All of us are insecure about some aspect of our lives or what we are like as people. There are many ways that you can deal with insecurity; for example, you can address underlying low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy, or try to refrain from stacking yourself up against others or some cultural expectations or standards. Another useful way of combating personal insecurities is to take a two-fold attitude of humour and acceptance.
The Strength of Humour
One of the most effective ways to turn insecurities into strengths is to gain the courage to laugh at them, to see the funny side to them. This doesn’t mean you have to diminish the things you are insecure about. The point of making fun of your insecurities is to lessen their seriousness. This is often what comedy aims to do, especially when it comes to dark humour.
The late spiritual teacher Ram Dass communicated something to this effect when talking about his neuroses. He said that, despite all of his training as a psychologist, and his years spent using psychedelics and meditating, he hadn’t got rid of a single neurosis. He found it better to treat his neuroses as little Shmoos, instead of these massive issues to contend with (Shmoos are the fictional cartoon characters created by the American cartoonist Al Capp; they are idiosyncratic, unthreatening creatures). Ram Dass once remarked:
What has changed is that before, [my neuroses] were these huge, big things that were very frightening, and they took me over… And now they’re sort of like little Shmoos. They’re little, friendly beings, and I invite them in for tea.
Rather than see our insecurities as a massive problem to be solved, denied, hidden, or ignored, we can treat them as these much smaller things; these funny, ridiculous ways we trip ourselves up from time to time. We can change the quality of our insecurities in a significant way through mockery and a lighthearted perspective, making insecure thoughts and feelings less controlling in our lives.
Avoid Meta-Insecurity, Practise Acceptance
Meta-insecurity is the term I use to describe the feeling of being insecure about being insecure. I think this is something that a lot of men struggle with. The idea of feeling insecure, about anything, is seen as unmanly, as a sign of weakness. The macho version of masculinity encourages men to be ashamed of insecurity, based on the assumption that true men must feel secure and confident at all times. The problem that results from this way of thinking, though, is that you cannot expel your insecurities through sheer will alone. The insecurity will remain and due to masculine standards, you’ll just end up feeling insecure about the insecurity. This further compounds the mental suffering you’re already going through.
In order to avoid meta-insecurity, you need to allow yourself to feel insecure and own up to that fact. There is nothing unmanly about doing that. In fact, learning to accept and confront your insecurities will help you become mentally stronger as a person.