The feeling of insecurity or feelings of rejection are very painful and can significantly impact on you self-esteem and on your personal and professional relationships. This negative feeling is often very subtle, but can also be experienced in a very intense manner, depending on the circumstance and on your ability to cope and rationalise your feelings at the time.
Feeling insecure stems from childhood experiences (e.g. trauma in childhood or inconsistent parenting), recent rejections (e.g. job insecurity or failure or obtain a new job), or perfectionism (e.g. having too high expectations of yourself). The reason behind your insecurity is important because it impacts on how you deal and cope with feelings of rejection in every day life and how you heal and move forward. However at the core of these three issues is your self-esteem – the value you place on yourself.
When your self esteem is high, you can deal much more effectively with potential rejections, however, when your self-esteem is low, even the smallest possible rejection can get you down. So, at the very least, it is important to build your self esteem.
How insecurity impacts on your life
Insecurity most strongly plays out in personal relationships, in particular when you feel as though you are giving something of yourself to another person and this is not being sufficiently reciprocated, or when you feel you have been unfairly criticised.
Feeling insecure with friends
One of the best ways to begin to reduce feelings of rejection and insecurity, is to separate the value of yourself from your actions. For instance, let’s say you are really busy and decide to offer your assistance to a friend who needs help and your friend says “no thank-you, I’ve just organised my brother to help me”. When you feel insecure, you mid immediately races to thinking “it must be me”. She must not like “me”, or “I” must have done something wrong, for her to say “no”. However, if you separate yourself from your actions, you can take a step back and rationalise that she is not saying “no” to you, she is saying “no” to the action. The action has nothing to do with you – she was in her world, trying to work out a solution that suits her and her brother turned out to be the best solution at that time. In other words, she is not rejecting you, she is simply saying no to your offer of help. You can separate YOU from the OFFER OF HELP.
Feeling insecure with family
Let’s look at another example. Let’s say you spend hours making a delicious meal for your family. You’ve been worrying for a while about whether or not your children are eating enough vegetables, so you spend hours looking over the best kid-friendly vegetable based dinners and cook what you believe is an amazing healthy and delicious meal for them. You present this meal to your family with pride, only to be told it looks and tastes disgusting and there is no way they are eating it. Your initial reaction is to feel very hurt and rejected, because in your mind you believe this means you are either a bad cook, your children don’t like you or care about your feelings, you are never going to be able to get these kids to eat a healthy meal and so on… However, if you were to separate yourself from the action, you could look at the situation differently and try a different approach next time without taking it personally. The fact they do not like the food has nothing to do with you. They simply don’t like the food (the action). They are rejecting the food, not you. So, you can decide in that moment to rethink new ways to present healthy meals, or to sneak healthy vegetables into your child’s diet and put this dinner down to ‘trial no.1’.
Feeling insecure in a relationship
Let’s look at a more personal scenario – feelings of rejection in relationships. The most painful rejection is a break-up, because you interpret this one as “he/she does not like me”, or “there must be something wrong with me”, or “I must have done something wrong”. However, most of the time a break-up is not due to someone doing something wrong. It tends to be both people drifting apart for a variety of reasons, or that one person has issues with commitment, it’s bad timing and so on. So in this scenario you can still separate yourself from the action. Yes, it still takes time to mend the pain because you will miss the other person being a part of your life. However, the way you deal with this break up and the impact it has on your level of insecurity moving forward is directly related to your perception of the separation. You can see it for what it is – the other person is not rejecting you. They are simply saying “no” to the relationship at this time – not “no” to YOU as a person. This is a difficult one for many people to get their head around, but it is an important one to grasp because relationship break-ups can have a devastating impact on your self-worth. Incompatibility has nothing to do with the worth of a person and more to do with values, beliefs, what each person deems acceptable in a relationship and what each person is willing to accept or not willing to accept in the relationship. So, often in relationships it’s the compatibility that is being evaluated, not the person’s worth – and this is the KEY to understanding YOU are not being rejected, the COMPATIBILITY of both of you within the relationship is what is being rejected, so it cannot and should not impact on your self-worth.
The key to reducing insecurity
In these scenarios, the key is to stop yourself when you begin to feel insecure, or rejected. You know what that feels like (e.g. it usually starts with a funny feeling in your tummy because your stomach is the feeling centre of your body), so you can begin to rethink your reactions to rejection the moment you start to feel rejected. Then try to separate yourself from the action with which you are feeling rejected and rationalise that this action is not a reflection of your self-worth. In doing so, you will begin the journey towards higher self-worth and not allowing feelings of insecurity to take over or ruin your life.
Lizzie O’Halloran, BBSc, MASR, NLP Prac
Founder of Help for Mums and Author of Perfect Mum and Refresh Your Life
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