The Wisdom of Insecurity
Bill Cottringer

“Uncertainty is the only certainty there is and knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security.” ~John Allen Paulos.

I wish I had originally come up with this simple but profound article title, but I have to give full credit to a long-distance, silent mentor, Alan Watts, the Episcopal-Buddhist philosopher who spread an abundance of wisdom at Berkely back in the 60’s. Only those fully committed to complete a personal development journey understand the full meaning of this phrase, so I will attempt to explain it in plain English for the rest of us.

We can all feel the pain of pervasive change, unfamiliar ambiguity, disturbing conflict, and unwanted insecurity in this world today. But only a lucky few of us have made progress in approaching life in a way that guarantees success and authentic happiness. It all starts with the creative ability to reconcile the world of opposites, seeing duality merely as different sides to the same coin. Let’s now journey into the world of insecurity which holds many of us hostage.

We all work hard to discover and apply truths, knowledge and abilities that help make life a little easier for us in our pursuit of success and happiness. After struggling to learn all this important stuff, we want to own it as our own and protect it as an inseparable part of our inner selfhood defining who we are, sometimes defending it at all costs. The things we think we know most about, are our personal security blanket that makes us worthwhile and secure against all the insecurities surrounding us. This body of certainty helps define us against others, and we are often willing to get maimed or die for in defending it against all or any challenges. This artificial certainty and security gives us a sense of being okay that we are proud to have accomplished. It is our ego and hubris.

The lion’s share of this security blanket is made up of religious, spiritual, philosophical, professional, and even common-sense beliefs about life, nature, and people. But a strange thing about beliefs is that we often convince ourselves they are valid, based on the limited evidence we find that points to that. We rarely question our beliefs, especially the sacred ones, and they become virtually impervious to change even when compelling evidence to the contrary is dropped at our doorstep. Afterall, we don’t want to shed such a valuable security blanket that keeps us all fuzzy, warm and safe.

Alan Watts pulled the rug our from under us with one assertion that is both rational and emotive at once: We all hold onto our security blankets until we finally realize we were born okay and don’t have to prove it to anyone else, ever. We all have vulnerabilities and insecurities, and true personal growth is admitting them and tossing our temporary security blanket aside, which has unnecessarily kept us from being who we really want and need to be—free from the one thing that keeps us from being our best self.

So, how do we see our own security blanket and toss it? Here are a seven practical suggestions:

• If it is too close to see, then ask a close trusted friend. This is also one way to find out your unique purpose in life if you haven’t discovered it yet.
• Consider the value of the humble realization that all you think you know may not be so. If nothing else, this may free up some brain space to learn the most important things you need to know.
• Ask yourself why you need a security blanket in the first place. You don’t need any beliefs to help your most important bodily functions working properly or to help you wake up each morning. Why do you need one to be okay? You don’t,
• Do you really need your security blanket of beliefs to decide how to live your life and make the right moral decisions? Or do you just know how to do this from your intuition or inner voice?
• Think about how some of your most important beliefs have evolved over time, about things like truth, love, honesty, trust, God, right and wrong, justice, etc. Quite a difference, right?
• What is the worst thing that could happen if you share your insecurities and vulnerabilities openly? Surprise—Nothing, except a refreshing sense of relief! And this brings true freedom.
• Being a good person, living a good life and helping others do that too doesn’t require any beliefs. It is just a choice.

In the meantime, feel free to stay safe in your security blanket until you realize you don’t really need it to hide what everybody already sees. You are okay with or without it.

“Only the insecure strive for security.” ~Wayne Dyer.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is Executive Vice President of Puget Sound Security in Bellevue, WA, along with being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living on the scenic Snoqualmie River and mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, Re-Braining for 2000 (MJR Publishing); The Prosperity Zone (Authorlink Press); You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too (Executive Excellence); The Bow-Wow Secrets (Wisdom Tree); Do What Matters Most and “P” Point Management (Atlantic Book Publishers); Reality Repair, (Global Vision Press), Reality Repair Rx (Publish America); Thoughts on Happiness; Pearls of Wisdom: A Dog’s Tale (Covenant Books, Inc.) Coming soon: A Cliché a day will keep the Vet Away (Another Dog’s Tale). Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (206) 914-1863 or