Insecurity and a lack of confidence are not characteristics that we’re born with. They are taught! Not only by bullies or abusive family members but can also unwittingly programmed into us by caring family members who call themselves trying to teach us humbleness and humility.
These characteristics are both good virtues to have, but only in moderation. However, too much of it can cause us to suppress a little too much of ourselves and hide our own awesome personalities, talents, and gifts, which can grow into insecurity and, in worse cases, self-loathing.
a little girl hiding behind her mother’s skirt
Each and every one of us is born with confidence and a heart of gold. However, over time, our environments, circumstances, and sadly, the people in our lives can slowly erode the natural confidence and goodness we were born with.
After being hurt for so long, we withdraw from others and put up a barrier to protect ourselves. We turn cold and began to harden ourselves to numb feelings of rejection and the pain that comes with it.
The Slow Erosion of Self-Esteem
Young girl bending down, covering her face with her hands, trying to protect herself from men’s’ fists, finger guns, and hands pointing at her. Women’s rights. Violence against women. Domestic violence.
Before long, we regard others’ feelings and suffering with indifference. In other words, we just don’t give a crap about anyone, how they feel, or what they think. Sometimes we even grow cold toward the people who love us because we have lost the ability to trust.
We no longer have any respect for others, much less ourselves. Lastly, we come to that evil place where schadenfreude takes hold of our personalities. In other words, we secretly or openly take pleasure in seeing others, especially those we despise, suffer.
We must make a conscious effort not to allow negative outside influences to make us cold and mean. Just as we take steps to protect our health, finances, property, etc., we must also take steps to protect our self-esteem. And we do that by how we allow others to treat us. We protect our self-esteem by setting boundaries and standards.
The words we hear from others can affect how we see ourselves, but they don’t have to if we don’t let them.
Targets of bullying are picked apart daily in every minute detail, and in every aspect of their existences. A bully may criticize something as minute as the way they write. Bullies may criticize a woman for sitting with her legs crossed or the way she applies her makeup. But I guarantee that it has nothing with the way the woman sits or puts on her cosmetics, it has everything to do with the bullies’ own insecurities that are buried within themselves.
In reality, the bullies may think the woman is awesome and their criticism could be taken as a compliment because the bullies know they can’t compete with her and certainly don’t deserve the time of day from her because they know they aren’t even on her level, so, they do whatever they can to tear her down and bring her to their level.
However, the criticism surely doesn’t feel like a compliment and can make you feel like crap, so, I’m very careful when I use my words here. Insecure bullies and abusers will say terrible things to us and they can stick with us if we’re not careful.
“Your clothes look like hand-me-downs!”
“Your hair looks too straight!”
“Your nose is too long!”
“Your ears are too big!”
“Nobody likes you!”
“You don’t have any friends!”
This doesn’t mean what they say is true, but so many times, we let the words of bullies get into our heads. When bullies assault us with hurtful words, targets often sit and wonder:
“Why don’t they like me?”
“Why am I not good enough?”
“Am I too fat?”
“Am I too short?”
“Am I too weird?”
“Is it my makeup, my hairdo, or my clothes?”
And they do it regardless of whether what was said to them is true.
Understand that our insecurities will scream at us from time to time but if we chose to listen to those pesky little voices, which are most often only voices from past abusers, it only serves to damage our self-confidence and self-esteem. Granted, there will be times when you will question yourself and this is perfectly normal. But when you make it a habit, then it becomes a problem.
There will also always be someone prettier, better looking, smarter, or financially better off. That’s just life. This doesn’t mean that you don’t have anything going for you because you do but again, there will always be someone with more.
Therefore, never compare yourself to another person because you do yourself more harm than good. Realize that each one of us is blessed with great qualities, although some may not know what they are.
Insecurity is a tricky animal because it has a way of hiding in obscurity. Sometimes, we don’t even know we have it. Bullies are such people. Most bullies are bogged down with insecurities, which is why they always point out the shortcomings of others in attempts to hide their own and the self-esteem fix they get from it is only short lived. Then bullies will only come back for more.
Another reason why insecurity is so tricky is because the insecure person not only doesn’t realize it exists, but they also don’t know when they became insecure nor what caused the insecurity.
We aren’t born with insecurities. They are given to us by other people, those who unfairly criticized you during your early years. Maybe someone called you stupid, or ugly. Maybe someone told you that you didn’t look good enough or, weren’t smart enough to pass that class.
