I have been very blessed in that I have always had a very strong sense of self and my value. (I found my 7th grade diary and read that a girl called me ugly, and not only did I laugh it off then and write how wrong she was, I didn’t even remember it 10+ years later.) But being chronically ill has definitely made that difficult over the years. I started experiencing pain at the age of 10, although I wasn’t diagnosed until 9 years later, and those are very formative years for your self-confidence. So today I’m breaking down tips for building self confidence when chronically ill in the hopes that it will help some of you struggling with this.
I am not a medical professional (including a mental health professional). This is my advice after being chronically ill for a very long time.
Building Self Confidence When Chronically Ill
Take selfies – I know that this seems silly and narcissistic, but it helps. Take pictures of yourself that you like. Take pictures of yourself dressed up, in sweatpants, looking amazing, looking terrible, it doesn’t matter. Take selfies of you looking completely healthy or even completely ill. Especially when you look ill. You don’t have to embrace being chronically ill or disabled, but being chronically ill isn’t necessarily something you should hide. I know that for me, personally, being ill affects so much of my life that hiding it or pretending it isn’t there feels disingenuous. Sometimes you need a cane, and that’s okay. Take pictures of yourself with your cane; rock it like Selma Blair did at the Vanity Fair Oscar party.
Follow disabled people online – A lot of abled people mean well, but they say ableist things and perpetuate ableist norms. Even if you don’t realize it, it can hurt your self-confidence. Or at the very least, it might not help you build your confidence the same way that following disabled people does. It makes me feel like my feelings and experience are valid. (Asides from learning SO much from following these people.) I personally follow Annie Segarra, Jessica Kellgren-Fozard, Imani Barbarin, Matt Cortland, Rebecca Cokley, Nyle DiMarco, Kirsten Schultz, Eman, and more.How to build self-confidence when chronically ill Click To Tweet
Engage with other chronically ill people on social media – Reach out! Build a network! Talk to people who get what you’re going through and can advise you if you need it. At the very least, it can do wonders to have concrete ideas of what living with chronic illness looks like. Your own understanding of what is “good” or “normal” will change – and that’s a good thing. Even if you don’t realize it, your subconscious might think that living with a chronic illness will only look or live one way. The reality is that we are all different, living similar but different lives, lives that are often different from those of our abled loved ones. So make sure that you see how actual chronically ill people are living, as that will affect your own personal opinion of your own life.
Get fun clothes, accessories, and mobility aides – Embrace your life as it is! Get things that make you happy and are fun. If your illness means you spend a lot of time on the couch, get patterned leggings. If you have to exercise a lot to feel okay, get brightly colored workout clothes. If you use a cane, get a bright one! You get the idea.
Give yourself a pep talk – This might sound so silly, but giving yourself a pep talk can actually help! If mirrors aren’t something that bother you, face one and pretend that you’re talking to your best friend and pep that friend up. Do this every day or every few days, but I advise doing it multiple times a week. It will feel really ridiculous the first few times, but the act of doing it will help get you in a good mood. It’s kind of like how smiling will trick your brain into happiness.
Make a list of all the things you like about yourself or that you’re good at – Imagine you’re trying to convince someone else that you’re great. Make a list of everything you would use to convince them. Maybe you have a great sense of style, or you always hold the door open for other people, or you admit when you’re wrong about something. I suggest making a physical list, as then you can put it somewhere you’ll regularly see it.
Date yourself – You deserve love and affection, especially from yourself. Go to the movies or out to eat by yourself. Take a book to a coffee shop. Go to a museum. Basically, take yourself out for a date every now and then. Spend some time doing something you enjoy purely for the sake of doing something you enjoy.
How has being chronically ill impacted your self-confidence?
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