Confidence is not about the absence of insecurities
but rather, it is about not collapsing into our insecurities.
Manfred Kets De Vries published results from his Doctoral research in the Harvard Business review in which he explored the biggest problems faced by Fortune 500 CEO’s. Fortune 500 companies are, financially, the top performing companies in the world and we could assume their CEO’s are highly competent, YET, even these commercially successful people stated their greatest problem was their irrational fear of being found out as a fake, regardless of the fact that they weren’t.
I share this information often, with high functioning competent people, and with those struggling and thinking they are the only ones dealing with such a level of insecurity, who are wondering ‘if I am so smart, how come….”. We all have insecurities, and oftentimes they are not an accurate reflection of who we are. They are mental events arising unbidden, kicking in automatically when old neural pathways are tapped by some image, experience, thought or emotion.
I was recently talking with a woman who was exploring dating online. She had struck up a few conversations with men she was considering meeting, and then the words of one in particular really resonated with her.
She felt like she was falling in love with him even though she hadn’t even met him. After a couple of months of correspondence with him, and 2-3 other men, she realised she wasn’t feeling ready to move into a new relationship, and said to each of them that she was sorry but she really didn’t think she was ready. She conveyed her regrets, and concerns about being hurtful and that it wasn’t her intention to be inconsiderate, but rather, she had previously just not been aware enough of where she was at, and her caution about trusting again. One man responded with anger, another responded with suspicion as their insecurities and unmet yearnings arose. But this one man remained steady and curious, honouring her decision, asking her about why this and that, and then saying that he completely respected her decision, that she should trust herself. And she sighed with relief. Then felt ready, they met, and have been dating ever since.
She chose the one who did not collapse into his insecurities, even though she was somewhat caught in her own.
In many ways our capacity to build a good relationship with another, is like our capacity to have a good relationship with ourselves, completely dependent on how mindfully we can recognise and manage our insecurities and those of others with acceptance, compassion and wise action, or how heavily and for how long we collapse into those insecurities believing them and creating the world around us on the basis of them.
As we come to the middle of 2021, may we all take time to pause and reflect on what really matters to us. To consider how we want to feel at this time next year looking back at what we have done with our year. May you not collapse too often, for too long into your insecurities, and instead, may you greet them with compassion as you continue toward living into the life you most value.