Confidence can be a fragile thing whether you have a disability or not. It feels as though there are more pressures now than there have ever been to look a certain way. Social media plays a big part in this, but it’s not all to blame. I think we have got to a point where we are living life through a filter. We only allow people to see what we want them to see and the picture has been adapted to make it look how we want it to look. The reality is that there isn’t a filter in the “real world” and because of this, people start to loose confidence and self-appreciation. If we are not careful, it could lead to more mental health issues and depression.
The problem of living life “through a filter” is that we don’t always talk about the root of our issues. We gloss around them and make it look better than it really is. For some, social media, in a weird way has become a place to hide in plain sight. We are obsessed with telling our stories to strangers, before we even tell our loved ones. We make it look as though our lives are fantastic, to gain other peoples appreciation. We take photos of our food, upload it to Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, before we’ve even taken a bite of it. Why do we do this? Are we boasting to people how good our food is? Likewise, with holidays and new cars, we are showing the world how good we want to look to others. The real questions are; Why are we doing this and why do we feel the need for other peoples approval?
Maybe we are looking for compliments. Maybe we just want to show people good food and recommendations of products. My worry is that for some people it’s a deep routed issue of lack of self-love, self-acceptance, and lack of confidence. We are becoming addicted to our phone and when we don’t have it in our hand, we feel naked. The worrying thing is that feeling naked is something that people fear and have nightmares about. We are adding this fear to our own lives, causing anxiety and potentially even more issues.
"What I’ve found is that once you begin to understand true self-love and self-acceptance, you become more beautiful as you let your guard down and you start to shine. You then become more attractive to others both in a physical sense and emotional sense."
Some people are definitely using social media in a positive way and I very much respect that. I know that there are really good forums for people to connect (such as Erb’s Palsy Groups) and they are a wonderful place to go to share stories and experiences. However, I’m talking deeper than that. I worry that some people are also talking about their issues openly, without talking to someone in person. It’s a strange time to live in because mental health is the highest it’s ever been. People can’t seem to talk, yet we have more platforms than ever to express our emotions.
Is media and advertising to blame for our lack of confidence?
I struggle with the media and advertisement as it’s very male dominated, the women always have to be “typically beautiful.” If you sit in the middle of any city and people watch for an hour, you will see how different everyone is. I love the fact that we all come in different shapes and sizes. It makes life so much more interesting and everyone is so uniquely beautiful. So why are all mannequin's in shops ridiculously sized? Why are all models tiny? Why are male models usually chiselled and muscular? Is that what all men are meant to look like? Subconsciously we are picking up on all of these things and when we look in the mirror, most of us will realise that we don’t have the “ideal figure or face,” which then slowly eats away at us.
What is beautiful?
Beauty is an amazing thing and we see it all of the time, but our eyes are being diverted onto what advertising and the media say is beautiful. We are almost hypnotised by this idea of beauty. I could talk forever about beauty in nature, the birds, the mountains etc. However, I want to focus on the beauty within people. You could be the most “beautiful” person in the world, but if your morals are backwards and you have no personality, that beauty is only skin deep.
We are all beautiful and unique. What I’ve found is that once you begin to understand true self-love and self-acceptance, you become more beautiful as you let your guard down and you start to shine. You then become more attractive to others both in a physical sense and emotional sense. It doesn’t mater if you were born with erbs palsy or any other disability. You have the power to shine and to be yourself. If people can’t or won’t accept you for who you are then you don’t need those people in your life. You don’t need ayone else’s approval or compliments to make you feel beautiful. There is so much beauty in being a good person with good morals and someone who respects their own body, mind and spirit. If you interact with someone who is full of love and joy, you can fee that beauty. You can feel it in someone's passion of a hobby or a job. You can feel it in someone’s sense of humour. Let’s not turn into a world where we only see a human’s beauty by the clothes they wear and the figure they have. Have you ever paused to think that the photos you see are edited? How about the fake nails, hair products and make up? What is that person without all of that? The same as everyone else.
"I’d like to see a world where people are happy in their own skin, where people don’t judge, where people have learned to truly love themselves, as I believe that this will be a step closer to world peace."
What is love?
Love gets easily confused with lust and desire. Again, watching TV shows and movies make us think that love is having sex on the first date. It means that when you fall in love, it’s that moment when someone walks in the room and you just instantly know you are in love. The reality is that it just isn’t like that. I searched a long time to find my wife and soul mate. It turns out she was right in front of my eyes and I was too stupid to notice. She was one of my closest mates and I didn’t even realise. I won’t talk to much about love as I’ll save it for another article, however I do want to discuss self-love.
Self-love is often confused with ego. True self-love is knowing that you are a beautiful person despite what others think of you. It’s holding a deep sense of love in your heart for yourself. It’s not about looking in the mirror and thinking you’re “Gods gift.” It’s about being happy in your own skin, not worrying about acceptance from others. If you accept yourself for who you are, then you love yourself in the true sense of the meaning.
Self-acceptance is also a very tricky thing to master, especially if you have a disability. I was born with Erb’s Palsy / Brachial Plexus Injury and at times it can be hard to accept. If I’m honest, I have accepted it. I just worry that others may think I’m different and that THEY won’t accept it. Why do I feel like this? It’s a pressure I feel, but can’t quite explain where it’s come from. I’m working very hard to eliminate this feeling, but it’s a slow process. I use mindfulness meditation to help me and I often go to sweat lodges to help shift these blocks. Everyone will have their way of dealing with it, but I think it’s very important to start the process sooner rather than later.
Where do we go from here?
People are on their own individual journeys. Who am I to tell them what to do? I’d like to see a world where people are happy in their own skin, where people don’t judge, where people have learned to truly love themselves, as I believe that this will be a step closer to world peace. If we eliminated ego and the struggle for power and acceptance from others, we would have no fear. There wouldn’t be any judgement and there wouldn’t be any fighting because everyone would feel so much love inside of them, there would be no need for negativity. We do have a long way to go, but I also feel that it’s getting closer. Ghandi was so right when he said “Be the change you want to see in the world.” We just need to listen…