Insecurity is something that can have a very deep and significant impact upon a person. There are many schools of thought on what causes insecurity and on how to overcome it. This is certainly an issue that people bring to me, as their Counsellor or Psychotherapist. Sometimes, they come to see me specifically for that. Mostly, however, people come to see me for another problem and, as therapy progresses, we uncover insecurity as the underlying factor in the problem they have brought to me.
I am by no means a leading expert on the subject, but I do have a lot of success in helping people overcome their base insecurity. My own thoughts on the subject are that insecurity is almost always rooted in what, in my field, we would consider to be an ‘attachment’ issue. I would recommend that readers of this Blog post familiarise themselves with the work of John Bowlby (1907-1990); a British Psychologist, Psychiatrist and Psychoanalyst. Bowlby led on the development of theoretical models of ‘Attachment’ and he is renowned for his work in developing a therapeutic model.
Bowlby’s work focused heavily on the impact of the absence (whether physical absence or absence of presence in relational connection; for example being absent due to being intoxicated, ill or in some way emotionally unavailable) of a Primary Care-Giver (usually a Parent figure) on the young and developing child. This absence being something that not only causes distress in the child but also contributes to their sense of self-worth. They grow up without the basic validation we all need.
As we grow into adulthood, now more than ever, we are faced with a society where image is marketed to us in very specific ways; ways that we may often feel we fall short of achieving, resulting in further low self-esteem.
The way we relate to ourselves may become increasingly negative. Our beliefs may be formed on the basis that our Parent or Primary Care-Giver didn’t value us; so we must be unworthy, that we in some way fail to live up to the expectations or standards that society presents to us as being valuable and of worth; so we go on to develop an inner-voice that becomes increasingly self-critical and potentially destructive. Ultimately, we form a deeply held belief that we are in many ways ‘less than’, ‘a failure’, ‘unlikeable’, ‘unattractive’ and ultimately that we will be ‘rejected’.
This impacts on so many aspects of our lives. We may form friendships that we go on to mis-trust because we believe that nobody could truly like us. We may go into sexual and loving relationships with the belief that our Partners will cheat on us because everyone else is more attractive or worthy, we may avoid promotion at work or hold back on being our best in the workplace, for if we dare put our head above the parapet we will be exposed as a fraud or as incompetent. The list goes on…. Ultimately, people who are victim to their own insecurity, may stand to lose everything; for the destructive nature of these beliefs almost always leads to problematic behaviour; itself further reinforcing and validating the negative self-belief.
Counselling and Psychotherapy can help; particularly, in my view, a combination of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy, Psychodynamic Therapy, Gestalt Therapy and work on the subject of Attachment. By seeking to replace these deeply held, negative beliefs with new, better and more positive beliefs, and by unpicking those negatives one by one, a person can learn to become secure, as a whole person, perhaps for the first time. This then creates a sense of hopefulness, open-mindedness and a greater sense of optimism that will also then impact upon subsequent behaviours. We can move from ‘insecurity’ to being ‘in security’.
This post is only a very basic overview of my thoughts on insecurity and I would certainly recommend further reading and research on the subject.
(C) Dean Parsons.