How to Stop Being So Insecure

August 19th, 2013 by Nick Notas 24 Comments

Tool Lateralus

My body tingled and my stomach floated into my chest.

The mushrooms were kicking in.

I sat in a dimly lit apartment in Brooklyn with a couple of friends. We’d planned to chill out and listen to music but I was distracted. I’d been going through the most difficult period of my life.

My father had two heart attacks and was forced to close our restaurant. We lost our apartment. I left behind college and my full scholarship to support my family. My best friends all moved across the country for college and work. Then my girlfriend of two years broke up with me.

Every time I though I’d catch a break, there I was getting beat down again. So I did the only thing I felt was right. I spent years closing myself to the world and pushing people away. I was an insecure wreck trying to cope.

And it finally caught up to me.

I sobbed. “What have I become?”

“I feel like I’ve lost everything and have no direction in life. I snap at my father because I’m afraid he’ll see me as a failure. All I ever wanted was to make him proud.

I was a controlling, jealous asshole in my last relationship. I didn’t let my girlfriend see or hang out with anyone else because I was afraid she’d leave me. Coincidentally, that’s exactly what made her leave me.

I’m finally meeting new girls but every single connection is shallow. I pretend to be someone I’m not. Every girl who’s shown interest towards me has liked some bullshit mirage. They don’t know me.

The worst part of it all? I’m disgusted with who I’ve turned into.”

A funny thing about psychedelic drugs is their power to bring down your protective mental barriers. They fuel self-reflection. They prod your mind to question your motives, actions, desires, fears, faults, and insecurities.

You’re completely vulnerable.

These were the painful subjects I had been running away from. Now I had to confront them — while tripping on mushrooms.

Then something incredible happened…

For the first time in a long time, I felt relieved. I wasn’t hiding myself. I wasn’t running away from my problems. I wasn’t pretending. I was coming to terms with everything about me — good and bad.

It was empowering. The others in the room felt it, too. It encouraged them to drop all defenses and share themselves openly.

That’s when I decided vulnerability was the only way to become secure with myself. To speak and act with honesty at my core. To look inside myself even when it makes me uncomfortable. To always show my true self regardless of what the world may think.

What is vulnerability and why is it so important?

For decades people believed confidence had to do with social status, dominance, sexual prospects, and external success. For men, this meant being “tough” at all times. If you were a guy who would talk about his feelings or get emotional, you were deemed weak.

Now, leading social scientists such as Dr. Brene Brown are proving the opposite. Through years of analysis she discovered that real, lasting courage is rooted in vulnerability. She defines vulnerability as:

“Uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.”

Any time you push your comfort zone, take chances, go after what you want, express your true emotions, or show someone who you really are – you’re being vulnerable.

Most people do not live with this kind of honesty because it scares them.

What they don’t realize is that a lack of vulnerability leads to frustration, resentment, and self-hate. You will never feel secure when you’re disconnected from your core. You will only reinforce that you as you currently are isn’t “good enough”.

This breeds weak relationships. Hollow connections where no one knows the real you. Where expectations are never met and communication suffers.

How can you expect to love or be loved if you’re closed off?

Practicing vulnerability is necessary to sustain confidence, happiness, and healthy relationships.

How vulnerable are you?

Although my experience had a profound effect on my life, you don’t need drugs to embrace vulnerability. All you need is self-reflection and forward action.

You must be aware of the ways you avoid vulnerability. Consider these questions:

  • Do you often hide or change your opinions in fear that they are stupid or will be judged?
  • Do you avoid emotional subjects such as fears, insecurities, passions, and embarrassing moments with people – especially with those you just met?
  • Do you regularly avoid situations that are uncomfortable or have a potential for rejection?
  • Do you struggle to accept criticism without taking it personally?
  • Do you do or say things that are incongruent with how you really feel in order to gain approval or validation?
  • Do you push people away, attack, or sabotage connections when someone gets close to you?

If you answered yes to some of these, you likely fall into patterns of invulnerability. But don’t worry, we’re about to change that.

Tyrion Lannister Armor

Become secure through daily vulnerability

To break any pattern, you must replace negative habits with positive ones. You have to consistently challenge yourself to be vulnerable. Building security is a daily practice.

“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” – Dr. Brene Brown

Choose one challenge below that you have a difficult time with. Commit to implementing it this week.

  • Go to a social event or meetup and introduce yourself to a new person.
  • Introduce yourself to someone you find attractive.
  • Apologize and ask for forgiveness.
  • Thank someone, show gratitude, and explain how they impacted your life.
  • Tell someone they disrespected or crossed your boundaries.
  • Go to the doctor or dentist already!
  • Text the number of a new girl or guy you met. Ask them on a date.
  • Share your career or career path with excitement to a new person.
  • State a disagreeing opinion without being confrontational.
  • Drop all canned lines or routines when meeting new people – permanently.
  • Ask someone for help even if you’re afraid of being seen as imperfect.
  • Cut someone negative out of your life.
  • Express your romantic interest using physical contact.
  • Break it off with a partner you’ve been staying with for the wrong reasons.
  • Say no to someone.
  • Go for a kiss on a first date.
  • Share a piece of writing, drawing, or song you created.
  • Admit you were wrong.
  • Ask someone a personal question you want to know.
  • Express your sexual needs or fetishes to a partner.
  • Tell someone you love them for the first time regardless of whether they will say it back.
  • Exercise in public – an outdoor jog, swim at the beach, or hit the gym.
  • Take up a hobby you’ve never tried before.

