Dear Dr Sivri,
I am a 36-year-old woman who has suffered from deep insecurities my whole life. It affected me badly whilst I was at school, also in jobs, and in particular in all my relationships. As a result I tend to avoid people, and at work I try to keep under the radar and not be noticed.
In my present relationship, I find that I am extremely jealous. We have been together for three years now and before this, I was married for eight years. My ex-husband cheated on me and I think this has made me a lot worse.
(Name & address supplied)
Thanks for reaching out. More often than not, our insecurities start out when we are young and are usually the result of over-critical parents and teachers, who may unknowingly keep putting us down and keep criticising us. As a result, we grow up with a distinct lack of confidence, and deep insecurities in ourselves and our abilities.
Sometimes we over-compensate and manage to hide our deep insecurities by being pretty extrovert in how we are, but deep down we feel very low and inadequate in our abilities.
Usually though, we tend to be quiet and meek, as we don’t want to attract any attention to ourselves. We are usually pretty awkward socially and don’t enjoy social gatherings.
Being insecure usually results in negative self-fulfilling prophecies; because if you feel inferior and inadequate, then all your internal ‘self-talk’ is pretty critical and you find that you become your own worst enemy, and you attract what you fear the most.
So what can you do to help yourself?
You can start by Reframing your thoughts. This means creating alternative thought patterns to what you are feeling and why. Here is a short Four Step Reframing Guide.
Four Step Reframing Guide:
Step One: Identify the problem, situation or patterns of thinking that are causing you so much angst.
Step Two: Challenge your perceptions. Look at how, why, where and when you feel what you do. Ask questions to help you identify the root causes of your issues.
Step Three: Practice reframing your beliefs. Look for alternatives to your negative thinking patterns. Every time you feel something negative write it down. Visualize alternative and more positive thinking patterns and responses, and write these positive responses next to the negatives. So make sure your positive responses are alternatives. Close your eyes and practice using these new behaviours and new ways of speaking.
Step Four: Testing. Put yourself in positions and situations that previously caused you angst and practice implementing your new behaviours and thoughts. You can always go back and keep practicing your new behaviours if you feel you need to.
So for example, if you find yourself getting jealous in your relationship, then firstly recognize your jealousy and acknowledge it.
Secondly ask yourself WHY you are feeling what you do. Is it because you feel inferior? Because you fear losing your partner? Or because you feel you are unattractive or not good enough in any way?
Thirdly, practice positive affirmations and keep repeating them to yourself as you look to reframe and replace negative thoughts with positive ones. For example say to yourself, “I am good enough”, “I am worthy of being loved”, “I deserve to be happy”, “I am attractive and smart’’. In other words, every time something negative pops up in your mind, replace it with a positive thought.
Finally, put yourself back in the situations that affected you adversely before, and practice repeating your new positive affirmations, instead of reacting negatively as you did before.
Remember that it won’t always be easy at the start, but keep practicing and persevering.
In reality feelings such as jealousy, insecurity and inadequacy are more about your perceptions of yourself than about the world around you. If you dislike yourself in some way then you will project those feelings back in to the world around you. So you may become overly critical of others, or you may find yourself putting other people down because how you speak to yourself is usually how you also speak to other people.
Insecurity and jealousy can be pretty destructive if they are not dealt with, and negative feelings like these usually push other people away, so you need to be aware of your dysfunctional thoughts and you need to change them. If you don’t, then you may end up all alone anyway as other people will struggle to deal with your negativity.
If you need professional help then speak to your doctor who may be able to help you, or speak to a professional counsellor or therapist who can help you find the root causes of your insecurities and in turn, can help you deal with your issues.
A short course of counselling and therapy will be very beneficial for you if you have suffered with these issues all of your life.
Wishing you all the best.
Dr. D. U. Sivri
Dr Sivri is T-VINE’s new agony uncle. If you have a problem or question, you can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org