Insecurity is something we’ve all experienced at some point or another. Even the most confident person in the room is surely insecure about something. The thing about insecurity is that it has the power to hold us back in all areas of life. And the culprit can totally be little things, like worrying about whether or not you’re wearing the latest, chicest leggings, or the really big life stuff, like negotiating for a higher salary or staying in a toxic relationship because you subconsciously don’t believe you deserve to be happy.
Although there are many reasons that can explain how a sense of insecurity is cultivated, according to confidence and communications expert Karol Ward, some common examples include growing up in an environment that didn’t feel emotionally safe, or experiencing a traumatizing incident that provided for negative feedback (i.e., getting dumped made you believe you are unlovable, or bombing a presentation in middle school led you to believe you’re terrible at public speaking).
The good news is insecurities are not set in stone. You can 100 percent overcome them, no matter how big or small they are. Doing so just requires some work on yourself and a plan of action. But, know this: Regardless of what your insecurity tells you (you’re not good enough, worthy enough, pretty enough—blah, blah, blah), we are all inherently enough. Period.
Ready to feel more confident than ever? Keep reading for expert tips to kick insecurity to the curb for good.
1. Don’t judge yourself
Feeling insecure is hard enough, and beating yourself up for having those emotions in the first place won't do you any good. So as a starting point, Ward recommends dropping the self-judgment. Accept the fact that you feel insecure about something, and focus instead on doing the work to shift it. A little self-love can really go a long way.
2. Be your own BFF
A cognitive behavior technique Ward prescribes is saying things to yourself that your BFF (or anyone else who really loves you) would say to you when you’re majorly doubting yourself. For example, if you’re applying for a new job, instead of telling yourself that you’ll never get it or you don’t have enough experience, etc., think of what your best friend would say to you to encourage you. (Examples: You’re amazing. You’re more than qualified. You should definitely apply.) Basically, gas yourself up because you deserve it.
3. Focus on the baby steps
Overcoming insecurity is a journey, and it doesn’t happen overnight. So take that pressure off yourself, Ward says. You can start making progress by simply taking little steps to build up your confidence and push yourself out of your comfort zone in ways where the stakes aren’t so high. If social insecurities are your struggle, begin by just saying hello to someone new or talking to just one person at a party. It’s those small steps that eventually give you the confidence to do the bigger, scarier things.
4. Cut out the people who make you feel less than
“Notice who feeds your insecurity and who champions you,” Ward says. So, if you have a friend who’s always bringing you down, it might be time to distance yourself from them. When you need advice and support, she says, go to the people who always cheer you on and genuinely want to see you win.
5. Pay attention to your body language
Insecurity can also manifest itself in physical ways, such as standing or sitting in a scrunched-up manner. When a person assumes this kind of position, it sends a message to others. “It’s almost like they don’t want to be seen,” Ward says. “[They’re] subconsciously trying to be small, and might not even be aware of it.” Simply sitting and standing tall and strong can make you feel more confident, she says, because “physicality can inform mentality.”
6. Tap on it
Emotional freedom technique, also known as tapping, is a powerful tool for busting through insecurity, says Gala Darling, self-love advocate and author of Radical Radiance. The healing modality, a combo of ancient Chinese acupressure and positive psychology, helps reprogram limiting beliefs that make you feel stuck by literally tapping on meridian points on your face and body.
7. Celebrate your wins
“When you do overcome an insecurity, make sure you acknowledge it,” Ward says. Whether you spoke up at work or expressed your truth to your partner, make sure you celebrate even the smallest of things you’ve done to step into your power and totally crush insecurity. This creates momentum and elevates your confidence like crazy.
8. Toot your own horn
When you’re knee deep in a puddle of insecurity, it’s easy to forget how truly awesome you are, which is why Darling recommends keeping a list handy of all the compliments you’ve ever received from people. “It’s really helpful to take stock of the things that you’re good at and the qualities you have,” she says. Really spend some time focusing on what makes you so damn special and keep those high-vibe thoughts at the forefront of your mind.
9. Change your story
Those repetitive negative thoughts that are constantly playing on a loop in your mind? Put a stop to them, stat. “Change the story that you're telling yourself,” Darling says. Often, that inner critical voice, is not even our own, she adds. Maybe it’s something we heard from society or our parents when we were growing up. Being aware of our thoughts, regardless of where they originated, is the first step toward detaching from them and creating space to tell ourselves a new, more empowering story.
10. Consult an expert
If your insecurity is an ongoing problem that’s really taking a toll on your life, Ward advises seeing a therapist or a coach to help you explore your fears and insecurities. “I’ve seen people really transform their lives once they understand where it comes from and how it’s affected them,” she says. “It’s really about changing that mind-set from the inside out.”
Here's how to boost your confidence in just four steps. And here's how to handle conflict, according to your Myers-Briggs personality type.
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