I remember clearly that feeling of validation, relief, happiness, sadness, and fear simultaneously when a doctor first told me that I had an endometriosis diagnosis. It was just after coming out of my first laparoscopy surgery, I was a little out of it still from all the medication, but I made sure to really pay attention to what the doctor needed to tell me. He walked next to the hospital bed, he gave my arm a very gentle shook so I could open my eyes and to make sure that I was awake and he said… We found stage IV endometriosis. Suffering for so many years without being heard shattered me a lot more than I cared to admit, it broke my confidence and it made me self-doubt myself in many aspects of my life. It’s been around 3 years since that day and I have worked hard to build back my confidence and I want to share this part of my journey with you in the hopes that it can help you too.
When I was in extreme pain screaming for help and not being heard it made me stop trusting the health care system and also the closest people around me. It is hard to keep fighting for your health and not be believed because on paper the health exams keep showing that everything is ok. At some point in this journey doctors, family, friends, and loved ones doubted my pain and as a result, I started to doubt it myself. In a way, all of this self-doubt lead to me creating unhealthy patterns like not voicing my pain. Reflecting back, I can even pinpoint a specific word “hypochondriac” that was said to me by a family member and that was extremely damaging for my self-confidence. All of this is behind me now, I have confidence now and therefore I was able to change the outcome of my life. Here are some steps on how I was able to build confidence after years of self-doubt.
Confidence is something that you have to work on daily
Stay focused on yourself:
Stay focused on getting healthier and nothing else. You, your health, and your state of mind should be your top priority. Forget about everyone else and their opinions just focus on getting healthier regardless of where your endometriosis journey is. In this step, it is really important to know your value.
Part of the problem with self-doubt is that you begin to doubt the core of who you are which are the values that inspire you and guide your decisions. To learn how to be confident, you must know what your values are: loyalty, appreciation, compassion, generosity, and so on. All values are important and they make up who you are, there are no weak values because they make you uniquely you so just take pride in them.
When you know your values, you will be able to make value-driven choices, which leave no room for doubt. Strong decision-making is key to living with confidence which in turn is essential for advocating for your own health. When you’re living up to your own standards, you’ll have absolute certainty and that’s the definition of an extraordinary life filled with passion and purpose. In this process, you will learn to trust yourself and your gut instinct, you will have such confidence that you will learn to make better decisions for your own health journey specific to your wants and needs.
Accept your emotions:
When you’re learning how to be more confident, it’s tempting to focus on an idealized version of yourself which is the person you wish you were, a mystical person who never experiences pain, fear, doubt, or shame. While managing negative emotions is certainly part of building confidence, shutting down your feelings will not help. It is here when you will have to master your emotions and actually let yourself feel them.
Let the rage, anger, sadness, helplessness, and all of the negative feelings that come with endometriosis sink in and just feel them. Cry if you need to, write, sing, or do what is required to actually sit with them and feel them. This process will allow you to let go of heavy emotions that we carry because of our chronic illness and this will make room for positive emotions that will come up during your healing journey.
Accept yourself as you are in any emotional state whether it is a good one or a bad one. When you accept yourself unconditionally, you’re able to look at your feelings objectively and realize that they are there to teach you something. Lack of confidence is your brain protecting you from embarrassment or discomfort, and it’s a signal that it’s time to get outside your comfort zone and face your fears.
Think more positively:
I know this is extremely hard especially after years of experiencing pain and not seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, but it is possible. Feeling confident starts from within with positive thinking. When you’re building confidence, learn how to reframe your mindset to start thinking more positively, better scenarios, and feel more self-assured as a result. First, examine what is holding you back and your limiting beliefs which are the stories we tell ourselves about who we are. Are you nervous about speaking up at the doctor’s because you’ve always told yourself you’re shy? Do you tell yourself you could never be brave enough to stand up for yourself? These beliefs are only holding you back from a healthier life and one with more confidence.
Thinking positively before a doctor’s appointment or surgery can set the tone for a hopefully successful scenario. I remember talking to myself and even imagining myself a lot healthier and with less pain before going into surgery. I ran all the positive scenarios of the surgery in my head and I choose to ignore the negative ones and I do believe it helped in my speedy recovery. This does not mean that because you think positively all good things will happen to you but it does help you with anxiety and your confidence in many aspects of your life, and who knows it may help with the universe in a mysterious way!
If you find yourself asking negative, limiting questions when it’s time to be confident, stop yourself. Think about a positive aspect about yourself instead “like how brave you are”, and begin focusing on all the reasons you’ll succeed instead of why you’ll fail. It may feel awkward in the beginning but the more you repeat positive self-talk, the more you’ll believe it. Once you build this habit, you’ll be able to view setbacks as stepping stones to a better life.
Learn to communicate effectively:
Confidence and effective communication are both qualities of a leader and they should be essential parts of your life. They complement each other: communication skills are critical to achieving confidence, and learning how to be confident is pivotal to succeeding in life. If you have endometriosis you must be able to communicate with self-assurance so others can take you seriously.
I remember going into doctor’s offices with notes of information that I gathered about specific medications, or with my folder of my medical history and my laparoscopy internal pictures and prepared to have a discussion with them. This was not the case on my first appointments but I learned that if I wanted a good outcome for my endometriosis healing journey, I needed to prepare myself so I could be ready to fight for what I believed were the best treatments for me. Going unprepared for a doctor’s appointment will leave you feeling hopeless, make sure you make a list of points that you want to discuss with him/her, and that way you will get a lot more from that visit.
Communication is a vital soft skill that allows you to build a close relationship with others, and sometimes it’s less about talking than it is about listening (ironically because we are hardly heard). Communication involves respect, compassion, empathy, and deep listening. It means learning how to move your body and project yourself to others as well. When you feel good about your communication skills, you’re mastering how to gain confidence with every interaction you have.
Reevaluate your life goals:
We all have a blueprint of how we want our lives to be, our health, a certain career, a certain family, and certain possessions, and we think we must have them on a certain timeline. When we don’t get these things, it becomes our greatest source of pain. It is here that we have to let go of the need for control and be grateful instead.
Practicing gratitude is a part of the healing journey and it can do wonders for your brain. There are many aspects of the endometriosis journey that are out of our control but what in life is in our control? We all have to deal with uncertainty but how we deal with that is what makes the difference. Learning to make the best out of the circumstances will build our confidence a lot more than trying to control them.
When you’re focused on retaining a sense of control in life, it actually diminishes your confidence. Please know that nothing in life is truly within our control. When we let go, we are able to accept circumstances as they are or as they come, which is a powerful component of learning how to build confidence.
I hope these steps can help you as much as they have helped me. Please feel free to comment, email me or share this post!
Until next time,