Some people seem very confident, right? You might look at people on social media looking happy and self-assured. And you would think they don’t experience any sense of insecurity at all. However, if we look a little closer, we see the same vulnerabilities and insecurities that exist within us all.
In fact, every single one of us with a human mind faces the same challenge. We’re all born with two primal fears. One is the fear that we are not enough, or not worthy. The second, is the fear that we won’t be loved. That’s right, despite what you might think, we ALL have those fears. The reason for this is because of the way our minds evolved.
Hit play below to listen to this podcast, or read the article below, to find out where these fears come from, and what we can do about them. I’ll share with you how to transform your relationship with insecure thoughts and cultivate a true sense of self-worth. One that is stable, lasting and authentic.
Humans are hard-wired for approval seeking
We have the same basic needs as every other higher animal on the planet. Food, water, shelter, and reproduction. But none of those things are important if you die, right?
So, what’s the number one job of the human mind? It’s to stop you from dying. And here’s the thing. For humans in more primitive times, fitting in with the tribe or group was absolutely a survival need. Humans did not survive alone, they only survived in packs. So, if the group kicked you out, you would get picked off pretty quickly by a predator or a rival tribe.
Rejection meant death.
So how does the mind make sure you fit in with the pack? It compares you to everyone else and assesses. “Do they like me? Am I fitting in? Am I doing the right thing? Am I contributing enough? Am I offending anyone? Am I special enough? Am I good enough?”
Does this sound familiar at all? These days, even though we don’t live in tribes our minds still operate in much the same way out of this ancient conditioning. It still compares us to other people constantly. Trying to assess whether we are measuring up, fitting in, or doing anything that would have people reject us or look down on us. For the mind, it still feels like a matter of life or death.
To make matters worse these days, we’re not just comparing ourselves to the people in a small tribe. Thanks to media and technology, we now compare ourselves to massive amounts of people.
As we scroll, click and leaf through pages seeing glossy, photoshopped images of people from across the globe. People who look as though they are happier than us, sexier than us, more ‘successful’ than us or more wealthy, fit, attractive.
This constant comparison to so many other members of the tribe at such impossible standards aggravates the conditioning of the human mind. It ramps up the fear circuitry of the mind, causes us to not feel good enough and anticipate rejection. This probably has a lot to do with the huge rise in depression across the world.
Stepping back from insecure thoughts
Almost everyone has their own version of the “I’m Not Good Enough” story.
I’m too fat. I’m too dumb. I’m not pretty enough. I’m not smart enough. I’m not enough of this or I’m too much of that.
What we’re doing through mental strength training is we’re learning to change the way we relate to thoughts. Not to get rid of the thoughts and feelings of insecurity. This is actually very deep conditioning of the mind and will likely always be there to some degree. Instead, we learn to meet thoughts of insecurity with understanding and kindness. We see this thinking for what it is, just some old conditioning in the mind. It doesn’t mean anything about your actual worth.
It becomes just words and feelings that pass through the mind rather than something that controls you, hurts you or limits you. This breaks the hypnosis of believing these thoughts. And so, they lose their grip on you, lose their power to affect you.
So as much as possible, rather than believing in those thoughts of deficiency or feelings of unworthiness, see if you can take a step back from them and see them for what they are. Just thoughts, not reality. This is the first step to truly healing our insecurities. Simply seeing them for what they are.
And this is not always easy. We really have to check in with ourselves. We really have to question our deeply held assumptions and ideas about our worthiness. I think for many of us when we think about where our sense of self-esteem or self-worth comes from, if we are honest with ourselves, we often think about external factors.
Questioning where worthiness comes from
Maybe we believe that if we behave in certain ways that we believe are good or right, then we can feel good about ourselves? And if we do not behave that way, then we are bad and therefore, unworthy. But is our worthiness really in our behaviour?
We might compare ourselves to other people. If we believe we are less than them in some way (whether it’s less good looking, less wealthy, less smart, successful) we might feel unworthy or inadequate. And if we feel that we are better than them, we may feel superior, and have a kind of confidence based on being better. But is our worthiness in how we compare to other human beings?
Or perhaps we can feel good about ourselves as long as other people approve of us? When we get their approval, love, or a certain number of likes on Facebook, then we can feel like we are enough, worthy, okay as we are. If they don’t like us, then we fall apart. But is our worthiness in what other people think of us?
