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Monday, July 28, 2014

Overcoming Negative Thoughts: Great Possibilities brings Self-Doubt and Insecurity

Susan J Meyerott, artist

'Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and our clarity of purpose.'  Brene Brown

Big Dreams Always Produces Self-Doubt and Insecurity

What or who has caught your attention lately filling you with excitement as well as self-doubt and insecurity?

Perhaps you asked for a raise; started a new job, entrepreneurial venture, or commissioned art project. Or perhaps it's a love interest that has you twitter-patted.

Anything worth achieving, or any relationship worth developing, comes with a triple challenge that pushes you to both act and procrastinate at the same time —the nervous excitement driving the interest, along with its partners—self-doubt and insecurity.

If you let them, your negative thoughts and musings will easily overpower your excitement that motivates you to act--leaving you to quietly quiver and do nothing instead.

BIG dreams and great possibilities bring great insecurities. And the more you want something the greater your self-doubt. This is true for all great dreamers, leaders and lovers.

It is this lack of self-confidence fueled by the fear of being vulnerable and exposed that stops you from dreaming and acting with courage.

Susan J Meyerott, artist

Uncovering the Secret Fear: I'm Not Worthy

Let's face it--we all like to appear worthy, strong and in control of our lives and the thought of being vulnerable and exposed is frightening. What's behind that fear? It is the niggling thought 'I'm not good enough'.

Make no mistake--the negative thoughts behind your need to retreat and hide in moments of self-doubt and vulnerability are: I'm not good enough; I'm not worthy; I'm imperfect; or there's something wrong with me. 

You may try to deny feeling shame from yourself as it doesn't fit your strong, in-control self image.  Yet at the moment you adamantly deny feeling vulnerable you isolate and retreat from others.

Think about it:

Who likes admitting they got laid off and are now struggling to find a new job?

Or how about facing the public embarrassment of putting your heart into applying for a position you're perfect for only to have the job given to someone else (even if you were a close second)? 

Or how about wanting to ask someone for a date or being rebuffed when you attempt to step further into a relationship for making you feel vulnerable and exposed?

Each of these situations makes even the heartiest of us squirm in insecurity and self-doubt and sends us into hiding not only from others but ourselves.

The Fear of Disconnection

According to Brene Brown, author of 'The Gifts of Imperfection', shame is the fear of disconnection--we think there is something so shameful about us that if people really knew us they would reject us--so we keep our mouth shut and stay invisible.

The problem is this keeps us from being seen, heard, and known by others. Through our secret negative thoughts we bring on the very thing we fear--a feeling of disconnection and distance from others. And it stops us in our tracks.

How to Live with Courage and Confidence 

How can we be the hearty, resilient people that we are and not let the fear of our imperfections over-ride our desire to pursue our interests?

As Brown says, "Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and our clarity of purpose." 

In other words, we must publicly and consciously own and engage with our own vulnerability instead of hiding it in shame. (Basically--get over yourself!)

Reinterpret how you view self-doubt and insecurity

Make friends with your soft underbelly. To tame your shame and its negative influence on your actions begin by consciously acknowledging your humanness to yourself then to a trusted confidant.

When you acknowledge your negative thoughts as natural consequences of stepping into your life you give yourself choice and opportunity. 

'It always feels dangerous to be seen, to be heard and to be known. It is also thrilling.'

To step into your life and achieve your heart's desire you must experience, then walk past, the fear of not being worthy or good enough. 

'Choose to see this moment of fear as your 'dangerous opportunity' and consciously chose to step out of the danger into the opportunity.'

Break through your hiding place

Sit in your vulnerability. Acknowledge the pain and discomfort openly and honestly. Let yourself see the truth.


All great beginnings start with strong emotions that drive you to act. Think of your e-motions as energy-in-motion. Learn to put all e-motion--both positive and negative--to work for you.

Starting Points

Choose to view your insecurity and self-doubt as a starting points, not stopping points. They make you stop and take notice of what you want. And they help you take the time to consider if this is the direction you really want to pursue or if you want to change directions.

 'Do you feel compelled to take action or are you merely curious about the possibilities? Do you have the strength of conviction to pursue it? Is your desire strong enough to move you past your self-doubt and insecurity?'

Artist: Susan J Meyerott

"It all starts with Desire. If you are going to start some sort of improvement effort you must want to do it. Without personal motivation to take any step into the unknown, no matter how small, there is no possibility for success. Curiosity is sufficient but if it’s “just a good idea” that you don’t personally care about, stop wasting your time and those around you by considering it any further."                            Len Schlesinger and Charlie Kiefer, Harvard Business Review Blog

Choose to Be Seen, Choose to Connect

Practice finding your courage in your moments of insecurity and decide to show yourself instead of to hide. The more consciously you practice this, the better you'll get at stepping into the opportunities that are always present in your life.

In 'Four Steps to Authentic Communication' Robert Holden shares a Zulu greeting so simple and direct it's worthy of practicing it in your head even if it unnerves you too much to say out loud. When you come into the presence of another person face one another, look directly into each other's eyes and say 'I'm here to be seen'. The other person replies, 'I see you'.

Choose to be seen and choose to connect. Practice stepping out into your life, knowing you have value and wealth inside you worthy of sharing. 

'Your vulnerability and imperfections are what make you lovable and human. Choose to use them to your advantage.'

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For more than 30 years, Susan Meyerott has been helping people lighten up and step over invisible barriers to change one step at a time. She speaks to your heart, puts you at ease, and makes changing easier than ever before.

If you're interested in learning more about closing the gap between where you are now and where you want to be, join the Lightarted Living mailing list. Sign up for free e-mail updates from this blog in the top right-hand corner of the page.


Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Sue, I don't know where to start - loved this post! "It always feels dangerous ..." and the Zulu greeting are definitely two of the things that will stick with me.

shirlsw12 said...

I think you made some really excellent points here. I know that I have dealt with a lot of these same issues myself, and they can be incredibly difficult to go through. One of the most important steps to getting better definitely seems to be identifying problems. It seems like you've focused on that a lot, and hopefully other people will feel more connected to that idea in the future. If people can focus on these ideas, there's a good chance that they can get past all of this.