Oops! Your Shadow of Insecurity is Showing

Feb 9, 2011 by

Oops! Your Shadow of Insecurity is Showing

Have you ever found yourself standing in the shadow of someone else’s insecurity?

Perhaps you know right off the bat what I mean. You are talking with someone about a situation or an idea and suddenly you notice a strange coolness has fallen on the space. You look about and suddenly you realize that in your discussion of those thoughts or ideas, which may flow forth from you so easily, so comfortably, you have walked into the shadow of the other person’s insecurity.

Now that shadow is not just a chilly place to be. It can become downright hostile. You see, when you suddenly find yourself in the shadow of someone’s insecurity you are standing in a place that belongs to him or her, but it is not, typically, a place they choose to spend a lot of time examining or hanging out. It is, after all, the dark and undefined portion of themselves, the aspect of them that often trails behind them, hovering below. It is a part of themselves to which they tend to give little attention.

I bring this up with specific reason. You see, when you happen to find yourself standing in this opaque spot you are in a rather inglorious place.  Quite accidentally you now know something about them that they don’t even want to know about themselves, and definitely, something they didn’t want you to know or see. You are viewing something which they definitely would never want to show. But, it does show. And the more they attempt to hide it, shove it away from what is now the light of your potential recognition, the more defensive they seem to become.

Therefore, at a moment like this, the person will often try to assert their power or their purpose with much greater intensity. They may act dismissively toward you or as if they do not have the time or the patience to listen to you. Or, they may dictate orders to you and try to move away. They may actually act as if you and what you are saying completely do not matter. But, in all likelihood this reaction is because, now that you have suddenly been found standing in their shadow of insecurity, they feel exposed and they want to get away from your view, your gaze.  They are so fearful you will see their proverbial “man behind the curtain” and then, as the story goes, you will “pay no attention” to them, not value them or stop valuing them.

Rest assured, in moments like this the vehemence with which they attempt to strip away your sense of security is a powerful measurement of the extent of their own insecurity.

Shady Oak TreeYou cannot make these people secure. But you can recognize that this moment is not about something less than in you. It is about their fear of you seeing them as they see themselves.

We all have our shadows of insecurity. Yet, you can make a conscious choice how you react when someone steps into your shadow. For me, I try to view it an opportunity to learn more about what I do not know. So, if you walk into my shadow space, know that I tend to see it the shade of on old oak tree on a grand summer day where we will sit down, have a refreshingly cold drink and share some of each other’s sun and shade. We will tell stories, teach each other cool stuff and learn what the other has to offer.

Meet ya’ under the shade of the old oak tree……

Photo Credits:

Oak Tree: Bolt of Blue @ Flickr

Shadow: Horizon @ Flickr


  1. Dearest Ally, thank you so much for contributing those excellent suggestions, they are very helpful and caring ideas!!

  2. Ally

    The insecurities of others provide just as much of an opportunity to learn as do our own. A healing approach when faced with someone trying to use power to belittle or control us to make themselves feel better is to try to sense in behind their deeper feelings and needs. Try empathically connecting with what is making them angyr or dominant or whatever – and express that to them in an appropriate way e.g “So I’m guessing that you’re feeling uncertain because your views haven’t been acknowledged and you need some affirmation that people are listening…”
    They can say no…but if you keep trying to connect with what’s truly going on in them by gently guessing, not stating, it will definitely defuse their anger and help them feel supported.

  3. Ceejay Adams-Earl via Facebook

    I really enjoyed that Marj, thanks for posting it!

  4. With how caringly you open your heart to life’s dance with others I know you and your beloved will share in light, love, and fun on every dance floor your lives will float the two of you across, my sweet E…… <3

  5. Ah, my dear, you have just described me as my sweetheart and I negotiate the dance floor in practice sessions. How fortunate that we are learning to share our sun and shade with one another, telling stories and embracing the fullness of being!! I do so love to read your words!!!! <3

  6. Anonymous User via Facebook

    <3 Tsimi, Arianna!

  7. Thank you, my tender friend, your kind, loving heart is always a joy to me. Please, hug your beautiful Arianna for me!!!

  8. I really liked your post Brooke…Iv found when I walk into anothers shadow my light seems to get brighter and many times others back away or leave altogether to avoid the brightness;”
    Thank You for the inspiration my friend<3

  9. And adorin’ ya’ right back Ms. LOVE!!!! oxo!!!

  10. Anonymous User via Facebook

    We all have our insecurities, they pop up at the oddest moments. If we embrace and support one another, wow, that would be great. The imperfection of perfection is perfection! Luv ya Ms. Groovy!

  11. Thanks, Missy!! So glad it connects for you!! : )

  12. Missy Hooton via Facebook

    Must share… this is just so wonderful! Thanks!

  13. David Traub via Facebook

    Turn out the light and the shadows go away.

  14. Please do, sweetest heart!! oxo!! : )

  15. Ashley Martinez via Facebook

    xoxo. I would love to share some open air time with you beautiful ladies soon. I’ll let you know the next time I’m passing through the central coast! (may not be ’til summer).

  16. That’s so cool, Ashley!!! Thank you!! And your sun and shade are both so lovely to share!!! Miss you!!! oxo!!! : )

  17. Ashley Martinez via Facebook

    recently i’ve been inviting more people into my shade. at first it made me woozy, but i’ve grown to find delight in the uncertainty of sharing the exploration. thanks for sharing brooke!

  18. Minh-Hanh Nguyen via Facebook

    very astute. Thanks.

  19. Donna Morask

    Many years ago I learned about people who,the more their insecurity showed the more “stepped on the gas” . In fact they acted the opposite of what you might think an insecure person acts like. I had a friend who tended to be very loud and boisterous, pushy, and tended to monopolize discussions. I sat down with her one day and asked why she seemed to work so hard to be offensive and intimidating. This was in contrast to what I knew to be her very good and kind heart, and willingness to do anything for anyone in need. Why then, be so opposite in her demeanor. I asked her why she appeared to actively be intimidating with all of her loudness and puffed up presence. In addition to admitting that this was how her insecurity mode played out, she also reflected something back to me.
    I will never forget her response… she in turn asked me if I wasn’t aware of how my stoney silence also was intimidating… You see, this was my response to feeling insecure.
    As I thought about this, I realized my own insecurity manifest itself in a very different way than my friend, but both reactions were about trying to cover up our own feelings of insecurity. As I gained in years, walking around our planet, and was blessed with meeting even more people, I learned how to be less fearful of my own insecurities, and turn them into opportunities for learning, as you mentioned above. Lessons can take whole lifetimes to learn. the important thing is to keep working at it.

  20. Dearest Dave, you bring up an excellent point!! And, I would definitely agree with you. They take a defensive emotional posture by becoming aggressively offensive. I perceive this is their attempt to put their “shadow stander” 🙂 on the defensive in an attempt to shift the “shadow stander’s” gaze, and their own gaze, away from their own insecurities, and hopeful be able to trigger the “shadow stander’s” insecurities the their frantic search to not have their own be so obvious. Thanks for the insight and the adding of extra depth to the piece!!!

  21. Dave Howe

    An interesting article, but I was left hoping for more. I find that sometimes the person casting the shadow will try to make the issue about me, rather than owning the shadow themselves.
    Thanks for posting this!