Three Steps to Battle Insecurity
"You might want to go ahead and donate that outfit to Goodwill?"
My friend said this to me (in as nice a tone as possible) about an admittedly "tired" dress, and it surfaced a classic insecurity for me - namely, my fashion sense.
I pin my specific clothing "vibe" on my laissez faire So Cal childhood. As a kid I spent most of my days wearing a swim suit, walking around barefoot, and smelling of Coppertone sunscreen. Wearing a coverup WAS dressing up, a baseball cap "fixed" my hair, and, aside from horse-riding boots (that I evidently didn't wear enough), I sported flip flops 99% of the time.
I was trained to do "casual" very well.
These days even on the most casual of Fridays, I can't pull off the short-shorts and midriff tops of my childhood in corporate America. Ergo, I'm always out of my natural element.
What's worse, I work in the entertainment industry, so there isn't a "uniform" dress code as there is in many industries. Instead, my counterparts dress hip and cool which feels particularly difficult for me to pull off. (Think Project Runway!)
If you know me, please don't argue with this point and tell me that my self perception doesn't match reality or anything else "encouraging." I'm not fishing for compliments here, but making a broader point.
Regardless of "reality," I don't trust my fashion "sense," which is a consistent source of insecurity for me.
When I mention this phenomenon to other friends, I'm surprised how many of them have their own self-assigned insecurities. Some struggle with their education pedigree, experience level, family background, connections, or a variety of other self perceived "short-falls." Usually I don't track with their logic, but my lack of understanding doesn't change a thing for them.
Let's face it, ignoring the "comparison" voice in our head is tough. However, I've discovered three things which help me:
1. Name your insecurity
To work through any insecurity, you must first identify and own it. Only when you see the self-doubt in yourself can you work on minimizing its impact. Remember the post about how "Awareness Precedes Choice. Choice Precedes Change?" Being aware of what makes you nervous and anxious is the first step in ultimately moving past your insecurity.
2. Tell a friend about the insecurity.
Fears hide, fester, and grow in the dark. When they are brought to light, they retreat. If you feel insecure in one area, the best thing you can do is acknowledge the fear to someone you trust. Merely admitting your anxiety releases much of the tension. Try telling someone about your "weakness" and ask them to shine the light on the insecurity. Many times just hearing an outside perspective resets the insidious internal voice which whispers, "you don't measure up."
3. Give your friend permission to call you out when your insecurity surfaces.
Once you insecurity is in the light, let your friend offer advice. Let them identify the unhelpful behaviors habits that feed the anxiety or redirect your attention to more practical solutions. I remember telling a friend about feeling like a frump, and she gently offered to help me sort through my closet. Another friend offered to take me shopping, an activity I loathe. (I know, I should turn in my girl card!) Both friends were gently, but insistently, telling me to stop complaining, do something about my "issue," and accept the help. Maybe they didn't want me to complain any more, or they thought a little practice in the fashion world would purge the insecurity. Regardless of what you're dealing with, you need someone around you to give you a gentle nudge in a different direction.
Of course these steps are just the beginning, but they will give you a strong start!