Why You’re Insecure

I remember waking-up in cold sweats thinking about how I was going to manage to pay all the bills that month. Since taking over a company holding large debts, my own personal finances had suffered. The nervousness and cold sweats were symptoms of anxiousness that came from being financially insecure. I was anxious because my financial resources were not sufficient to meet my financial obligations. It wasn’t because the world was unfair, or because Capitalism is a bad system, or because someone was mistreating me, or even because God was testing. I was insecure for the same reason we’re all insecure: when the requirement of the moment is greater than our abilities to meet the requirement. While I would like to blame the circumstances for why I was working in an indebted company in the first place for my worries, the truth is I had accepted the circumstances and was now responsible for either meeting requirements or abandoning them.

On hindsight, given the things I have achieved since then, and given the greater odds we have defied, that thing that was causing me so much insecurity was actually not so bad. In that moment I felt like jumping out my apartment window. Today, that idea seems like such a petty reason to commit suicide. I realized that I could prevent that level of anxiousness by budgeting better and prioritizing my income more. Because I had not improved my income nor my savings, I was financially incapable, and because I was financially incapable, I was financially insecure. Because I was financially insecure, I, David, felt generally insecure. That one area in my life made my whole life insecure.

This realization taught me something very important: My insecurities, they’re not simply some abstract unmanageable thing called “insecurities”. They’re the result of not having improved my capabilities in certain important areas of my life. Most of what I was anxious about could have been reduced, and even prevented IF I had developed my abilities better. This is one of the problems of lumping issues into abstract categories instead of calling them out for what they really are – an exercise that our overly-sensitive society finds offensive.

Insecurity is not a condition people suffer from. It’s the result of lack of capability. Very insecure people have simply not developed the necessary capability to handle the requirement of that area.

The sad thing is we aren’t taught this. We believe that insecurity is caused by the conditions around us, the conditions of our childhood, of our relationships, of our work. If only people were more understanding, if our parents were better, if our boss paid more, and our government gave better help, we would fee more secure. By putting the responsibility of our own security on the shoulders of others, we conveniently remove the reality that we have not learned to make wise choices independent of external factors. As long as there is someone out there to blame for our insecurities, we will not single-mindedly deal with the reality of the sources of our insecurity.

Is it any surprise that the most financially insecure people you’ll find are usually those who don’t know how to excel in their jobs nor follow a prepared budget? You’ll find that financially secure people are doing what? Saving, investing, and creating value. That’s not a coincidence.

Is it any surprise that the most physically insecure people are those who have less than ideal physical capabilities due to bad habits? You don’t see too many people who are taking care their health worrying about sicknesses. Why? Because they’re improving their capabilities in that area.

Is it any surprise that the most career insecure people are those who have not found a craft they can truly excel in? In my experiences, I’ve heard more whining from non-performers than performers. Again, that’s not a coincidence.

The good news is this: our insecurity isn’t a curse or demonic attack. It’s the direct result of lack of capability. This may be bad news for those who want an excuse more than a cure. But for those of you who want a cure, we’re given a path towards victory. By being very honest about the source of our insecurity, we can now identify the practices we need to do to improve our capabilities in that area. If you’re financially insecure, get a better job, start saving, sell stuff, stop spending on stuff. If you’re physically insecure, change your diet, stop comparing your looks to others, use sunblock, whatever, develop another identity that’s not based on looks. If you’re insecure about your relationship, look at what you’re doing that’s causing it. If the solution to your insecurity is always someone else changing, then you’ll always be insecure, and insecure people are terrible partners. But if the solution is with you, than you don’t need to wait for someone else. You can change your situation, change your decisions, change your relationships, and do the necessary things for you to succeed.

I forget this a lot and get frustrated. Then I remind myself and just move on. I don’t need others to understand. I just need to do what’s necessary to get the life results I want. I’m not insecure because others make me insecure. I am insecure because I’m not capable in that area. I’m better off working on that area than blaming external things.

So the cure to insecurity isn’t a world where no one criticizes you, nor has no issues, nor has no adversity. The cure isn’t a world of greater self-esteem. The cure is more self-mastery. The most secure people in the world have achieved a level of competence in that area of security. As long as we are incompetent, we will always feel insecure.

As long as we’re bad at handling our money, we will be financially insecure.

As long as we have unhealthy habits, we will have physical insecurities.

As long as we’re not the best at work, we will have career insecurities.

As long as we’re not really humbling ourselves before God, we will have spiritual identity insecurities.

This isn’t a self-esteem or dignity issue as popular advice wants to call it. It’s a maturity issue. It’s a competence issue. It’s a self-mastery issue.

I want to end with this idea: Feelings of insecurity is a wonderful indicator of that which we need to grow in. Just like a headache makes us focus on our head, insecurity points out areas that we need to heal, need to develop, and need to master. When we address insecurity issues with “self-esteem cures”, it’s like trying to cure a diarrhoea with a pain reliever. Nice try, but you’re still going to crap like nuts – on everyone around you. The problem isn’t the pain. The problem is reason behind the pain. That reason is inside us. That’s what we need to be dealing with. The pain is a gift to point that out to us before it hurts us and others even more.

