Shame and Grace Part 12 - The Question Of Insecurity

Jan 30

Shame and Grace Part 12 - The Question Of Insecurity

Wed, 01/30/2013 - 19:03 — Thabo Mokete

It is never an option whether we should feel insecure or not. For as we live and breathe, an event will come that prevents us from affirming who we are essentially. What are we to do when that moment comes?

This is part of the human condition. Things happen that trigger feelings of inadequacy, unworthiness, or uncertainty about ourselves in relation to life. If there was a time when we could point at somebody else as the one who is hanging by a thread, with a low self-esteem, we can stop with that game now already. The ground is slippery and shaky everywhere, all around.

Things may be lovely and great one moment. Then suddenly something turns up that punches out the wind of confidence. For instance, what happens when somebody is told that a particular part of his or her body is too big, two small, too irregular, not firm enough or too firm, the nose or a hand or a foot or - heavens forbid - a private part? It tends to push the mind out of paradise: Why am I not perfect?

Things may be going well, then suddenly somebody says “You are slow minded” or "You are stuck up". It could even be a thought that comes "He did not look at me" or "She did not smile at me"  “He did not kiss me good bye” or “she did not hug me.”
People regularly face questions that bring a weakness to their knees: "Why do I talk so much or so little?” “Why do I belong to this tribe and not that one?”  “Why am I living in this neighbourhood?” “Why do I do this even though I am a man?” "Why can't I have a nice boyfriend?” “Why did I get married?” “Why can't I be normal?” “Why do I do the bad when I know to do the good? “Why do find myself in situations where I hurt myself and the people I love?”

All these questions, there is no end to them. It tends to leave very little room in our minds to appreciate what we already have. It reduces the space available for us to grow and develop to the best of what we can be, in our uniqueness, each one from the other.

This unanswerable questions lead to self-doubt: "Who am I?", "Am I a mistake?", "Am I good or bad?" Many dreams and hopes die a natural death by way of self-doubt! Even when someone comes and says "I love you" it does not really sink in, for the question persists, why am I so lovable? In spite of the good that I know I am capable of, I am also aware of the darkness that comes with that. The dark side.1

This insecurity, like guilt, is a condition of human existence.1 When a person realizes that somehow, he or she tends to deviate from the ideals and norms that she knows are in place, and cannot understand why.

You may say, but we have heroes who breathe confidence. All the beautiful, the handsome, the intelligent, the kings, queens, the presidents, the rich and powerful, the sports heroes, the celebrities, the bishops, and all those we look up to. But they all have this feeling of vulnerability and uncertainty. We don't even need to go very far for proof of that. After all, we read about it in the newspapers and magazines.

American fashion model Cameron Russell spoke candidly about this when she said:

“...the thing that we never say on camera, that I have never said on camera, is, 'I am insecure.' And I am insecure because I have to think about what I look like juts need to meet a group of models...they're the most physically insecure women probably on the planet.”2

We have tried to deal with self-doubt by making an extra effort to be good, in the hope that we may gain some assurance. That goodness may involve building and participating in institutions based on high ideals, such as governments, churches, law courts, sports clubs and other such places where human beings aspire for honour, truth and justice. But these institutions themselves are not immune from evil. In a twisted fate kind of way, we find the dark side of human beings within these very corridors of honour, truth and justice.

We have also flipped the coin and tried to beat insecurity by being bad. To raise the middle finger, to pick up a gun or a knife towards someone is often a sign of a faltering ego. In spite of all the technological gadgets we have created, we have not been able to create a safe spot in our consciousness about who we are as human beings.

This is also the age of being cool to prove a point. Look bad, bored and aggressive enough behind those dark sunglasses. Insert at least one obscene, angry word in every sentence and you are OK. Or wear the most daring outfit to make that statement.

While there is every thing good with being positive, and it is the attitude we should have towards life, it becomes a futile gimmick to use positive thinking as a tool against insecurity. To say “I am good” does not help re-assure when you get to the place where you know you have done the 'not good'. It brings about an insoluble dilemma.

Then, sooner rather than later, we must deal with these feelings and find a fuller plane to live in.

For if left unresolved, insecurity leads to rejection. Once we feel rejected, the law of reciprocity kicks in automatically. We reject that which we feel has rejected us.

One only has to watch the evening news to see the levels of agitation. At the root of most murders, rapes, abuse, assault, genocides, and war, there is the rejected, upset ego. Hostility is a product of an unreconciled, insecure self.3

I want to suggest that insecurity need not be a beast. That feelings that come with it can be approached like all other feelings. The meaning of feelings is that they are a messaging system between different parts of the same being. The work of conscious thought then is to be able to decode accurately the message given in a feeling.

Without getting too deep into the study of feelings - which is a very interesting study on its own - we can say that it is never wrong to say “I feel insecure”. It is the interpretation of the feeling that comes into question, and that is where we often miss the boat.

The message of insecurity is about a lack of meaning we have regarding a particular object or situation. This equally means a lack of understanding we have about our own selves. Once we become aware of something, we want to meaningfully interact with it.  When we fail to do this, that triggers a feeling of stepping out on shifting sand.

We need to be aware that insecurity is the expression of the soul's need for understanding. When we come to the place where we are fully understood, there can be no feeling of insecurity.

Then instead of rushing to make changes when the question comes, what is actually needed is understanding. For it is understanding that calms the nerves. It is the much needed handshake between consciousness and other parts of our being.

So when the question of vulnerability comes, that is not the time to strive against it. We cannot answer this call with rational thought. That is the time to be quiet and surrender the self to a divine light. When we have thus surrendered to the helplessness, then we are ready for the creative work to begin.

Sometimes we have called it prayer. Prayer is essentially a creative act. The human spirit reaches out to the divine Spirit.4 This can happen only intuitively. The ego cannot pray, it can only say words, no matter how religious or intelligent they may sound. But God is not impressed by the words of the ego, but by the truth of the desire in the spirit.5

God is touched by the emotion our insecurity, but we cannot be helped until we surrender the resourcefulness of our ego. As long as we try to answer in our own mechanical  means, we are not ready to receive the real answer which is waiting at the highest level of our being.

When that question comes, that is the time to do nothing but receive what is being given in that moment. Unconditional acceptance.

1. Griffith, Jeremy. A Species In Denial. Sydney: FHA Publishing and Communications Pty Ltd, 2003.
2. Russell, Cameron. Looks aren't everything. Believe me, I'm a model, 2013.
3. Tillich, Paul. The New Being. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons , 1955.
4. Berdyaev, Nikolai. The Meaning of The Creative Act. London: Semantron Press, 2009.
5. Romans 8:26