Alicia Reagan, a paraplegic mom, remembers struggling with confidence in her early days in a wheelchair.
“One day I had a eureka moment. I decided that since I could not change my disability, I was not going to let my disability change me. It was not time for my life to stop or be over. It was time to still be me.”
So what makes the difference in being confident? Confidence is a key element of healthy relationships. Even if you’re struggling with a new disability or other challenges, it’s important to work to establish your confidence so you can be a healthy contributor to any relationship in your life.
Tips for establishing confidence with a disability:
- Accepting your disability is key. We can never be confident if we cannot accept our disability.
- Owning your disability is necessary. Work past feeling embarrassed.
- Moving past your disability is a must. We are people first, and then we are disabled.
“I remember soon after I became disabled, I had someone say to me, ‘I am not sure what to call you. Crippled? Disabled? Handicapped?' I said, ‘Oh, you can still call me Alicia.'”
While sometimes disability can seem to take over someone’s life, it’s important to keep it from being all consuming. You may need help accomplishing specific tasks, but if you carry yourself with confidence, you can receive help from others and still maintain your dignity and control in your life. It’s important to maintain your individuality no matter what and find confidence in who you are as a person.
“I am more than just paralyzed. I am a wife, a mom, a leader, a friend, a sister, a daughter, a church member, and on and on. It is easy to let others kind of run over your life because they have more physical abilities. Don’t do this! I have met disabled people like this and they are out of control of their lives.”
Tips for the able-bodied people in the lives of people with disabilities:
- Accept our disability. When you are cool with who I am, it helps me be cool with who I am.
- Let us be who we are. Maybe I can do things, and maybe I can’t, but I want to try!
- Allow us to go and do what we desire to do.
“I will never forget the first time I wanted to drive to Tennessee from Ohio by myself,” Alicia remembers. “It was a terrifying thing for my husband to let me go and do that.” She also faced opposition from her community, all begging her not to go. “Please let us be who we are,” she pleads. “Rather you agree or not, is really not the point. Our dreams and our desires still mean very much to us.”
There will be ups and downs along the way, but it’s all worth it. “Whatever it is that you feel is intimidating you, than make it your project to work on confidence in that area,” she shares. This is a great way to stretch your comfort zone, build your independence and have the confidence you need to form healthy, stable relationships in your life.
Know someone who’s confidence has taken a hit recently? Share this article to give them a boost of support!