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  1. #1
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    Default Insecurity in all its delightful forms

    Let’s discuss insecurity. Not just in relationships, which is where we often think about it, but wherever it may rear its ugly head.

    What do you perceive as insecurity? What are your particular insecurities? How do you try to deal with or improve them? How have the insecurities of your families, SOs, friends etc affected you?

    Here are the examples in my life I’ve been dealing with/musing on recently:

    -I’ve been kind of mentoring a frighteningly clingy 18 year old. She is seriously depressed (just starting therapy) and has a lot of issues on top of that, I think. She has zero relationship with her also depressed mother and more of a “pal” relationship with her dad. She’s semi-stalked me (muscles in on any exchange I have with friends on FB, gone into my building when I’m not there, etc), and gets ridiculously, childishly jealous if I’m with her and even talk to our mutual friends. Not turn my back and deliberately ignore her. Talk to them for two minutes without directly including her. Etc. Needless to say, setting boundaries has both been a big priority and a huge challenge. Slightly draining to say the least. (She doesn’t have a crush on me, if you’re wondering…well, I don’t think so. She definitely likes men. And she had a similar relationship with another woman my age who gave her the time of day, before me.)

    -I was in recent months interested in a guy considerably older than me, almost 15 years (have started a few other threads relating to this guy!). I actually thought our friendship was going “somewhere” until he told me he’d started dating someone else. I realised belatedly that he had shown a lot of signs of insecurity (no, not just saying that because I’m bitter! And it was pretty obvious though he seemed to greatly enjoy being around me, that I was making him feel insecure in some ways at least). Including: he teased me because I came from a “higher” social class than he did; called me a “child” (actually, a “bairn”!) when he told me he was going out with someone else (who btw is only slightly older than me); made some disparaging comments about women his age (he’s 45); is very attractive and youthful but goes on about getting “old”; is now dating someone who he said himself (according to a mutual friend who filled me in) has serious issues with jealousy; had told me about his previous two girlfriends, one of whom he said “wasn’t all there” and also had commitment issues, and the second was “high maintenance” (this was also when he complimented me for my laid-backness, which I thought was positive, but now I tend to think he prefers people with lots of issues!).

    -I have a good friend a few years older than me who without telling any of her friends, ran off to a Middle Eastern country and married a guy she only knew slightly…not even kidding. I cite this as insecurity because it just seemed very much as though the fear of being alone pushed her to be with a man, any man (as long as he’s Arab…she’s obsessed with the Middle East.) She’s now back in the West and helping him to get a visa… In terms of insecurity, she also concluded that because a few of her friends had been funny with her about this that they were all “ostracizing” her.

    -Myself (not letting myself off the hook): I do tend to lecture people, or wake up and find myself in the middle of a lecture, and sometimes I wonder if it’s just to hide some deep inadequacy…

    Share your thoughts about insecurity! Don’t be shy!
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  2. #2
    Honor Thy Inferior Such Irony's Avatar
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    What do you perceive as insecurity?

    Lack on confidence in your own abilities or doubts about your own self worth.

    What are your particular insecurities?

    I compare myself to others too much. I often get the sense that others are accomplishing more in life than I am.

    When people compliment me, I sometimes wonder if they are being sincere or have some ulterior motive.

    I'm self-conscious and frequently think that people are judging me in a negative way behind my back.

    I am insecure to some extent about my physical appearance. Looking at all the picture threads and seeing all the beautiful and handsome people on this forum doesn't help. I know I don't measure up. I used to not care much about my appearance but now that I'm in my 30's and without a relationship and hardly anyone seeking me out, I can't help but wonder if my appearance is somehow holding me back.

    How do you try to deal with or improve them?

    With comparing myself to others, I have to remind myself that no one truly has it all and the grass isn't always greener on the other side. Those people that appear to be "perfect" have flaws and problems too. They just might not be as obvious.

