We’ve all got them. Fears and insecurities, while unpleasant, are just a part of life. Sometimes the thoughts are fleeting, but sometimes they nag at you, ruining your day and causing you to feel down. Negative thinking can spiral out of control, so it’s a good idea to have a few strategies in your back pocket for stop that insecurity train. So how can you manage these pesky negative thoughts and beliefs?
1. Remember that you’re never alone. You know the girl in your English class who always has the perfect outfit and great hair? She feels insecure sometimes. You know the girl in your geometry class who aces all those quizzes and seems like she never fails at anything? Yep, there’s insecurity in there somewhere. We’ve all got it. Be open with your friends, and encourage them to be open with you. Laugh about it together.
2. Surround yourself with the right people. Try not to stay isolated when you’re feeling down on yourself. And when you’re feeling low, be choosy about your company. Some friends are better than others at reminding you of your strengths and positive qualities.
3. Make a list. Of your accomplishments, that is. Can’t think of anything? Ask someone! “What’s one thing I’ve done recently that you appreciated, or that impressed you?” There’s always something, even if it seems minor. Were you friendly to another person at school? Had the correct answer in History class? Write it down.
4. Do a reality check. Fears and insecurities tend to feed on themselves. One D on a math quiz becomes “I’ll never be good at math.” One dateless dance becomes “I’ll never have a date EVER AGAIN.” Try to stop yourself in the middle of this pattern, and recognize when you’re making generalizations about yourself. Then replace those thoughts with something more accurate. “Yeah, I sure bombed this quiz, but I did well on the previous ones, and I was preoccupied when I studied this time. It doesn’t mean I’m bad at math.”
5. Spring into action. Engage in an activity that you love, and that makes you feel competent. (These two qualities often go hand in hand.) It’s harder to feel fear or insecurity when you’re engaged in something that brings you confidence.
6. Get outside yourself. I’m not suggesting total avoidance; it’s important not to push your fears aside and bottle them up. BUT…from time to time it can be helpful to do something that literally prevents you from staying immersed in your own insecurity. Try volunteering somewhere or helping your parents with a task around the house. Even exercise can work.
7. Live in the now. Have you ever had this conversation with yourself?: “If I fail this quiz then I won’t get a good grade in this class and then I’ll never get into the college I want.” Slow down! Learn to limit your thinking to the present moment. There are many great strategies for “mindfulness” practices out there that can help you stay in the current moment. Start by taking several deep breaths.
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