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There’s probably not a human alive that couldn’t use a good self-esteem boost from time to time – even those people that appear to be the most confident. For people with disabilities, though, getting comfortable in our own skin can be an even more challenging process. Think about it: the very word disability means that something or someone is not able. And we all know that’s not true.
As people who use wheelchairs, though, it seems we’re constantly having to convince the world that we are capable and deserving of equal access and respect.
Plus, we live in a society where very limited ideas of beauty and value try to define us and imperfections are looked down on. All of this has a psychological impact on our self-worth and self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is our internal belief that we can accomplish anything we set our minds to.
That said, if you could use a hand to boost your confidence, you came to the right place! We’ve put together some tips and activities especially for wheelers to help your self-esteem flourish.
1. say Positive Affirmations
As simple as it may sound, affirmations can be really powerful for shifting our perspectives about ourselves and the world. We often don’t realize that there are thoughts that play over and over in our head that only break down our confidence. Chronic thoughts like, “I’m not good enough,” can run through our minds until we believe they’re true.
When we identify an area of our life that we want to feel better about or do better at, we can create an affirmation that helps move us in that direction. Try taking some sticky notes, writing down some affirmations and placing them around your house and office where you’ll see them often. Several times a day, say them aloud at least five times in a row.
Affirmations like this can be helpful, “I am whole and powerful and capable of anything I want to accomplish,” or “I am at the exact right place at the perfect time and am open to divine guidance.”
Now, at first, when you say your affirmations out loud, they mean seem foreign on your lips. But, with repetition – and an openness for your own personal evolution – your mind will eventually begin to believe what you’re telling it, instead of the other way around.
2. consciously choose to Take Better Care of Yourself
How well we take care of ourselves often correlates to our self-value. We know that eating more nutritious foods and reducing the amount of harmful chemicals we take in is good for our bodies. We know that exercise has all sorts of physical and emotional benefits, and also does well for our outward appearance. We know that more rest and drinking enough water help us function at our best. So, why aren’t these things priorities for many of us?
Making a conscience effort to take better care of ourselves and be kind to our bodies can go a long way to improving self-esteem. When we see the beneficial results of working out or reducing toxins that we take in, it feels good to know that we were responsible for that positive change. It proves that we have power over our own experience, which empowers us to make change in other parts of our lives.
3. Try a Self-Defense Class
Often, a lack of confidence can stem from feelings of vulnerability. If someone believes they’re not capable of defending themselves or that they’re an easy target, the world can seem like a pretty scary place. But, on the flip side, if we learn a little bit about our own strength and become prepared for situations we might fear – it can make all the difference.
In just about every city and small town, there is a martial arts studio of some kind or self-defense instructor willing to share their knowledge. With a little education, anyone can learn tips on staying safe, being aware of your surroundings and the best ways to defend yourself if needed. Not only will you build strength, but you can also learn to carry yourself with confidence.
4. Face Your Fears Directly
Another great way to really know what we’re capable of is to do something that scares us. Our fears hold us back from everything that we wish we could accomplish, but never have the courage to pursue. And when we move through life avoiding the things we really want to do, it does a number on our self-esteem.
For your first fear-busting exercise, pick something doable. If you’re a little afraid of heights, try skydiving. If you have a spider phobia, go to a nature museum and pet a tarantula. If you have things to share but are terrified to speak in front of a crowd, join your local chapter of Toastmasters and get some practice in a supportive environment that can teach you too.
Once you learn that you can conquer your fears, something significant shifts inside of you. You become a stronger, more confident and capable version of yourself.
5. Join a Group of Friends Who Roll
Do you ever feel alone or that you’re the only one out there dealing with the struggles you face? We’ve all been there, and sadly, it tends to contribute to our feelings of self-doubt.
It’s tough to feel confident when we feel like we’re fighting this fight on our own. That’s why the support of others can go a long way, especially when they truly understand your experience.
Find a disability-related peer support group near you! Click here!
In a support group, attendees can find other people that have already overcome their current challenges. They can hear how others have accomplished things that they aspire to achieve. Group members can encourage and uplift each other and offer advice when obstacles arise.
At some point, you may find yourself in the position to empower others, which is wonderful for your own confidence too.
As final thoughts, we wish you the courage to set boundaries, say no when needed, make healthier choices, switch up traditions and do whatever it is you need to do to feel your best.
Kristina Rhoades is a life coach, writer, spokesperson, long-time wheelchair user and the founder of Flower of Life Retreats. She resides with her husband and daughter in beautiful New Mexico and is passionate about helping others live their happiest, healthiest versions of themselves.
Note: The information in this article should not be construed as medical advice. Please contact your physician for questions about your individual health.
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