The reality is, that all these forms of trying to find a sense of worthiness are both artificial and unstable. They leave you at the mercy of external and ever-changing conditions. Too often, we use these criteria to measure our self-worth and then end up feeling like we’re always falling short. We’re left feeling inadequate, disconnected, and stuck in cycles of approval seeking.
One of the gifts of training in mental strength is that it helps us clearly see that external factors are not true measures of our self-worth, or anyone else’s.
Transforming insecurities into inner strengths
In order to find true and lasting self-worth and overcome our insecurities, we need to let go of believing those old conditioned thoughts. The thoughts that keep telling us to go looking outside ourselves for our worthiness, and to find it and start to cultivate it from within.
One of the ways we can do that, is by retraining this old automatic pattern in the mind. We can rewire it, by deliberately practising the ability to accept and love ourselves exactly as we are without condition. Reminding ourselves of the inner truth that I think we all truly know deep down, which is that we are all inherently worthy.
Our worthiness as a human being was never dependent on anything at all
When we start to see this clearly, when we start to practice self-acceptance and self-love as a way of being, this is how we heal our insecurities. We cultivate true, lasting, and stable self-worth.
Then we don’t base our self-worth on what other people think of us, how much we weigh, what we wear or what kind of car we drive. We learn to let go of worrying so much about all of that. We learn to accept who we are just as we are. Flaws and all.
Worthiness is not about improving, fixing, or changing ourselves. It’s actually about unwinding from the thoughts that tell us we’re not enough yet, not there yet, not okay as we are. And if we can learn to let go of those thoughts and abide in a deeper place within ourselves, we touch down on a place of natural wholeness, calm and contentment within ourselves. It’s such a profound relief when we can learn to simply accept ourselves as we are and let ourselves be.
Finding true self-worth
Self-love and self-acceptance don’t mean we’re never going to do anything to improve our life circumstances or give up on our morals and values. Rather, it simply means unwinding from the stories that tell us we’re not good enough, deficient and need to be fixed. That way, we can live our lives and make our choices from a place of confidence, fullness, and self-love. So, we do things from a mindset of love and wholeness rather than from a mindset of deficiency.
We often spend so much time and energy trying to prove ourselves, trying to fix ourselves, trying to get likes and admiration. But training in self-acceptance and self-love changes the game. It turns this pattern of seeking our worth from outside ourselves on its head.
So here is a two step practice you can start to cultivate true lasting self-worth today.
- Step 1. Keep recognising the thoughts and mental habits that pull you into feelings of unworthiness and deficiency. In daily life, try paying attention to your feelings of self-worth throughout the day. Be aware of the times you judge yourself, compare yourself to others, or feel you’re not enough. Mentally note to yourself “just a thought.”
- Step 2. Remind yourself of your inherent worthiness. Try having the attitude towards yourself of kindness and compassion (like an inner coach instead of an inner critic). When the voice of the inner critic tells you you’re not enough, after you mentally note “just a thought” (from step 1) switch the voice around to a kind and helpful inner dialogue, perhaps saying things to yourself like “I am enough as I am. I am worthy as I am”, or “I love you just the way you are”, or something else that is supporting, encouraging and kind.
This week’s mental strength practice
So, here’s my invitation for your practice this week. Most of us spend an enormous amount of time and energy trying to be somebody better, trying to be something more, or fix ourselves. This week, I invite you to find out what happens when you switch the focus from always fixing and changing yourself, to learning to love and accept yourself.
So, every time your inner critic pipes up, every time you compare yourself to someone else, every time the thoughts come up that say I’m too this or not enough that, switch the focus back to accepting yourself. Remind yourself of your inherent worthiness, remind yourself this is just old conditioning in the human mind. Be kind to yourself and appreciate yourself as you are.
This is no small thing! If we can learn to unwind the habit of always wanting to be someone different than we are, there are huge benefits. If instead, we can focus on appreciating and accepting who we are right now in this moment, we can train ourselves to feel totally at home within our own skin, our own mind and ultimately, in our own lives.
Wishing you all the best with this practice. I hope it’s beneficial for you.
If you’re finding these practices beneficial to your life, and you’re ready to take your mental strength to the next level, I invite you to join me in Headstrong. It’s my 8-week intensive mental strength program. Headstrong offers the best of everything I’ve learned in over 2 decades of mental strength training and teaching. It’s designed to get rapid transformational results and arm you with powerful tools and skills that will last a lifetime. This program will help you not only survive, but thrive, even in tough times.
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