Maybe you had an abusive parent or family member who told you that you would never amount to anything. Maybe your dad left and never cared to spend any time with you. It could be that you had an older sibling who bullied you. Maybe your classmates repeatedly told you that you weren’t good enough and never would be. Maybe others trivialized your successes and told you that they didn’t matter. They stem from many different factors.
Nevertheless, there had to be that first person who berated you- that person who planted that seed of insecurity and they repeated the same behavior and nurtured that seed so that it would grow. Maybe others helped to grow that seed and it’s only festered inside of you. And that seed has negatively affected your relationships with others and continues to do so today.
But understand that we all have flaws and the best way to get comfortable with them is to own them and accept that you have them. You might as well get comfortable with your flaws if they’re things you can’t do anything about. Also, once you embrace your flaws, no one can hold them against you any longer. By accepting and embracing your flaws, you take back your personal power and squash any power that bullies ever had over you because the insecurity ceases to be.
Many bullies have also been victims of others. This is the reason they try to break your confidence, only bullies refuse to have that discussion because it would only cast them as being vulnerable. Also, bullies never took the time to acknowledge and heal their own hurts and insecurities.
Therefore, bullies will tear you down with their actions and words because they feel either inferior to or threatened by you.
Once and for all, I want you to understand that there will be that partner who tells you that you dress like a floozy even though you dressed the same when your partner met you and you actually dress rather conservatively. There will be classmates who criticize your laugh or your smile. There will be people who flat out tell you to shut up when you speak even if the words you speak make sense.
The criticisms that hurt us the most and have the potential to destroy us come from spouses, family, and friends- people we love and trust the most. It is those remarks that can do the most damage because these are the people who are supposed to love us, take care of us, and protect us. And we believe they do. We believe they only want what’s best for us so we attempt to modify and change who we are to satisfy them and gain their love and approval. And the more they berate us, the more we shape-shift, trying to attain that allusive approval, until we twist ourselves into a pretzel!
It amazes me how many broken children there are out there who don’t yet understand that there was never anything wrong with them. These children become bullies and grow up to be angry and bitter adults who will only spread their toxicity to others.
It’s much easier to make others feel small than to deal with what others have done to us. I was broken for a lot of years, brainwashed into thinking I wasn’t worthy of being treated well. I always thought I was vermin compared to others because that’s what I’d been told repeatedly by others.
It took me a 2 ½ decades to realize that there was nothing wrong with me and that none of the bullying, abuse, and torment people subjected me to was ever my fault. I was not defected, and I was never a bad person. In fact, I now realize that I’m an awesome person and if people who don’t know me choose to judge me and have issues with me, it’s their problem not mine.
And I hope and pray they get their mental stuff together before it’s too late because it takes someone who lives a miserable existence to go through life making other people feel like dog shit to feel superior.
Insecurity is a seed that plants itself deeply, which is why it can be difficult to deal with. But in order to heal, you must cut out the roots of it too.
And if you don’t take the time needed to deal with and heal it, you will continue to carry the insecurities that someone else gave you and they will affect the way you handle people and your future relationships- every one of them, whether they’re romantic, friendships, or family.
Realize that the insecurities you have were caused by other people who wanted to look and feel better and more powerful than you. They saw a good quality in you that threatened to overshadow them somehow. So, they went on a mission to tear you down to keep you from stealing their spotlight.
Always remember that the bullying and abuse was never about you, it was about them. It was about their fear of you overshadowing them. It was about their being afraid that you’d reach success and leave them in the dust. It was about something they saw in you that threatened their fragile egos.
There are many people in the world who are broken children and never realized their true potential or their value. Perhaps they were abused at home or bullied in school. Maybe some jealous bully in their lives made it their mission to bring these people down because their confidence was a threat to the bully’s overinflated ego. Whatever the case may be, other people attacked their confidence and goodness at some point during their childhoods and gave them an evil gag gift of insecurity. And they carried this heavy gag gift into adulthood.
These people were wounded so deeply that they were never again the same. Many became bullies because they felt that the only way they could feel good about themselves was to make someone else feel inferior. Sadly, feeling good by these types of means is only temporary and it wears off quickly.
And once it wears off, these people must deliver another put down to get back that ego boost. Because their spirits were crushed, they now have an insatiable need to crush the spirits of others to feel whole again.
