I don’t know why it is, but my mind will be buzzing with interesting and exciting ideas for blog posts all week, then when it comes to Sunday I will not be able to remember any of them, and I will be desperately trying to grasp the trains of thought which have circling around in my mind all week!
This then, is not an issue that I have been thinking of for so long, it only just occurred to me today in fact. But it does look at things in a way that is opposite how I usually think of them. That is, dealing with feelings of inadequacy when we are strongly attracted to other people. That is, suppose that there is someone that you are crazily attracted to, and yet you think: “They could never be interested in me. After all, they are so ….. and I am only …..” The reason it occurred to me was because I remembered that this actually happened to me. More than once when I have been insanely attracted to someone, it will seem as if their strengths tally exactly with my own weaknesses – not only my weaknesses, but things about which I also happen to feel insecure. Perhaps that is actually the reason why I have felt so strongly attracted to these men in the first place, because I subconsciously recognise things in them which are desperately lacking in me, and it is almost as if having the guy would fix the issue “just like that”.
So what would be the answer to these issues? As I sit here, I personally think that if the same thing happened to me again I would first and foremost want to deal with the insecurities that might be lurking behind these feelings of attraction. On this blog I have tended to write under the assumption that character choices are open and available to everyone, that you can simply choose to work harder, pray harder, pursue Christ with more passion. However, as I look back into those years I am forced to remember the ways that various insecurities manifested themselves in my own heart.
There are regular weaknesses, and then there are insecurities. With a regular weakness, for me, I will feel as if I am in control, but I just need to work harder in that area, and that I can work harder. For instance, I always used to be late for everything. However, that was not an insecurity, I just eventually decided that I needed to start planning backwards from wherever I needed to be, when I needed to be there. So now I’m only late sometimes! It was not an insecurity because I did not feel in any way threatened by the concept of lateness, I always felt effortlessly in control, I dealt with it, I forgot about it.
And then there are insecurities. For me, these are things in which I feel as if I do not reach normal standards which would be commonly acceptable AND I don’t feel as if they are in my power to change. So it is almost as if I feel as if I am somehow incapable of reaching these standards, and whenever I think about the issue, whatever it is, it just reinforces the idea that I don’t even reach normal human standards. It makes me feel incapable, and it makes me feel inferior to what a human being should be. Whenever I think about that issue, instead of dealing with it as I would any other weakness, because I have already convinced myself that I am incapable of dealing with it, I tend to just sit around reflecting on the fact that I cannot do it, and the more I think about it, the bigger the issue appears, the less able I feel to deal with it. Perhaps that is why it is so easy to look on someone who has conquered the issue with such unqualified admiration and respect.
On balance, as I write this, I do not think that it is necessarily a good idea to marry someone (just) because they complement your insecurities. Admittedly, it never occurred to me while I was busy dreaming of and praying about these men, that this might actually have been the reason why I was so attracted to them. As I write this, I am thinking that it is better to deal with each insecurity, then marry a spouse because they will be an excellent and appropriate spouse and because you have both invested lots of effort and prayer into building an excellent foundation for your marriage.
This is how I have generally dealt with insecurities in my own life, even though a few remain: acknowledge that there are some things that I can deal with, and there are some things I can’t deal with. However, when I can’t deal with issues, I am still a valuable and full human being, worthy of and deserving of love by another valuable and full human being! For instance, if I were to feel inadequate about my height, there is nothing I can do about it – it is not a “weakness” in any way, even though I might wish to be taller. This is the way that God made me, and because I am God’s own handiwork and made in His image, that in itself makes me precious and valuable.
There are some of my insecurities that I can deal with, that do concern actual weaknesses in my life. What I now know, is that where I have let myself become convinced that “I cannot do it”, this is almost invariably a lie. What happens a lot is that other people suggest to you that you are inadequate in x area, and then more and more people say it, and you start to believe it, you start to believe it is bigger than you, and it becomes an insecurity.
I have discovered that the single biggest aspect of dealing with insecurities is to simply believe that you are capable of dealing with the issue, whatever it is. Because you are! Think of all the things that you managed to accomplish effortlessly because you did not know that you were not supposed to be able to do them, you did not know that you were supposed to feel inadequate! The quickest way I have found to gain self-belief in something is literally to write whatever it is out, and just repeat it to yourself constantly, with as much passion and enthusiasm as you can muster – that is, say it as if you believe it, even though you are struggling to believe it. After a while, whatever the thing is, in my experience you WILL believe it. For me, this appears to “work” for absolutely anything, even if it is not true, even if it can never be true. (Obviously this does not mean that we should deliberately cultivate affirmations which are not actually true.) I believe that this is the way the human mind has been wired, that we eventually come to believe whatever we hear constantly. This is why it is also important to be careful around people who would tell us these negative things, and sow the seeds of feelings of inadequacy in the first place. It can seem a little abrupt, but sometimes when I hear people trying to “oh so subtly” suggest negative things about me I open my mouth and I firmly correct them right there and then. Otherwise you know what would happen? I would actually start to believe what they say and start struggling with those insecurities all over again!
Going back to the idea of relationships, I think that it is hard to evaluate someone’s character objectively when we are labouring behind these insecurities. For this, as well as other things, I think it makes sense to get to know someone for a considerable length of time (eg 2 years) before you actively consider them for a relationship; and you also work to build those essential foundations of friendship and communication into your marriage before you actually say “I do” 😉
Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.
Photo of rose by Hans on Pixabay