    Regarding compliments, I've come to realize that most people truly are being sincere and I show my appreciation and thanks for complimenting me. Sometimes I'm insecure over a perceived lack of compliments. I'm better about this than I used to be but could still use improvement. What helps me is to realize that some people, don't openly compliment others- maybe because its too touchy-feely. They could think some part of me is great but they aren't vocalizing it. In fact, when I think of it, I don't vocalize it everytime I think someone does something great either.

    Regarding self-consciousness, that's been a perpetual struggle. I think in some ways I'm less self-conscious. I've come to realize that most people aren't really staring you down. Oftetimes they're just looking into space thinking their own self-conscious thoughts. I'm also trying to accept but admit to struggling with the fact that there will always be those few people for whatever reason will find something wrong with me or won't like me. You can't please everyone.

    Regarding my appearance, I visit http://www.peopleofwalmart.com and then I feel a whole lot better about my own appearance.

    How have the insecurities of your families, SOs, friends etc affected you?

    Both of my parents are humble types who tend to underestimate themselves and I think that's had significant impact on my own self-esteem. I was brought up to not be overly proud of my abilities and to not take anything for granted. Bragging was one of the worst things a person could do. Growing up, when I did feel confident, my parents would say things like "don't be so sure" or when I wanted to take the AP courses in high school, they'd say things like "aren't you trying to take on too much?" I know my parents just wanted to see me happy but it seemed like whenever I got excited about some new challenge, they would find a reason why it might not work or why I should think twice about pursuing it.
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  3. #3
    Iron Maiden fidelia's Avatar
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    Insecurity is caused by an individual's belief that they are not worthy of being liked for their own merits and that those around them could not accept the full weight of who they are. It is a feeling of powerlessness over one's own circumstances. It is caused by a lack of trust and ability to be vulnerable.

    This means that the insecure person must build an image for themselves or others which they believe will be more acceptable than whom they really are. The more successful they are at making others like, fear or respect the carefully crafted persona, the more insecure they become because it reinforces their fears that they could not be liked for who they are.

    Because there is such fear, an insecure person always feels like they are in competition with others and must compare their successes or failures with others. Little kids are a very obvious example of this! They are always competing in terms of what they have, how old they are, what they can do, and have difficulties winning or losing graciously. Many people never outgrow this! This may result in becoming controlling, overly competitive, very critical of self or others, not trying new things, a lack of gratitude or acknowledgement towards others who have helped them, not admitting when they are wrong or being able to ask for help, putting value on things that don't merit it and being overly self-conscious.

    These feelings of competition also result in the insecure person being very threatened by any person or any thing that matters to those whose regard they seek. They will systematically attempt to cut the person they care about off from any people or pursuits that they feel could offer competition.

    The self-consciousness that is felt means that they do not have the mental space available to notice cues from others or turn their attention outwards. They may talk constantly about themselves, not hold up their end of conversation, be disinterested in other's problems, misinterpret other's motives, act in rejecting ways (lack of eye contact, not responding, closed body language etc) and so on.

    Insecurity often is induced by a loss of someone important to the person's sense of identity, rejection, lack of experience, or lack of fully formed identity. Some will dissapate naturally as the person develops a stronger sense of self and has a wider variety of experiences. Some only gets worse as the person avoids anything that could make them feel uncertain.

    Insecurity often results in a poor sense of boundaries towards others and towards self. That means that the insecure person either infringes on others through their forcefulness or neediness or else they overextend themselves and overaccommodate in an attempt to ingratiate themselves to others.

    Insecurity often makes it difficult to seek out company that would challenge the person to grow, because it makes them feel very inadequate. Therefore the insecure person either looks for one person to rescue them or whom they can rescue, or they seek out friends that will make them feel superior and successful by contrast. These kinds of relationships often result in still greater complications and insecurities.

    Because it is difficult to trust when one is insecure, jealousy and cheating are common in relationships with this dynamic. Because of a need to control, lying, manipulation, and physical force are also logical outgrowths in many insecure relationships. There is always a need to have a back up plan in case this doesn't work out and because the one person does this, they also assume that others are doing the same to them. This same lack of trust often affects business relationships as well. There can be a belief that what is wanted cannot be gained through legitimate means and therefore the situation warrants using illegitimate ones.

