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The Epidemic of Insecurity

Getting your mojo back

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Remember those good old days when you were a child and your parents used to always tell you how wonderful, great, and one-of-a-kind you were? “Oh, Lily knows her alphabet already—she is the smartest little girl! Jimmy is so good to help granny with the chores—isn’t he the kindest boy you know? And Annie, in her new dress, is so lovely—when she grows up, she is going to be the most beautiful girl on earth.” It felt really good to hear that about yourself—like you could do anything and be the best at everything. Do you know why you were so confident and proud of yourself then? It’s not because everyone said that you were the most perfect little human being; it’s because you actually believed it. And then you grew up and grew a mind of your own. Let me guess—not so many people tell you now that you are the smartest, funniest, or most good-looking person out there, and when they do, you don’t tend to believe them as readily and completely as you used to as a little kid.

At some point in your life, somewhere in your mind you started comparing yourself to others, and that’s the point when your self-esteem—and belief in your world supremacy—suffered its first blow. You may argue that a humble person is a paragon of integrity, and it is certainly so, but being humble is different from having low self-esteem. Modest people know their own worth; they just choose not to flaunt it. On the contrary, those with low self-esteem may act and seem outwardly confident, yet feel and tell themselves that they are useless or not good enough, forgetting to give themselves credit for their virtues and accomplishments. Such carping self-criticism is quite demeaning, and in time its consequences get progressively more damaging. Waning self-assurance fosters insecurity, which in turn breeds a whole host of unbecoming emotions and behaviors: anxiety, envy, depression, obesity, alcoholism, and other similar related disorders and phobias sprout as a result of low self-confidence.

Our self-esteem is tried on an everyday basis, and quite frankly—unless you are a complete narcissist or live on a deserted island—it’s rather common and unavoidable. Prodigal celebrities, critical bosses, judgmental peers, successful neighbors, and overachieving siblings can all make you feel like you haven’t done as well or accomplished as much. And as if there weren’t enough causes for insecurity, here is one more: Facebook. You may wonder why. A study conducted by the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, and fittingly titled “Sweden’s Largest Facebook Study,” examined a correlation between Facebook usage and levels of self-assurance, as well as the psychological effects of the stated relationship. The researchers found that prolonged Facebook usage negatively impacted the users’ self-esteem, with women being more affected than men. Considering the fact that there are over 1.39 billion monthly active Facebook users globally, the findings of the study reflect a truly alarming tendency.

What does it mean to you? It means that the stressors adversely impacting your self-esteem and triggering insecurity are countless and ubiquitous, and because you cannot avoid them altogether, you need to learn how to negate them. Don’t let the little everyday things turn into a nuisance that makes you second guess your every move, self-deprecate, and devaluate your own worth. Here are a few small and easy to follow tips that will make a big difference in your life. Following these steps will help you combat your insecurities and strengthen your confidence in your own worth and abilities:

  1. Revise your self-talk. You are your own biggest bully and toughest critic, and it’s not the world, but that voice inside your head that says you aren’t good enough. Stop being so negative. Don’t let your fears and doubts get the best of you. You need to practice positive self-talk, recognize your achievements, congratulate yourself on small victories, and focus on how you can improve versus what you are lacking at.
  2. Make a list of three things you do well each day. Do you come to work always on time? Check. Can you make a delicious dinner using a recipe? Check. Do you know how to show someone you care about them? Check. Fairly easy, isn’t it? Everyone can find at least three things they are good at, so go ahead and list as many as you can think of. The small everyday things are actually the ones that really matter.
  3. Refuse to compare yourself. Your mother and those geneticists are right—we are all one-of-a-kind individuals. Our looks and personalities are unique and so are our skill sets and circumstances. There will always be someone who is better than you at something, but then again, you might be better than others at something else. Comparison is a losing game that causes much disappointment; refuse to play it.
  4. Set achievable goals and make plans to reach them. Big dreams and grand goals are great and we should all have a couple, but reaching them takes a lot of time and effort. When you know that you are trying your best but your goal is not much nearer than when you just started, it’s easy to become discouraged and give up before accomplishing anything. You need to be able to measure your progress to see it, so break those master plans into smaller stages with sub-goals for each stage. Set a realistic timeframe for each stage and define a number of criteria for evaluating your success. This will allow you to measure your progression toward the bigger goal, and recognizing and celebrating all of the smaller achievements will keep you happy and motivated.
  5. Prioritize what’s important each day. Some days you may feel like you have wasted your time and haven’t really done anything, despite being busy all day. Sometimes there is so much to do that you don’t even know where to start. So, you get confused—or too excited—and start on everything at once and then struggle to finish anything at all. You need to set your priorities right, otherwise you will not be able to utilize the time effectively. Make a to-do list, record your tasks according to their importance and urgency, and don’t forget to allot the time needed to accomplish each one of them. Stay realistic regarding your abilities to avoid regret and disappointment. Your life is made of these days; don’t let even a single one go to waste.
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