This is something I've been grappling with, and after fruitlessly searching the archives here, I wanted to start a thread for it.
How do I conquer these insecurities I have? They're self-image issues, uncertainties about the decisions I make, and the rare pang of jealousy. These are incredibly negative and disruptive qualities to have and I want more than anything to conquer them.
Most of my research on the Internet has resulted in answers that run counter to the philosophy of manliness, so who better to ask than my fellow men?
The best cure for shame is to talk about the shaming incident (with people who are supportive, and especially with those that personally relate) until it's boring. Shame can't stay powerful in the light.
But you didn't say shame; you said insecurity. I think the best cure for that is way too much enthusiastic honoring from other men.
I'm sure shame is there, but it's hard for me to discern whether the shame or the insecurity is the true culprit of my woe.
Upon reflection, I like your comment on shame, and how it "can't stay powerful in the light". Could it actually be the same for insecurity as well? Putting it out there, examining it...does it seem as big when you're on that side of the fence?
Try and replace insecurity with humility and modesty. Insecurity is useless unless it is revealing itself as an tiny aspect of one of those two. Self-image is extremely relative so put yourself on the right side of the comparison scale and you are golden. Find a sounding board or mentor that you trust to weigh your decisions against, almost all decisions have some chance of going south with the consequences don't they? You have to accept that you are not in control of everything and at the same time do what you can to tweak the immediate things you can control such as grooming, stature, speech, dress, spirituality, etiquitte, and knowledge of finance. The main blog is full to bursting with entries dedicated to those areas.
I have struggled with accepting that I do not have control of many things. I never really saw myself as a control freak - in my mind, those people live under an encouraged delusion because they get their way through intimidation most of the time.
I do agree that things can be done in an effort to engineer more favorable results, though.
I humbly submit that the only thing you will ever be able to control in the entire universe is: yourself. I have struggled with this for many years, but it does get easier, especially if you remind yourself of it when you are frustrated at the direction of something you are tracking or feel invested in.
Controlling yourself can certainly influence the outcomes of other events and the actions or thoughts of others, but at the end of the day, the only thing that you can do is what you can do.
If you don't already, you might consider volunteering (Brett's recent post on charity work was great). This is a way you can control yourself in a good and positive way, and in doing so both effect the outcomes of others while increasing your self-esteem. It might also help the self-image and second-guessing you indicated were problems.
For example: I work in a hospital, although for the last month I've been more a patient than a computer specialist. Taking the job there a year and a half ago made me a completely different man for the better. I use my skills to keep workstations running, which helps the doctors and nurses (indirectly) get the patients better and home faster. My infrequent depression has all but disappeared, and I go home at the end of every day knowing I've helped someone in a meaningful way.
You have some good information already, but my philosophy is that everyone is entitled to my opinion. At least it does not cost you anything.
But first, a Rodney Dangerfield moment on a related topic. I told my psychiatrist about my inferiority feelings. He said that I really am inferior. Was that good for a smirk or a smile? Hope so.
One helpful bit is to actually list things that you have done. I'm not talking about saving your company millions of dollars or curing a disease, but even the little things. For me, I think I saved a life once. At least, prevented serious injury for that frail old lady on a London bus. That is the only big thing I can think of. Lots and lots of smaller things, though.
In my "Blog Post" entry on "Operation New Man", I mentioned how I am getting things taken care of that I had been putting off. I'm carrying around a small notebook to jot down every little "to do" thought that comes to mind, large or small, then later putting it into a calendar or something. I found that it helps my inferiority and insecurity by actually checking off things as "completed". If they're not completed, they have target dates. If they do not have target dates, that is by design because of the nature of the task.
As far as decisions, I suggest that you get out of a habit of second-guessing yourself. Ha, I see it in your eyes, I was right. (And you thought I didn't know Jack.) Guys like us do that stuff. It is torment! Also, it serves no purpose. Go through a good decision-making process and then live with the results. If things do not go well, then pay attention and learn from it. Grow.
Well, I believe one thing that might shed some light is that my father, who didn't make any time for me growing up, was a bit of a narcissist (in the psychological sense) and my self-image suffered a lot for it.
I got a lot of all-or-nothing messages from my parents (usually the "all" from my mother and the "nothing" from dad).
"The whole reason it's still installed (both his, and the girl), is because of public pressure. If that doesn't make them "public art" - I don't know what does. He's certainly welcome to take his back. But I suspect…"
"I'm the same. I'm so used to being shirtless that I hardly think about it, until I suddenly find myself in the college library or some other place where I begin to notice strangers giving me sideways glances. But virtually everyone who…"
"I was a subsistence hunter for most of my adult life. I highly recommend putting yourself at the top of the food chain. Even if you're a vegetarian. You should know the work that goes into keeping you alive for a year."