I don’t think it’s a surprise that most people cling to insecurity. We live in a world where 20 million women, and 10 million men suffer from a clinically diagnosed Eating Disorder in their lifetime (Wade, Keski-Rahkonen, & Hudson, 2011), and as Dr. Joe Rubino reports in “The Self-esteem book”, 85% of the world is effected by low self esteem.
When it comes to the struggle bus of insecurity, I could be the god damn driver at this point. With an Eating Disorder lasting for over a decade that wound me up in a residential treatment center a little over two years ago, insecurity dictated the vast majority of my life. I always felt a deep sense of uncertainty in myself, my choices, and my actions and interactions with other people– and it wasn’t until this last year that I realized all the questioning, obsessing, and insecurity was completely and totally pointless. In fact, not only did I find that my relentless internal questioning of myself was total bullshit, but I found that it killed my health, attractiveness in relationships, and my happiness.
How insecurity killed my health: Some people hold the belief that abstaining from accepting themselves is what keeps them from becoming lazy or unmotivated to be the best person they can be. I was definitely one of those people. Now I’m sure this mindset manifests in everyone differently, but for me it’s what kept me in my Eating Disorder for 13 years. I thought if I accepted my body and stopped fixating on needing to change it, I would totally let myself go, gain tons of weight, and that I’d be seen as this lazy, ugly, horrible person, with no self-control. I spent years and years fluctuating up and down 50 pounds, being overweight, being underweight– and it was never enough.
“Remember in the hardest times of Recovery, that you destroyed your body for a piece of mind you never got.”
The only thing my Eating Disorder did was make my skin look old and dehydrated, took the life out of my eyes, made my weight fluctuate at an insane rate (because drastic dieting isn’t ever something you can maintain, and everyone I’ve ever met who’s had an Eating Disorder agrees with me here), slaughtered my skin thanks to hormonal acne and too much anxiety to not pick at it, literal bald patches in my hair that took forever to regrow, and make me incredibly emotionally unstable to the point where my relationships and morality were compromised.
How Insecurity killed my attractiveness in relationships: While active in my Eating Disorder, most people would say I was, indeed, physically a pretty attractive person. Nice face (even with my Bulimia Cheeks), lean and fit body, I wore long hair extensions, and I knew how to dress my body and do my makeup to get the attention I needed.
However, in my need for those men to provide me with my self-worth, I ended up being a clingy, crazy, paranoid neurotic shitshow, that inevitably self-destructed out of my own insatiable insecurity.
I had no spine, and would go with literally whatever they wanted to do because I didn’t have enough confidence to know that I was half of the equation in the whole relationship thing. I would be passive aggressive when they didn’t give me attention 24/7, because I couldn’t calm the hell down my own damn self. What inevitably killed my relationships, was that my insecurity got so loud, that in my head, I knew I would eventually screw things up so I might as well end it there before they could break up with me themselves and make me look like an idiot. So, I did. Even if I was absolutely crazy about them.
How Insecurity killed my happiness:
In my experience, I’ve found that insecurity and happiness are mutually exclusive things more often than not. The more I focused on analyzing my own behavior to pick out flaws and uncertainties, the more my mind naturally started focusing on the bad things in my life.
A focus on the bad things in yourself make you feel inadequate and needy, unmotivated and unproductive, apathetic and unconnected, and grumpy and ungrateful. I always felt shitty about myself, no matter what I did or didn’t do. Everything I did came with anxiety, so I never enjoyed anything.
What actually is productive?
What’s the answer to being more healthy, attractive, and happy? Radical Confidence. Even if you’re totally faking it.
An insecure person looks to others to dictate what they should do with their health. They look to friends, to magazine articles, to fad diets, to Eating Disorders that draw in the kind of concern and attention that they’re not giving themselves. An insecure person won’t be as healthy as a person confident in themselves, because real health comes from listening and responding to internal signals (hunger cues, cravings, when your body wants to go to bed, etc.). The confident person trusts themselves enough to listen to what their bodies are telling them, and not try to follow a trendy Instagram personality’s “4 grapes a day plus some egg whites and 2234 burpies before crying at your naked self in the mirror before bed” online fitness e-course. The confident person is healthier because genuinely listening to internal signals is the most perfect and personalized wellness plan anyone could ever get. I learned this through 13 years of sticking to an obsessive Eating Disorder before stopping ED behaviors cold turkey, and actually ended up losing weight in the process (as well as my hair growing back, my skin looking 21 instead of 45, and my energy levels bouncing back up to where I could actually enjoy life again and not be horrible to be around).
