The way we satisfy our insecurities often feeds them instead. And it’s sometimes the people who look the most secure who are the least.
As with so many other things, motivation matters. Some people accomplish and succeed as they focus on doing the right thing, growing, helping others. They apply what they know and introduce solutions. They involve others in the process. And they reach some sort of success (whatever the person defines as success).
Others reach the same level of success as they try to satisfy some sort of insecurity. As they reach the next level, receive affirmation, earn more money, or other milestones they feel are important, they push forward because of the hunger they feed. That hunger is often a need to find security and identity. What drives them to help others isn’t the satisfaction of watching someone else’s life grow but the pat on the back for being a part of it. They might gladly spend time and use their skills to assist another, but when they need the other person’s skills, they will get irritated if the person will not reciprocate even if it’s for good reasons. They expect others to listen to their experiences and concerns and beliefs but will minimize someone else’s. The core motivation is self. And it’s often difficult to see in another person, because it’s what is happening under the surface.
People who strive with insecurities as a core motivator aren’t typically malicious people. They often don’t even know their motivations. But they do a lot of damage to themselves and others. Insecurities create a gap in their lives. When we have gaps in our lives, filling them with the wrong things can be as damaging as we feel the gaps themselves are. Feeding insecurities with the wrong things nourishes and grows the insecurities themselves. We feel fulfilled, but the gap deepens, and we experience a more urgent hunger to prove ourselves.
How can we help others deal with such insecurities when they might not even associate their insecurities with the accomplishments and strivings?
First, be aware of such dynamics in your own life.
Second, remember you’re dealing with insecurities that have been fed with pride. What you bring to the conversation can feed the insecurities or feed the pride. Either can be damaging if the person isn’t humble enough to acknowledge what’s happening. Ask more questions than you give theories and explanations and suggestions.
Third, love well. It’s less about results and more about the person. Be truthful and patient.
Finally, be mindful of the potential of the perfect storm of insecurities and pride in people’s lives you might never personally know or interact with yet respect, listen to, and follow. While not doubting everything a person of influence in your life has, it’s important to consider the motivation behind their position (even though insecurities aren’t always a part of the beginning of the process but sometimes grow under the pressures of the circumstances and position). You might never know for sure, but acknowledge the role insecurities and pride might have on the person. Refuse to build someone up so much in your mind that you are shocked to learn their weaknesses at some point.
Remember, everyone is human with the potential for good and not-so-good—including yourself.