Basic Principles

Compiled and/or created by

Tadao Ogura, M.D.


IV.  On Insecurity, Confidence & Self-Image
1.  Insecurity can be the driving force for excellence
2.  Insecurity is normal and natural for humans
3.  Self-confidence is often an illusion
4.  Self-image is just an image
5.  Real confidence comes only from deep faith

Dr. Ogura’s Comment
Too many people think that they should have at least good enough, if not great, self-confidence or self-image for them to be “successful.”  For those, the above listed Basic Principles may be either shocking or, hopefully, inspiring.

In my long years of medical practice in internal medicine and psychiatry, I have seen people from all walks of life.  I have noticed that most “successful” people were not quite as confident with themselves or have good self-image internally as they may appear externally.  Then, I came to see that the reason why they became successful and/or famous was because they were rather insecure or had poor self-image deep inside and, therefore, tried very hard to “over-compensate” their deep-seated snese of "insecurity."

Of course, they may have had enough intelligence or talent necessary to be “successful.”  However, I have seen many people who did not succeed even with these favorable attributes.  Therefore, intelligence and talent cannot be, by themselves, the reasons for their success.  What seems to have separated between those who succeeded and those who did not was their basic attitude in dealing with their deep-seated insecurity and poor self-image. 

People with insecurity or poor self-image can choose either to fight to compensate their negate feelings or just give up.  Those who give up will stop where they are or go downhill.  Those who chose to fight may still be challenged more by what appears to be monumental obstacles, insurmountable odds, or unbreakable barriers.  Those who refuse to give up and continue to fight on and on seem to suddenly “break through” and stand on “the other side of the fence” as “successful” individuals.

The question we must ask is whether we are willing to take all the pains and the sufferings to go on and on.  There is no guarantee that we will “make it” by challenging all the obstacles, odds, and barriers.  Nevertheless, if we go on, we are truly living instead of just existing.  “The world will be better for this; that one man, scorned and covered with scars, still strove with his last ounce of courage, to reach the unreachable stars.” (The Impossible Dream from Man of La Mancha)

These “successful” people were almost driven to go on to compensate their inner insecurity. They could not just give up as most people would becasue they were too insecure to give up.  Giving up would only prove that they are truly "no piece of shit." Therefore, they had to refuse to give up and keep striving on and on. Suddenly, one day, they broke though the barriers and became "successful." In other words, their battles against, what appeared to be, all sorts of obstacles and barriers were actually fought within themsleves. Therefore, “Insecurity can be the driving force for excellence.”

Another thing I want people to understand is the very simple reality of human nature, that is, “Insecurity is normal and natural.”  We humans have innate limitations in many, many areas and aspects.  Even the great basketball player, Michael Jordan, could not make it in baseball!  He was one of the “greatest” in basketball but not in baseball.  Likewise, none of us can excel on all fields and areas. 

Unfortunately, however, we tend to expect ourselves to be at least “good enough” in the eyes of others in almost all fields and areas of life.  This tendency is deep-rooted in the culturally ingrained mental habit to compare each other by the external attributes such as physical appearances, school records, athletic abilities, houses, status, power, jobs., etc.  Since it is impossible to satisfy most of these “wants,” we develop a deep seated inner sense of insecurity and negative self-image. 

The majority of us may try hard for awhile but soon come to realize how far they would have to go and how hard it would be to “get there.” In time, many of us come to "accept the reality” and unhappily and unwillingly “settle” with what we are and what we have.  Is this a “realistic” attitude?  Yes, for most of us.  No, for some who refuse to give up or compromise.  It is not a matter of “right” or “wrong.”  It is simply one of the choices we make in life.  Nevertheless, if we choose to go on, fight and struggle, we can use this principle; Insecurity can be the driving force for excellence.”

Many studies were done on the issues of “self-confidence” and “self-image” because of the prevailing belief that we need “good” self-confidence or self-image to be “successful.” These studies were maily done on the workers and the executives in large companies and government agencies.  The followin findings are enlightening. 

  1. Those who are truly competent and superior as seen by their superiors and peers tend to think they are not very competent or should do better.
  2. Those who are rather incompetent and inferior as seen by their superiors and peers tend to think they are fairly competent and good enough.

Many people go for therapies or counselingsand “work on” their poor self-images and lack of self-confidence.  As discussed above, such effort is futile.  All we gain from therapies or counselings is an illusion of having “good self-image” or “good self-confidence” that is actually “good for nothing.”  Therefore, “Self-confidence is often an illusion” and “Self-image is just an image.”

What we need is “real confidence.”  As we discussed above, we cannot have “real confidence” by the nature of our innate limitations as humans.  Therefore, the “real” confidence must come from somewhere above ourselves.  I have seen a few people who have not much “self-confidence” but had “real confidence” through their deep faith in the Heavens or in God. 

These people are fearless and unshakable in the face of all obstacles, odds, and barriers.  They were getting the unthinkable strength and power from the deep source within that seems to be connected to the Higher Power.  They did not need any “self-confidence” as they were getting real strength and power from outside of themselves. 

If we transcend all our ego barriers and surrender to the Higher Power, we get connected to, and receive the strength and the power from, the Higher Power that is far beyond our imagination and understanding.  Therefore, “Real confidence comes only from deep faith.”


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