**Bonus Section: Beyond You**
When thinking about this issue, I asked a few people, live and online, about their thoughts on insecurity. They were helpful in helping me write this post. One thing I noticed is this:

In general, we are so caught up in our own financial, physical, emotional, and relational requirements, that our days go by simply responding to these requirements. Very few, and I mean very very very few, are truly diligently working on a life that’s bigger than himself or herself. When you live a small existence, why be surprised that you feel small and insecure? Of course you feel small. You are small.

Here’s my advice: Live your days beyond you. Make it a point that each day is building towards a greater impact in the lives of others. When you’re busy with things much bigger than yourself you’re forced to grow, to mature, and to expand. You’re forced to be bigger so that you can meet the requirements of your big goal. What happens when you continuously grow towards a grand purpose? You develop more and more mastery. That’s where confidence comes from. Confidence doesn’t come from someone nicely lying to you, telling you you’re a good person when you’re really inconsequential. Confidence comes from know you are consequential. Your existence makes a big difference. The lives of others won’t be the same without you.

If you want self-esteem go for self-mastery. If you do you’ll have both. But if you seek self-esteem before the mastery, chances are you’ll never have either.

Note:

Feel free to interact with me on my Telegram Channel. I would love to hear your thoughts.

#DB

Uncommon Sense: A Framework for Life

Uncommon Sense: A Framework for Life

On Ideas
There are a lot of ideas floating around.

There are a lot of compelling ideas, some good, some bad, and for some the verdict is still out. Choosing which ideas to accept and practice can be quite confusing. In this information age, you’d think that having more data should help us make better and “more informed” decisions. Instead, despite still being more informed, we can’t say our decisions are better. I find, at least in my experience, “more informed” many times leads to analysis paralysis or information overload.

From Ideas to Life
Since too little information can lead to ignorance and too much information can lead to confusion, it’s important to know how to navigate through all the different ideas and pieces of information, be able to come to useful conclusions, and make the right decisions. This is how one succeeds in life: To discover one’s own life purpose and make free wise decisions that its accomplishment. It’s not about knowing more, being more efficient, or having more experiences. It’s about committing to a great picture in your head and making that picture a reality. That great picture can be for one’s family, nation, business, industry, or whatever area. Success is turning your vision into a reality. So don’t get caught up in trying to read every new must-read, or doing every new life hack, or experiencing every new must-experience. Much of those are distractions. Instead focus on these three things:

  1. Understand What Is
  2. Practice What You Ought
  3. Create What Will Be
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These are what lead to success in life.

To Understand What Is means to understand Purpose (what it is and what your’s is), understand Principles (what they are and which govern your purpose), and understand People (who they are, what they do, and why they do what they do).

To Practice What You Ought means to Do That Which is Purposeful, meaning to be deliberate about working towards that which you want to achieve. It also means to Do That Which is Right. And what is right? That which satisfies the Principles that govern your Purpose. Lastly, it also means to Do That Which is Loving, meaning, do things that are honouring to God and improves the lives of others.

Finally, focus on Creating What Will be, which I’ve simplified to Build (construct things into existence), Bear (incubate things into existence), and Bridge (connect things into existence).

I hope you find the following articles useful but I don’t mean this framework to be comprehensive. This is a personal guide that I’m sharing, a guide I’m fleshing out mostly for my son, Elijah. Don’t place your faith in it but use it to inform you in formulating your own framework for living. The responsibility of learning how to live is your own, no one else’s, because the responsibility of the results (or lack of results) is your own.

Now that we’re done with the introduction, let’s go into more detail, starting with Understanding What Is. #DB

 

In This Moment

In This Moment

I have 3 birthday posts for you, two of them only partially finished. The first one, this one, is about identity, about what I’ve found to be helpful way to answer, for myself, “Who am I?”

The second one is about honoring your father and mother with your actions and attitudes, which I believe is extremely important for personal and community thriving, but, sadly, not practiced seriously in modern culture.

The third is about breaking things and disappointing people, and about the price of being not just successful, but originally successful and distinct.

I’ll flesh them out when I have the time as work has been very busy, a mixed bag of exciting and frustrating. It’s all part of the entreprenuerial life. The beauty of this is that I don’t write as an observer but as a practitioner. I have a lot of skin in the game. When I talk about juggling the responsibilities of family, work, community, health, and our other requirements, I share from my experiences of running a growing startup, managing multiple companies and multiple investments, while also raising a startup family, and also diligently improving myself. This, I believe, gives me a level of credibility that a mere opinion from someone who is just interpreting quotes or giving comments on things they’ve never practiced does not have.

I did finish one of the three posts, this one, so here it is.

In This Moment

Who am I?

