Today, let’s discuss this wonderful word called confidence!
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Why? Well, because lately, I’ve been asked about confidence a lot, by both amputees and non-amputees. I imagine this is because others see me as a confident individual. But, I want to share with you that it has not always been that way. It took a lot of hard work and soul-searching to get to where I am today. And, guess what?! I still have my “off” days.
As a kid, growing up in a boarding school where I was the only kid with prosthetic legs, I was bullied and made fun of a lot because of my disability. I remember always wearing pants so that nobody would know that I wear two prosthetic legs. I didn’t want people to know. I didn’t want people to ask me questions – though I still don’t like questions. Most importantly, I didn’t want people to feel sorry for me because I hated pity. It made me feel weak and worthless.
Becoming more confident was a journey for me, and this journey continues today. Below are some of the tips that have helped me along my journey to become more confident. I want to preface this by saying what worked for me may not work for everyone. But, I still want to share my own experiences in hopes they can help someone else.
I hope some of these tips help you to become more confident with yourself. If not, please do not become discouraged, because I know everyone can become more confident in time.
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Negative thoughts are toxic, overwhelming, and can really be a harm to your confidence. As tough as it may be, the best way to fight negativity is with persistent positivity. Restructuring negative thoughts into positive thoughts can be a great help. I’ve found that assuming the best of a situation greatly affects how I feel about it. For example, if I catch someone staring at me, I assume they think my prosthetic legs are cool, rather than assuming they think they’re “weird.” More than likely, they are curious and find prosthetics interesting anyway.
However, if a negative thought does enter your mind, pause and try to replace it with a positive one. If you are unable to do so in the moment, allow yourself time to cool off and relax before revisiting the thought. Try writing the negative thought onto a piece of paper and writing a positive thought next to it. Sometimes it is difficult to think with positivity, especially in the moment. But, once you get into a habit, it becomes much easier.
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Achieving something that challenges you can be a huge confidence booster. Challenges don’t have to be physical. Maybe you just want to eat healthier or be able to speak in front of a group. Just remember, bigger goals can be accomplished by meeting smaller goals. A challenge doesn’t even have to appear challenging. It could simply be trying something new.
A big challenge for me was running. I physically couldn’t run, because I don’t have legs. But, once I received my running blades, I learned that I loved it. Now I realized that I can set running goals and possibly achieve them. Running a marathon isn’t easy. But several years ago, I set this big goal. It took me two years to achieve it, but what matters is that I did it. I finished it. This goal definitely boosted my confidence as an athlete and reminded me that if I really want something, I just have to work hard and trust the process, even if it will takes many years!
Don’t worry about others’ opinions.
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This is a big one for me, and I still struggle with it. I had to put it into my mind that others’ opinions simply do not matter when it comes to my wellbeing. For years, I was afraid to wear shorts because I feared what people would think when they saw my prosthetic legs. I finally started wearing shorts, and I found that over time it became much easier to not care if I noticed someone staring at me.
Currently, I do not care what others think when they look at my legs, but I do find myself caring what others think of my personality. At this point in my life, however, I must remind myself that I am who I am. I will not change myself to please others, because that would cause me to sacrifice part of my core being. Letting go of worries about what others think about me is liberating.
Celebrate small things.
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Really, you’ve made it this far in life, and that is fantastic! Life deserves little celebrations. There’s no need to do anything big. You could simply decide to buy a muffin with your coffee to celebrate completing a project at home or work. Your celebration could even be a mental pat on the back for crossing something off of your to-do list. Speaking of to-do lists, feeling like you have accomplished something can give your self-esteem a boost. It can be as simple as making a to-do list that includes items like “wash hair” and “put dirty dishes in the dishwasher.” At the end of the day, it just feels nice to have accomplished something, even if that something is just crossing “put on pants” from your list. Now go have a glass of wine as a celebration! LOL
It’s ok to have bad days.
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No one can be fully confident 100% of the time. Some days are more difficult than others, and sometimes setbacks arise which make life difficult. Do not beat yourself up if you are having a bad day. Instead, try to find a way to salvage the day. Sometimes the “bad” times last longer than you would like, but trying your best to pull yourself out of a funk is the best thing you can possibly do.
One final point to consider is that everyone is different! While the above tips have been helpful for me, they may not be helpful for everyone. What works for one person, does not always work for others. The best thing to do to become more confident is to simply try!
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Do not give up. The journey to becoming more confident is a cross-country marathon, not a sprint. It will take time and there will be obstacles, but eventually you will succeed.
I am confident that you’ll find confidence. It’s out there, go get it (with a glass of wine.)