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May 16, 2013 at 3:23 pm #35724
I’m 37. And I spent most of my life feeling sick of feeling this way – insecure, a loser, a failure, unworthy of being loved. This is in spite of a very successful career, buying my house independently, having made lots of friends and looking back, a very good life. Do you know what made me not feel like a failure anymore? Losing all of it, ironically! I got made redundant, I had to rent out the house, and start up a whole new life abroad, where I am building a business from scratch. And I don’t have friends anymore, but I can’t wait for the business to get going. See something blossom.
I realized that all my insecurities were actually just a product of the environment I was living in. And because I threw myself into work, social life, and underlying memories of a horrible childhood, I never took time out for myself to just be who I would like to be without the frame of reference. No matter how much your family and friends and work colleagues care about you, you have to realize that they are always comparing you to themselves or other people. It’s a stupid thing we do that ruins all the fun stuff – just being able to accept who we are and accept others for who they are too.
So suddenly my old life went – and where I was once colleague, I am now just acquaintance. Where I was once just ex-girlfriend/good friend, I am now off in the distance. And all the insecurities I had I realized were just framed by what other people thought of me. But once their opinions were no longer relevant, neither were my insecurities.
As we get older, the luckier among us get to grips with the fact that what other people think of you is none of your business. All it means to be human is to feel good about yourself, and do your damndest to make others feel good about themselves. That’s it. Stay away from those who make you feel even subtly insecure – because they are just using you to make themselves feel good about themselves. It’s a silly game really, but once you can see how people play it, you realize you don’t need to play it anymore. Wear the clothes YOU feel comfortable in. Do the activities YOU like doing. Know yourself inside out – know the kinds of things that make YOU smile and feel secure, and in time, you will attract the sort of people who believe in you as much as you believe in yourself. It’s taken me 37 years to realize this, but I’m lucky.
It takes a little audacity to decide to be happy with yourself. For me, it felt a bit ridiculous at first. I even felt guilty! Get over those awkward feelings of being able to be happy with yourself, and you’ll be alright. You’ll see other people more clearly. You’ll like people a lot more, because you’ll know they’re just insecure too!May 6, 2013 at 7:42 am #35175
I don’t know how old you are, but I sometimes get exactly the same feeling even though I am nearly 40. I went through a very deep period of shame and embarrassment and even low self-esteem.
Mistakes are much more than things to be embarrassed about. They are for you to look back on, and understand why you did them, then look forward and understand why other people make mistakes in the present day. They are about knowing your own weaknesses so that you can be sure you and only you know how to grow, and not get into destructive patterns.
Mistakes happen for all sorts of reasons. Insecurity, the needing for love, the needing and longing for excitement, the longing to express our individuality, the longing to push boundaries against authority and control. At my age, I have yet to come across one person in my life who has never made a mistake like the ones you have made. Even the ones who are seemingly perfect – once I get to know them well, including my own self-righteous parents, I learn that everyone has been driven by all sorts of extreme feelings, to make mistakes. Even as adults. Sometimes, especially as adults.
The best way I have found to forgive my own mistakes is to imagine they were not made by me, but made by someone else. Then looking back, they are actually quite funny. It’s so much easier sometimes, to forgive someone else than to forgive yourself. Because only you know what feelings drove you to do the kinds of things you do. Its very likely the feelings you felt that you want to forgive, not the actions of whatever mistakes you did. Actions come from feelings, after all. Once you recognize that, you can do two things.
Firstly, learn to guard your emotional health so that you’re less likely to have feelings you don’t like. Be curious, but not at the expense of someone else’s self esteem. Be adventurous, but not reckless. You can only work out what all that means to you with time and practice.
Secondly, look toward other people who make mistakes with as much compassion as you can. We’re all human. We’re all capable of doing things we are shameful of. We all need compassion. It’s only by understanding why we ourselves made the mistakes we made, that we can understand what someone else must be going through when they make the mistakes they make. Because we’re all made of the same stuff. Different cards to play.
You’ll get through this in time. Trust yourself.April 26, 2013 at 6:10 am #34830
Wow. There is some unbelievable wisdom out there.
Thank you both. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate it.
It’s a one day at a time thing I suppose. But the main lesson I’ve learned here is not to make any decisions or moves when I’m not feeling at a decent level of self-esteem. That will very likely take work on my part. For now, nuggets of wisdom are all part of it. I will treasure these little responses.