Monday, October 3, 2011

The Pride of Insecurity

I am thinking about insecurity this morning.  I have been thinking about it for a few days, remembering a teaching by one of the Zen monks from the OBC on how that feeling of "not good enough", a lack of self confidence is really a form of pride.  At first that seemed odd and confusing to me but then I got it.  We hold back, protect ourselves, lack confidence in our "little", ego bound selves because somehow we think we are better, should be better than we fear we are.  This whole little dance is really us wrapped up in the straightjacket of ego.  If we hold back and hide from life we can live in our little fantasy of who we are.  We don't have to face the uncomfortable fact that we are not superman or superwoman.

Something inside of me has decided I am tired of living in the straightjacket.  I think perhaps I am ready to walk up to the desk and check myself out of this padded cell joint I've been hanging out in.  Something inside of me is finally bored with my fantasy of who I should be, who I want to be.  There is a famous and wonderful quote about this (but I forget who said it), something to the effect that when it becomes to painful to be bound up, we break out of our chrysalis and become free.  And we become a butterfly in our willingness, our courage to really live this life, to strike out, to fall flat, to experience our shortcomings and carry on.  And in a strange way, we savour the taste of failure, simply because it is a taste, a bold taste that activates our tastebuds.  We forsake blandness. We are alive, fully alive.  Jon Kabbat-Zin uses the phrase full-catastrophe living.   Zorba the Greek showed us the truth of this way of living long before there was a name for it.

And thinking about insecurity, my western mind twirls over the balance bar and wonders about self-confidence.  Not that ego based, puffed up, I'm so great kind of self-confidence.  I'm thinking of a different type of self-confidence, that unshakable, centered confidence. It's like mushrooms, there are the delicious edible ones and then there are their dangerously poisonous look-a-likes.  Real self confidence grows on a whole different terrain than the ego based one.  The forest floor of our being is host to many weird and wonderful life-forms.

Here's what Tibetan teacher, Tarthang Tulku has to say about real self-confidence: "Once we go through a true process of self-discovery, no one can take away our self-confidence; the inspiration comes from within and we know without needing to be told."

So here's the invitation to join me, in an exploration of the inner and outer forest of our beings.  Fasten on your boots, sharpen up your tastebuds and prepare to pick me up off the forest floor a gazillion times.  I will do the same for you.


  1. Well...I believe that either it is the change in season or...we are on similar paths. Each time I stop by, you elegantly put to words exactly what has been on my mind.
    Insecurity has been a naughty houseguest that has been visiting my brain for the past month of so... And I am ready for it to GO HOME!
    So well put gal! So well put.
    Thank you for the reminder of what this little houseguest is really about (pride/ ego), and a a new vision of how to try to make sure it doesn't visit again. We can always dream right?
    Now I am off to step boldly into the unknown and see where it takes me.

  2. Dear ZenDot...Thank you for this beautiful post. Just what I needed to hear this (an)I float between intimately connected and bluntly cut-off. Away with all of it. Here's to the joyous Dance of Being. xoxo

  3. This is a lovely reminder. Thank you. I don't battle with this so often now that I've reached the ripe old age of 55. Loving where I am and where I'm heading at the moment.

  4. Ooooo Yes! I am with you in the forest of Being. Am ready to get out of that strait jacket as well. A few months back I "woke up" to the same feeling - only I said to myself: I am *really* tired of Samsara. I don't want to live this way anymore! I just want to LIVE, to Thrive from the HEART of Being!

    The quote you refer to is:
    "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to bloom." Anais Nin.

    Wonderful post! Let's Bloom! :)

  5. Such a heart-felt post! I'm with you all the way. I've been thinking along these lines, too. I love the quote from Anais Nin about blooming because it describes so well the painful, cramped state I often find myself in. We can choose to meet each new moment however we want and that's deliciously creative. We can choose feelings of well-being or we can choose to dive in the muck for awhile to see what that's all about. My new-found joy comes from knowing just this. And I often do wake up in the muck and laugh— Oh! I can choose!

  6. This post touched so many, and it touched me - I'm about to be the ripe old age of 55 and feel it even more so these days with health issues added in - no, I am not and will not ever be young and strong again (but part of me still doesn't believe that); ego puffing vs ego bashing is a full time job in my head!!

  7. who i should be, who i want to be. yes, thank you for these words and thoughts. so often i get caught in the shoulds and want to bes. i forget to be here in the present moment and be okay with whatever is happening.