No amount of hotness can overcompensate for being a needy bitch. Unless you’re Jennifer Aniston (which none of us are *sigh*), you will never be able to pull off mentally consuming insecurity projected onto your potential suitor. While insecure people come off as passive, nervous, and either emotionally unavailable or clingy as hell (sounds hot AF, am I right guys?), the confident person is attractive because the attributes associated with confidence (even over-confidence) are actually proven to be more desirable.
In a study done by Swami, Greven, and Furnham (2007), it was found that personality plays a key role in perceived attractiveness. When it comes to high levels of neuroticism (characterized by anxiety, fear, moodiness, worry, envy, frustration, jealousy, and loneliness– all of which accompany insecurity), the study states that, “Overall it does seem as if strongly Neurotic people would be considered unattractive, too emotionally demanding and draining.”
Note to self: Needing external validation and desperately seeking it and clinging to it, and having mild to debilitating episodes of pure panic in the 5 minute time frame it takes for the boy your crushing on or dating to text you back– it’s not your best look.
Being confident in relationships doesn’t mean you know you can get everyone’s approval and are an arrogant asshole. Being confident in an attractive way is to be able to walk in a room and not worry about how you’re being perceived, but actually being able to show genuine interest and engagement in determining whether or not you like them. Confidence is the lack of a need to make other people like you or want you, and setting standards and boundaries for the people who want to be in your life because you know your own worth. One of my favorite quotes on the topic is, “Insecurities are loud, Confidence is silent”. And it’s sooo true. T
Think of the last time you went on a date with someone who only talked about themselves in a desperate attempt to convince you they’re great. It’s obvious, and it’s kind of sad. You’re already there, you’re interested, and they kill it with their inability to validate their damn selves. Be the person who isn’t so preoccupied with convincing the other person to stay, that you actually get caught up in finding out if you guys will get along. Why? Because if they don’t want to stay, it’s not going to work out anyways. (Sorry Boo.)
There’s no need to be clingy if you realize that if it’s going to work out, it will (you can’t control it). And your insecurity will do nothing but drive you to act out of neuroticism– which we’ve established will lower your attractiveness in the long run.
Now, we know insecurity can make you do irrational, physically damaging, and unattractive things; But thing most impacted by your low self-esteem and self-trust, is by far your happiness.
In a study conducted in the Psychiatric unit of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, it was shown that low self-appraisal actually predicted the onset of Major Depressive Disorder. I don’t think this comes as a big surprise to anyone considering that if you feel shitty about yourself, you typically feel shitty about everything.
In an article posted in Psychology Today, David G Meyers states, “During the 1980s, no topic in psychology was more researched than the self. Many reports showed the dividends of high self-esteem—in some University of Michigan studies of well-being in America, the best predictor of general life satisfaction was not satisfaction with family life, friendships, or income, but satisfaction with self. People who like and accept themselves feel good about life in general.”
For years I always constantly researched the ideal diet, the most attractive style and physical characteristics, the best personality traits to make friends or to get a man or a job. In turn, everything in my life that didn’t measure up to that ideal (which was absolutely everything, by the way), made me and my life seem like a total failure. When I finally decided that I wanted to be happy more than I wanted to be perfect, I actually began to see the outcomes I wanted in life.
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
I’ve had a few revelations in life, but none more helpful and empowering than the fact that anxiety is physiological, and it’s just going to happen sometimes– but pinning that anxiety on insecurity instead of acceptance or action does absolutely nothing for you but makes you feel shitty about it. If your anxiety is not helping you book it while being attacked by a tweaking neighbor that randomly showed up in your house, it’s not helpful. And you don’t have to listen.
Everything in life stems from your beliefs. So, believe that your body knows what it’s doing, trust in that if a romantic relationship is going to work out that it won’t need your added neuroticism. Believe that you’re attractive, speak and act out of confidence, and rest assured that insecurity in any area of your life is completely ineffective. Accept what you can’t change, and realize that you can make mistakes and learn from people without hating yourself.