It takes a miserable and broken person to go through life putting others down to feel good about themselves. It takes a person who lacks confidence and doesn’t realize their own potential to attack the confidence, goals, and dreams of another. Instead of working toward their goals, practicing self-care, and using their intelligence and merit to achieve confidence and self-actualization, they take the easy way out and achieve it through such superficial means as tearing some poor soul down.
Again, understand that these superficial means are only a temporary fix. But legitimate means, such as working on and cultivating your dreams can last a lifetime.
With that said, I have to wonder just how many people have wasted their entire lives taking this toxic path. How many people have died while weighed down with a mountain of insecurity? How many people have carried their anger, bitterness, and hatred to their graves? And how many people have gone to their graves without realizing confidence and their true potential?
Honestly, this is something that I don’t want to know because the answer just might be that it’s a vast majority of the people who are lying in the cemeteries around the world. There are millions upon millions of tombstones engraved with the names of people who had great ideas and dreams but never worked toward them because they allowed another person to cause them to underestimate and undervalue themselves. And sadly, their ideas and dreams, which could’ve made a positive difference not only in their lives, but in the lives of others and in the world, died on the deathbeds with them.
Any sane person should shutter at the thought that this could be them one day. It certainly scares me to death just knowing that I could’ve died never knowing my worth nor potential. It would have been a complete waste!
Understand that life is only a one-shot deal. There are no do-overs. If you are a bully who must use superficial means to feel whole or a target of bullying who feels useless, you must realize that as long as you’re still breathing, you still have a chance to change your ways and to realize the value you bring to this world. You still have a chance to find confidence and reach your potential. You still have a chance at reaching your higher self.
It won’t happen overnight and neither will it come easy. Nothing positive ever does. In fact, it may take years or decades and there will be forces in this life that will fight against you in the forms of toxic people and adverse circumstances- the devil doesn’t like positive change. But better late than never. And better hard-won than never. Don’t wait until it’s too late. And don’t put it off until tomorrow because tomorrow may never come for you.
Find a way to turn your pain into power- legitimate power- the type of power that isn’t harmful to another person. Find the will to turn your trauma into triumph. Began doing the inner work needed to better your spirit. Most importantly, do it while you still can. Make the rest of your life the best of your life.
A fellow blogger once wrote, “If you care too much about what others think, you care less about yourself.”
How right she was!
When you care too much about what other people think, you become a slave to not only opinions but to others as well. The person whose opinions you place too much value on owns you.
Any time you care too much about the thoughts and opinions of others, you’ll bend over backward to prove your worth. You’ll be a yes-person because you won’t have the guts to say no when you really should and when you truly want to say it.
You’ll do things you’d rather not do and agree with things that go against your beliefs and convictions. You’ll sacrifice your time, your resources, and yourself for people who don’t deserve it and let them take you for granted.
You’ll fall for other people’s BS and accept crappy behavior from them to avoid conflict. And they’ll see you as a pushover and an approval-seeker. You’ll be a doormat, and no one will have any respect for you. They’ll only think you’re pathetic!
To put it bluntly, you’ll kiss butt and eat sh** all for the sake of approval. Yuck!
You’ll only attract users, abusers, and losers, who’ll only deplete you of time, energy, and worst of all, self-esteem!
Even worse, your submissiveness will come to be expected after a while, and once you do finally get tired of being walked on and grow a spine, people won’t respect you for it but be offended by it.
‘You see, here’s the thing. If you truly know your value, you don’t have to prove it because you know it’s there. Even better, others see it too because they not only sense that others’ opinions don’t phase you, but they can see it in your demeanor as well.
So, stop caring what bullies and abusers think of you because they don’t deserve to even matter to you.
The more you know, the more bully-proof you become!
Many targets of bullying get into the habit of comparing themselves to others. For example, a bullied kid sitting in the lunchroom at school may look a few tables over and see the very kids who bully him surrounded by friends, yucking it up and having a good time. They seem to be enjoying friendships while the bullied kid is left in the cold. And watching causes an ache in the poor kid’s chest. He thinks to himself:
“I wish I were like him because if I were, I’d have friends too. I hate him because he’s a creep and doesn’t deserve to be so lucky! Why him? I deserve it more than he does? It’s not fair!”
But when is life ever fair?
