Insecurity is something we all deal with. On some level, it is one of the core causes of all our oddities and quirks. I’d even argue that the most confident, bold person you know still has a bit of insecurity lurking in their heart in some amount. And unchecked, it can destroy the environments we are a part of.
As dads, we see insecurity pop up in our kids as they begin to venture out of the shelter of our homes and into the real world. When they find some exposure to the world that doesn’t think they’re amazing for being born, they can easily fall prey to attacks of insecurity.
Our jobs as fathers is to help our kids face that world and be able to have a confidence in themselves that is both based on something real and solid enough to weather the storm coming at them.
Honestly, it is a bit sad watching how some people go about this with their kids. Generic praise like “You’re so amazing” and “You are just the greatest little fella.” While there isn’t anything wrong with saying these things, there also is much right about it either. In other words, if you don’t give your kids some concrete feedback on why they are amazing that is based on truth you’re creating a fragile shell that won’t last outside of your home.
Another version of this is what I call overreaching praise. It’s where parents don’t know what to praise in their kids so they reach for everything. “Wow, you put your pants on better than anyone I’ve ever seen!” Of course, this is a over-dramatized example, but you’ve heard it before.
If you work with other humans in any capacity (which we all do), you’ve witnessed insecurity at different levels in most everyone. Whether it plays out as an overly aggressive person or a reserved, reluctant approach, insecurity not only holds that person back but the whole team suffers. Insecurity is contagious. It is frustrating. It is hard on everyone.
The hardest part of this is that our natural tendency is to attack insecurity with either harshness or cliches.
Get over it! Just do it! Quit worrying about what other people think. You just need to start working and stop over-thinking things. Ugh! Why don’t you get it?
You can do it! You can do anything you set your mind to! If you believe it you can achieve it!
Natural reactions, of course, are often wrong. And they push insecurity further into the person by either confirming they are incompetent or creating internal skepticism of your obviously weak and foundation-less “motivation.”
So what to do?
Acceptance. Acceptance is the real cure for insecurity. This is why people join with groups that are unhealthy. Stay in relationships that drag them down.
Acceptance is: letting people be who they are and loving them anyway. Being able to appreciate someone as a unique and beautiful creation and that part of their beauty is their cracks.
Acceptance is not: letting people remain in their faults or believe they don’t need to work on them. Enabling people in their bad habits and issues.
Feeling acceptance from someone gives us a pathway to accept ourselves. Not to think we don’t have weaknesses. Not to think we have it all right or are without gaps in our abilities. But to accept that being the complete package isn’t being perfect or “all together” but instead being in process and joyful in the journey.
Being o.k. with having flaws is one of the most appealing characteristics a person can have. My wife and I have discussed many times what makes a woman attractive. I have maintained before and will continue to do so here – hands down it’s confidence. Not the cocky, look-at-me kind of confidence (which isn’t confidence anyway). But the quiet, humble confidence that comes from having faced your demons, found the good in yourself and resolutely determined to lean into that discovery.
If we want to build a generation of people that can weather the storms of this world with grace and power, we have to arm them with something real to believe in. The beginning of that is real acceptance. Have you learned to accept yourself? Really? If so, I’ll bet you’re pretty good at accepting those around you.