I have a confession to make. A confession that only those closest to me know about. I am incredibly insecure.
I constantly wonder what people think of me and feel constant disapproval. Regularly, I live under this idea that no one likes me, or they think I’m a jerk or just don’t want to be around me.
There are times and seasons where it's better or worse. But insecurity is the dragon I do battle with. I always question every decision I make and regularly experience feelings of failure and self-loathing.
I struggle with feeling good enough. Smart enough. Competent enough. Rich enough. Successful enough. And if I let those voices run rampant, I start to get paralyzing anxiety, depression and fear.
Over the years, through prayer, amazing friends and mentors, counseling and being married to my incredibly encouraging wife, who helps meet figure out the difference between truth and fiction, I’ve learned to fight back my insecurity. It is never completely gone, but hovers further away. Here are some things that I’ve learned.
Flip the script.
For years, I used to think that whatever thoughts were in my head were true. I’m not good enough, smart enough. Those people won’t like you, you don’t have anything to bring to the table. Those phrases become the script that we live out of. And when we start to realize that the script of self-loathing and insecurity begins, that is when we need to flip the script and intentionally change it!
The other day I experienced this. I work with some of the most creative, gifted and artistic people in the world. Sometimes I look around and think, “Everyone here is not just good, but INCREDIBLE at their jobs, I don’t think I’m as good as they are. My contribution is so small compared what they can do. I’m a fraud, someone is going to figure me out.”
However, I caught myself and flipped the script, “Yes, I work with incredibly gifted and talented people…and I am one of them. I never would have gotten chosen for this job if I was a fraud, the people who hired me are too smart for that. I will keep learning and growing to be the best employee, co-worker and pastor that God can use."
Internalize what God says about you.
Often, the insecurity feels so strong that it can overwhelm me. What has helped me the most over the years is recalling the large portions of Scripture that I had memorized over the past 20 years. In my 20’s, I struggled with insecurity to the point that it was crippling. I pushed myself to go on a mission trip for six months, and while there I spent large portions of that time memorizing the book of Ephesians. I memorized 5 out of 6 chapters.
I’m not sharing this to impress you, but to show you how much I needed God’s word inside me to combat my insecurity. Ephesians is all about our identity in Christ. Who He’s made us to be, and how to live in light of that reality.
Here are some Scriptures to memorize to help you begin to remember how God sees you:
Jeremiah 29:11 - God has an incredible plan and purpose for my life.
Ephesians 1: 1-3 - God has BLESSED me (to be a BLESSING).
Ephesians 2:10 - I'm a work of art, made to do great things.
Psalm 139: 13-14 - I'm custom made by God.
Cultivate an attitude of gratitude.
I’ve learned about myself that I can be quite cynical. I can be negative, I can be petty. And when insecurity kicks in, I am tempted to pull down others and look at everything from a negative perspective. Instead, I’ve learned this year to start each day with gratitude. Gratitude has been the greatest antidote to insecurity.
I've gotten into the habit of using a journal app. My favorite part is this: Every morning, I try to write down at least three things I'm grateful for. Sometimes I don't even do it in the app, but in my journal. When I remember what I am grateful for, it helps me put things in perspective and remember all the blessings God has put in my life. I know, it may seem corny, but it's been a deathblow to my insecurity.
Have amazing people around you.
Insecurity thrives in isolation. Not only that, it festers because the inner dialogue gets out of control. When I can't flip my own script, I can't remember what God has said about me, and I lose sight of what I'm thankful for, I need other people to speak the word of God to me.
• Family - As I've mentioned before, my wife is the best weapon against insecurity. When I'm feeling off, I can tell her how I feel and she can counteract it with truth. And she speaks God's word back to me, and prays for me. After that, I feel like I can take on the world. When I'm tempted not to confess my insecurity to my wife because I think I'll appear weak, but it actually strengthens our marriage, not weakens it.
• Mentors - I've written elsewhere about mentors in my life. These men have all played significant roles in my development as a Christian, husband, father, and pastor. There are also those mentors who I've never actually met, but through their books and sermons have spoken into my life. Men like John Eldredge, Andy Stanley, John Wimber, and Henri Nouwen. These men have called out my strength, when I all I see and feel is weakness. I need them in my journey of faith!
• Friends - Over the past few years, I've also discovered the power of peer mentors. Guys my own age who have spoken into my life on a regular basis. We get together just to talk about the heart. Often, they will speak honest truth into my life. My wife and I have had a group of friends that we've known for over five years who continually speak into our lives. They are like a second family to us and have walked with us through hard times and difficult times. This group is from all different ages and stages but speak into our deepest areas of fear and insecurity.
How about you?
What about YOU? How are you slaying the dragon of insecurity in your life? Where do you see the gap in your battle? Is it in flipping the script? Remembering how God sees you? Gratitude? Do you have a group of men and women who can remind you who you are in Christ?
Nithin Thompson is the Teaching Pastor at Liquid Church which is located in Morristown, NJ. Nithin is a graduate of Nyack College and Alliance Theological Seminary. When he's not pastoring you can find him hanging out with his wife Jackie and trying to catch Pokemon with his daughter Selah and son Wesley. He blogs on SojournIntoExile.com.