"The task we must set for ourselves is not to feel secure, but to be able to tolerate insecurity.”
When I imagine a superpower I would want most, it would be an exaggeration of a human trait or something beyond human, such as super strength, flying, or shooting fire out of my palms. Or maybe I would be satisfied with my psychic abilities or my plant communication--though I did open an airport tram door that was jammed and helped people get out. :) But as I get older my superpower seems to sit in my kryptonite and the thing I dislike about myself most...my insecurity.
I used to hate my insecurity--okay, probably still do--it makes me feel anxious, mistrusting of others, jealous, or feeling inferior. My insecurity makes me want to isolate and hide because I feel unworthy and that something is deeply wrong with me. It contains the messy parts of me that must stay hidden to be loveable. In Western culture--I will venture to say white supremacy and patriarchy culture--that values confidence and "fake it 'til you make it" that insecurity becomes an insult, something we can dislike in ourselves and others.
In my insecure moments, I can’t trust relating in friendships or romantic relationships as distance feels dangerous--I self-abandon and can't seem to find my power. In attempts to control my external circumstances, I cling and try my darndest to make the person feel adored so they won’t leave me or I do the opposite and completely pull away to protect myself from rejection. While intellectually I realize these are mostly attachment disorders or relational trauma compensations, I can’t help but notice phases or relationships where the insecurities become even more pronounced. Insecurity often stems from trauma or nervous system dysregulation, with clear patterns in astrology--I see it the most with Chiron and Neptune aspects--though it can also be situational based on finances, relationships, health, or depression. Putting all these together combined with social media and is a perfect insecurity storm for many of us ripping at the roots of security or any semblance of it.
While insecurity is an aspect of me, I know it isn't all of me...but it is certainly a place of avoidance. We’re often told and taught that confidence is the most desired quality to possess, making us more attractive to romantic partners and friends. For the majority of us, that ideal trait may never fully come to fruit...especially those with relational trauma where our sense of self. While yes, I’ve noticed insecurities in others can be rather unbecoming, but noticing it in yourself can be downright gross. And the past several months--if not my entire life--I have been in a particularly insecure place.
I can tell a lot about a person depending on how they respond to me in my insecurity, some move closer to offer comfort, while others become repulsed. And I get it, it used to be that when I saw insecurity in someone I felt a bit disgusted, playing out the patriarchal and white supremacist view that insecurity meant weakness and didn't align with valuing perfection. I would try to fix them or offer advice. Some of us may judge when we see something “wrong” with someone else, it makes them less cool or interesting, perhaps too human or what an unbecoming quality to have. Now, when people show me their insecurity, I want to wrap them in my arms and hold them tenderly. I want my heart to be a safe haven for unlovable parts, a refuge from the confidence complexes that become counterintuitive to connection. Though this only becomes possible with I see my own insecurity as a strength rather than a hindrance to my existence.
The most exposing thing about insecurity to me is that others see and know it, even when we think we are hiding it. A fact that feels incredibly vulnerable as all of my compensatory complexes and cracked identities start to come to the surface rather than my rawness. Below are some of the behaviors I notice in myself and others that indicate insecurity being activated:
Boasting & Status Seeking :: about what you have or have accomplished as a way of getting validation about external circumstances or establishing status as a means of
Disagreeing or being a Know-it-all :: when we don’t feel confident we may need to prove our intelligence through disagreeing with others
Controlling :: when we don’t feel safe or don’t trust we can handle what will come our way, we may respond by attempting to make things more predictable through control.
Perfectionism, Judgement or Complaining :: feeling we won’t be good enough and then any mistake me make being a reflection of that, and also pointing out others mistakes more often
Oversharing :: needing external validation to feel okay, we may post a lot online or talk a lot
Anxiety :: this stems from fear about what people think of us or how they may respond to what we show them, as well as not trusting our own ability with uncertainty
People-pleasing :: when we don’t feel worthy we attempt to earn value through making others happy and wondering if we offended someone
Leading with Sexuality & Wanting to be desired:: wanting to be wanted can be a way we feel value when we are afraid of being rejected for other reasons
Social Anxiety or Avoiding Eye Contact:: worrying others are upset with us or that we have done something wrong, or constantly apologizing and don’t feel worthy of love, or others are talking about them
Self-deprecation :: making fun of ourselves so that others may know we know something is wrong with us or pointing things out so others won't tell us
Depression :: we retreat from the world when we feel we may be carrying too much or burden others.
