notquiteold

Nancy Roman

Coping With My Insecurities

I wrote last week about my pathological sweet need to be liked. (Validation).

I have thought about it a lot since. I’ve decided to take some very small baby steps towards coping with my insecurities.

For me – (and it could be different for you, but perhaps there is some universal truth here) – I see my constant worry about whether others like me showing up in three insecurity-based habits:

  1. People-pleasing
  2. Perfectionism
  3. External validation

I figure that if I can make a few tiny changes in all three habits, I might find myself moving just a little further along the continuum that runs from narcissistic insecurity to confident self-worth.

The People-Pleasing Challenge.

There’s nothing really wrong with trying to please others. I want to make the people around me happy. For the most part, I think it is kind and healthy. The challenge is not to subjugate my own needs in the process.

I have a good friend who deals with interpersonal skills on a professional level, and she recently gave me some very good advice:

Your needs do not have to be more important other people’s. They should just be ‘at least’.  

At least as important.

My dislike of scary movies is at least as important as a friend’s love for horror films.

My desire to be on time is at least as important as a loved one’s chronic lateness.

My political opinions are at least as important as those of my relatives.

So how do I know when to politely insist on what I want and when to let someone else do the choosing?

I think I need to determine the most likely outcome – FOR ME.

Will I be happy that I let someone else’s desires take precedence? Or will I be resentful?

Will I enjoy making that complicated casserole because my husband likes it so much, or will I be fuming through all the dirty dishes? Will I be glad to see my friend’s pleasure attending yet another craft show, or will I be dragging my feet in barely-concealed boredom?

Most of the time, I am happy to be pleasing someone else. But once in a while, just once in a while, I need to politely say, “This is what I want.”

The Perfectionism Challenge.

Perfectionism is a little weird for me.

Because I am very easy on myself privately. I accept that I’m not good at everything. When I make a mistake, I just try again. I’m satisfied that I’m good enough.

But my public self is different.

I don’t want to show any weakness. I want my house to look perfect, my makeup and my clothes to be perfect. My pets. My marriage. My life.

Otherwise, what? That no one will like me if I fail? Well, that’s nonsense, and I know it. Friends and strangers need to see that you are human. But still. I have always hated anyone to see any part of my life being even a little bit of a mess.

I’m great. I’m fine. I’m happy. All the time. In public.

And I come from a long line of stiff upper lips. So it’s difficult for me to drop the smile. To ever let my guard down.

I have a new Yoga instructor. My beginning Yoga class (in which I have managed to remain for eighteen years) is now an intermediate class. For me, intermediate means HARD. I take easy classes because I want to look good in public, of course.

So today in class, I didn’t look so good in public. I struggled. Several times, I stopped. I rested. And guess what? It didn’t matter one bit. It was still Yoga. I didn’t get expelled. No one made fun of me. I didn’t die – even of shame. I’m going back to try and fail a little better next time.

External Validation.

OMG, how I love Praise.

Of course, everyone does.

But it seems that – let’s blame social media – we have increasingly become a world where we need everyone to see and approve everything we do.

As I wrote in my last post, Do you like my salad? Do you like my writing? Do you like my paintings? Do you like my hair? Do you like my dog? My cat? How about this cat? How about this cat?

It’s almost as though my experiences do not exist unless I share them.

This little facet of my personality confounds me. Because I am basically an introvert. I spend most of my day alone, and I like it. My energy does not derive from outside contact. My force is internal.

So why is my need for approval so external?

Today was a beautiful day, and I took a walk with the dog. Without taking any photos to share to prove how lovely the day was and how cute the dog and how pretty my yard. And without anyone else included – with just me – the day was still lovely, the yard was still pretty, and the dog was still cute.

Who knew?

Who needs to know?

29 Comments

  1. Great minds think alike, Nancy. I really need to work on that people pleaser challenge! ~Elle

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really do think that being a people-pleaser is not such a bad thing. As long as YOU are one of the people you please.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s usually the problem. I put myself last but I will rise to the lid challenge!

        Like

  2. Anita

    I REALLY look forward to your blog posts! You get me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are a lot of us nice people out there, trying very hard to be better.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Love the post and love the shirt!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Deb

    Ahhh… that perfectionist one hit home. I don’t want anyone to know that I can’t handle everything that comes my way. Could it also involve wanting to feel in control as well? I admit that I often desire to feel like I’m running the show and never admitting to failure seems to help me feel I achieve that desire. It’s amazing how the world continues on and people don’t honestly think less of you if you admit to being off your game every now and then. Here’s a big thumbs up to being human Nancy 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • That control thing really controls us, doesn’t it?