    Open communication is impossible without vulnerability and trust, which means that problems can rarely be explored and resolved. The insecure person doesn't believe that their concerns will be heard and responded to by the other person. Therefore they often resort to passive-aggressive means of communicating fears or discontent, rather than dealing with those misunderstandings or problems head on.

    Because of the lack of trust, there is also a believe that one day they will end up driving the person they care about away, because the person cannot handle the weight of their flawed self. This almost becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy as they behave in increasingly inconsiderate or disrespectful ways, in an attempt to test the other person (often this is unconscious!).

    Often an insecure person finds it very difficult to either rely on others to attend to their needs appropropriately, or else they find it hard to be present enough to attend to the needs of those who look to them. To have a successful and equal adult relationship, there needs to be the ability to do both.

    Because of the feelings of powerlessness that insecurity engenders, it is easy to perceive that they are a victim in life, rather than an active participant. This prevents the insecure person from taking on appropriate responsibility, even as they retain inordinate amounts of control! It also means that the insecure person will always believe that a change of situation or a change of person in their lives will fill any void that they feel. When the situation or person does not prove to be the solution, they move on. They cannot absorb the love others have to give them, because they cannot trust it to remain.

    Insecurity generally results in extremes: a need to face into the woodwork vs a need to be the constant centre of attention; too passive or too aggressive; sharing too much information or not enough information at all.

    Insecurity makes it difficult for a person to value themselves appropriately, which means that others often take their cues from the person and don't value them either. Conversely, sometimes the person's overobsession with self leads those around them to constantly adjust for them and attempt to appease them, even if they do not feel close to them. This lack of valuing oneself can result in eating disorders, obesity, promiscuity, not achieving one's potential, addictions, reckless behaviour, and unreasonable fears. These behaviours tend to loop around, making the person feel even more worthless and exaccerbating the cycle of destructive behaviours.

    Unfortunately, insecurity has a whole host of harmful effects, both for the individual and for those around them. Understanding why a person behaves as they do does not negate the extreme destructiveness that their insecurity wreaks. We all have some degree of insecurity. However, the more aware we are of it, the easier it is to start addressing it. It is important for those attempting to help those with insecurities that they have strong boundaries themselves and that they do not allow their resources to be sapped dry.

    As a drowning person can sometimes pull those under the water who attempt to rescue them, so can an insecure person submerge a person who started out much healthier. This is why it is not a job for one person, particularly in a romantic relationship. Rather, the insecure person needs a whole support system of people who will build them up and help them learn new ways of dealing with their fears. This takes time to acquire. For most with insecurities, their number one fear is being alone. They tend to run to romantic relationships in hopes that one person can give them all that they lack. This simply can't be done and often damages or destroys the other person in the process.

    Fortunately, it is possible to reverse a plethora of bad behaviours and actions that are self-defeating through going back to the root causes of these insecurities and addressing them. It is only when a person is able to face their fears that they can shrink back down to a manageable size, which can then be dealt with. I believe that the older people become, the more difficult it is to change deeply established patterns, although it can be done if the person is self-reflective and is willing to do the work. Insecure people always have legitimate reasons why they have lost their sense of trust in others. However, they need to address these issues as an individual before they have a destructive impact on a marriage/romantic relationship or parent-child relationship and so that the person can lead a contented and happy life no matter what circumstances they find themselves in.

    There is a lot more that could be said about all of this, but these are some of the thoughts I wish I had encountered at 20 which would have been very useful to me at the time!

  4. #4
    Senior Member mochajava's Avatar
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    Mmkay, Silk, this one's for you This is an incredibly hard thing to share, but you're such a fantastic forum member and keep starting interesting/insightful threads that garner a lot of responses. I should give something back after all this lurking

    What I perceive as insecurity
    Uncertainty about what to do in a situation, feeling inferior, not feeling like you belong (or deserve to belong), believing that all fault / blame is with you, not feeling capable and able to "rise to the occasion". So just believing you can't hack it for some reason.