Here’s another example:
A coworker at a company sees another coworker who hasn’t put in as much time getting a promotion. He immediately gets angry and thinks that the only way the other guy must’ve gotten that promotion is by sucking up to the boss. He then begins to wish the other coworker all kinds of bad luck.
The root of this is thinking that someone else is just luckier or better off than you.
Comparing yourself to others is a real self-esteem killer. But sadly, people do it all the time. When you compare your life to someone else’s, it only breeds all kinds of toxic emotions, two of which are anger and jealousy.
Understand that you cannot judge a person’s outward appearance or the appearances they keep up and accurately judge what their life is like. Because people are notorious for showing only the best parts of their lives and keeping the less-than-desirable parts hidden.
Also realize that some people, bullies especially, making it a point to flash the positive aspects of their lives to those around them for the sole purpose of provoking envy. Because knowing that others are jealous of them is a huge boost to their egos, giving them a sense of power and that they’re better. Realize that the appearances these people keep up are only a show.
An example of this would be:
You see someone decked out in fancy clothes and drives a hot sports car. They have a six-bedroom house in the ritzy part of town. But! Although they look like they’re rolling in money, they’re more than likely only living beyond their means. Chances are that they’re in debt up to their eyeballs and feeling terrified inside because they know that if the slightest setback happens, they’ll lose it all!
Here are a few more examples:
You see a seemingly happy couple in a shopping mall and you’re still single. They look so happy and so in love, and they have friends around them. But you don’t know what goes on in their house. The husband might be abusing his wife behind closed doors (or vise versa) and they’re only putting on airs. They might be on the brink of divorce.
You may look on social media and see pictures of one of your someone you know lying on the beach in the tropics. But what you don’t know is that they had to clean out their savings just to take that trip.
Here’s my point. Never judge anyone who seems a little luckier than you, because, in private, they could be fighting battles you know nothing about.
They may have a mother at home dying of cancer, a father who went off to war and never came back, or be buried in legal issues.
And many times, you feel so content with your life until you spot these people. All of a sudden, you’re feeling less than. This should be a good indicator as to how useless envy and self-comparison really are.
How you fight this is to take your attention off these people and count your blessings. Because although they may be luckier than you in one aspect, you are most likely better off than them in other ways. Think about it.
Understand that anytime you feel jealous of another person, it only means that deep inside, you have a deep-seated spirit of lack and failure and you want to take the other person’s good fortune away from them and keep it for yourself.
It’s a sign that you don’t feel that you can ever reach those goals yourself. Stop it! Because if they can, you can too.
Stop comparing yourself to others because it’s a waste of time and energy. It also drains your of confidence.
Know that you are enough and your life is enough. And you never know what the future holds. You too may someday buy your dream home, find a loving partner, or get the opportunity to go on a tropical getaway.
For now, be happy for those who are presently getting those opportunities. Instead of provoking jealousy in you, these people should inspire you and give you hope for the future.
Sadly, targets of bullying often make poor life choices because of bullying. Years ago, I was targeted and yes, I made some really bad decisions, some of which continue to affect my life today.
At the time, I didn’t really know why I made those decisions. However, today, there is no doubt in my mind that the reason I allowed myself to get into smoking marijuana and having sex during high school was that I was lonely from being bullied.
You see? Most targets have been bullied for so many years that they will do anything- anything, to be accepted and make friends. After so long, the loneliness, the despair, and the sadness becomes too much to bear and desperation begins to creep in.
Young Targets may do one or more of the following:
1. Try drugs
2. Have unsafe sex/promiscuity
3. Join gangs
4. Participate in crime
5. Commit high-risk behaviors (like drag-racing and dangerous daredevil stunts)
They will sometimes do these things just to feel like they belong.
Girls may begin “dating down”. They settle for either a partner they don’t really love, or an abusive partner just for validation that they too can attain romance and they are worthy of love just like everyone else. Boys may do the same.
They may also get into drinking, drugs, and hard partying.
Girls may also deliberately become pregnant because they want so bad to have someone (the baby) to love them.
If you are a target of bullying, I can’t emphasize enough that you don’t have to do these things to be accepted or to feel loved. There are better options.
Instead of making unwise choices, practice your talents, and do the things you enjoy. Spend time with the people who DO love you. Give a little of yourself to help others every day and I promise you, it will pay off sooner or later.
Know that there will come a day when you attract genuine friends into your life. IT’s true. Believe it with every fiber of your being!