I cannot remember the first time I felt shame grip its fingers around my heart and squeeze but it’s a sensation as familiar to me as breathing these days.
When I was very young I was quite content with the person I was. Perhaps because I spent so much time allowing my imagination to carry me far away. I had my head in the clouds and so I was safe from the howling winds of insecurity.
As a child I was bold as can be. On family holidays I would always end up making friends with the other kids who were camping and I almost always spent more time in their tents than our own.
I never felt embarrassed asking someone if they wanted to play. I was never ashamed of myself or scared they would say no. When I look back now, it seems as though I had no insecurities at all.
But then puberty hit, cruelly as it always does and I became increasingly self conscious.
I hated the way my body had curves and edges, and that they drew attention to me. I hated that I was clumsy and nonathletic, always dropping the ball and missing catches.
I hated that I didn’t understand maths, that the combination of letters and numbers got scrambled in my head, making me feel stupid when I couldn’t answer the teacher’s question.
My insecurities became a thorn in my side, an ever-present reminder that I wasn’t good enough.
They made me stop voicing my opinions for fear of being laughed at. They made me shy away from my passions because I didn’t want to be different. They made me try with ferocious intensity to never draw attention to myself.
The road to overcoming insecurity as been a windy one for me. It has taken a lot of digging through emotions, searching for explanations and forgiveness to get to the point I am at today, which if I am honest, is still not perfect.
I still have those days where I crumple up inside because my favourite pair of shorts no longer fit or I’m too afraid to cycle downhill on my bike or I can’t think of a witty comeback to whatever someone said.
It’s hard not to berate ourselves for being a little less charming, intelligent, athletic and beautiful than we had hoped we would turn out to be.
However, slowly but surely, I am finding new ways to not only accept, but to love myself. I am making peace with the fact I won’t ever be some things but I rest secure in the knowledge that I have a whole raft of other wonderful qualities that make up for those deficiencies.
So these are my tips for you…
Overcoming insecurity and making peace with yourself
Follow people who encourage self love
I don’t think we realise how much we absorb the things we are exposed to online. The positivity or negativity of the people we follow can have a huge impact on us.
One of the ways I learnt to accept my body was by starting to follow women of all shapes and sizes who loved themselves regardless of their figure. It was so helpful for me to see these bold women, courageously battling their own insecurities. If they could do it then surely I could too!
So whatever it is that you feel insecure about, find someone who is an advocate of it and get inspired by them.
For some self-love inspiration, take a look at Ashton, Taryn or Katie.
Work through your ‘why’
I won’t lie to you, this step is hard. It requires a great deal of emotional digging.
You have to be willing to push through some uncomfortable feelings to work out which messages you have taken in and allowed to define you.
I have found that journaling works incredibly well for uncovering these self limiting beliefs but sometimes you might need someone else to help point them out to you. I personally went to see a counselor because it felt like too much of a task to bear on my own. You can read about my experience in my post- healing from the past.
Out with the old, in with the new
You have to begin working at changing your mindset.
You have to learn how to mitigate negative self talk and create a positive environment for yourself to try, fail, fall and fly without judgement.
You need to recognise that every day, every moment, you are growing and changing. Who you are today is not the same person you will be next year or five years from now.
The key is to learn to love all versions of yourself, past and present.
Overcoming insecurity requires you to give yourself grace to make mistakes and fail sometimes, to be imperfect and so wonderfully human. Speak words of kindness over yourself, try out these self love affirmations.
Surround yourself with love
People often say, you can’t love others if you don’t love yourself first, which is true but so is the reverse.
You can’t properly love yourself if you aren’t in an environment of love. By that I mean, the people who surround you need to be supportive, affirming and encouraging.
It isn’t always possible to make that happen as a child. The family you are born into might not give you this love and support freely as they should. However, as an adult we have the ability to choose who we let into our circles.
We no longer are stuck with negative, hurtful or discouraging people. We choose who we invite in and allow to speak into our lives.
So make this choice wisely. Let go of the ones who make you feel ‘less than.’ Fill up your life with people who build you up and have your back no matter what.
Overcoming insecurity won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.
If you are gentle and patient and kind to yourself, eventually that love will set you free.
You’ll be able to laugh loudly again. You’ll feel the weight lifted off your shoulders. You’ll finally be able to hold your head high.
The process is worth it, because the reward is sweet. So very sweet my friends. Go spread some love on yourself today!