    What are your particular insecurities?
    Well, this is the hard question. I mostly just feel (often) an overwhelming sense of having failed life. You know, everything. School, work, home, friends, marriage, family, being athletic - failed it all. Short in all of these areas. Just never measuring up. Never could. Never will. Is that specific enough? Or does it define insecurities well enough? As my friend says, we all have a planet-full of self-doubt that we bring with us into various situations.

    How do you try to deal with them or improve them?
    Just push through them. If I'm teaching a class or submitting writing, I can't really just stop in the middle and... do something about how I'm feeling, can I? So I just push on through. You do pay a price for this, but hopefully it's later on, at home, after the class has been taught and the writing is submitted.

    I try to remember what I LIKE and not just what feels GOOD. I try to supplement my overexposure to media and its unreachable standards (must look like a Victoria's Secret model, must be happy/perky all the time, must be outgoing, must be girly, must be brilliant but hide it successfully) with art. Somehow it feels like a wonderful antidote -- ways of being and insight that stand in direct opposition to what I see/feel around me. It feels authentic, lets me know others struggle to fit into the boxes put upon them (these can be ethnicity / sexuality / intelligence boxes... outside expectatiosn of any kind), and that you can have fun while recognizing that discomfort.

    Also, I remember I'm not alone. Reading someone like Robyn Posin or Tara Brach provide good solutions. Take things one moment at a time, make lots of lists...stay very organized, overperform, be on top of everything, and manage your image...do things "right". Get advice from multiple people and implement the best ideas from all.

    Surround yourself with people who have a more forgiving perspective on life than you and keep a dialog going.

    Cut out of draining/negative relationships in your life. Somehow, something nice comes in to fill the space. Almost like you're getting rewarded for your courage.

    Just working really, really, really hard and making things happen is another way I cope. And just taking charge of things -- making plans and making them happen.

    Oh, and the only way through is in. So avoiding things just never works; I try to stay present and park myself in the middle of whatever's going on.

    How have the insecurities of your families, SOs, friends affected you?
    Family - well - my parents purposely "clipped my wings" to make me easier to manage. If you have sufficient power over someone, it's not that hard to crush their spirit. I bent over backwards trying to make them happy, and when I realized I'd keep getting thrown under the bus over and over in the process, I booked it. And how No more family in my life, and that's a hard (but healthy) choice. So that's the family.

    SOs and friends and teachers have, in large part, been shining beacons of light in my life. Truly. I don't know how I would be where I am (pretty together life, doing something meaningful tht I love, continually exploring and expanding in other areas -- like the art stuff described above) without them.

    So, in some ways, I feel very uncertain and insecure, but in other ways, I feel unstoppable and unsquishabble. Everything you need to grow and thrive will eventually make its way to you... though you can be devastated before that happens. Oh, and initiative is rewarded.

    Whew, okay, that was hard to write, harder still to post... and I would never, ever say this in real life. Yay Thanks for pushing me to do this, Silk

  5. #5
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SuchIrony View Post
    Regarding self-consciousness, that's been a perpetual struggle. I think in some ways I'm less self-conscious. I've come to realize that most people aren't really staring you down. Oftetimes they're just looking into space thinking their own self-conscious thoughts. I'm also trying to accept but admit to struggling with the fact that there will always be those few people for whatever reason will find something wrong with me or won't like me. You can't please everyone.
    Oh dear...sometimes I'm one of those people staring into space with a weird look on their face, or possibly AT someone. But seriously, I like what you say about trying to accept, but struggling with, the idea that sometimes people just won't like you, no matter how good a person you may be. I certainly relate as I hate for people to not like me or at least be ok with me...


