We live in a culture – and indeed in a world – where the attitude is that if I win, you lose, or if you win, I am condemned to lose. And of course, losing has a negative connotation. How does that work in a relationship? Or even in any human interaction? Do you look to see who is right? Is it more important to you to be right at the expense of your connection to another person?

I come upon many people who say that their partners never admit to being wrong, or never apologize, taking responsibility for their words. This creates a lot of resentment, and surely, no one can be right, or wrong, all the time? As the cliché goes, even a broken clock is right twice in a day. So why do we make it such a huge issue with people we care about? Beyond our immediate circle, even on social media, this is a problem as there are those who claim to be spot-on in every encounter.

The roots of this defense mechanism go to basic insecurity. Everyone, no matter how successful, how smart, how attractive or wealthy, experiences insecurity. It is a human condition. We all develop ways of dealing with this in unhealthy and healthy ways. Clinging to being correct harms our interactions. A healthy approach to this is taking a look at how and when you experience insecurity. Going into social situations where you don’t know people? Next time, go with someone else and then practice approaching people you don’t know. Having to make a public speech or presentation? Rehearse in front of friends, or on video and take something with you that gives you confidence. That object could be one that is connected to a powerful time in your life. In other words, in manageable ways, confront the sense of inadequacy. If you have a fear of elevators, every time you avoid one, you reinforce that fear and the avoidance response. It is only when you can approach the elevator, step by step, that you can train your mind to overcome the debilitating reaction. And so it is with insecurity. Think back to a time when you felt on top of the world. Focus on that image and memory and bring it up when you feel insecure.

It also helps when you get away from the negativity and look on the bright side.

If you dread social situations, but you may be a great friend to those close to you, why not share that sunny disposition with those you may yet meet? Share your expertise in a speech with those who may benefit from your knowledge? Rather than focusing on yourself, this approach gets other people’s needs into your viewpoint thereby moving away from the internal feeling of insecurity. 

“I have self-doubt. I have insecurity. I have fear of failure. I have nights when I show up at the arena and I’m like, ‘My back hurts, my feet hurt, my knees hurt. I don’t have it. I just want to chill.’ We all have self-doubt. You don’t deny it, but you also don’t capitulate to it. You embrace it.” – Kobe Bryant

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Author Profile

Janan Broadbent, PhD
Janan Broadbent, PhD
As a psychologist in private practice since 1979, Janan Broadbent, Ph. D. offers individual, couples, group and family therapy, in addition to conducting workshops on topics such as stress management, communication skills and assertiveness. She writes about current issues relevant to relationship building and conflict resolution in LGBTQ and minority populations, with emphasis on health, fitness and education.

Born in Turkey, Dr. Broadbent earned her undergraduate degree in psychology in 1965. At that time, first as a Fulbright Scholar, then as a CENTO Fellow, she received her master's and doctorate degrees in psychology and education from the University of California at Los Angeles. She has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in psychology at St.Mary's College of Maryland, Mt. Vernon College in Washington, D. C., Johns Hopkins University and the College of Notre Dame in Baltimore. From 1981 to 1988, she was also the Director of Counseling at Notre Dame College.
While in graduate school, Dr. Broadbent worked for the Voice of America radio program, writing and recording materials on the cross-cultural college experience. She has been interviewed on various news programs on TV and has received media training.
Dr. Broadbent is a member of the American Psychological Association and has served as the chair for the Public Affairs Board and as a member of the Executive Council of the Maryland Psychological Association.
Dr. Broadbent's office is located at:
Village of Cross Keys, 120 West Quadrangle, 2 Hamill Road, Baltimore, Maryland 21210-1847 phone: 410-825-5577