We all have insecurities. Things we don’t love about ourselves or our lives, or things we do and then question incessantly afterwards, wondering if we’ve done the right thing or look like a jerk. Facing up to our insecurities isn’t easy, but I’m finding the fear is worse than actually dealing with the issues themselves.
Over the past week or so, I’ve had to do several things I’ve been dreading. I had to get head shots taken for my book (and I assure you some of them will show up here shortly as well). I had to finish our taxes and make sure my business finances were all straightened out. I had my trainer come over and audit my kitchen and pantry, to see if she could make suggestions that would be helpful for me. All of these things had a certain amount of fear laced in them for me. What if I looked stupid? Why didn’t I plan ahead more and transform into a supermodel? (I know that was unrealistic in any dimension, but again, we’re talking now about those negative voices in your head that express fear and insecurity- what Seth Godin calls “The Lizard Brain” that deters us from taking risks.) What if it turns out I’ve been self-sabotaging myself all along- how am I going to deal with that? What if I’m teasing myself about the business and its opportunities, or what if I owe a lot of taxes?
What ifs can leave you paralyzed. On one hand, I play the “what if” game with clients all the time. As a lawyer, I try to look at the big picture, and help my clients cover most of their big risks and a few what-ifs, just so everyone knows the ground rules. (We try to leave all the ridiculous “asteroid destroys my server” stuff out of it as being overly paranoid.) I’m good at seeing the potential pitfalls and making sure there’s a bit of a safety net created to cover the majority of potential pitfalls. Likewise as a parent, I try to make sure my kids have every opportunity to remember to do the homework, get the project done, and do what they need to do (ie. nag and double check with them) before letting them take a leap on their own. This balancing of risks seems easy when I’m dealing with other people’s risks. But when it comes to my own risk taking, and my own insecurities, I can get a little crazy.
Facing up to reality and just getting things done that tweek your areas of self-perceived weakness can be really tough. It’s a feeling of being emotionally vulnerable, and potentially finding out things about yourself that you’re not totally ready to face. Or it can mean questioning things you believe deeply about yourself but are worried to find out may be wrong.
In the end, each of these things I was dreading and will finally admit out loud scared me and shook my sense of self-confidence all turned out fine. I can’t wait to see my final photos from the wonderful Lindy Powers; my business is doing well; and even my kitchen passed scrutiny, meaning at least I know what else I need to tweek in my fitness plan as well. I’m glad I addressed all these issues that had been hiding under a few rocks for a while now, and in the end, none were nearly as bad as my fear had made them out to be.
Fear feeds insecurity. Insecurity feeds discomfort, which is why that whole Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is always so important to keep in mind. In the end, our fear is often so much larger than the actual thing or event we’re dreading, to the point where the fear itself looks silly and ridiculous from the other side. What I’m trying to learn from this experience is to better recognize my fear when it comes into play, address the root cause, and then push through. I know the relief, the sense of pride, even if small, from having pushed through, and even the chagrine from feeling silly that you were afraid in the first place is always worth it in the end.
Now if I can only figure out how not to feed into my own internal drama surrounding the initial pangs of fear, and avoid building it up into something bigger than it should be in the first place, and then I’ll truly be in great shape.
We’re always going to have some element of fear and insecurity in our lives. The trick may lie in never giving it more power or control than it deserves in the first place. But that sounds a whole lot easier than it is. I’m personally hoping fear gets easier to defang every time I face it.