Tag Archives: logic

Hope for Insecurities

November 8, 2013

Insecurities are funny little critters. They like to rain on parades; sneak into thoughts; say “wait, wait now;” and chisel away at our confidence. On occasion, they are even devious enough to keep replaying the “highlight reel” of our past failures to consume our mind with worry about what may be in the future. Still, I encourage you to hope for insecurities.

How could you say that, Sara? Who in their right mind would want insecurities let alone hope for them? Well, there are two meanings here. Let’s chat about the first. Simply put, you have hope to overcome your insecurities by implementing the following steps:

  1. Take time to reflect on the true nature of your insecurity. For instance, if you are insecure about love, consider what you truly fear about opening your heart (e.g., being hurt, not measuring up, choosing poorly, being used). Emotion is valid, so be authentic and vulnerable as you reflect.
  2. Write down the worst case scenario—every what if, fear and worry. You read that right. See how deep the insecurity goes and where it is rooted in your psyche. By doing so, you disarm it from being a looming, invisible thing to a more grounded challenge.
  3. Go on to apply logic. Now that you cleared the path for reason, write down what this insecurity is depriving you of such as fulfillment, confidence, open expression, deep experiences. Then, identify why this insecurity no longer serves a purpose for you.
  4. Forgive yourself. This is crucial. Cease berating yourself over what you did or didn’t do, how you perceive you wasted time or any urges to label yourself foolish. That was the past, and you are more complex and capable now because of this journey.
  5. Celebrate the lesson. Every insecurity is both a stumbling block and a potential tool. In the case of our love example, past heartbreak is actually proof that you are capable of love.

Now, let’s tackle the second meaning of “hope for insecurities.” It’s a riddle of sorts. You see, when we hope for something like wisdom, success, charisma or confidence, we feel justified. Ah, but life has a funny way of building those characteristics out of our most humble, embarrassing and human moments.

Take this allegorical example:

If I told you I could give you the confidence to face a large crowd of people and deliver an amazing speech, you might be intrigued to know how. So, my experience tells me it is going to take a genuine, comfortable smile and a calm, inviting tone to your voice. Sounds easy but perhaps not. This comfort may only come through the enlightening process of facing stage fright, being put “on the spot” in social situations or learning to be at home in your own skin. So, to ensure you are good to go for your speech, I would want to test your resolve, try your patience and nip away at your weakness. I would need to reveal your insecurity—the fire through which your true mettle (pun intended) is forged. For, it is the insecurity that humbles us enough to grow, to accept change and to build the self we want to be.

Besides, every insecurity accepted and overcome is one less shadow dimming the light of hope.


How to Keep from Driving Off the Ledge

July 21, 2013

You feel that sense of worry, foreboding or doubt. Your mind slips into negative self talk, “Life is against me,” “Why me?” or “I really don’t need this right now!” Then, your fight-or-flight response increases. Anxiety. Stress. Panic. You are having a full-blown “Good grief, Charlie Brown” moment.

My least favorite thing to hear is, “Calm down.” Most of us, particularly those who despise being scrutinized, rail against the prescriptive notion of being told how to respond. Worse yet, introverts least want to be noticed when they are most out of control. Then, the same well-meaning friend says, “Just breathe.” I have seen this scenario play out poorly despite every selfless intention. Why?

Well, consider that we have our logical brain (a.k.a. analytic brain) and our emotional brain (a.k.a. animal brain) centers. Each is like a car on a shared one-lane road. Let’s say the logical brain is using the road for processing a problem, language or creating a strategy. The emotional brain may be running but is pulled off to the side of the road.

Driving with LogicOn the other hand, if the emotional brain is using the road (perhaps speeding and swerving), then the logical brain may have difficulty speeding up enough to make the next onramp. In tough situations, it is crucial to get the logical brain on that road without making the emotional brain fishtail.

Here are fabulous tips my friend’s husband, who has a degree in psychology, offered for their son:

  1. Acknowledge the meltdown – know the signs of someone slipping into an emotional state
  2. Remain calm yourself – assess by listening and being present before saying anything
  3. Offer comfort and security – if the individual is willing, initiate supportive physical contact
  4. Focus on logic not instruction – simply get the person counting or validating rational points

Now, nothing is foolproof. Keep in mind that the emotional brain operates like a souped up, turbo-charged, sports car with NOS and racing tires. The logical brain is more like a sedan—sensible, great handling and room for thought. So, what do you do when you see a winding road and your own cruise control is set to, “I’m freaking out?”

Some of the same techniques can be used internally without anyone knowing otherwise. For example, when you feel your blood boiling or your panic growing, try the following:

  1. Recognize your signals – shaking hands, tense jaw, tears welling up . . . whatever applies
  2. Be conscious of your breathing – while being told to breathe may seem condescending when you are frustrated, it is crucial to pull air in through your nose down into your abdomen (not just your lungs) and out slowly through your mouth; you should see your belly push out
  3. Honor yourself – if tears flow, if you blush or if you need to leave the room, that is totally okay
  4. Count, recite a memorized verse or spell your full name slowly to yourself – the key is to shift the situation from speeding emotion to accelerating logic
  5. Visualize your happy place – it’s helpful to build a space in your heart that only you know about where you can retreat in your thoughts for a moment of zen, comfort and reflection

Another tip worth mentioning, particularly for couples, is also brought to you by my friend’s husband. When they disagree and both begin to raise their voices, one of them has to be the first person to make a goofy, can’t-help-but-laugh face to let the air out of the tires and slow the emotional speedster.

Years of my career have been spent in crisis communications, problem resolution and interpersonal negotiation. I still constantly practice the above and have not mastered composure 100 percent of the time. It’s a road we travel our entire lives. I simply hope to see more of us pulling off to scenic spots than veering toward ledges.