I hope you’ve identified some ways to come out from behind that root mask, and to begin dealing with the tangle of emotions and experiences you’ve been covering up. I have been reading “So Long Insecurity,” by Beth Moore to help me with the process. It is a fabulous discussion of the many facets of insecurity and the ways it shows up in our behavior. As I read I became even more convinced that the masks we wear are a cover for those insecurities. Self-doubt or self loathing, a lack of self confidence, constant fear of rejection—even a strong desire to mend a wrong even when you have not committed the wrong—are all manifestations of insecurity. In my own experience, insecurity causes me to look for validation; I want to be liked to the point of going out of my way to please others. For me, part of the definition from the Urban Dictionary says it all:
“Basically, insecure people hide their real self to avoid being rejected or despised when most of their perceptions are false”
The result? First, we put on our masks. A lot of times it’s the mask of the perfect ______ (you fill in the blank). I would put in wife, mother, daughter, homeschool mom, Christian, or friend, because one of my main insecurities is fear of rejection. I need to be needed—so much that I am a people pleaser to the core. I will run myself down to exhaustion, just to make others happy. That brings us to the second result of insecurity—self-sabotage. In classic form, I would strive for perfection, setting such unrealistic expectations for myself that I would always fall short of my goals, and further confirm my insecurities. Does anybody else see the insanity here? I was on a circular treadmill that just strengthened my false perceptions. Setting such unrealistic expectations practically guarantees our failure; we set ourselves up for it. For example, I think of all the chore charts and behavior modification plans that I lay out for my children, where I set up totally unrealistic expectations that I am going to do all these things every day that are impossible in the life of a busy homeschool mom. Or all the diets I have tried, where I decide I need to lose five pounds every week and exercise for an hour every single day. Then when I can't achieve those results I get depressed—and in my mind I’ve failed again. I’m sure you have examples of your own.
If you are a Christian like me, you have one more piece to add to the puzzle of insecurity. Not only do we doubt ourselves, we extend those doubts to our beliefs about God. We subconsciously expect him to fail us, and so limit our trust in him. As a Christian, I’ve found that through prayer and reading God’s word I truly can rely on Him to help me overcome my fears and insecurities, one day at a time.
So, I’ve decided to step back and reevaluate my expectations. Where am I setting myself up for failure? For you, it might be in your relationship with your spouse, parents, or children. Maybe at work you have set such high goals that they can never be reached. This week let’s identify those areas in our lives where we are setting the bar so high that we’re sabotaging ourselves. What do you need to trust yourself—and maybe even God—to do in your life? Finally, what insecurities are your masks hiding?