Even when the path forward is clear, resolving our problems requires us to first acknowledge and confront them.
This is no small step. Our insecurities and vulnerabilities continually pull us towards denial. Overcoming denial (and thereby overcoming our deepest fears and insecurities) is a complex matter that involves a great deal of introspection and courage.
Yet it is a vital matter; our dilemma is to either struggle and grow to meet these challenges, or to allow our lives to fall into decay in favour of short-term evasion.
We all differ in the subject of our insecurities, and how they influence us. Nevertheless, we all have insecurities. Though we can never fully conquer them, we must continually strive to subdue them.
To accomplish this feat, we will need to sharpen our minds, developing an astute awareness of the world and our place in it.
OUR DEEPEST FEARS
WHERE OUR PROBLEMS COME FROM
To understand how our insecurities create our problems, we first need to develop a sufficiently broad understanding of these problems.
It is easy to become distracted by the problems of the day, our focus consumed by petty frustrations. This perspective is too narrow; it doesn’t give us any generalizable insight about ourselves.
If we expand our perspective and consider our problems categorically, we may think of our health, self-esteem, relationships, motivation, or any other category. Even such a categorical perspective, though, is still too specific.
Our problems are always influenced (and even determined) by something more chronic. Our inherent character faults govern our behaviour; our emotionality leads us to make short-sighted choices which cause our particular problems to arise.
Even when new problems are surprising and unexpected, careful introspection often reveals that we have left ourselves susceptible to them; they may even be a long-term product of our own actions.
SWEPT UNDER THE RUG
Our responses and adaptations to our problems depend on whether these same character faults push us towards short-sighted, unsustainable solutions. Although certain problems cannot be undone, they can all be coped with (whether effectively or not).
If we succumb to our insecurities and allow them to control us, we can expect the patterns of problems we face to continue. It may be tempting to hope we will have one lucky, fateful moment in which things align in our favour.
Our problems, however, will follow us around for as long as they are a part of us. Even if we solve our problems individually, new ones will arise. This solution is less daunting than challenging the chronic, underlying cause; we may be able to stabilize our situation, but we will remain a prisoner to an endless stream of new problems.
For us to be condemned to the status quo, however, is the best case scenario. In response to any given problem, we have a dilemma: either to acknowledge our flaws, or to double down on our denial.
Doubling down leaves our problems unchecked. A single, unattended spot of mould on an apple will eventually spread to all the fruit in the bowl. Likewise, our problems compound themselves, creating new problems at an exponential rate.
If we continue to double down, we will be perpetually faced with the same dilemma as new problems arise. Every time we do, the stakes get higher and higher.
THE NATURE OF THE BEAST
For us to make such self-destructive choices, we must be facing some compelling influences.
Our insecurities are at the root. Insecurities are truths about ourselves that deeply conflict with our ideals. In this way, they threaten our sense of identity and self-worth in a very fundamental way.
Insecurity thereby has the power to make us lose faith in ourselves and our efforts. If we don’t believe in ourselves, we will have nothing to sustain us, and no reason to carry on when things are difficult.
This is why our minds go to such lengths to preserve our sense of security. When our minds are forced to choose between delusion and despair, they may choose delusion. This is because delusion, at the very least, gives us the chance to push through in hopes that things will improve.
Insecurity is responsible for our sense of drive to better ourselves. Sometimes, delusion can act as a stepping stone when the pressure is too strong.
Setting things on the back burner may be the only way for us to make incremental growth, so that we may open ourselves to reality in time. It is often true that such individuals are undergoing a gradual process of doubt and learning, even while they appear certain of themselves.
There is a third option, however. We can come to terms with our mistakes and flaws. This gives us the opportunity to start fresh, with a truer paradigm of reality that yields positive, sustainable results.
This raises the question of why anybody would do otherwise. Surprisingly, it can be extremely emotionally taxing to see reality as it actually is.
Doing so requires us to acknowledge painful facts about ourselves. It requires that we acknowledge our delusions as such, and take responsibility for all that we have done wrong. It requires us to suspend our emotionality, which may be rampant; this task alone takes a huge amount of determination and energy.
Delusion must ultimately end with acceptance of one’s true self, once the cost of maintaining a delusion comes to outweigh the cost of abandoning it. There is no good basis for evading self-improvement.
KNOWING OUR INSECURITIES
Part of the battle is in getting in touch with our deepest fears.
Insecurities arise when we believe we do not meet our own ideals. It naturally follows that we can discern our insecurities by figuring out what our ideals actually are. We should learn what we intrinsically value, and examine our behaviour and thoughts to see where we run contrary.
In doing so, we may observe patterns: a certain type of mistake that we make repeatedly, or destructive ways in which we go about overcoming challenges. Recognition of these patterns allows us to generalize about ourselves, and know our flaws at the core level. When we target the root, everything else follows.
In particular, we should all remember that any nihilistic doubt whether we can overcome our insecurities is itself a product of our insecurity. This feeling of unease is not to be trusted.
In time, we will come to see our most vulnerable moments as opportunities to test our determination, think mindfully, and overcome our insecurities. Our successes reward us with a sense of pride and competence that we carry forward to new situations.
Another part of the process is self-forgiveness. This allows us to separate ourselves from our insecurities, viewing our mistakes as a product of those insecurities.
Self-forgiveness is facilitated when we consider how we got to a place of insecurity to begin with. If we look deeply enough, we will find that it is not our fault. It’s not a perfect world; there is simply no way for us to get through our lives without taking some emotional damage along the way.
COMING INTO OUR OWN
When we are ready to let go of our delusions and start overcoming challenges, we abandon the fallacy that we are infallible, and begin to take pride in the righteous struggle to better ourselves.
Though we will always be subject to insecurities, we will come to see firsthand that we can outgrow past versions of ourselves. In this way, it becomes much easier to accept our mistakes and forgive ourselves.
When we have really grown, we will find that those who have hurt us were subject to their own insecurities, the same as us. As a goal, we must continually strive for the highest possible show of strength: forgiveness.
There is no need for delusion in a nurturing environment. So be kind to others, and delusion will fade away once and for all.