We live in a culture where ‘insecurity’ is generally regarded as more of a liability than an asset. “He’s a very secure person” and “He’s a very insecure person” convey meanings which are poles apart. I want to point out today that senses of both security and insecurity are important to physical and emotional well-being. As far as I’m concerned, the sooner we get a healthier perspective on all this, the better!
Feeling insecure is normal
It is very important that we feel both secure and insecure depending on our current situation. In Powerchange we’ve found that strong feelings of insecurity can rightly motivate us to address a damaging situation and do something about it to make us safe again.
Feeling secure for a substantial chunk of our lives is an essential ingredient to emotional and physical health. The problems come when we misjudge the situation we find ourselves in and either feel secure when there is danger close by, or feel insecure when we are actually quite safe. Another downside is when we take action to make ourselves feel safer by damaging others.
The brighter side
Firstly let us notice that it is WE, not THEM, who are having the feelings of insecurity or security. “What I say about you says more about me.” When I feel a little disturbed in the presence of a person whose behaviour I cannot so easily predict, whose behaviour I don’t like, or who behaves in a way that makes me feel unsafe, categorising that person rather than myself as “insecure” makes me feel better.
Secondly, it might be helpful to note that it is the behaviour we don’t like, not the person. After all, that person, like you, is not what they do. A person can never actually BE their behaviour. The two are in completely different dimensions, one is existence, the other is action. The existence of a screwdriver is not the same as the action of a screwdriver. Your existence may create a lot of potential, but that potential is only realised through action.
Being able to recognise that we don’t feel safe also makes us feel safer, as does being able to identify the behaviour we don’t feel safe with (and the person attached to it.) Maybe it is at that moment we can feel secure in the knowledge of our insecurities, and smile at ourselves. Humour helps us to do this.
The darker side
Human beings in general love predictability and what we regard as rationality. We feel safer when our world is comprehensible. So what do we do when behaviour is not predictable or rational by our subjective standards? One way we do that is by describing the person exhibiting that behaviour as insecure, even dangerous, and by comparison implying that we are not. We use our social power to create boundaries we know they will not be able to live within, then separate ourselves from them by putting them in a box with a neat descriptive label, and somehow that makes us feel safer. “Insecure” it says. Or “Unpredictable”. Or “ADHD”. Or “Nonconformist”. Or “Hoodie”. Or any description ending with the word “Syndrome”.
In more extreme cases we may box them in with a programme of behaviour-modifying drug ‘therapy’ or physically incarcerate them with brick and steel. Even though they may have done no actual harm, at least we feel better.
That’s the darker side of our insecurity.