3 Ways To Help People Remain Insecure

This might be hard to believe considering the content of my blog, but I used to be insecure. I didn’t know I was insecure at the time, but I was.

My insecurity began when I started to attend public school. No longer surrounded by a supportive family, I began to encounter people who didn’t like me very much, or who excluded me. I know what it’s like to be picked last for a pick-up football or soccer game at recess. In public school, there was always the subtle desire and fabricated need to try and be like the “cool kids.” In the words of Echosmith, “I wish that I could be like the cool kids, ‘cause all the cool kids, they seem to fit in.”

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Unconsciously, I strove to be “cool” and to be liked by my peers. Being good at sports helped. Eventually, I went from being the last one picked during recess to the first one. I played football and basketball and soccer and lacrosse. I mingled with all the “cool kids”, and I was respected for what I could do on the football field, or the basketball court. But I still never really “fit in.”
Academics weren’t much different. While I wasn’t conscious of it at the time, what drove me to do well in academics was to be respected by my peers. It felt good when everyone came to me when they needed help with their history homework. When I did well on a test, I would sometimes ask the person sitting next to me how they did, just waiting for them to ask me the same question back so I could tell them without appearing to brag. When I did bad on a test, I was silent. Yes, pride and insecurity are very much connected.
I had been struggling with Geometry my freshman year of high school, but happened to get 100% on one test. One of my football teammates saw my score and remarked that I was a “beast at life” since I was good at sports and school.
How could someone who was “a beast at life” (like being good at sports and academics says anything about how well your life is going) possibly be insecure?
I was insecure because I had become accustomed to such compliments. I began to expect them. I needed them.

Things took a turn for the worse my sophomore and Junior years of high school. Being good on the Freshman team was one thing, but when I joined the varsity, I was just another bench-warmer. But that was normal. My high school was so big that sophomores almost never played on the varsity team. Junior year, I expected to start. When that didn’t happen and I remained a back-up, I lost a lot of confidence in myself. I began to regress. Suddenly, I couldn’t make plays that I used to be able to make. Anxiety and depression set in. My teammates and coaches no longer saw me as one of the best players. I felt ashamed to be on the sideline, and I couldn’t handle that very well.

 

Academics also took a downturn my sophomore year. I took an AP chemistry class which was way over my head. For the first time in my life, I actually struggled with school. I had to ask other people for help. I had to ask the teacher for help. I felt like an idiot. Combined with my football experiences, I began to feel very small.
Perhaps these struggles seem trivial, and that’s because they are, but they weren’t to me at the time, and that’s because I was insecure. I needed the respect and admiration of others to feel valuable and important. It was only after I was no longer a big fish in a little pond that I was forced to seek Christ for my worth, not the opinions of others when it came to my academic or athletic merit.
If this had never happened to me, had people continued to compliment me on my athletic prowess and academic ability, then I would have remained insecure. Feeling good at these things which really don’t matter, held me up.

For others, there are different things that prop up their insecurity. Without fail, insecurity always comes from lacking an understanding of reality, and giving certain things more importance then they merit. If you want to overcome your own insecurity, or help others out of it, you have to steer them back to reality. There are three things you don’t want to do…unless you want the insecurity to remain, which I think some people do.
1. Tell them what they want to hear:
If you want to help someone out of insecurity, merely telling them what they want to hear, isn’t going to help them. I see this all the time.
Insecure person posting on Facebook: So-and-so says I complain too much. Really? I can’t believe they would say that. What kind of jerk must she be to say that? I just hate it when people are so judgmental. I wonder how she would like if someone told her she was too judgmental. But I don’t know. Maybe I do complain too much after all, and I’m just a terrible person that doesn’t deserve any friends.
Friend trying to help:That was so mean! I don’t know who they thought they were! You never complain! Don’t listen to them!
Insecure person:You’re right. It’s them; not me. [says more bad things about the person]
I’m sorry, but…you are complaining right now…and you’re talking badly about someone behind their back…publicly. That’s not good.
Of course, the friends of those who do this sort of thing will be 100% on the side of their friend, desperately trying to reassure them that they are perfect and have done nothing wrong. Perhaps their intentions are noble, but telling someone just what they want to hear won’t help them move out of their insecurity.

Even if the insult is completely unfounded, trying to say the insult was inaccurate isn’t going to help someone who is so easily impacted by such criticism. Certainly, some reassurance can and is good, but not at the expense of understanding the reality that the negative opinion of one person is nothing to be insecure or depressed about.
Being able to take constructive criticism is a major part of being secure in who you are. I certainly have a lot of growing to do in this area myself. Taking constructive criticism positively is something I’ve struggled with for a while.

