I have two friends who are extremely talented software designers: one wrote an algorithm by himself that typically takes teams of engineers to implement, and not being told otherwise, solved a problem that all the teams at large companies said was impossible. The other wrote a piece of software which provides the foundation for many of our most important tools at work, he did so in spite of being told it wasn’t important and proved all the nay-sayers wrong. Both of them, no matter what we say to the contrary, believe they aren’t very good software engineers.
All of us have similar beliefs about ourselves that resist correction by outside voices. We might feel shame or self-conscious about some aspect of our body, or our personality, or our ability. Sometimes this self-doubt stems from our temperament*, but in other cases we can trace it back to a scar from our past.
Many of our insecurities originated from the judgement we felt from someone about ourselves. We might have thought we were good enough, but someone made fun of our short comings. Or we felt betrayed when in spite of being told we were doing well, we got laid off unexpectedly. These wounds can be especially difficult to recover from because they shake our trust in others. No matter what people say to the contrary, we don’t believe them. They are just being nice, or they have to say that. To the contrary, if one solitary person, enemy or stranger confirms our self doubts we amplify that opinion.
This reinforcing cycle can make it impossible for us to objectively evaluate our areas of insecurity leaving us trapped. Others will never take away our insecurities without us deciding to confront them ourselves. This might mean forgiving past wounds, or listening to our friends who disagree with our assessment, or simply being unashamed of a weakness we have. Each person and insecurity may need something different, but we can’t wait for some external source to magically take it away, it must start with us being willing to let go.
* The Myers-Brigg temperament type “NT” has self-doubt as one of the typical character traits which I’ve seen in myself and other NT types.