    Quote Originally Posted by fidelia View Post
    Unfortunately, insecurity has a whole host of harmful effects, both for the individual and for those around them. Understanding why a person behaves as they do does not negate the extreme destructiveness that their insecurity wreaks. We all have some degree of insecurity. However, the more aware we are of it, the easier it is to start addressing it. It is important for those attempting to help those with insecurities that they have strong boundaries themselves and that they do not allow their resources to be sapped dry.
    Fantastic, thanks so much, Fidelia. While there was a lot in here that sounded in some way "aha!" or very familiar in some way from my experiences with others, I think the above is in some ways the most important. We all have insecurities, but self-knowledge is key. It doesn't mean you can do away with them in one fell swoop, or even in several fell swoops, but it will help with observing yourself and your behaviours and seeing how they relate to some fundamental insecurity that you may have. I do find that with people who scream "insecurity", they tend to be very much lacking in this. They will even start telling you how little they can stand a certain trait in someone else, while you sit there dumbly (or trying to formulate something tactful), thinking that this is exactly how THEY come across...


    Quote Originally Posted by mochajava View Post
    Surround yourself with people who have a more forgiving perspective on life than you and keep a dialog going.

    Cut out of draining/negative relationships in your life. Somehow, something nice comes in to fill the space. Almost like you're getting rewarded for your courage.

    Just working really, really, really hard and making things happen is another way I cope. And just taking charge of things -- making plans and making them happen.

    Oh, and the only way through is in. So avoiding things just never works; I try to stay present and park myself in the middle of whatever's going on.
    I particularly like these. Thanks so much. As for "the only way through is in", I feel like with the more difficult things it's "in, but don't hang around unnecessarily long." Certainly in terms of negative feelings, or negative situations that you don't need to stay in longer than necessary (not always possible, of course.)

    As for myself. Well, I thought about it more and there's more at work than me giving lectures. I'm actually not sure it's a sign of insecurity. I tend to jokingly describe them that way and most people say "that wasn't really a lecture." I try to hold off on them unless I really feel I have something worth saying, and I try to be diplomatic...

    No, I think my biggest fear is of rejection. I think that in the past it has proved to be so painful to me that it has really become a fear, and in the realm of romantic relationships it has meant that I am afraid to tell someone how I feel or I assume that I'm going to be rejected. It's not that I have gone through any particularly horrific experiences of rejection, but perhaps that is more frightening in the sense that what I've gone through has been pretty run of the mill, but it has still been excruciatingly painful. And I think it was a huge shock to discover that you could feel loved, and feel as though someone was accepting you, and as a result you're really being yourself and being open and honest and trusting, and then to discover that they couldn't accept you as you were (despite their protestations to the contrary) and were in fact going to use some of that openness you'd shown against you.

    In terms of what lies in my childhood, I think my parents did wonderfully well to make me feel that I was always supported no matter what, basically. Not that they couldn't be critical or whatever, but I have always trusted in their implicit support. This is a huge thing that I realise a lot of people don't have. They really just want me to be happy - they do worry over things (and they passed that on to me...) but as long as I seem pretty happy they don't get antsy about me being single and not having kids, or about my not having invested in property yet, or whatever it may be... Even at times of conflict in their marriage (which there were on and off while I was growing up) they did their best to not involve us or make us feel insecure.

    However, the dark side to that is that a lot went unsaid in my family. Ie. my parents might have been fighting, and my brother and I knew perfectly well that they were, but then everyone was supposed to pretend nothing was happening. This too often resulted in an enormous feeling of tension in the house (and yeah, being INFJ I suspect it affected me a lot) and everyone knowing things weren't right but no one saying anything about it when we were all together. There was the occasional big emotional explosion but that was uncommon. My parents were warm and loving and physically affectionate but...in a way there was an awful lot kept under the surface. Now that I'm grown and have moved away I am actually more open about my emotions than I used to be with them. Perhaps there is less pressure now that we're not all together. I think the problem is that I can fear being direct. I am getting better at this actually, and sometimes I think I am too blunt...I can go to extremes...but certainly if it is an area where I fear rejection or something like that, I will probably beat around the bush and internalize all sorts of things I really should be saying.

    I think my other insecurities are more minor. Rejection is probably the big one.