When you’re secure, you don’t fall apart when someone points out that you have flaws. You take the criticism in stride and try to get better. However, those who are insecure rarely welcome constructive criticism, and instead choose to wallow in self-pity and leech on the assurance of their friends. peer group, or someone or something else, never growing.
2. Join In Their Pity Parties:
Similar to the above point, if someone is having a pity party or lamenting their insecurity, don’t join in and encourage that behavior. I find it rather odd to see individuals defending their rather arrogant and self-absorbed behaviors because they claim to be insecure, and need to feel better about themselves. Again, without fail, these attempts at attention-seeking pay off, and flocks of friends are there to take part.
From what I’ve observed, the root cause of insecurity is—ultimately—selfishness. If we simply put others far above ourselves in importance, we would never be insecure. We would hardly think about ourselves, but only what good things we can do for others. We don’t need to be encouraging people to feel better about themselves; we need to encourage people to care more about others.

Fortunately, it just so happens that when we start caring more about others than ourselves, the insecurity falls away, because how we are perceived by other humans suddenly doesn’t seem so necessary.

We get it backwards. Our culture tells us we need to think more of ourselves, but we actually need to think more of others and less of ourselves.  
So don’t join in the pity-parties of your insecure friends. That just reassures them that they have been wronged and should walk around with an “Oh-woe-is-me” attitude like they deserve something, or need to be treated better so they won’t be so “insecure.”
3. Don’t point them back to God:
Finally, if you want someone to remain insecure, don’t point them back to God. Don’t give them the perspective to see just how silly insecurity really is. God, the creator of everything, created every person and gave everyone a special purpose. He also loved every person enough to send His only son to die by crucifixion and pay the price for our sins. He also wants to have a personal relationship with every one of us.
Wow. And you’re insecure because you don’t think you’re pretty? Or you’re not good at sports?

Sure, we can know this in our heads, but sometimes really believing this and allowing this knowledge to impact our lives is difficult, and the struggle with insecurity is still there. That’s okay. That just means some growth is to be had, but there won’t be any growth if we encourage ourselves to find security in things or our own abilities. Certainly, God created us with unique gifts and abilities, and it is very rewarding and fulfilling to find joy in doing the things we were created to do, but these gifts can be taken away. This is why we ultimately have to find our security in who we are, not what we can or can’t do, or in who does or doesn’t like us.
And yet, I see very few people actually point their insecure friends back to God. If someone is insecure about their looks, their friends just pounce whenever said friend posts a picture of themselves on social media. These well-meaning friends will spout off about how beautiful their insecure friend is, but what good is that going to do? Maybe the complimented friend will feel reassured temporarily, but what about when the feelings of inadequacy come back? All it takes is one insult, or one TV ad, and the insecurity will return.

This doesn’t mean girls shouldn’t compliment each other on their looks, but I think when done solely for the purpose of trying to curb insecurity, does more harm than good. It actually promotes the idea that you should get your self-worth from your looks, but the good news is you are pretty, so be happy.
Those who are insecure about their looks don’t need to be told they’re pretty. Those who are insecure about anything don’t need to be told they’re good at whatever that thing is. Sure, there are times when this can be beneficial, but only as a supplement to the deeper more important truth: God loves you.
So many people are insecure because of things that don’t really matter, and will pass away with time. We need to remind others of the bigger picture. Treating the symptoms with a quick and easy compliment won’t help. You have to go to the cause, which is not trusting in God.

King David wrote in Psalm 23,

“Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me.”


Those aren’t just pretty words. David had a lot to be fearful about. The king of Israel was hunting him down and trying to kill him, for goodness sake. And yet, he had no fear. He did not lament how insecure the king’s wrath was making him. He didn’t moan to his men that the king didn’t like him, and that hurt his feelings. Why? Because God was with him, and no harm could come to him. Even if the king did kill him, no harm would be done. We don’t need to fear those who can kill the body (or hurt the ego for that matter).

We can live in total safety, comfort, and security–no matter our circumstances–because God is with us.  


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3 Comments

  1. This is something that's been on my mind a lot lately…I've been having almost these exact struggles over the past few weeks. Thanks for writing this…gave me a push in the right direction.

  2. You make many good points… and ironically, even though culture tells people to “stand up for yourself” “don't let others push you around” “You can do anything you think you can” etc., insecurity is growing, NOT decreasing… God NEVER intended that we should get our security from ourselves… our security must come from God… and that comes from focusing on God and obeying Him, believing Him, trusting Him, etc. Thank you for a great post!. 🙂

  3. What a great perspective. Thanks for sharing this at our Homestead Blog Hop, hope to see you again this week!