      Like

  5. Hey Nancy, What’s wrong with being insecure and lacking confidence? That’s the pathway to self improvement. And perfectionism? In my world, I like things neat, tidy and orderly and I am proud of it. As far as making other people happy, try getting comfortable with those around you being anger and sad. . . . just saying, Claudia

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    • All these traits are not so black-and-white…. they are both assets and faults depending on how they are used.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Love the shirt. It’s still yoga (and there’s always someone better and someone worse than you are at everything and anything) And it’s hard to learn to say “No, I’d rather it be this way” Kindness is good, but not if you end up giving up everything or end up mad at yourself as others got their way once again.. Maybe alternate, this time, my needs are important and need to be met and next time the other person’s.
    Social media is something of a plague. You’re OK – always know that.

    Like

    • Everything balances somehow.. even if I have a difficult time balancing in Yoga.

      Like

  7. I think we all have a tendency to complicate things. Doing nice things for people doesn’t necessarily come under the banner of people pleasing. It feels good to do nice things for others. Striving to be perfect isn’t a goal that can ever be achieved, perfectionism isn’t a good thing but that doesn’t mean we don’t try to improve some of the things we do., to get better at them and perhaps enjoy them even more. I want to learn to draw better, I want all my drawings to be perfect, they rarely are, I don’t thing that makes me a perfectionist. I think your last paragraph is the best thing ever – you shook off all the words that you have used to label yourself and just lived for the moment. Look how happy it made you. Here and Now is all we really have, the rest is just so much fluff and hang ups about life and how we think it should be.

    Like

    • Very true, Barbara. It is so difficult to stay in the moment. But I’m working on it.

      Like

  8. The people please thing…argh! With friends I often go along with their ideas. In the last few years, I have gone to restaurants I hate (and paid $60 for that experience) and done a few other things I wasn’t happy about. I was getting resentful so I’m learning to be more vocal. Not in conflict but in choosing not to do what I don’t want to do. It’s OK if some of my friends do something without me. I still struggle with it because I like to be part of the group. I have also learned to be the instigator of an event I’d like to do. Usually someone else wants to do it too.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. ‘Insecurities’ – well done !!! Nancy, you are a good person. Pleasure or happiness is for everybody. Your desire to see everyone happy through your work is an admirable act but I would say – don’t expect anything from anyone, you just carry on doing your good and selfless work, then you will never feel ‘insecure’. May God bless you. Thanks!!!

    Like

  10. Love that t-shirt.
    I’m becoming less of a people pleaser with time. Obviously at work it is difficult to say no but I’m saying it more often in a social environment and feeling less guilty as I get older.

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  11. My favorite line in this: “I’m going back to try and fail a little better next time.” Good for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I grew up being insecure, I don’t know why. I can’t pinpoint any event in my youth that would have made me that way. I was always shy. I thought it was because we moved to a new town in the middle of 4th grade, but I found old school report cards from when I was in 2nd grade where the teacher wrote that I was very quiet and shy. So that wasn’t it, though moving certainly was difficult for this shy quiet kid. I don’t know…I do like to make others happy, and I do keep my opinions to myself unless I’m asked or in a group of people I trust…and I don’t really know how to be any different.

    Like

  13. Kathy Zurcher

    On Twitter a couple weeks ago Re: first driving experiences (damaging car first time we drove) you commented that we must be sisters. Now I am convinced we are twins born years apart and reared states apart. Your last two posts are me to a “T”. I made a bold move 15 months ago. I declared that Thanksgiving the last one at our house. I found it exhausting to cook for three days, entertain 20+ people, and fill in around what guests volunteer to bring. (The person who volunteered to bring the wine for 12 adult guests showed up with one bottle! Two cups of green bean casserole for that huge group.) Three days of work for 45 min of dinner. Admittedly the guys cleaned up after dinner. Much appreciated. BUT, I wasn’t enjoying it. I asked myself why I couldn’t manage. My mom had every holiday at our tiny home. My Italian grandmother cooked and baked for extended family for birthdays, etc. —and she worked in downtown Chicago. What was “wrong” with me? Then I assessed reality. I was 70, though still consulting and working out twice a week with a trainer. My mom died at 43. She was 43 the last time she hosted a holiday. My grandmother stopped when she was 59, right after my grandfather died. Hmm. I boldly proclaimed that I was no longer hosting Thanksgiving. The sky didn’t fall. No one threw a fit. And this year no one hosted dinner in the holiday. We had a couple lower key gatherings, not at my house. I gladly contributed plenty of food for both. We had a relaxing day with my nearby single sister. No one hated me, or even loved me less. As the thirty-year “bonus mom”’(stepmom) to two grown daughters, I was into hyperactive over-drive making sure I was liked. Turned out I didn’t have to be. My bonus daughters and my now 7 grandchildren love me regardless. I don’t have to be the perfect mom/Grandma Z—at least on Thanksgiving. I am still working on the other 364 days. Your blog posts are going to help me with that. Thank you, Nancy.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Deborah Zotian