  8. I so miss reading your posts hot off the press! But they seem independent of time! "good enough" is so loaded with self issues. I love how you've opened an new window on it. These days I strive to embrace good enough as just that rather than "settling for".

  9. OH!!! Insecurity! The straight jacket of INSECURITY SUCKS...big time. Let the chips fall where they may if I am just myself:) OMG...That alone would be freedom. Thank you Dear ZDS...must've been all the fresh air from some window :)

  10. Invitation accepted! Recently our abbot told me I needed to have more ego. My first reaction was to be horrified at the thought, but I eventually got it. He didn't mean the silly thing we inflate when we are afraid and that gets easily bruised, but that I needed to manifest who I really am more confidently. Which of course is way easier said than done. Thanks for this great post. I'll see you on the forest floor...

  11. "Should" has ruled my world at times...I eschew that feeling and thinking, of being run around by whom, exactly?

    In life coach training class we would all say with delight when someone "failed" TA DA! It was a celebration! How can we grow without experimentation? And what experimental series has ever lead to anything by being 100%?

    And now for the Guest House of Emotions (Rumi) that comes with letting go of the protection of perfection....

    Always enjoy your posts ZDS.

  12. Mary - yes to traveling the same road, and love the image of that naughty houseguest. Yes we can dream and yes we do have choices. I forget this too often to mention!

    Leslie - that's it, the back and forth of what we do, becoming aware of it and making a different choice. This is life, isn't it?

    Carole - sounds like a good place to be! I'm coming too. Watch for me in the rear view mirror!

    Christine - ah, thanks for the quote, it's always so satisfying to find one you sort of new but didn't have quite right. Love Anais Nin! Are we late bloomers?

    Kris - wise words and that is where the lotus blossom blooms, right, in the muck? and yes I am finally getting I can choose!

    RH - yes, the experience of the aging body, that's a big one for me. And the mind! I am coming to the realization that all that thinking just wears me out!

    Suki - so easy to spin off and forget that, as you say, simplicity and peace lie in this very moment.

    Genju-good enough is good enough! ah those loaded words. now if we could just stop pulling the trigger on ourselves?!

    Leslie - yes, the freedom of not going down the old road!

    David - that's so funny and I get it to feel initially horrified. And yet there it is, the wholesomeness of feeling good about who we authentically are in this relative world, somehow we get it mixed up with the poison mushroom! Lucky you to have a wise abbot to remind you of the importance of embracing who you are.

    Leslie- I love the celebration of failure idea! I need to start doing this! And wouldn't it be wonderful if that happened in schools everywhere. How freeing!

  13. I have enjoyed it all...your post and these wonderful comments and quotes! Getting to a good place has a lot to do with letting go and things do get tricky with the letting go!

  14. Happily accepting the invitation too, Carole! Oh, this touched my heart so much, because I began a bustin'-out-of-the-chrysalis party last year, and still on the road of self-discovery as well. I love Jon Kabbat-Zin phrase full-catastrophe living! There's such vulnerability in it. I just got tired of my own poison and regurgitating it to myself. It is really only recently that I've tapped into my real core self-confidence, the real me, and liking her a lot. She's so much more interesting and wiser than my fantasy me any day! Letting go of a lot of old things had been freeing. I'll be 40 next year. Better late than never. ;o)

  15. Blue Sky - It's so true about letting go! I find it a continual re-orienting myself to that position, falling in and out of letting go! And yes, the comments are so much fun, with so much wisdom there.

    Tracy- I can totally see what you've been up to and it's inspiring! Your blossoming and confidence is in full view. Ha, some of us take a lot longer than that! It is the work of the lifetime, the Dharma.

  16. Your post energizes and inspires me to explore Zin's "full-catastrophe living." That is such a cool reminder.

    And I love that quote from Anais Nin as well.

    Thank you for your comforting words on my Sputnik post. You understood well.

  17. boy do I need your words about insecurities and finding the courage to find yourself and go deeper and not be afraid and all that 'stuff' the quotes too.

  18. I remember when, as a Christian, I said something similar to a group and a very wise woman told me that it was an arrogant view. Quite shattering, which is just what we need sometimes. Thanks for this.

  19. wow...i love this blog. thank you so much on ur reflection about insecurity... i myself struggle with this. i always feel judged by the whole world so it holds me back from being me. im pressing this blog into my blog... i have a section on insecurity and i would like my readers to enjoy this as much as i did. <3 anabel psyche.