When will I be like him?
What if I fail?
Am I good enough for this?
I have stayed with insecurity for atleast 30 years of my life. Had all of the above thoughts.
- I found my insecurity kept me small.
- I kept comparing myself
- I did not pay attention to my potential
- I often stayed long with negative emotions
- I was anxious and scared
- I did not sleep well
Insecurity at Work: We need to mind the insecurity we experience as it keeps us in the opposite direction from the growth mindset. Some of us behave poorly around our peers because we can come across as competitive and petty. Some of us go into a sad and depressed place as we think so little about ourselves and our lives. Some of us play office politics so we pull others down. It can make us jealous and putting down especially if we are in positions of power. Some of us knit a web of stories so the other loses their reputation. We create ill will.
Insecurity at home: We can be competitive with siblings. We may speak meanly, be aggressive and negate others. You may have heard the term gaslighting. Some of us compare ourselves to others and feel small and inadequate. We may begin to maintain distance personally and it can impact our relationships. We may find the need to put up a facade of a big and fantastic life. We end up being inauthentic.
Two insecurity stories:
Vikas had been leading for 15 years when we met. A leader working in the BPO industry.
Great at his job but he had got feedback about his inability to work with his peers. His boss felt he was aggressive and cutting in his remarks. His over-competitive spirit made him run to the finish line often by being excluding and territorial with his peers. In our coaching sessions, it became apparent that his behaviors mainly stemmed from insecurities. The only way he knew how to perform was by ‘ not playing fairly’. We talked at length about his many insecurities- not looking smart enough, not being from a top management school, and being worried about not being the blue-eyed boy of his boss. My work with Vikas was about recognizing and standing anchored in his strengths. We had some provoking conversations on the value of peer relationships, politics at work, and the fact that playing ethically at work was an important aspect of leading.
A dear friend and peer of mine worked in a multinational in HR while I was with a smaller boutique firm. I recollect feelings of jealousy at the opportunities she was getting to grow herself. I often felt inadequate and ashamed at not feeling as proud of my career. As a result for the initial years of my work life I played very small. My feelings of insecurity watching my peers grow fed into my ‘ I may not have what it takes’ narrative. This was till I decided that psychotherapy was a calling. I pursued it, took it to new heights, and began feeling more grounded in my strengths. I now observe many years later how I have removed this cloak of insecurity all together. In the last 2 years more than ever I have collaborated in big ways with peers and senior colleagues. I have made it a policy of my work to share the stage, learn and grow through walking with others.
Getting a handle on my insecurity was important. Here is what helps me
- Observe it instead of pushing it away. It is tempting to quickly push away the feeling and distract ourselves. No one likes to stay long enough with a pit in your stomach or negative thoughts. We push it away as it is scary to go down that rabbit hole and spiral into something distasteful.
- Uncover the inner chatter . Knowing the underlying thought is very useful. It allows us to notice limiting beliefs, fears, and emotions.
- Ask questions of yourself: I love ‘The Work’ questions by Byron Katie. Is this true? Is this really true? Who would I be without this thought and feeling?
- Create worst-case scenarios. Asking what is the worst that can happen allows us to stop being afraid. We are able to play out scenarios and check out our responses to each. It allows us to see irrational thoughts and fears and allows us to prepare for the future.
- Take small steps to change: Insecurity can freeze us. All the energy is spent looking outward at others. As a result, we do not take the next steps for what we wish to do. Learning can stop or get too slow.
- Practice self compassion: We may experience the Imposter Syndrome. Feeling fearful of being called out and spotted. This creates a scenario where we try too hard, become inauthentic, fearful of saying we do not know. We are harsh with ourselves and can set up very tough goals where we fail and end up being over critical. Self Compassion is the way forward. I have written another BLOG on this which you might like to read here https://physis.co.in/self-compassion-vs-inner-critic/
- Set learning goals- The growth mindset means we keep moving ourselves along. Learning goals that keep our competence sharp is a great way to move beyond insecurities.
- Convert jealousy to inspiration– Jealousy can be a tough emotion. We feel small about ourselves but may not want to show that to others. I have learnt to turn jealousy on its head. I now choose to be inspired by others and say to myself ‘ I want that too’ ‘ How may I support myself to get there’. This has been valuable to develop respect for others’ gifts, their hard work, and their achievements.
- Adopt an abundance mindset- ‘Minding your turf’ is a common phenomenon in the corporate world. We can be clannish, excluding, or territorial. While some of this can be at a healthy level the problem is when we start undercutting each other. The beliefs I have found useful are ‘ may the best proposal win’ ‘ may what serves the objective best get chosen’ ‘ there is enough for all’
- Celebration and Gratitude: There is much to celebrate in ourselves and others. Learning to spot it, and offer praise and acknowledgment helps us adopt a positive mindset in life. In my recent LI post I celebrate my MCC credential and what this journey of coaching has done for me
Insecurity can eat up your joy!
It is a trap that can take you into a downward spiral.
Which of the above ideas will you adopt today?