We recently received a message from a reader asking for help in regaining his self confidence. We thought long and hard about the answer and then decided that even though we have written about self confidence in the past, maybe this was a topic for a larger discussion. With our readers permission, we are going to share his question with you:
I need help finding my confidence again!! I’m 25 years post C-6 SCI and find myself still single, unemployed, living in the same apt I moved into after I got out of rehab. I feel as if I’m being left behind and that I’m not living with a purpose or reason. I’ve been to college, had a few different jobs and I do get out socially, but I can’t stop feeling bad about my life. ANY SUGGESTIONS OR ADVICE??
This is our reply:
Thank you so much for your open and honest question! We would like to say we understand the position you’re in, but in all honesty, we don’t. Although we may be in relationships with men with SCI’s, we ourselves have not had to overcome an injury that changes every aspect of your life. That being said, we do know what it’s like to be lacking self confidence, whether that be in relationships, careers, or just in general, so we will try to give you our best suggestions to break you out of the rut you’ve found yourself in.
We would like to start by saying congrats on 25 years! That in itself is an accomplishment. You’ve healed, been through rehab, learned how to do things with your new found wheels and become independent again; you’ve already overcome the worst of it. Your strength, your resilience and your ability to persevere and adapt are incredible. Be proud of yourself.
But here you are, stuck. And there’s nothing like being stuck to make you feel bad about yourself and lose sight of your self-worth. So what now?
- You are Worthy. You need to really know this and really understand it. You are worthy of love, the relationships you desire and the life you want to live. This is not just a YOU problem this is an EVERYONE problem…wheelchair or not. You deserve to be happy and nothing should get in the way of your pursuit of happiness.
- It’s time for change. It will probably be hard… actually, scratch that; it WILL be hard, but remember that if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. Start small… something like a new haircut or a new outfit. It’s amazing what looking good can do for your self confidence. Once you’ve conquered the small things, move on to something bigger. Maybe it’s time to start looking for a new apartment? A change of scenery is never a bad thing.
- Unplug for a day. With society the way it is today it is very easy for people to portray a “perfect life”. In fact, we are bombarded daily… correction, hourly, maybe even every minute with happy faces, couples in love, people on holidays. It’s a proven fact that social media outlets are sometimes a trigger for depression. We see other people living the perfect lifestyle when in fact no one is perfect… no one. When you are facing challenges or feeling “bad” about life, scrolling social media is a horrible way to pass the time… it makes you feel worse. Unplugging from the phone or computer for even a day is a great way to reconnect with yourself and find clarity! Everyone wants to portray a “utopian” lifestyle online when in reality we are all dealing with something.
- Get uncomfortable. “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” It’s time to put yourself out there. Find new situations in new places with new people. Instead of saying no, say yes. “Yes, I’d love to come to your dinner party,” even though you won’t know a single person there. “Yes, I’ll join that dating website,” even though you think you couldn’t possibly find love on the internet. Do things you’ve never done, reinvent yourself and conquer a fear or two while you’re doing it. You’ll be amazed at what you’re capable of.
- Find your passion. Now that you’re out there trying new things, maybe you’ll find something new that you love. If not, try looking in unconventional places. Search through job ads that you normally wouldn’t apply for; maybe someone is looking for your exact skill set in a career that you have never considered or maybe didn’t even know existed. Take a class in something you’re interested in. Try out a new sport, maybe wheelchair rugby? Not only is it fun, but it’s great exercise and you’ll be introduced to a whole new group of people in situations similar to yours.
- You are not alone. We all feel insecure sometimes, we all feel stuck at some point and we are all facing challenges in our own way. You are not alone and with saying that you should already feel a weight lift. You are not the only person who is feeling left behind or without purpose. Revel in this feeling right now and know the best is yet to come. The world is your oyster and the road ahead is so open! Instead of feeling stuck, feel free. Instead of feeling behind, know that you are in fact ahead. This is actually a very exciting time for you because the opportunities are endless. You have a blank canvas staring you in the face ready to be splashed with paint, you just need to take the first step…er push! Haha
- Take a good look at your inner circle. You are most like the people you surround yourself with. So make sure you are choosing wisely. Spend time with the dreamers who will help you realize your own dreams and the ambitious ones who will push you to achieve them. Be with people who will challenge you to be better. Energies are contagious, so don’t waste time on people that are negative and are only going to bring you down. Surround yourself with positive people who are going to challenge you to be better. If you don’t already have these people in your life, seek them out. Look to peer groups; find a mentor. If these types of people are already your closest friends, talk to them, ask them for help, rely on them a little. Thats what friends are for.
- Helping others will help you. 25 years in a chair is a very big deal. You are thriving and have been through many experiences. Many people can learn from you. There are hundreds of people who are new to a wheelchair who are feeling scared, angry and lost. You have an incredible gift to offer your community, to offer the world. Share your experiences with other people because in helping others you may just find your purpose.
We have to say, some of our favorite people on this earth are C6 quadriplegics. We are sure that confidence and coolness must go along with this injury level and we hope that what we have said will help you put some swagger back in your roll. Whatever you do, don’t become complacent. At the end of the day, remember that your wheelchair does not define you unless you let it; hell, remind yourself of it every morning too. You have a purpose, a reason for being in this world exactly the way you are, even if you haven’t found it yet. Don’t stop looking. You have the strength to change your path in life and what better time to start than now.
Sam & Chelsea
If you are interested, check out this video we found about moving forward after SCI. Let us know your thoughts and how you were able to thrive after your injury!