Jealousy :: when we don’t feel confident, it can evoke jealousy in the ways others relate or may be closer to you
Overreacting & Taking things Very Personally :: feeling unstable means that little things can upset someone as everything is linked to who they are and a sense of self
Looking at this list it's easy to see that insecurity is the root of narcissistic tendencies, but having the qualities doesn't mean you or I have a narcissistic personality disorder. I am not using that word lightly but in response to the unfortunate way, that word often gets tossed around so flippantly. By virtue of being human, I believe all of us are on the narcissistic spectrum, and often we project that shadow onto others rather than owning it. I'm not afraid to admit that because of my insecurity I can fall onto the more covert or vulnerable narcissistic side, whereas those who boast or protect more fully may be the overt or grandiose side of the spectrum.
"Arrogance is the camouflage of insecurity. - Tim Fargo
While some tend to push outward into arrogance, others like myself collapse inward with self-deprecation or hiding. For others, we may attempt to fix the insecurity through external things such as jobs, accomplishments, or relationships (usually romantic). What is the medicine or cure for insecurity? Despite what it may seem...it isn’t self-confidence or self-esteem. It isn't pretending to feel differently than we do. In the past, I would go into phases of trying to make my insecurity go away by dancing to songs about confidence, saying affirmations, or do power poses. I realize now it is maybe a temporary help but actually doesn’t do much...or it can't without other more rooted practices.
Vulnerability has been my best way to cope, but it also requires me to be self-attuned in a way that doesn’t always happen, especially when I'm in an insecurity complex. I’m no longer interested in covering up my insecurity with layers of self-esteem or any of the compensatory traits listed above. Insecurity is a superpower only when we allow it to be a vulnerability and seen. This sense of woundedness in me requires self-compassion and trusted companions.
Finding realistic ways to appreciate myself such as instead of saying I'm the “Best astrologer ever!” to “You can make a difference for a few people and that would be amazing.” Practicing not bypassing tendencies, and instead learning to tolerate or allow it to be there. Of course, in some cases, it may be good for us to ask for reassurance. Pre-pandemic I had several friendships where my insecurity felt particularly activated, those dynamics couldn't survive the messiness of such collective and personal upheaval.
There aren't many things I'm proud of, but one is the few friendships I have nurtured over the past year. Places of connection where I feel particularly safe to be my raw, insecure self. In our modern-day and age, it feels like romantic partnership is the only place we are allowed to ask for reassurance of our needs more, but I have found so much healing in my platonic relationships. The next cycle for me involves using these skills in romantic love...
On some level, I know my insecurity is a part of me and I'm not convinced it will ever go away. It feels baked into my soul as a complex that no matter how much love I give it will still reveal itself. I no longer hope it will go away and now see it as one of my greatest gifts and superpowers. It's an aspect of my golden shadow that makes me a good friend, astrologer, and someday a great partner. So many of my favorite qualities about myself of compassion and softness arise out of my insecurity, for this I've become grateful.
My deep empathy comes from my insecurity, my humility, and my capacity to hold discomfort comes from the places in me that hold insecurity. I feel so soft these days, the insecurity no longer something I have to try to cover up or hide...instead it informs my power, rather than take away from it. It creates intimacy through the tender places, rather than yet another way to keep distance. I can love myself and others more fully because of my rawness and tenderness. My sense of self may not feel strong enough sometimes for rejection or conflict, but my path to power involves honoring my weakness.
To love others and myself just as we are, insecurity and all--I'm not sure there is anything more powerful or superhuman than that.
“When we’re mainly filtering our experience through the ego, constantly trying to improve or maintain our high self-esteem, we’re denying ourselves the thing we actually want most. To be accepted as we are, an integral part of something much greater than our small selves. Unbounded. Immeasurable. Free.”-Kristin Neff