If you're in a situation that's making you feel insecure, it can be tough to recover. Think along the lines of big meetings, first dates, or any other stressful situation that might be throwing you off your game. Usually, once you're nervous, you're nervous. But if you have a few ways to deal with insecurity tucked away in your brain, a sudden hit of nervousness or self-consciousness doesn't have to take you down.
Because, like it or not, insecurity does have a way of ruining great opportunities. "Feeling insecure can impact all aspects of a person's life (e.g., work, relationships) because it adversely affects how you interpret the world around you; insecurity can make someone view neutral interactions as overwhelmingly negative," psychologist Dr. Crystal I. Lee tells Bustle.
If you can create a go-to list in your head of ways to feel better, it can truly save you when you need it most. "Having a few tricks up your sleeve to overcome your insecurity temporarily can help limit the negative impacts of insecurity," Lee says. "However, if you want long-lasting change, I'd recommend seeking out a therapist to help you address the origins of your insecurity." With that in mind, here are some things you can do the next time you feel insecure.
1. Take A Few Deep Breaths
The next time you're feeling stressed and/or insecure, remember that you can change all that with your breath. "This might seem over-simplified, but recent research at Stanford shows how deep breathing actually affects your brain and induces calmness," says Lee. "So before you step into a social situation that you think might make you nervous, take a few minutes to concentrate on slowing down your breathing."
2. Stand With Confidence
Even if you're feeling insecure, you can fake confidence — and maybe even trick yourself into being more confident — by changing how you stand. "You may have seen the Amy Cuddy TED Talk on how striking certain confident poses (like the 'superman/superwoman' pose) actually contributes to feelings of more confidence," Lee says. "So take a few minutes and strike a confident pose ... to trick your brain into feeling self-assured."
3. Imagine How You'd Like Things To Go
If you're about to step into a stressful situation, it can help to visualize how it'll all go down. "Pre-meditating is always a good strategy," says psychotherapist Lynn R. Zakeri, LCSW. "Visualize where you are going, who will be there, even thinking of some talking points to share (i.e., 'Oh, I can tell that funny story about driving to work today.'). This is helping to take control over an unknown situation." And it can help you feel more secure.
4. Create A List Of Your Most Winning Qualities
Insecurity has a way of making you feel not so great. So, the next time it strikes, conjure up a list of your greatest qualities. Or ask your friends to name a few, if you're truly coming up short. As therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW says, "Write them down and keep your list somewhere you can look at when your insecurities come up." Like in your wallet, or taped to your mirror.
5. Try Not To Compare Yourself To Others
Comparing yourself to others is a surefire way to feel more insecure, especially if you're trying to measure up to ideals you see online. That's why it can help to a) avoid habits that involve comparison, like scrolling through Instagram, if that's what does you in. And b) remember that everyone's life has ups and downs. "Understand that everyone is on a different path and just because others seem like their life is perfect doesn't mean they don't have their own issues," Hershenson says.
6. Work On Your Conversational Skills
If your insecurity creeps up because you feel like you never have anything interesting to say, work on that. "Having the ability to connect with others can do a lot for self-confidence and diffuse feelings of inadequacy," cognitive scientist Dr. Vijay Ram tells Bustle. "There are some easy ways to do this: ask open ended questions like, 'How was your day?'" That should get things rolling, and take the pressure off.
7. Choose The Story You Tell Yourself
If you're feeling inadequate, remember that's simply a story you're telling yourself — not necessarily one that's based in reality. "It’s always good to remember that we don’t have to believe everything we tell ourselves," says certified coach Vicky Cook, CPC, ELI-MP. "Just because our brain is saying we’re not qualified or good enough doesn’t mean it’s true! Recognize that as a story you’re telling yourself and rewrite it into a different story that serves you better."
8. Ignore That Harsh Inner Critic
The next time a harsh or way-too-critical thought pops into your head, brush it off. "You should simply think a gentle shrug-of-the-shoulders comment such as a tender, 'There I go again... thinking critical thoughts!' That's all," Beverly Hills psychotherapist Dr. Fran Walfish tells Bustle. "Don't try to change anything. Just observe without judgment. This is the first giant step toward changing toward positive thinking."
9. Hold Onto Something
As with taking a deep breath, there are plenty of super simple ways to feel a little more secure in stressful situations. And one of the easiest is to literally hold onto something. "Have something in your hand, like a drink or water," says life coach Lauren Kane. This can help you feel centered, and give you something to do with nervous hands.
10. Don't Go It Alone
If it helps to bring along a friend — maybe to networking event, or to a party — definitely do so. "Social situations can feel less daunting if you have someone there who has your back," says Kane. "Dare yourself, if you feel comfortable, to bring someone who is very social, as this will help you push yourself out of your comfort zone."
11. Give Yourself A Break
If you've always dealt with insecurity, know that it won't magically go away over night. "Expect to have success in slow increments," says Walfish. "Know that you may have a few failures mixed in with your successes. That’s how it goes. Accept it and accept yourself in the process."
If you keep these tips and tricks in mind, you should be able to squash down that insecurity, and go on with your confident, badass self.
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