    I sometimes think those of us of ‘a certain age’ are people-pleasers and forget we need to make ourselves happy as well. Always worried I’m not good enough, or they’ll find out I really don’t know what I’m doing, or, or, or…. I’m starting to come out of my ‘shell’ (at 63 it’s about time) and speaking up for myself. Doing what makes me happy, but not forgetting my friends and what they would like as well. Compromise works when both people bend a little. It doesn’t work when it’s all one way.

    Like

  15. After a long struggle with myself I like who I am and if other people don’t like me that’s fine not my problem

    Like

  16. Raymond Enyce

    i think this things applied mostly with Men as well…

    Like

  17. Just read the previous comments, and I am wondering if in general the ‘people pleasing’ is a generational thing – certainly people (or women at least) my age or older seem to feel it’s a duty, whereas younger ones have maybe been brought up with a different attitude. (You could call it self-esteem or selfishness, depending on point of view!) I’m kind of on the line, where I don’t really think I should be pleasing others above myself, but I feel all kinds of guilt if I don’t.

    But then you got onto perfectionism, and that one really hit home. I’m astonishingly tolerant of flaws and weaknesses in other people, and really getting better at going easier on myself as I get older, but it’s hard! And exactly as you say – in private I accept myself as I am, but I’m terribly insecure about appearances, and what other people will think. I hate that about myself though! I really admire women who can just be themselves and not worry – the way most men do. And it’s not just a matter of physical appearance – I was brought up to make the most of myself, to regard it as almost a sin to have a talent or ability and not use it, not achieve what I’m capable of. Or worst of all, Waste Time. That is absolutely my biggest bugbear. I see myself as lazy, inefficient, and with terrible time-management, because I never seem to have time to get all the things done that I think need doing (never mind the ones I want to do!), and yet my husband does far less and never worries at all. He is perfectly able to spend a day off doing nothing productive whatsoever, but if I do that I can’t enjoy it because I’m conscious of all the time I’m ‘wasting’. (Twitter is currently my biggest time-waster, but also a source of joy.)

    And as for housework… When I was single I had a small place, and kept it clean though usually not tidy. Now we have a big house and several pets and it’s a mess. And on Twitter I’ve even thought about asking ‘Does everyone else clean their house before videoing the dog? Because they all look amazing and I’m so ashamed to show ours.’ And I think we all have this impression that other people’s lives are better or cleaner or more elegant, partly because of TV, but nowadays even more because of social media, but we make it worse for ourselves and everyone else because we don’t show the ugly truth! Young girls now digitally edit their selfies to improve their skin, teeth, even their figures, because they think everyone else looks perfect. And I live in terror of anyone visiting my house with no notice and seeing what it really looks like… but I can’t be the only one with hairy carpets, a stained couch, a cluttered dining-table/desk and a kitchen piled with dishes.

    My best friend in the world is someone I don’t see that often, or even speak to regularly, and we don’t agree on some things, but she’s my best friend because her house is as messy as mine, and she never feels the need to apologise or clean up if I come. Ever. And it means I don’t have to worry or clean up before she comes here! It’s amazingly relaxing to spend time with her because we can both be our real selves. How sad is it that that’s such a rarity?

    I’m so sorry, this ‘comment’ is now longer than your blog. And I didn’t even get on to your last point, but I have to get ready for work, so I’ll have to come back to that one. Thank you so much for posting this, and giving me the chance to share my own insecurities!

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Yes!
    all of it 🙂
    MJ

    Like

  19. I love your ‘at least’ concept! It is a wonderful perspective to keep in mind as we work toward being more accepting and kind to ourselves.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. This article brings me a sense of peace, almost, as in, getting comfortable with your own personality and character. I myself am awful at actually taking the praise, it’s like the opposite of what you’ve been through.
    https://balletat14.wordpress.com/

    Like

  21. Shreeja

    a lovely article giving me some insight about my own insecurities. Thanks.

    Like

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