6 Ways to Help Those Who Struggle with Insecurity
- Anne Peterson Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2019 25 Oct
While most of us feel insecure at times, there are some people who feel insecure most of the time. And though it may be unintentional, sometimes we can make others feel insecure. If we are aware of some of the ways it’s possible, we can be more sensitive.
In Colossians 1:28, we are told to proclaim Jesus to every man and teach with wisdom. But the next part of the verse jumps out at me. It tells the why. The verse says it’s so that we may present every man complete in Christ.
This reminds me of the 2001 Special Olympics in Seattle. During this event all the participants started a race, but when one fell, others didn’t simply keep running and maneuver around him. Instead they stopped and helped him up, linking arms to all cross the finish line together. They felt they would not win unless they all won together.
When we are Christ-followers we will see other members of the body of Christ as significant. Even if they don’t believe it as yet.
What are Some Signs of Feeling Insecure?
Some people look as if they are not secure. They even carry themselves differently. Perhaps they are timid, or they want to be invisible. If we think of some of the ways we can notice insecurity, we will be better equipped to recognize those who feel that way.
Those who feel insecure can exhibit any of these characteristics:
Often, we misread those who boast as being arrogant and proud. While the truth may be, they feel so insecure they keep mentioning their accomplishments in an effort to not feel bad about themselves.
I can honestly say I have struggled with all those areas. Likely all of us have, in varying degrees, at times. Growing up in a dysfunctional family I learned to mask my insecurity by becoming a people pleaser. However, when we hide our insecurities in unhealthy patterns growing up, we have a hard time letting them go, even when they are no longer ‘effective.’
Here are six ways to help those who struggle with insecurity:
1. Value Every Person
Insecure people feel devalued. In the case of someone who is a people-pleaser, they think what they do for others is what gives them value. They need to learn how God values them. This is solely based on the fact they were created by God, made in his image. Once a person realizes that they have value, they can grow in the areas that are lacking.
I was a perfectionist for years, and it’s has been hard growing out of that. When I came to understand how much God loves me, it was a totally different kind of love. God doesn’t attach strings to his love. He loves us as we are.
When we accept others where they are, they will feel that acceptance, and it creates an environment where they can thrive. When I attended a Bible study as a twenty-something, all of us were welcomed. It was the perfect place to learn about Jesus and his unconditional love.
People need to be valued just because God created them—for a divine purpose.
2. Listen More than You Speak
In James 1:19, we are told to be quick to hear, slow to speak. But sometimes when we are wanting to share something, we may proceed before we know where our listener is. What we want to share is good, but for true communication to occur, the listener needs to be in a place where he/she can listen. And sometimes those who feel insecure don’t always convey where they are clearly.
We can do this by asking questions to be certain we are understanding what the person is sharing. This is sometimes called mirroring. And it simply means repeating to the person what you’re hearing them say, and asking if this is what the person meant. When I’m upset about something, my husband will say things like, “You’ve mentioned this item and you’ve also talked about this area. Which one are you really upset about?”
It’s also important to give the insecure person enough time to share what is on their mind. They may need to process things by talking. If given enough time, they can discover what it is that is really bothering them.
I got very good at hiding my insecurities as a struggling young woman. Before I left the house each morning, I made sure my smile was in place. This poem I wrote conveys it.
Don’t be fooled when you look at me, things are not as they seem to be.
The smile I put on carefully does not reflect the inner me;
it cannot hide the pain inside,so don’t be fooled when you look at me.
When I learned what it meant to be congruent, I realized I was not being honest when I hid my feelings so well. As Christians, we can help each other live in the truth.
3. Give Advice Only When Asked
At times, we really want to help those who are feeling insecure or afraid, or are hurting. God put that desire within us. But sometimes we can give advice which was never invited. And the message we give is:
-We know how to fix what’s wrong
-The person we’re talking to needs our help more than our presence
-They would never have figured this out alone
It’s one thing to be asked for our opinions, or our help. Then we can pray and ask God for wisdom before offering our advice. But offering unsolicited advice can make an already insecure person feel incapable and that can shake their self-confidence and cause more insecurity.
When people confide in you, simply be present. Let them know you care with statements such as “tell me more,” or “how does that make you feel?” to encourage sharing, rather than directing them with advice.
4. Share Your Struggles to Create Common Ground
Often when we respond to others who are struggling with something that’s causing insecurity, we can come across as if we know more than they know. Instead of feeling like an equal person, they feel more like a project. So when you are communicating with someone who is struggling, ask yourself: has this person heard my struggles, too?
We had just finished a support meeting when Loni said to me, “You know, I could never share with Jane.”
Knowing that Jane was a caring, loving person, I had to ask her, “Why not?”
Loni answered, “Because she never shared any of her struggles.”
Often when we’re communicating with others, they can tell if you care about them by how much you trust them with your imperfections, too. It can be comforting to know that they are not alone in the human condition of insecurity.
No, you don’t need to disclose everything; but if you are not sharing some of your life with them, they likely won’t feel validated.
5. Ask First Before Sharing Verses
It’s good to ask someone if we can share verses with them because then we’ll know if they are in a place to even receive them. Hurting people know verses, too. But their hearts are broken for one reason or another and they may be unable to process things well at the moment.
First, we need to make sure others know how much we care about them.
Theodore Roosevelt said, “People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
God lets us see how Jesus interacted with hurting people. When Lazarus died and Jesus went to see Mary and Martha; He did not walk in, telling them how to feel.
Instead, Jesus felt with them. John 11:48 tells us, he wept.
And Jesus knew he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. Still, Jesus showed his friends empathy. We can all learn from Jesus’ interactions. And if anyone knew scripture it was Jesus.
6. Pray with Someone Not Just for Them
There are times we tell someone we’ll pray for them, which is good. But when we stop and take the time to pray with them, they will feel valued.
I remember doing this one time when I was on the phone with a woman. And actually it was a wrong number, but I felt God telling me, “Stay on the phone.” At one point, I asked her if I could pray for her when she shared that her husband had cancer. After I prayed, she said, “You know, that’s the first time anyone has ever prayed for me.”
Had I prayed for her after we hung up instead of with her while we were together, I would have missed the opportunity of knowing how her heart had been touched.
We live in a world where many are hurting and many feel insecure. We can help them grow and learn about Jesus and how their identity is in him. We can see them flourish and become Christ followers who learn to lean on God when hard times come.
We get to choose whether we share our own insecurities and finish the race together.
A Prayer for Those Who Feel Insecure:
You are the one who created each person on this earth. Lord, you value every single one. And you want us to love one another as you said in John 13:34-35. John 3:16 tells us that You loved us so much you gave your only Son to pay for our sin. Father, we get busy in our lives and we don’t recognize opportunities right in front of us. Help us, Lord. Let your Holy Spirit guide and direct us so we can help others. And if any feel insecure, give us the patience to listen, or the words to share so they realize who you are. Equip us to help those who are insecure see their purpose in life. We pray this in your Son’s precious name. Amen.
Anne Peterson knows what it’s like to feel insecure. Anne is a regular contributor to Crosswalk and a poet, speaker and published author of 15 books. One of her books: Broken: A Story of Abuse, Survival, and Hope. Sign up for Anne’s newsletter at www.annepeterson.comand click on free Ebooks to choose one.Connect with Anne on Facebook.And if you of anyone you know is struggling in life and feeling alone, order Anne’s latest book, Always There: Finding God’s Comfort Through Loss.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/KatarzynaBialasiewicz