Secure in my Insecurities

Note: Today’s theme is inspired by my friend, Dr. Mardy Grothe ( His blog last week ended with a suggestion for us “to think about what role insecurity has played in our lives and share that thinking with friends”. Dr. Mardy’s “Quotes of the Week” are featured as May’s “Article of the Month”.

As with most people, I’m insecure. More so than many people I know, less than others. I believe we all can point to a place on the security spectrum where we think we are though I think we are more prone to point out where others reside on such a scale. I’m able to “see the splinter in your eye better than the log in my own.”

But thinking about the role insecurity plays in my life, I’ve noticed that:

• I often use humor, mostly biting sarcasm, when I feel threatened. I’m convinced if there’s a hell I will spend eternity watching a video loop of the hurt I’ve inflicted on others in my 65 years.
• In the presence of someone I admire I often “play small” to overcome my anxiety. That often leads to my fulsomeness, falsely complimenting others to curry their favor.
• In any competitive endeavor, my kind nature is lost to a bombastic, falsely aggressive approach particularly if I’ve had a beer while playing cards or golf. I attempt to surround these things with humor but I’m quite certain it’s annoying to many friends and acquaintances.
• When confronted with tough questions in meetings or presentations, I often respond by bloviating. If uncertain, I attempt to overcome my anxiety in a barrage of words. Do I think wearing down the listener will make me right?

Overall, my insecurities are born of a need to be liked. I’m a people-pleaser first, last and always. Where does that come from? Genetics? Being 9th of 10 in a big Irish Catholic family? For this reflection why does not matter beyond cultivating a healthy self-awareness.

Learning to become more secure (less insecure?), however, matters a lot to me.

One method is disconnecting. I must fight my illusion of control. My excess words, contrived humor, false compliments and sarcasm are all means of believing I can control others and their opinion of me. I am slowly learning to absent myself from situations and people where my feelings of insecurity ebb, remembering this from Desiderata: “avoid loud and aggressive people; they are vexations to the spirit”.

The other method is connecting to situations and people that are comfortable, calming. Places and people that cause my feelings of security to flow: a quiet place to read my lessons in the morning; a run on a sunny day; a visit with someone(s) who is(are) easy to be with; time with my children and theirs.

I sometimes feel I’m getting boring by being less interested in going to parties and would rather just be with one or a few friends, holed up with Alice and/or the kids or alone with a book or my guitar.

Or perhaps instead I am finally recognizing my insecurities and dealing with them more gracefully.


Tim McCarthy

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