I have yet to meet a woman who has no insecurities. Are some better at dealing with them? Sure. Women who deal with insecurity in a healthy way focus on their internal dialog, and they convince themselves to put insecurity aside for their own mental health and the health of their romantic relationship.
This is certainly easier said then done; the voice of doubt is usually persistent. And in romantic relationships, it turns against your partner as well as yourself.
For some of us it's about our bodies, and for others it's our lovableness. Thoughts like "I need to be thinner" or "What if he is unfaithful, too?" can frequently rear their ugly heads. And those thoughts can really inflict damage.
You see, when our partners hear us complain about our weight, our physical features, and our relationship insecurities, the only thing they feel they can do is assure us. "You are beautiful!" they tell us. "I will always be faithful," they say over and over again. But our inner voice always has a rebuttal. It always attacks again.
When we depend on the constant reassurances of our significant other, he can begin to feel inadequate, like he is failing us, and sometimes he can even be made to feel like the enemy.
Needless to say, allowing insecurity to fester can wear away at even the strongest fabrics of a healthy relationship. So how do you protect yourself and your relationship from the common enemy of insecurity?
01. Don’t seek outside reassurance.
You know that moment when the green dragon of insecurity starts creeping up? Maybe it's when you are looking in the mirror or when you and your guy pass some beautiful woman on the street. This is typically the moment we seek reassurance from our partner by venting our insecurities.
In this moment, rather than relying on our partner to tell us what we need to hear, we need to seek reassurance within ourselves instead. Remember, the only voice your insecurity listens to is your own. What we want to hear from our partner is exactly what we should be telling ourselves. In this moment tell yourself: you are beautiful, you are lovable, you can have a healthy relationship—address whatever fear you have about yourself, name the lie, and then commit to a more affirming way of thinking.
My mom once told me that when she would start to talk about herself in a negative way, my dad would say "Careful, that's my wife you are talking about there." It made her laugh, but it also reminded her that her husband didn't want to hear anyone talk badly about his wife—even his own wife! I try to remember that too when I'm tempted to let my insecurity get the best of me.
02. Open up about your insecurity.
I know insecurity can feel like a dirty secret, but the truth is, most people suffer from some form of insecurity. In fact, a Glamour survey reported that 54 percent of women ages 18 to 40 are unhappy with their body, and 80 percent of women reported that they felt bad when they looked in the mirror.
Give your guy the skinny on insecurity. Let him know that you try your hardest not to let it get the best of you, but sometimes insecurity might win out. Tell him that any unproductive criticism that slips is not a reflection on him, and he doesn't need to say anything. Although, maybe if he is in on the secret, he can give you a quick hand squeeze to remind you that he's on your side.
But it's not just physical insecurities we have to contend with. We all have past relationships and experiences that have shaped our perception of ourselves and fears about relationships. Tell your guy about how unhealthy past relationship have shaped you and taught you lies about yourself, love, and relationships. It's very likely that he will be able to relate.
03. Just say thank you.
One of the biggest challenges of insecurity is taking our significant other at his word. Too often when he says "I love you" or "You are so beautiful," rather than feeling affirmed and loved we get a new wave of insecurity. "Does he really love me?" the voice in our head will challenge us, "You aren't beautiful," the voice will say, "He is just saying that."
The temptation is to challenge our guy's affirmations, but this kind of behavior can be poisonous to a healthy loving relationship. If every time your man offers you love and affirmation, you doubt him or reject it, he will feel hurt and inadequate. Do yourself—and your guy—a favor and choose to accept any affirmation and love without question. When your heart fills with doubt instead of love, will yourself to just say "Thank you" and " I love you too". The physical act of accepting affirmation without question will begin to make it easier to also make room for it in your heart.
04. Challenge yourself.
While it's important to be kind with yourself and patient with your struggle with insecurity, a little tough love goes a long way too! Oftentimes, although certainly not always, feelings of insecurity about our physical appearance can actually be more of a vanity thing than anything else—and it can be helpful to look at it that way.
For example, I have noticed that in moments where I am most critical of the way I look or find myself comparing myself to another beautiful woman in the room, it's helpful to examine my feelings. The truth is, more often than not, I don't actually believe I'm unattractive or unlovable. On the contrary, it's actually more to do with a desire to feel as beautiful or desirable as I perceive this other person to feel. And, as humbling as it may be to admit, that's a vanity thing. The good news is, by identifying areas of personal growth—be it dealing with vanity or pride or whatever plagues you—you can take even more autonomy over kicking comparison and insecurity to the curb for good!
05. Seek help.
It's not easy to separate the lies from the truth. Understand where your insecurities come from, and get started down a healthy way of thinking all on your own. If you struggle with feelings of insecurity, talking to a counselor, spiritual adviser, or therapist will help protect your mental health and your relationship health, too.
Your relationship with yourself and your significant other doesn't have to suffer from feelings of insecurity. By addressing feelings of insecurity with honesty, love, and a bit of grit, you can feel secure in yourself and in love.
Photo Credit: Jess Hunter