    As for the examples I described in the first post, I'd probably quantify them (rather than simply describing the situation) in this way:

    -The teenager: huge fear of abandonment, which has to do with cold relationships with her parents, some people who she was good friends with moving far away, and her brother (who she used to be close to) being somewhat estranged from the family. It is hard to tell at the moment how much is depression and how much is deep-rooted personality and experience issues.

    -The guy I was interested in: where it comes from I am not sure, but he seems to need to put other people down as well as himself. Which is sad really because in a lot of ways he is a kind person. But I have heard him make remarkably tactless and insensitive remarks about others and their flaws, as well as putting himself down unnecessarily. As I've known him a few years as an acquaintance before recently knowing him better, a convo we had a few years ago came back to me a short time ago. I had been telling him about a new job I was very excited about, and after describing various things he wished me well with it but said words to the effect of "don't get your hopes too high, it will probably be a disappointment anyway." I didn't say much but was rather irritated. I also thought to myself "this is someone who has had disappointments in their own life." I do know about a major romantic rejection a few years ago just before he was supposed to get married, so there may be some of that in there.

    -Friend who made an unwise marriage: not quite so sure what to say about her. I think she is just intensely sensitive and has been used to going in and out of relationships for so much of her life that she just "has" to do things like this. What the "insecurity" at work is I am not sure...an inability to perceive herself as a full and whole person without being in a relationship, perhaps?

    Thanks for all the sharing so far. Oh gosh, this is way too long now! Sorry!
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  6. #6
    not to be trusted miss fortune's Avatar
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    What do you perceive as insecurity?

    to have a lack in confidence in that particular area of your life

    What are your particular insecurities?

    that I'm a complete and total flake who will fuck up any good thing that comes my way in life because of my incessant need to be bad... and that I will never end up as a productive member of society because I will screw myself over whenever I get a chance to do so

    How do you try to deal with or improve them?

    by trying to ignore them

    How have the insecurities of your families, SOs, friends etc affected you?

    they really haven't... I'm kind of emotionally stand-offish in a way and like to compartmentalize people and areas of my life
    “Oh, we're always alright. You remember that. We happen to other people.” -Terry Pratchett

  7. #7
    Senior Member KDude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilkRoad View Post
    What are your particular insecurities?
    That I'm the world's most dangerous predator. Everything about me invites you in. My voice... My face... Even my smell. As if I'd need any of that. As if you could outrun me! As if you could fight me!

  8. #8
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    What do you perceive as insecurity?
    A lack of confidence or belief in oneself.

    What are your particular insecurities?
    That's a difficult question to answer since it can vary.

    How do you try to deal with or improve them?
    Take competitiveness. When it comes to work, I allow it free rein since it helps me get new clients and projects, as a self-employed individual. It's also fun in sports but not to a do or die degree. If I lose, it will either be a learning experience or something not worth getting upset over. When it comes to personal, I tend to analyse insecurities and if they're irrational, they get dispersed.

    How have the insecurities of your families, SOs, friends etc affected you?
    I tend to distance myself from individuals who are overly insecure since you can't rationalise with them. Beyond that, everyone else is human and either we're going to get along or not.

  9. #9
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    do you perceive as insecurity?

    Pretty much anything that makes you feel weak and vulnerable in a bad way.

    What are your particular insecurities?
    Now if I told you that would be giving you and anyone who reads this power, wouldn't it?

    How do you try to deal with or improve them?
    Mostly by acting invulnerable.

    But it improves them to be able to have someone to share them with. Everyone doesn't have that, so what are they supposed to do to get okay with who they are, despite insecurities?

    I mean, if you can't allow yourself to be vulnerable without being rejected, how can you ever deal with your insecurities?

    How have the insecurities of your families, SOs, friends etc affected you
    It made me into the charming human being you see today.

  10. #10
    Senior Member KDude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marmie Dearest View Post
    Now if I told you that would be giving you and anyone who reads this power, wouldn't it?
    I'm insecure that I used an Edward Cullen quote to express my deepest longings.

    I'm insecure that I don't really mind Twilight.

    Really though.. it's a funny question. Is this type related?

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