We all feel insecure at times. The solution is to be even MORE vulnerable and STILL act rather than let it control you.

For me, sharing the story above took vulnerability. So does most of everything I write on this blog.

Why? Because I know that with every article comes vocal critics. I know there are people who won’t enjoy my writing or will disagree with my advice. But mostly because it’s my personal life made public forever.

And every single time, I still click “publish”.

It takes a secure person to ask for help. Let’s have a free consultation.

  1. Kim on August 19, 2013

    I really struggled with not letting people get close because of past relationships. Now I’m seeing a guy and for the first time I’m being as open as possible. It’s scary but also a HUGE relief.

    Thanks Nick!

    • Nick Notas on August 19, 2013

      It’s hard not to project what someone else did to new relationships. You just have to remind yourself that they are a completely different person. And that if you want to make a genuine connection with them, you have to give them your whole self.

      Congrats on taking the plunge to vulnerability!

  2. Andrew on August 19, 2013

    Who knew shrooms could be so helpful? It takes a brave person to share your stories with us, and I wanted to say thank you. You are a great example of exactly what you write about man.

    • Nick Notas on August 19, 2013

      Thanks Andrew. I pretty much just killed any chance of becoming president haha. But it was totally worth it.

      • Andy on August 19, 2013

        Nah, the president should do some shrooms. Maybe then it wouldn’t be so fucked up.

  3. Anthony Myers on August 19, 2013

    I like it, great story and some great tips.

    • Nick Notas on August 19, 2013

      Thanks Anthony, how’ve you been man?

  4. Sam on August 19, 2013

    Great insight and I love reading your articles. I think in order to let love into your life, you have to be strong enough to be loved as well.

    • Nick Notas on August 19, 2013

      Well said and thanks for being a loyal reader.

  5. Tim (the one that always skypes you when you're at work) on August 20, 2013

    Good article. It’s awfully true that confidence is a daily habit, and a motherfucking tough one. I am the proof of that right now.

    I recently went on vacation alone, trying many new things and doing something I hadn’t done in a long time: starting long conversations with strangers for no reason. Actually making friends. I had an amazing time and during my whole life I haven’t come close to being that sociable.

    When I came back home, I made the mistake of thinking pushing my comfort zone would be any easier or people would come towards me, just because of this new experience. Wrong. Here I am, three weeks later: having not talked to a girl (except cashiers). Not having made any efforts to make friends or even be more thankful to the few people I still get to talk with (family, fellow gym-goers).

    Thanks for the reminder Nick!

    • Nick Notas on August 26, 2013

      Tim, I am so fucking proud of you by the way. I can’t believe how much you pushed yourself on vacation.

      How amazed were you by the responses you got? Guess what…I wasn’t! You know why? Because you’re a great guy and you just need to put yourself out there for people to see it, too.

      By simply introducing yourself to people and starting small talk, you opened the doors of possibility. You talked to tons of girls, made a new friend, went dancing, and had a night on the town with two beautiful women. I’m smiling even writing that.

      Time to do it again but now at home. There’s no difference at all and I promise you will see similar results. Set some new goals (like on vacation) and slowly but consistently challenge yourself again. You’ll be sharing new stories in no time.

      You’re very welcome and keep me posted on your progress.

  6. Howard on August 21, 2013

    Hi Nick, I have never commented before here on your blog, but since discovering your site, I have read nearly every one of your phenomenal posts. Keep up the good work! I thought it would be appropriate to make my first comment on this post because I am not used to being vulnerable or putting myself out there on the Internet as well as in real life. I always want to join in on the conversation, but have always been too insecure to do so. Your advice that vulnerability will lead to security is so contradictory-sounding, but resonated with me greatly.

    To stay somewhat on topic, I would like to add that just last week, for the first time in my life, I told a girl I liked how I felt about her. Though her response was confusing, to say the least, I felt really good about myself for finally being honest with myself and with my intentions and for putting myself out there. So I would like to say thank you for all the hard work you put into this blog and for your dedication to helping others be the best they can be!

    P.S. I was contemplating putting a fake name, out of fear that someone I know might see the comment and somehow trace it back to me. But to heck with it!

    • Nick Notas on August 26, 2013

      Hi Howard,

      The fact that you read my entire post library is a massive compliment. Thank you!

      It’s all about taking small steps and it sounds like that’s exactly what you’re doing. Congrats on telling the girl how you felt, terrifying isn’t it? But as you saw, you always feel better once you put yourself out there.

      Even having the courage to put your real name here shows progress. Keep embracing that vulnerability and it’ll become your default soon enough.

