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:
- 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.
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 needs to know?