A person & the words they speak are powerful. With a few words, a person can either tear you down or build you up.
What I find interesting about that thought is that, the person being spoken to can essentially give the person speaking the power to effect the way they think & feel about themselves & their situation in life. By your reaction, you allow what is being said to effect you. This could even have a knock on effect in a person's life; either in a positive or negative way.
But have you also noticed that all it takes is one person? & that it's usually someone you think is close to you, that knows you best? Especially when their words have a negative impact, no matter how many other people say positive things. That one negative person reigns supreme in your mind & you believe that what they've said or implied is the truth & everyone else is wrong because usually they are the person you trust the most!
Giving one person, no matter who they are, all that power over you really does seem stupid & self-deprecating yet, in one way or another, we all at some point (no matter how old we are) have done it & continue to do it. I know I have many times in the past & fairly recently too...
|Photo Source: Instagram. Esther Oh @estheroh_|
I've always struggled with confidence & self worth issues, but a few years ago, before I found out I had M.E, my issues weren't too bad & my general confidence & self worth was pretty good. Then I began to get sicker & eventually found out what was wrong. As my condition worsened & I started to struggle to do everyday things, I felt my confidence begin to drop as the list of things I was capable of doing got shorter & shorter. Chronic Illness will have that affect on you, it doesn't just rob you of the actual things you could do, it robs you of your worth & confidence too.
Winter of 2013/2014 was a very dark period of time for me, I still can't talk about how bad it was in detail without getting upset but I believe that I had to go through what I did to make me realise how strong I truly am! I'm proud to say now that I didn't give up even though there were many times I wanted to.
I can't explain what happened but at some point, I realised that I wasn't going to let this illness rob me of myself & I began to switch my focus & even though the list of things I was capable of doing for myself was a little one, it was still a list of things I could do! Then when I began my treatment & I was given the chance of getting better, my confidence went up.
So over the past year & a half, as my health has slowly begun to improve, the little list of things I could do began to grow & so did my confidence, self worth & feelings of capability. Then for an extra boost, my specialist, back in September, said that because my body is responding well to the treatment, he expects my recovery level to be around the 80 - 90% mark!
Not long after that, due to numerous things, I hit a bad setback & my confidence was beginning to wobble but I clung to what my specialist had said. Then out of nowhere, during that time, I was hit with a whole host of negative words & I gave that one, now insignificant person, the power to make me feel like I was nothing, useless, worthless, incapable of doing anything for myself & worse, to make me doubt my recovery was even possible anymore! (This person never knew that's how they had made me feel & is no longer part of my life)
No matter what other people said to contradict them, I didn't believe a word. That one person & their words were ruling my head & how I felt about myself because I trusted them & so they must be correct in saying what they did right?
They were completely & utterly wrong in how they saw things, how they saw me, my life & the life I will be able to have in the future! No one truly knows about any of those things accept for you & no one has the right to tell you about you, your life & if you're chronically ill, about the condition you live with day in & out, unless they are a specialist & actually know what they're talking about. Or live with you & see you daily & have more of an idea about what you have to deal with.
In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt: "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent" Do not give anyone that power!
Yes that is so much easier said than done, obviously I know! I've been living with all those negative feelings about myself for a few months now & no amount of being told otherwise has helped. I have tried to fight those feelings daily, to force myself to feel happy, worthy & confident again, to no avail. I've also tried to shut down how I'm feeling, to ignore it, that obviously doesn't work, it soon caught up with me & then became ten times worse!
So I have decided to try something different;
I decided to try to acknowledge the fact that I would/will, for a while, be feeling down, sad, lacking confidence & self worth & in general, not my naturally happy, positive self. I basically began embracing the sadness I was feeling on a daily basis. Rather than force myself out of it, I decided to live with it. But I didn't let it take over & stop me from doing the things I could do. I decided to keep going. I made the most of it being a new month & a new year for a clean start. I was & am still in a setback & so instead of trying to deal with how I was feeling, I have shifted my focus (like I did in my severest period with my illness) on bringing myself gradually out of my setback. I am planning my weeks again & setting myself goals & achieving them, which is giving my confidence & self worth a little boost while helping my setback. One is helping the other!
I'm not saying this is a fool proof method & it's the answer to all your problems. But for me, making myself acknowledge & embrace my feelings (which is hard for me) actually helps. One hard thing I had to realise when learning how to live with my chronic illness, is that acceptance doesn't mean giving up. It means you're acknowledging the situation & learning to embrace it & carry on regardless. It's learning to make a new plan, a new life but to repeat IT NEVER MEANS GIVING UP!
So embracing & acknowledging how you feel, doesn't mean your giving in to those feelings & that your going to let them absorb you. It means you're willing to learn to live with them until they are naturally replaced with the feelings you usually live with. For example, if you're a naturally positive person, feeling anything other than that will feel strange, you won't feel yourself. But gradually in time, that positivity will come back. Just be patient, remember Rome wasn't built in a day.
I'm a long way off being myself again, with my confidence & self worth back to the level they were before. I haven't made myself better in the last couple weeks. Those negative words still ring in my ears at times & I sometimes listen & believe them. At other times, I feel myself shake my head, like I'm trying to shake them free of my mind. One change I have noticed, is that though the negative creeps in, so does the positive. I am believing the positive again. I've never thought of myself as someone special or that anything I can do is special, I'm just me & I don't think that will ever change. But when someone tells me something I've done or achieved is good, I'm starting to believe them again & it feels good!
Something else I'm beginning to notice in myself is that sometimes when those negative thoughts fill my mind, they give me a feeling of wanting to prove them wrong. They are making me a stronger person & I'm actually grateful for that! Yes they've torn me down, but I'm determined to get back up & carry on & little by little I'm improving & getting myself back again! One day may be I'll thank the person for that.
So if you are reading this & struggling with self worth, confidence & feeling like you're not capable of anything either due to someones negative words or chronic illness. Remember only you have to the power to dictate how you feel about yourself; no one or no illness should rob you of the person you are. I tell you now that you are no alone in what you're going through & how you're feeling.
Like I said, how I'm dealing with this issue, isn't for everyone. Find what works for you, your personality & nature. Don't be afraid to change things up if your usual method doesn't work, to give something new a go. If you're stuck & don't know where to start, take it back to basics, especially if you've got a chronic illness. Maybe make yourself a list of all the things you are capable of, it may be a little list but it's still a list of what you CAN do & if you find one day you manage something not on the list, add it on & keep adding. You'll have a visualisation of what you are capable of & over time, as you see your list grow, so will your self worth & confidence!
So try to never allow one negative person or chronic illness to destroy your view of yourself. Take those words or situation & gain strength from them. You'll likely surprise yourself in seeing just how much to can do, can handle & just how strong a person you really are.
Never forget; You are capable. You are worthy.