And here are 7 things you can do to snap out of it.
You know that nagging feeling that everyone else but you has it all figured out? Or that in spite of all long list of accomplishments, you’re actually a complete fraud, and you hope to God no one figures it out?
In fact, we all feel that way from time to time, with varying degrees of intensity. It is a universal truth: Human beings feel insecure.
The question is what to do about it. Here’s what works for me.
1) Find Someone to Serve. When I am feeling at my lowest, I look through my phone for friends I can offer a hand to. Who is having a hard time? Who is sick? Who’s Mom just passed? Who is looking for a job? Who is working on a hard project and needs a bit of encouragement?
By focusing my energy on being of service to someone else, I get out of my one-man pity party and transform myself into someone who cares about and serves others. And who can get down about that guy?
2) Give Something Away. Being someone who has enough to share with others is a good way to remind myself that whatever I think I’m lacking at the moment is fleeting — that in fact I have even more than I need, enough even to provide for others.
Now, I also need to be careful here because my generosity can sometimes outstrip my means. We’ve all experienced the person who is generous to a fault — picking up the tab for everyone EVERY time you hang out. No good.
3) Celebrate the Success of Others Without Envying Them. Gore Vidal once said, “Every time a friend succeeds, something inside me dies.”
Don’t be Gore Vidal. If you spend your life quietly stewing over the success of your friends, you will quietly lose all your successful friends.
And once you’ve pushed away all of your visionary, motivated, and successful friends, you’ll find yourself at the center of a friend group of similarly envious, small-minded and insecure people.
Sounds miserable, doesn’t it?
4) Do That Thing You Used to Love. When we were kids, we had hobbies. We would draw, paint, read, play music, journal, bake cookies, or what have you. And when we did, even if no one else was looking, we knew somewhere inside we were good at it.
Sadly, over time we do that thing less and less. It doesn’t pay the bills. It doesn’t advance the career. It feels…frivolous.
But how “frivolous” can a thing be if it brings you joy? If it feeds a part of you that makes you feel confident and powerful? If it brings out a part of you that makes being around you more enjoyable for those who love you?
I’m pretty damn good at playing the guitar and singing blues and country tunes. And I can’t tell you the last time I did it. I’m going to dig out the guitar as soon as I hit “publish” on this article.
5) Be the Person You’d Want Your Sibling to Marry. No, I’m not talking about some weird rural dating app. I’m talking about being someone you admire.
- You’d want your sibling to be with someone loyal. So be loyal.
- You’d want your sibling to be with someone honest. So be honest.
- You’d want your sibling to be with someone with a moderate relationship to alcohol. So don’t go out and get hammered every time you’re depressed.
This is as much about NOT doing certain things as it is about DOING certain things. You know what I’m talking about. And you know when you’re doing something that you wouldn’t want your sibling’s partner to do.
So, stop it. It only makes the insecurity and feelings of self-loathing worse.
6) Move Your Body. You’ve heard this before, but I will say it again: Exercise has been shown to be the #1 cure for depression and negative feelings. When we move our bodies we come out of our heads and out of those swirling feelings of self-doubt and low self-esteem.
Exercise releases beneficial chemicals into the bloodstream that improve our mood within minutes. And the more you do it, the better you feel. Yes, the first mile of every run hurts. Yes, if you have’t exercised in 10 years, it will be hard, and you will be sore.
But what’s the alternative? Spiraling down into depression and obesity? F*** that. Go to the gym.
7) Remember that We ALL Feel This Way Sometimes. I have battled with insecurity and episodic depression for most of my life. And then I learned that all newly-elected presidents report wondering if they are qualified. That most of the executives and CEOs I coach question their own intelligence and abilities. That most A-list actors think they are funny looking on screen.
Feelings of insecurity and inadequacy are some of the most universally experienced but least talked about of all human emotions. It’s time to change that.
But not just so we all can feel better.
The truth is that only hurt people hurt other people. If we can pull each other out of feeling like we’re not enough, we’ll actually bring about more peace and goodwill in the world. And that’s something to feel great about.
If you know someone who is feeling like they’re not enough, feel free to share this article with them. Or just reach out and tell them about your own bouts with insecurity. You both will be better for it.