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Lately, I have been dealing with a situation that was caused by me failing to identify the underlying cause of my actions. I have let this same insecurity cause me to hurt people in the past, but it recently caused me to hurt someone I care for dearly. I have been neglecting the real source, the PROBLEM, and only focusing on the SYMPTOMS. I have found that this is not uncommon at all. Everyone has insecurities in one area of our life or another, but if we do not wish for these insecurities to control us and affect our relationships with others, it is of the utmost importance that we identify the source and deal with it. The initial step of the process is realizing that an insecurity is present. I never realized that being unsatisfied with a certain aspect of my life was caused by an insecurity. I was confusing it with striving for self improvement. Whether the aspect that we see the need to change is something for the better or if it is something that we should learn to accept, it is still an insecurity until we find a way to deal with it. In order to begin addressing the PROBLEM, we must be able to differentiate the PROBLEM from the SYMPTOMS. SYMPTOMS can masquerade as multiple issues when they are actually the collective results of one PROBLEM. It is easier for us to take medicine to alleviate a cough, runny nose, or sneezing rather than consulting a doctor to identify the cause. Attending to the PROBLEM tends to require more effort and admitting vulnerability; two things that are not typically enjoyable to us, so we settle for placing a band aid on the SYMPTOMS. But, these very SYMPTOMS control not only our actions, ambitions and desires, but also, our relationships with others. Insecurity breeds a lack of confidence in ourselves causing us to abandon the cultivation process. In turn, we deprive others of the opportunity to gain encouragement from our testimony. As I explained in WHAT IS FEAR?, God wants better for us than we want for ourselves, but if we continue to let our insecurity prohibit us from acting, we will never receive it. As in my case, insecurity has affected others as well. Not being totally satisfied with who I am has, at times, caused me to seek validation from outside sources. On more than one occasion, what I felt was necessary to fill my void was out of bounds in respect to the relationships I was in. The people I was involved with were caused emotional pain simply because I chose not to treat the PROBLEM, but instead patch up the SYMPTOMS. The PROBLEM was not so clear to me at first but became evident during a trip to the mall with a friend. After expressing my feeling of being overdressed, he told me, "Never feel out of place (while being yourself)." I realized at that moment that my SYMPTOMS were results of me never truly being satisfied with who I am. So now that I have come to terms with my PROBLEM, I have addressed it. I no longer try to band aid or patch the SYMPTOMS because diagnosing and treating the PROBLEM cures them. I encourage everyone to look within yourself to diagnose and TREAT THE PROBLEM, NOT THE SYMPTOMS.