Don’t Be Insecure, Be Inspired
“How do I stop myself from getting depressed by other people’s’ success?”
“I feel insecure about people who are my age but have accomplished so much more than me. How do I get over this and not compare myself to others?”
“I feel sad and miserable when I know people younger than me are more successful than me, is it healthy? How should I react to it?”
“I’m over 30 and in college. I feel insecure (not good enough) being around all these younger kids. How can I get over my insecurity? And is there a way to relate to them?”
Many a time I sat I have sat across on the other end of the room during a coaching or therapy session and listened to great individuals lament over the negative feelings of insecurity that well up within them when they watch, see or hear of the accomplishments of others.
I’ve seen this happen countless times in my practice. Clients feel as though they’re not measuring up in life because they can’t compete with their friends, partners, associates or co-workers.
I’ve witnessed how resentment can become a toxic force in people’s lives. I’ve seen couples compete against one another as they strive to out-do their partner. And I’ve seen families destroyed by envy when one member becomes more successful than the rest.
Today’s world makes it hard not to resent other people’s success. Spend two minutes on social media and you’ll see how well everyone else seems to be doing.
What if the success of others had nothing to do with us, and our own success had nothing to do with anyone else? What if we didn’t spend so much of our precious time focusing on how we “measure up” to the people around us?
How do you feel when you see or hear about the success of others? While it may depend on who it is, what they’ve accomplished, and how you’re feeling about your own life at the time, you may have some mixed emotions. I often find myself excited and inspired by the success of others, especially the people closest to me. However, at the same time, I sometimes notice it can bring up feelings of insecurity and inferiority as well especially when someone accomplishes or experiences something you personally want and/or worry that you can’t or won’t.
Jealousy is often a protective strategy fuelled by more vulnerable feelings, such as worthlessness or feelings of inadequacy. Establishing a context for the origin of these feelings within the safety of a therapeutic relationship can help you to challenge the feelings and begin healing.
Looking inward, healing old wounds, determining what you want, and creating a plan to get it can be very difficult work—I certainly don’t wish to imply that it is simple. Because it can be difficult, even painful, work that takes time, requiring you to partner with a therapist who can support you throughout the process to help you to explore ways to make yourself more comfortable as you seek to make changes in your life. You don’t have to wait until you accomplish your goals and dreams to be happy.
Here are some strategies you can implement to help you to cross over from insecurity to inspiration:
Acknowledge envy. Admitting that we are experiencing envy can be very threatening, because it means acknowledging our own weakness and insecurity. The first clue that envy is lurking may be irrational feelings of hostility towards the object of our envy.
Replace envy with compassion. Although envy seems almost like a compliment, it can be quite dehumanising. It reduces the object of envy to something very narrow and masks the full picture of who they are and what their life is like. Have you ever envied someone who seemed to have the perfect life, only to find out later that they were in fact suffering in a very major way? These cases are more common than we might think–we just don’t have the opportunity to learn about someone’s difficulties when we’re mired in envy of their seemingly charmed life.
Let envy fuel self-improvement. When our envy is rooted in things we cannot change about ourselves, such as a difficult childhood, a traumatic event, or certain health conditions and disabilities, using envy to motivate self-improvement is more likely to dig us deeper into frustration and self-blame. But sometimes envy alerts us to things that we want in life that are potentially attainable.
Stop Emphasizing Your Weaknesses. Sometimes it’s easy to focus on your weaknesses and other people’s strengths. But thinking that way will only cause you to become envious, and perhaps hopeless. Be willing to acknowledge things you could improve upon, but don’t magnify your shortcomings. Practice self-compassion and strive to do your best.
Evaluate Your Goals. Take some time to evaluate what it is that you want to achieve in your life. This can be a great opportunity to journal or write down your intentions.
Be Grateful. Don’t forget to count your own blessings. As the saying goes, envy is counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own. Counting our blessings isn’t the same as boosting our ego by reminding ourselves how we’re better than others… It’s more about refocusing on what is really important in life. Lastly, to the extent possible, try to limit your social media use, especially during times when you find yourself especially vulnerable to self-comparison.
Be Inspired. I believe that your vision should be larger than you in order to increase your faith. Surround yourself with people and images that inspire you to become more.
I would like to challenge you to surround yourself with associations that have achieved more and attained greater heights than you have. Let go of the insecurities that are threatening the growth of your potentially healthy social capital.