How to End the Cycle of Insecurity
This morning I was giving my girls a bath and as I sat on the edge of the roman tub I looked down and saw how badly I needed to shave my legs. I was legit startled by how stubbly I was and how long it had taken me to notice it had gotten so bad and this might sound silly, but I felt so insecure.
Why did I have to deal with this leg hair in the first place? It's gross, it's weird, I wish it would just disappear off of my body! Other people don't have to deal with it, heck my own husband has less body hair than I do (lol omg overshare).
I immediately wanted to jump on YouTube and look for some tutorial on how to get the leg hair to grow back softer and lighter or some pain-free waxing solution (hahaha...nope).
Insecurity was a constant feeling I had almost every day in my teenage years and beyond. I would obsess over my nose being too big, my lips not being big enough, the pimples popping up literally all over my face like it was a pimple farm. I contoured before it was cool. I was like twelve and I used thick brown eyeshadow down the sides of my nose and did a terrible job blending it in as pictures like to remind me.
I stuffed toilet paper under my upper lip while I was out and about to make my lips look bigger and would literally be trying to talk to people with my lips barely moving so a big wad of toilet paper didn't fall out. I mean, it was absolutely ridiculous and those are just two examples of literally hundreds of the weird things I did to mask my insecurities.
I would stare at the mirror some mornings before school when I had a break out all over my face and cry. Just tears streaming down my face thinking of walking into my classes. Every time I've fallen into this cycle of insecurity, it was so suffocating that I resolved to never fall into it again. And I am walking in so much more freedom now than in the past, but I still have room to grow.
Here's how I think the cycle of insecurity takes place in our lives. It starts out with comparison.
1. We compare
If we were on a desert island with no one else to compare ourselves with, I'm convinced we wouldn't give a crap about belly rolls, wrinkles, wide hips. We would not even think to care about the pimples or gray hair we found, it just wouldn't be a thought because we would have no examples of something different.
We are inundated with images of perfect people everywhere. Every commercial, every movie, every magazine cover, every Instagram photo. We see these perfectly posed and highly edited photos of people's very best selves, also people who can spend a fortune on every beauty treatment known to man, and of course, we come away thinking, "Man, my face has issues."
We have become trained in comparing ourselves to other people, it's literally the only reason why anyone ever thinks they are ugly. But, underneath the comparison is an even worse culprit.
2. We criticize
Instead of just moving on after seeing another airbrushed person, we now put them into a file in our minds labeled " beauty standard". By the way, this doesn't just apply to outward appearance. This could be labeled under "mom standard" or "lifestyle standard".
And every time we are reminded that we fail to meet those standards, we criticize ourselves. "Her skin is perfect, why do I have these lines between my eyebrows? Hello, swimsuit season! What's up with all this cellulite on my butt?" "She goes to the zoo with her kids literally every weekend, I can hardly remember to feed my kids lunch." "Wow, she's going on vacation again? My life is so boring."
We invite this super mean movie critic from Rotten Tomatoes to comment on our bodies, our faces, our motherhood, our lives and she's not even the funny kind of critic, she's just plain rude. We have become fluent in self-deprecation. And criticism escalates quickly into cursing ourselves.
3. We curse
"I am so out of shape," becomes, "I hate my body". "My hair is so thin and gross," becomes, "I am disgusting". "Why do I have this thick leg hair?" becomes, "I am shameful". Before you know it, we are on a road towards self-hatred that leads to all kinds of pain for ourselves and for those we love.
We have to stop. We can't perpetuate the cycle anymore. Especially when we know it's not just about us. The future women of the world are the babies many of us are taking care of right now. And if you're not a mom, it's the nieces who look up to you. The high schoolers you influence. The sister who watches your every move. And I wish we could just teach them with our words, but that's not how it works.
They learn from seeing what we do and listening to what we say.
So how do we overcome the cycle of insecurity?
For ourselves and for the people watching us? It's not going to happen instantly or overnight, but I know progress can happen little by little with intentionality and patience. Let's rewrite the narrative in our heads.
First, we have to know our identity in Christ.
1. Know your identity
We can't stop the cycle of insecurity with the desire to just feel good about ourselves all the time. This isn't the main goal. If it is, we will just become self-absorbed and prideful. The goal of stopping the cycle is to walk in the confidence of our identity in Christ and to do that, we have to stop looking at ourselves all the time and fix our eyes on Jesus.
Charles Spurgeon said,
"If a soul has any beauty, it is because Christ has endowed that soul with His own, for in ourselves we are deformed and defiled! There is no beauty in any of us but what our Lord has worked in us."
I think a lot of people will have an issue with this quote because it takes the emphasis off of self and onto Jesus. But as a Christian, this true freedom! It means my value and worth does not depend on a single thing I do or don't do. It doesn't depend on me at all. I was far from God. I was not worthy of another glance. I couldn't earn his affection or love. And out of the goodness of His love, he found me in my brokenness and filth and died to save me and to make me HIS.
That means that my identity depends on God alone and that means I can take a deep breath and stop trying so dang hard! And that means all his promises are for me. I am beautiful and without flaw (Song of Solomon 4:7), I am blameless and pure and shine like a star in the sky (Philippians 2:15), I am loved with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). And I am all that he says I am.
Understanding my new identity in Christ is the first life-changing step in breaking the cycle of insecurity, but it has to be applied by speaking it out loud.
2. Speak and think your identity
We have to actually say the verses out loud over ourselves. This changes scripture from being words on a page to being the final authority of what I allow my mind.
One way to do this is to use confession sheets. These are just verses right out of the Bible put together on a page. I know it can seem weird, it takes some getting used to. At first, you might feel a little phony saying it out loud, but it gets easier. I seriously get so pumped now every time I pull out my confession sheet and feel so encouraged at the end of it.
Listen, you are saying stuff about yourself all the time anyway, just start saying the right stuff. The true stuff.
Journaling can be really helpful when you're in the middle of an insecurity cycle. If you want to learn more about my favorite journaling practice, you can here.
3. Take off the mask and talk to somebody
We're not supposed to be alone on this journey. Insecurity is a tool of the devil to get us to hide. Not only are we going to hide who we truly are from the world and lose all the power that comes with that, but we are going to hide from each other and lose out in our relationships with one other.
Come out from that rock you've been hiding under. I know it will take vulnerability and courage, but you can do it. Take a trustworthy friend to coffee. Spill your guts. You can even send me an email if you're not ready to talk to someone in real life. If you have experienced any breakthrough, find someone else who is going through crap and encourage them. Call them up, take time to listen to their stories, send them this blog post or something else that's encouraging, just let them know they are not alone and there is hope.
It's so important that we know we're in this together and start taking off the masks with each other.
To answer the question I know you're asking, no, I'm not going to forsake all shavers and let the wind blow through my leg hair like a wilderness woman (even though I see nothing wrong with this!!). But I will continue to stop the cycle of insecurity every day of my life.
And I want you to join me. You can be all He has created you to be. And trust me, people need who you really are. The world needs who you really are. God has given you a platform no one else has and he wants to use you to reach people no one else can.
Let's teach our daughters, sisters, and friends that they don't have to live in the cycle of insecurity. That they are enough just as they are and loved just as they are and they are called to live beautiful, imperfect, powerful lives too.
And if you're wanting more encouraging content to live with passion and purpose, make sure to subscribe to the newsletter!