Written by Kristin Harrington

A client called me recently and opened the discussion by sharing, “I’m sorry for my performance during the meeting last week. I was feeling so insecure that day; it was hard for me to even participate.” They went on to describe challenges they had been experiencing related to feeling overwhelmed and inadequate.

I listened with genuine empathy. I, too, had been struggling with my insecurities that week. The more leaders I connect with and support, the more I’ve come to appreciate the universalism of this emotion. Insecurity – the great confidence-killer. We’re all subject to it; unfortunately, the higher we climb and the more responsibility we take on, the more prevalent it seems to be.  

Confidence-killing emotions like fear, worry, and insecurity can shake even the most confident leaders. Sure, we’ve made it through challenging times before, but do we have what it takes to do it again? When fear, worry, and insecurity creep into our psyche, it can be hard to know if we will overcome them. According to Spark, “…no one is immune to fear, worry, and insecurity. These strong emotions often emerge when we feel we don’t have a choice in our circumstances, and we’re incredibly uncertain about how we’ll ever come out on top again.”

So, what can you do to lead yourself through confidence-killing times and stop insecurity in its tracks?  

Powerful honesty: Begin by being clear with yourself. Challenge yourself to think about what you are feeling and what you are most afraid of. The process of naming fears can help your courage to take over. 

Stop reacting, start responding: When you’re caught in an emotional spiral, you tend to react to situations rather than respond. Stop reacting; start responding. What can you do to formulate a real plan for moving forward? Focus on what is in your control. 

Become emotionally disciplined: Don’t hide from your experiences or the full range of emotions that come with them. Embrace each uncomfortable emotion as part of choosing the ones you want to share. Take time each day to experience little successes. Focus on your internal dialogue – the narratives you tell yourself. Remind yourself that what you are dealing with is challenging but not impossible. You are equipped to overcome any challenge. 

Surround yourself with the right people: Find those few people in your life who will cheer you on, encourage you forward, and keep you going in times of challenge and triumph. Working through insecurity is tricky; a supportive network makes it more manageable. 

When insecurity gets the best of you, consider these actionable insights to get back on confident ground. You’re far from alone on this journey.

Founded in 2004, Lead Star is the company behind New York Times best-sellers SPARKLeading from the Front, and Bet on You. Lead Star supports professionals to reach new levels of success through an innovative coaching program, Year to Rise.