This is a question we take for granted until something shakes our identity, or to put it more accurately, until something shakes that which we have built our identity on. What we have built our identity on becomes obvious by what causes us to lose our peace. In my case, I have observed that business threats and business failures cause me to lose peace because I’ve placed a lot of my identity in my role as a businessman. If I’m not a successful businessman, then what am I? A failed businessman? An inconsequential businessman? These are questions my mind wrestles with, particularly, as I said, when business is shaken. Interestingly enough, I don’t care if, let’s say, the fashion world was shaken. I don’t suddenly ask myself, “Am I bad designer?” or “Don’t people like my work?”. Why? because I have no stake in that world. I have no identity connected to that. I could be wearing a black t-shirt everywhere (like I currently do) and even be given an award for worst dressed CEO and it still wouldn’t shake me at all. Who I am is not affected by fashion. (I’m only using fashion because it’s one of those things I’m not too particularl about. It could be anything, like the world of stamps, or horse racing. Because I’m not a part of that world, because I have no identity connected to it, shaking it doesn’t affect me. But with the things that affect me identity, if you shake them, they will shake me.)

I started asking myself this question more deeply, and some first thoughts included:
1. I am my roles: I am a husband, a father, a manager, a friend, a son, etc…
2. I am my affiliations: I am a part of Bridge, a member of the Bonifacio family, a volunteer at Habitat for Humanity, etc…
3. I am my capabilitees: I am a voracious reader, I am an extremely hard working guy, I am someone who can run a marathon, etc…

I kept finding more and more categories that affect my self-image, until I ran into one that depressed me:

…I am my regrets. I am someone who has done things he wishes he never did, who wishes he could erase any memory of certain actions, or even better, turn back time and done things differently.

A flood of regrets crushed my mind, as I remembered event after event. “I shoudn’t have done this”, “I should have done that instead”, and “I wish I could fix that” kept coming up as I recalled painfull, embarassing, and sad moments.

This avalanche of negative memories triggered more devious self-imagery.

“I am a fool.”

“I am evil.”

“I am fake.”

“I am…”

I had to stop myself. It wasn’t helping. I sat there confused. Who am I? Yes, I can honestly say I am the worst parts of me. There’s too much evidence of that to deny it. I have been foolish. I have been evil. I have been fake. I have been a whole lot of horrible things. But I’ve also been good. I’ve also been virtuous. Am I fake for being a mixed bag? Do the bad parts of who I am cancel out the good parts? Who am I?

Then it hit me: Who I am, who I really am, is who I am in this moment.

Let me give you an example. Let’s say my wife and I get into an argument due to my impatience (which is 99% the cause of our fights), in that moment of impatience, I am not “wise David” or “insightful David”. I am not a “good husband” nor a “good leader”. Who I am, in that moment, is “impatient David”, “harsh David”, “angry David”. I am, in that moment, an ugly version of me. But in that moment, at any moment, I have a choice to be a better version of me, to decide instead to be a virtuous David, someone patient instead of impatient, someone gentle instead of harsh, and someone peaceful instead of angry. And if I choose then to be patient instead of impatient? Then I become “patient David”. If I choose to become gentle? Then I am “gentle David”. And if I choose to be peaceful? Then I am at peace. I am no longer an ugly version of myself, despite the reality that my wife might still be mad at me, desite that there still may be tension, and despite the case that I may be sleeping on the couch. I am a better version of me, despite the consequences brought about by the ugly version of me. And if I bear those consequences with virtue, meaning, with courage, with peace, with honesty, with kindness, with patience, with gentleness, and all sorts of goodness, then I am, in that moment, defined by those virtues, not by the consequences I may be facing.

Who I am, who I really am, is who I am in this moment.

So let’s say I failed big time, and it causes me my job. Yes, I am a fired, jobless, maybe embarassed David. But if choose to look for what I can learn and do better, then who I really am is teachable David, and if I choose to thank God for the experience, then I am grateful David too. I am not defined by my work failure, but by my moment by moment response.

Let’s say I have no money, and have to pay off debt. I don’t have to be “poor David”. I can, from this moment on, be “money-wise David” by deciding differently on future financial decisions. I may have been “money-dumb David”, but by choosing better right now, and committing myself to choosing better in future “right nows”, I am someone new, someone better.

But this is a double-edged sword. Just as I don’t need to be trapped by past mistakes, I shouldn’t rely too much on past achievements. I may have been extremely generous in times past, but if I decide to be selfish in this moment, then, in this moment, I am not a compilation of generosity, but a selfish man. Just as it is protection from bitterness and being swallowed by regret, it is also a guard against pride and thinking too highly of one’s self. I may have succeeded in things past, but in this moment, am I succeeding in being the person I have to be?

The past mistakes are beyond my reach. They exist in a moment I can no longer recover. The past achievements though beneficial do not matter as much as today. And the future? Who knows what the future will bring? Why hinge my identity on what may or may not happen? But in this moment, the only moment I am ever actually in, there are only two choices: Will I or will I not be the person the moment requires me to be.

I can hear my baby crying. Time to be that man.
#DB

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