Humility vs. Insecurity

February 7, 2011 at 10:41 pm (Uncategorized)

All of my life, I was taught to be humble.  I was taught that no matter how little I had, in respect to the rest of the world, I had a lot and no matter how much I had, there were far richer people in the world.  Growing up in private schools, this was a hard position to maintain, but I still tried to have a humble attitude through my activities, or so I thought.  I used to get in trouble for not accepting compliments in my activities.  I saw it as humble to diminish compliments and did not understand why my mother got angry at me for basically arguing with someone that I did not play as well as they said I did.  As I have grown older, this attitude has stayed the same, but is not limited to sports and school activities.  It has spread into my personality, my behaviors, my character.  So now, I come to the question:  Am I being humble or is this all boiled down to insecurity?

Wikipedia, however trustworthy this “dictionary” may be, defines insecurity as a feeling of general unease or nervousness that may be triggered by perceiving of oneself to be unloved, inadequate or worthless (whether in a rational or an irrational manner).  Point made; this is me 75% of the time.  A person who is insecure lacks confidence in their own value and capability, lacks trust in themselves or others, or has fears that a present positive state is temporary and will let them down and cause them loss or distress by “going wrong” in the future.  I feel like this goes hand in hand with lacking trust in God as well.

Humility is often confused with insecurity, especially for me personally. I know my negative traits, but does this make me insecure? I am beginning to learn my strengths as well (thank you StrengthFinder 2.0) but I still am uneasy saying them or even saying I have any strengths at all. It is perceived worthlessness, unlovability, or inadequacy about these traits, or my character in general, that forms into the stickiest fears and doubts. Weaknesses are not insecurities by themselves. Weakness must be mishandled, denied, or compensated for in order to become insecurities and truly ruin confidence. Insecurity says, “I don’t think I can do that,” but Humility says, “I cannot do that, I can only do this.” Both of them are right, but they are not the same.

I want to be confident in myself.  Confident people are seen as attractive, reliable, and generally “safe” for anyone. They typically achieve much in life, as much as their potential will allow. Truly confident people rarely have insecurities, those troubling doubts about personal worth, security, or lovability. But exceptionally confident people, who look much different than the normal sort, have balanced it with humility.

Humility is true confidence in action. It is not the type of confidence you will find from the guy who approaches you in the bar and introduces himself as your next boyfriend. Generally, he probably just wants to buy you a drink so you won’t notice or care about his overbearing cologne, hairy back, or sexual motives. Insecurities are negative traits covered up by ego and they will come out when the guy at the bar has run out of pickup lines, flattering words, and hilarious but one-lined jokes.  Confidence without humility comes from those who are secure because they simply have no insight into their weaknesses. For the fun-loving, funny-like confidence, ignorance is truly bliss. I enjoy the company of such people, but I would never trust them. Given the right person, situation, or event, the confident person can turn into a coward without ever having realized his weakness. When a bad day at work turns into a kicked-in door or a casual conversation with another turns into a jealous outrage, you have discovered what that laissez-faire personality knew nothing about.

So, insecurity is not to be confused with humility, which involves recognizing one’s shortcomings but still maintaining a healthy dose of self-confidence. Insecurity is not an objective evaluation of one’s ability but an emotional interpretation, as two people with the same capabilities may have entirely different levels of insecurity.  So how do I humbly feel confident in myself and feel ok saying that I can be likeable, fun and be someone people enjoy being around?

Journals that know what they are taking about, say that insecurity has many effects in a person’s life.  It nearly always causes some degree of isolation as a typically insecure person withdraws from people to some extent. (my biggest struggle)  The greater the insecurity, the higher the degree of isolation becomes. Insecurity is often rooted in a person’s childhood years. Like offense and bitterness, it grows in layered fashion, often becoming an immobilizing force that sets a limiting factor in the person’s life. Insecurity robs by degrees; the degree to which it is entrenched equals the degree of power it has in the person’s life.  I do not think insecurity is this deeply rooted in my life, but I do notice that when something happens/someone says something/a thought enters my head, I start to withdraw and disengage.  I do this to protect myself against being hurt.  But is this hurt a reality or is it just a shot against my insecurity that would be overcome if I was confident in myself?

Humility is accepting myself as I really am before God.  So what am I?

  • I am a child of God – John 1:12
  • I am used by God and have a position in this world – John 15:1,5
  • I am a friend of Jesus – John 15:15
  • I am justified and redeemed – Romans 3:24
  • I am freed from a slavery in sin – Romans 6:6
  • I am no longer condemned – Romans 8:1
  • I am set free from the law of sin and death – Romans 8:2
  • I am a fellow heir with Christ – Romans 8:17
  • I am accepted by Christ – Romans 15:7
  • I am a temple of the Holy Spirit – 1 Corinthians 6:19
  • I am no longer veiled so I can see Christ clearly – 1 Cor. 3:14
  • I am a new creature in Christ – 2 Cor. 5:17
  • I am the righteousness of God in Christ – 2 Cor 5:21
  • I am one with Christ – Galatians 3:28
  • I am complete in Christ – Colossians 2:10
  • I am free in Christ – Galatians 5:1
  • I am chosen – Ephesians 1:4
  • I am taken care of — Philippians 4:19
  • and on and on and on….

The more I read the promises found in Christ, the more I become secure in who I am.  When it comes to my character, it pales in comparison to what Christ has done and who He says I am.  My God created me just like He wanted to.  I may not have the personality or the character that some have, but I am me.  And I am best when I am confident in me and who my Creator made me to be.

I have met some rather unintelligent and ugly people who were far more attractive than the most accomplished, athletic, popular guys because, despite their lesser skills and clumsy flaws, they were neither shy, overly-humorous, nor compensatory for them. They were humble, which only comes as a result of being confident in who they were created to be, giving no room for baseless insecurity, and thus giving off an endearing confidence.  Lord, may I be humble not proud, and confident not insecure.

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