What's Your Self-Worth? Handling Insecurity, Anxiety and Criticism with Confidence
Do you find it weird that there are days when you find yourself significantly more confident , only to find yourself feeling very insecure and anxious the next day—heck, the next minute—for no apparent reason?
You might even start wondering if you're bipolar!
Don't worry. You're probably not bipolar-- at least I hope not because believe me, I've taken that wild ride between crippling insecurity and soaring confidence a thousand times. I wouldn’t say it’s bad or entirely maladaptive to feel insecure and anxious every now and again. There are times when feelings of insecurity and anxiety are objective . For example, if you didn’t study for an exam, then it would be logical for you to feel insecure and anxious about taking the exam. Sometimes, feelings of insecurity and anxiety, just like feelings of discontentment, can serve as personal motivation. In the example I gave, your insecurity and anxiety in taking an exam might—and, ideally, should-- motivate you to better prepare for your next exam.
However, insecurity and anxiety becomes destructive when they are founded on illogical reasons that may seem deceptively logical. Proponents of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) may attribute this to what are called warped thoughts-- thoughts that give us a distressing perception of reality. Knowing what you’re worth, and reminding yourself of what you’re worth will definitely help you reduce insecurity, better your mood and ensure emotional stability.
If you find yourself constantly feeling insecure or anxious, check out these free coping resources
- Australian National University's free MoodGYM
Free, online Cognitive Behavioral Therapy self-help skills training open to all (even non-Australian residents)
WHAT AM I REALLY WORTH?
To have an accurate self-worth, you have to be objective. For a moment, forget about:
- What you think other people think of you.
- What or who people say you are, good or bad.
- People’s expectations of you
Focus on what you think of yourself—both good and bad-- your personal expectations, and how you live up to your own expectations. Are you growing into a person you approve of? Are you in a place in life that's okay with you?
Be warned that this may seem deceptively easy. You may have valued yourself based on other people’s perception for so long that you may have to dig deeper and harder to really find your own voice, so to say, when it comes to your personal worth. If you’re having trouble finding your own voice, then it may mean that you just need to take more time and that you’re doing you’re doing a good job in really trying to find your own voice.
In the path to constant self-improvement and personal growth, you need to remind yourself that success isn’t always in the results, and that a lack of results doesn’t always mean failure. You have to remind yourself that sometimes, doing your best is enough for the meantime. Doing your best is a success in its own right, just like how virtue is its own reward, as long as you don’t use it as an excuse to stop growing.
WHAT’S SO BAD ABOUT ME? WHAT’S SO GOOD ABOUT ME?
Now that you’ve stepped back from other people’s perceptions, prepare a list of pros and cons about yourself. Try to make it a fairly balanced list—don’t be too hard on yourself, but don’t be too easy on yourself either. If you’ve taken a business class, you may be familiar with SWOT analyses. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Try to assess yourself like you’re a company trying to develop your personal brand.
- Check to see if the pros and cons you listed are valid. Trust me, you’ll know. You'll see it and and think, “Yeaaah…that’s not true.”
- Figure out what opportunities and threats may arise from your each individual pro and con. Remember that even pros can have its downsides and that even cons can have its upsides.
- Look at your pros. Check to see the threats they may pose. Figure out if it’s a threat you won’t mind facing or if it’s a threat you’d be better of minimizing. Check to see if you’re utilizing all the opportunities your positive attributes open you up for.
- Look at your personal cons. Check to see if the threat they pose are real and logical. You may realize that they’re not cons at all! As with pros, figure out if there are any possibilities your personal cons open you up for—if anything, it definitely opens you up for an opportunity for self-improvement and personal growth!
THE REAL PICTURE
Don’t expect to find a perfect picture of yourself at the end of this exercise. If you did, then you certainly did this exercise wrong. You will find a flawed person, yes, but a person with considerable strengths and various opportunities for self-improvement and personal growth.
WAIT, HOW IS THAT SUPPOSED TO HELP MAKE ME FEEL OKAY?
Accepting that you’re not perfect relieves you of the pressure involved with trying to be perfect. Again, be careful not to use this an excuse to stop growing and improving yourself. Accepting that you’re not perfect allows you to handle criticism better—whether it be from other people or that really cruel voice inside your head that tells you that you’re not good enough.
Now that you know what your real worth is, when someone points out your weakness—directly or indirectly-- you won’t feel the need to be defensive. You may find yourself chuckling criticism off and – and this is the important part-- admitting that you’re aware of your weakness and are earnestly trying to improve upon it.
Then, you may choose to point out a strength that you think offsets your weakness. This is incredibly important when you find yourself facing excessive self-criticism. Whenever I can, I talk back to my internal critic and tell him, “Hey, we’ve gone over this. That’s not true,” or, “Hey, okay, that’s true, which kind of sucks, but, listen, you meanie, I’m seriously trying to be better at it and ALSO, I have good qualities too so I think I come out pretty okay.” Sometimes, “pretty okay” is pretty awesome.