99.9% of her entire being is perfectly fine but all she is thinking about is that one (relatively) tiny blemish. Her energy is stalled because a very local issue was allowed to take up global space in her thought processes. In order for her to compartmentalize she would simply acknowledge that 1/1000th of her skin surface has a temporary imperfection and then redirect her thoughts to focus on something positive/beautiful/interesting outside of herself. All local issues can be compartmentalized. This creates a box around our negative energy (where it can wither and die a natural death) and leaves our positive energy dominant.
Abdominal Breathing. Insecure and anxious people are likely to draw shallow breaths (chest breathing). Abdominal breathing allows more oxygen to enter the blood stream which has too many positive physiological effects to list. Not only will your eyes widen and look brighter but your thought processes will be clearer and more measured. Your skin ‘pinks up’ (gains color), and your facial muscles relax. All of those tiny imperceptible differences naturally make you appear healthier and more confident. When you naturally appear more confident, others will respond to you as a confident person, which circles back to sincerely increase your confidence.
Perspective. This step is similar to compartmentalizing and will require the greatest time commitment (a half hour) to prepare to use. Perspective is about reducing your internal drama and negative dialogue. In order to do this you need to have a well thought out Intensity Ladder. To create your intensity ladder set aside a half hour in which you won’t be interrupted. Draw a line vertically on a piece of paper and write the numbers from 10 down to 1 along the line – the 10 will be the very top of the line and the 1 will be the very bottom. Alongside the 10 write “Global Pestilence, Famine, and/or Disease that results in the death of all I hold dear” (yes, this is a cheery exercise!). Alongside the 1 write “A cold, a fixable broken bone, a car dent, too many chips not enough salsa” or words to that effect. Now fill in numbers 2 – 9 with situations and where they would fall on your ladder. For some people things like “losing my job” would be a 7 while to others losing a job wouldn’t even make the list. It’s entirely personal how you assign intensity but let the situations on 1 and 10 guide your perspective. When something happens in your life, use your ladder and assign the closest intensity value to the situation. An example: Susie wrecks her car. She looks at her Intensity Ladder and given that there were no injuries or deaths determines that it can’t be any higher than a 7. She remembers she has insurance so this should be a temporary situation (the car will be repaired or replaced eventually) which takes it down to a 5. She’s effectively talked herself down from feeling like a 9 or 10 happened to realizing a 5 happened. Later when she finds a rental car it becomes a 4. This exercise is important because it forces us to halt the natural tendency to overly dramatize events that occur in our lives. By applying the perspective exercise to events we learn that most things are less intense (scary) than we would have otherwise interpreted them. When we aren’t over-dramatizing we recognize that we can control how we view and respond to events that occur. We gain confidence in ourselves as well as in our ability to manage situations and events.
Mannerisms. This is by far the simplest and quickest of all the steps. It’s just this – quit fidgeting. Do not primp, tug, fidget, adjust, scratch or rub. When you’re out, whether you’re by yourself or with others, be still. Fidgeting and all of its cousins (primping, tugging, adjusting, etc…) are sensory distractions that reduce positive and calm energy. When you feel like fidgeting instead use as much of the standard grounding exercise that you have time for (name five things you can see, four things you can hear, three things you can touch, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste). The stillness and attending to your environment will make you feel and appear more confident.
Resign from Policing. The last, and maybe most difficult, step. Resigning from policing is shutting down the negative self-dialogue completely. Recognize that you’re not the fashion police, the moral police, or whatever authority you’re drawing on to criticize yourself. For example, if you get the notion at noon that the outfit you’re wearing is stupid – stop yourself. Say “I’m not the fashion police. I can wear something different tomorrow” and then close the door on the thought. You are beautifully imperfect and will make mistakes – that is absolutely your right as a human being. Seriously, just move on and if you find yourself coming back to it, remind yourself that you’ve moved on from that. You will find that with practice it really is as simple as that.
Learning, practicing and using these six simple strategies will allow you to eliminate the negative energy of insecurity. By mastering these skills you will be creating new confident positive energy that allows your true uniqueness and beauty to glow. You are amazing, now go show the rest of the world just how amazing!