Insecurities

It seems that quite a few people today, with apparent insecurities about themselves, act as though they have a very high sense of self-esteem. I first noticed this through the arrogant and often outlandish behaviors some of the teenagers I worked with displayed. Although it is, of course, understandable for young people to act in such ways due to insecurities, seeing older people behave like that made me wonder if they really had a true sense of self-worth. I was actually able to talk to my teenagers about their behaviors and my own as a young man, and while many of them admitted to feeling insecure, only a few said they had low self-esteem. This wasn’t much of a surprise, as it was hard to get them to admit certain things about themselves sometimes. After pressing them a bit more, I’d end with the question, “Can you look in a mirror and say ‘I love you’ to yourself and mean it?” This usually made them laugh, but almost all of them would say they could. I would rarely challenge them any further on the issue. I knew time would tell if they were being honest, not just with me, but with themselves. But since then, I’ve talked to people of all ages about the type of behaviors I see today, and I’ve figured out something very important.

Starting in the eighties, changes began taking place in many of our movies, TV shows, magazines, songs, and commercials, and over time, as these changes kept becoming more extreme, they caused two generations of people to display a sense of vanity and self-importance that belies their true insecurity.

First, look at how our movies and TV shows became more extreme. Not only has there been a continual increase in the amount of crime, violence, sex, and drug use shown, but in some cases, these things have actually been made to look glamorous. Also, think about how music has changed. Little by little, more songs came out with lyrics that basically glorified sex and violence and made the pursuit of money and fame seem like the all-important goal that everyone should have. Then there are the TV commercials that few could argue haven’t become more extreme. Although they’ve always been a way for businesses to advertise in clever ways and thus increase sales, they have used a lot more science and psychology over the past several years. Studies show they have the ability to affect people of all ages, making them think they won’t stack up unless they use, wear, or own a certain product. Don’t believe me? Take a look around the next time you’re out and about.

Unfortunately, these extreme (and, I must add, often negative) changes don’t stop there. Our video games have become increasingly more violent and now project a level of realism that can’t be psychologically good for anyone who plays them all the time. Then, of course, there’s the Internet. Although many good things can be found when browsing the World Wide Web, it’s certainly an outlet for extremes of all kinds. From pornography and violence to really outlandish behavior, the Internet became a way for people to watch almost anything they want and express themselves any way they want. Again, there are many good things on it—positive videos to help others and even instructional videos to help people learn how to do a number of different things. But we rarely hear about the good things found on the web. The bad things, sadly, often include the erratic, attention-seeking behavior of people who want (and sometimes need) to feel like someone special. It seems that the bar has been raised to encourage us to be something we’re not. And it has been lowered for academic achievement and family values. Add in the news media and its persistent bombardment of us with awful events, and perhaps you can better understand why we have, in effect, become a desensitized nation and why some people act the way they do.

Although everything I’ve talked about can and does have an adverse effect on us as a society, our youth seem to be affected the most. Young people have become more desensitized due to these extreme changes, and while many show good manners, do well in school, and have career goals they’re willing to work toward, some display behaviors that at one time simply weren’t acceptable. Sadly, still others act out in bizarre ways in hopes of reaching some form of perceived stardom. And while I’m sure the attention they get makes them feel good about themselves, this feeling can be fleeting, and I have yet to see proof that these types of behavior build a true sense of confidence and self-esteem in anyone. I have, however, seen proof that trying to be a better person than before can open up the door to the type of self-love we need to be happy with who we are.

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I Am Like Ali

10629406_1494929920794012_7933882471451155099_oI was a skinny and very insecure teenager, and as a result, I needed to be someone I wasn’t. Someone great. I even started boxing at fifteen because of this, and tried to act like Muhammad Ali. With dedication and a boxing style I copied from Ali, I was able to win an amateur Golden Gloves championship at 16 years old, but my insecurities stayed with me as I grew older. Eventually, I found that a continual striving for personal and spiritual growth helped me become more self-confident, and a whole new world opened up to me. One where I would start to love myself and others, and help those in need. Today, I still try to be like Muhammad Ali. But when I stop and think about who I’ve become; who I am. Although I’m not famous or have achieved all the great things he has, I can say I am like Ali in some ways.

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Fly By The Seat Of One’s Pants

Know anyone who lives up to the idiom “Fly by the seat of one’s pants?” It’s basically a person who isn’t afraid to do something even though they don’t experience or training to do it.  I don’t necessarily think is a bad thing. I like to think of myself as someone who flies by the seat of my pants when it comes to facing different fears and insecurities in my life.  However, at one time I was the type of person who flew by the seat of my emotions and know quite a few people who still do.

These people seem to always let whatever emotions they’re feeling at the time, whether it’s happiness, sadness, anger, worry, ect, affect their behaviors and sometimes their actions towards others. Usually this is because they’ve done this all their lives and never practiced restraint or felt a need to change the way they behave. Mostly these types live in the extremes of happiness or the negative emotions they feel over their immediate circumstances.

It took me a long time to stop “living” by the seat of my emotions and simply begin living life. But eventually, through practice and help from people who weren’t afraid to point out my erratic and sometimes hurtful behavior’s, I found an emotional balance that has served me quite well over the years.

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Feeling Like We’re Drifting Away

“Sometimes, for reasons within ourselves or not of our own making. We can feel like a piece of driftwood floating aimlessly about; being pulled in different directions. But with no real direction in life. However, it’s always good to remember in those times that driftwood is resilient – recovering readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyant. And I may add. Very hard to sink.”
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Insecurities

It’s wonderful to finally feel good about yourself when for most of your life you lacked self-confidence, and at times, felt inferior to some people.  Although I tried to cover up my insecurities by pretending to be something I wasn’t and drinking, inside I knew the truth, and as a result I was never happy with who I was.

It took a lot of different experiences throughout my sobriety to achieve the level of confidence I have today, and although there are some situations in which my insecurities still surface, I am able to use the inner strength I’ve built to tell myself that everything will be all right. I also remind myself how it was actually unwanted and adverse circumstances that helped me become a stronger person in the first place.

So where did this self-confidence I’m talking about come from? Well first let me say that true self-confidence doesn’t come from worldly achievements. Although people try to use things like job titles, fame, and wealth to give them a sense of self-confidence and self-worth, many still remain insecure in their lives and some have glaring self-esteem issues.

On the other hand, when someone tries to practice a few spiritual principles like love, kindness, understanding, and tolerance toward others, they end up feeling a confidence and satisfaction in themselves that they never felt before. Even people who have made strides in personal growth can be happier in life by giving spirituality a try.

Spirituality doesn’t mean we have to believe in God and religion. However, although I often failed at it, as I continued to practice love, kindness, understanding, and tolerance, it helped fuel an ever-growing belief that something rather than nothing created life and the universe for a reason.

This simple and basic belief is the foundation for the spiritual and personal growth I still strive for today, and these two types of growth combined give me confidence and satisfaction in myself.  Today I don’t feel inferior to anyone, and I am finally happy with who I am.

 

 

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