‘Happier’ With Dave Flynn

‘Happier’

The Wisdom of Insecurity

Insecurities in my romantic relationship

When I first started dating my wife Sabrina I used to get jealous when she would go out to parties or events without me. When she was away travelling for work or pleasure without me I would get jealous when she would talk about other guys she had met. I didn’t acknowledge this to her at the start but over time I couldn’t suppress it anymore and I was forced to look at it with her supportive help. Possibly on some level I may not have felt worthy or good enough that she would stay with me. We have now been together for 8 years and married for nearly 3 years. I remember that I sometimes felt embarrassed by my jealousy but I couldn’t help it. I don’t remember feeling jealous over the last few years, I know it has and possibly will provide a great opportunity for growth for me. 

I used to see insecurities – like my jealousy – as really negative, uncomfortable parts of myself that I just wanted to hide from everyone. I certainly didn’t want to acknowledge or share these insecurities, I preferred to sweep them under the metaphorical mat. I preferred to project the childish illusion that I was different and didn’t have any insecurities, that I had my ‘sh*t’ together. 

Recently while soaking in the bath, (my chosen place of solitude to reflect and pontificate) I was ruminating over the idea that insecurities and the pieces that we find most uncomfortable about ourselves can likely be our greatest teachers, our greatest opportunities for growth and increasing awareness. 

Failure being a better teacher than success

To share another example, I recently watched a clip of Ed Sheeran discussing his success. He emphasised that his achievements were due to hard work, not just raw talent. The interviewer suggested he was being humble, but Ed insisted otherwise. He pointed to a song he had published on YouTube at 14, four years before his breakthrough. His singing was rough, just as he described. Ed explained that failure had shaped him. He failed repeatedly until he could sing melodies and harmonies proficiently. “Success teaches you nothing,” he said. “Failure is the best teacher of all.” It’s humbling and often tough to swallow, but it builds real character.

This perspective on failure aligns with my own experiences. My insecurities, once seen as weaknesses, have provided opportunities for growth and self-awareness. Embracing failure and insecurity, rather than hiding from them, allows us to learn and grow. Just as Ed Sheeran didn’t shy away from his early, imperfect music, we can embrace our insecurities as part of our journey toward self-understanding and personal growth.

The wisdom of insecurity. 

Most of us unconsciously try to control our environment to varying degrees – with the goal to feel more secure. For example, we may look for security in our day to day jobs, for permanent contracts with good benefits like health insurance. We may marry to help provide some form of security that our spouse will not leave us as long as we are married. We may have pensions to help give us some financial security for the future. We are living trying to mitigate some future worries in the hope that we feel more secure and in control now. 

The illusion of security? 

While all this feels relatable to some degree, I wonder if this way of thinking is an illusion? We are not even in control of our own bodies, most processes happen automatically, breathing for example, it happens whether we are aware of it or not, the same goes for digestion, healing, pumping blood etc.

On a larger scale, each of us is just one among nearly 9 billion people living on a dynamic, ever-changing planet. We are part of complex webs of natural ecological systems, constantly in flux, alongside intricate human-made political and governing structures. This vast, unpredictable environment shows how the idea of security is an illusion and highlights the need to embrace life’s uncertainties.

I remember my granny, May, who died at 92, had most of her money in AIB bank stocks. Her husband, my grandfather, worked there, so they invested their savings in these seemingly safe, blue-chip stocks. However, the 2008 financial crash wiped out their value entirely. This experience highlights the illusion of security. Even the safest investments can become unstable, showing that true security is elusive and reinforcing the need to embrace life’s inherent uncertainties.

As is often said, change is the only real constant. I remember doing a 10-day silent meditation retreat in Boston over 22 years ago. We got up at 4:30 AM and meditated for about 14 hours a day in complete silence, with no reading, writing, or eye contact. One key message reinforced every day was that change is the only constant. This experience made me realise how true this is and highlighted the illusion of security. By accepting and embracing change, we can better handle life’s uncertainties and grow from our insecurities.

Embracing the insecurity of life

Uncertainty is deeply challenging, particularly with the rate of change that new tech is forcing upon us.  However, the very nature of life is uncertainty. Parts of me wish it wasn’t as then it might be more predictable and controllable. 

I think cultivating a deeper capacity to let go and not resist change is key to not ‘breaking’. I have a good few friends who have gone through tough burnouts. They were high achievers who worked really hard and also had high tendencies toward control. Yet ultimately their burnouts were a really tough messenger to help them to let go, to redefine their relationship with work and control by setting better boundaries and learning to let go of this idea of perfection. Trying to control something that is uncontrollable simply creates anxiety. Learning to let go and be more present with what is unfolding could possibly be a better strategy for feeling happier. 

Vulnerability – the ultimate connector

Insecurities make us more human and relatable yet most of us – like me – try to hide these feelings from others. I get it, I do the very same, as feeling vulnerable is uncomfortable. You usually feel exposed, sensitive and a bit raw and your ego and pride are suppressed. 

In my twenties I used to be so proud of any of my accomplishments and was only too happy to share them with anyone who was interested. I suppose I had an inflated sense of ego and then with the rise of social media this only added petrol to the fire. Maybe it is getting older or maybe it is spending much less time on social media and the endless game of likes and popularity but I feel much less concerned with impressing people. I like to think maybe I am just becoming more comfortable with my insecurities.

Most of us project an image of self-confidence and having our lives together. However, on the inside, we often feel insecure and vulnerable, sometimes even dealing with imposter syndrome daily. I believe we connect much more through these tender, insecure feelings than through our achievements and strengths. Everyone can relate to insecurities, challenges, and vulnerabilities. Embracing these aspects of ourselves can lead to deeper, more meaningful connections, embodying the wisdom of insecurity.

I think a key piece to feeling happier is becoming more ‘friendly’ with our insecurities and vulnerabilities. Insecurities are really tough and everyone deals with them, our internal struggles are likely much more relatable than any accomplishments we may have had. 

What do you think? What insecurities drive you? I would love to know your thoughts. Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you want to add to the conversation leave a comment below and if you want to read some of my other happier columns I have written 13 now, you can find my previous Happier columns here 

All the best

Dave x

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