Self-confidence and being chronically ill

How do you stay positive if you are ill for a long time? A chronic illness can have a huge impact on your daily life. You can no longer just do everything you want and that causes disappointments. Disappointments due to, for example, a study that you cannot complete, a job that you cannot keep, social appointments that you often have to cancel, or ordinary things such as housework that you have no energy for. In addition, a long-term illness can cause you to lose confidence in your own body, which can cause a major dent in your self-confidence. When you are dealing with a chronic illness, it is difficult to remain optimistic. Yet it is important to work on that and keep thinking positively. Below are some tips to boost your self-confidence.

Don’t compare yourself to others

Comparing yourself to other people is of no use. You cannot compare your situation with that of ‘healthy’ people, nor with that of other chronically ill people. Everyone is different and everyone’s illness progresses differently. If you can’t work, exercise, etc., don’t look at everyone who can. You already have a full-time job elsewhere: your illness. That does not make you lazy or unmotivated, you are simply more limited in your daily functioning. So don’t judge yourself based on what others perform, this will only make you feel inferior. Do what you can, within your limits, that’s good enough.

Do not feel guilty

If your illness has you spending most of your days on the couch or in bed, it can cause you to feel guilty about not doing the responsible things that are expected of you. Things like earning money, studying, housework, a social life. However, remember that taking care of yourself is your greatest responsibility. Thinking about your own body and, for example, taking enough rest, paying attention to your diet, etc. are the most responsible things you can do. You have a sick body to take care of and the fact that you are doing so is nothing to feel guilty about.

Emphasize what you can do and what you have achieved. Plus: enjoy it!

A chronic illness can be quite limiting, making normal things like shopping, cooking, cleaning, etc. a huge challenge. The same applies to activities that are seen as fun and relaxing, such as a day away, a birthday or a dinner. Therefore, enjoy everything you do and achieve, no matter how small it may seem. For example, if you still went out and kept that appointment, even though you really didn’t have the energy to do it, be proud of that.

Keep reaching out

Maintaining a social life when you are ill for a long time can be difficult, especially if you are confined to your home a lot. Moreover, you may feel that those around you do not understand your illness, which can all contribute to feeling lonely. The only thing that helps is to keep reaching out. Whether you do this via social media such as Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter, or whether you call an acquaintance, meet up with someone, or, for example, contact fellow sufferers via a forum. Make sure that it is not just about your illness, but that you talk about pleasant topics. Continue to show interest in people, so that they also continue to be interested in you. After a good, fun conversation, you feel much better about yourself. You are seen and heard. Even a simple chat with the cashier at the supermarket can help you with your self-confidence.

You are not your disease

Always see yourself as separate from your illness. Of course, a chronic illness is constantly present, you always have to take it into account and it can influence your behavior and personality. Yet you are much more than your illness. Therefore, list your positive qualities and talents for yourself. For example, can you listen well to people, give them advice, make them laugh, draw beautifully, you name it. This gives you more insight into who you really are and what you have to offer. And don’t forget that dealing with a chronic illness is not easy, which means that you are an extremely strong person and a go-getter.

Be kind to yourself

No one can be you better than yourself. Even with a chronic illness, you are still just fine. Accepting and appreciating who you are is the basis of your self-confidence. Of course you would rather not have been sick and it is okay if you are occasionally disappointed or sad, but after that it is time for positive thoughts again. If there is one thing chronically ill people can (or should) learn, it is to genuinely enjoy the little things. A nice chat, the sun shining, your favorite song on the radio. Focus on those moments. Buy yourself a present, treat yourself to that warm bath or that delicious bar of chocolate. You deserve that.

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