      Please continue to comment and share your stories! I’m sure it inspires other guys here who are going through the same struggles.

  7. Jon on August 22, 2013

    Thanks for sharing your story! It helps to know that even you feel insecure sometimes and that alone make me feel more comfortable going outside of my comfort zone.

    • Nick Notas on August 26, 2013

      You’re welcome Jon! I assure you I am just like you or anyone else on here.

      I’ve been afraid of rejection, backed out of talking to girls, beaten myself up relentlessly, and battled depression. It’s all been learning experiences. You just have to stay positive and continue challenging yourself and your comfort zone.

      • Jon on August 26, 2013

        Indeed, I think if you treat it all as a learning experience then it just seems easier to take. It’s not a failure, it’s a learning experience you can use to grow further the next time.

  8. Tenchi Masaki on August 24, 2013

    I had a similar experience with alcohol. It’s a great experience, isn’t it? I shared so much of my life. Things I kept hidden, very sensitive issues. I was so vulnerable. The next day I felt “unloaded”, like a burden had been taken off my shoulder. I really don’t have the confidence of my “drunk self” to open up my heart like that. I wish I did but I’m trying to change that.
    Thanks for the article.

    • Nick Notas on August 26, 2013

      It really is an incredible experience Tenchi.

      Remember, if you were able to open up with alcohol, then you have the power to repeat it without. Pick a couple ways to practice vulnerability at a time and then work your way up.

      You’re welcome and let me know how else I can help 🙂

  9. Someone Musical on November 8, 2013

    I really enjoy reading your articles. I think they have solid advice not just for dating, but also for life in general (in most of them anyways). Thanks for sharing your experiences, I can really relate to some of this stuff. Oh, and your site is one of the best dating advice sites I’ve ever come across. I make a habit of perusing dating advice sites to see how off or on note they are and study how people perceive things. For a woman, I think reading a dating site from a guy’s perspective is a lot more useful than how other women perceive things– I already know how my gal pals and I think. Keep up the fantastic work!

  10. Jonluca on April 11, 2014

    Nick first off I really enjoy reading your site. I feel like even at 27 it is helping me come out of my shell as a person every time I read it. This story in particular has resonated with me tremendously and I hope to put into practice many of the bullet points you mention in the weeks to come. Today I texted two girls that I should have spoken to long ago just because you inspired me to be better. I really can identify with the power psychedelics in particular can help in exposing yourself to yourself. It really has helped me make some pretty major life decisions and I feel like I have always been happier for them. Keep on writing and I will keep reading.

  11. Mark on July 25, 2014

    Nick, Brene Brown’s books and advice changed my life as well. Vulnerability is my religion now. One thing I always try to keep in mind is that when I feel weak, that’s usually when others are viewing me as strong. When you press publish on each blog post you feel a twinge of vulnerability. But that is the moment of truth. Your willingness to put yourself out there is why we all get this amazing blog! Thank you! Your vulnerability is contageous.

    The moment you turn to the beautiful girl next to you, smile and say something friendly. It feels scary. You feel so open to attack and so open to rejection. But looking back on that moment you know that you looked strong, confident, and you were the guy who didn’t let fear silence you. You did her a favor by opening the door to getting to know each other. Most guys who approach women do it like an attack. They say something that hides their feelings or intentions. It makes women tired and not want to be outgoing. When you open the door in a kind, genuine, friendly, vulnerable way you show her in just a few seconds that you are very different. Its an amazing rush that builds character and confidence. But it always requires you to push yourself.

    Never be ashamed of who you are. It will destroy your life. There is a hero in everyone, and when you become vulnerable you become that hero. If you don’t believe me, just try it. That hero conquers the fear that limits you in every way.

  12. Otavio on August 13, 2014

    Hey nick,
    Back in my home I as used to be almost the example of ‘nice guy’ and this invulnerable person. Now that I’m in a new country and passed through some bad moments I realized the need for change. I’m forcing myself out of the comfort zone and after every achievement I feel really fulfilled. Although I have some difficulties, I try to push the boundaries of my shyness. Your blog is great man it’s helping me a lot and giving more strength to try new things

    Thanks a lot!

  13. Noah on March 4, 2015

    Nick!

    Thanks to this article, I was able to get some insight into the reasoning of a friend of mine. We had started getting close after not seeing each other for a few years and after four days reached a point where we could either begin an intimate relationship or break away. We met up and she rejected me (I read your articles on rejection just in case!), but to my surprise her reasons had nothing to do with lack of attraction or flaws in my character. After discussing it for a while, she revealed that she just didn’t feel “worthy” enough for me (low self-esteem, insecure). Unfortunately, we ran out of time (college classes) so I wasn’t able to fully explain how things looked from my perspective. Hopefully things will work out well the next time we meet.

    tl;dr thanks to article, I can help an insecure friend. friend might become girlfriend. Thanks Nick!

  14. O-mannn on March 24, 2016

    Hey Nick, I feel that if I act more vulnerable and speak my mind freely rather then trying to portray confidence then people won’t respect me as much, and will talk down to me, how do I speak my mind, but with a dominant voice?