Here are some tools to help you cope when other people stare, ask questions or make comments.
Do you feel a bit low in confidence sometimes? We know that people who look different sometimes need a helping hand. So we have created five “confidence tools” for you to try out.
Remember – confidence takes practice. Don’t expect these tools to work straight away. And you might like some more than others. Try them out a few times and see what works for you.
Sometimes, it’s easier to be nice to other people than ourselves. Next time you feel a bit rubbish about yourself, think about what you would say to a friend. What are your good points, the things other people like about you but that you’re not so good at seeing yourself?
To help you to think about your positive qualities, try thinking about the questions below:
- What do other people like about you? Ask your friends and family and write this down.
- What do you think are your good points? Are you kind and caring? Are you patient? Do you listen to others? Are you funny? It might help to look at things your friends or family have said about you and see which you most strongly agree with. Don’t be shy – write down what you really think!
- What are you good at? This can be anything. Are you good at sports or certain subjects? Are you really good at taking care of other people or animals? Do you like writing stories? Or drawing? Or playing the piano?
- What good things have you done? Maybe you did something that made someone else happy. Or helped someone out when they were struggling.
What have you done that you have been really pleased with? Here are some examples:
- I helped out at home when we had a big family birthday.
- I got a good grade or good feedback on a piece of schoolwork.
- I helped a friend when they were upset.
- I went to the park, even though I was really anxious and stressed about it.
The thing about our thoughts is that they are just that – thoughts in our head, not facts. But they can affect how we feel and what we do. Although upsetting thoughts can sometimes take over, thinking them doesn’t make them true. Here are some exercises you can do to stop thoughts dictating.
Thoughts not facts
If a bad thought comes into your head, try thinking a positive one instead.
For example, you might have the thought, “I am worried about going to the party because people might think I look different”. Instead, try thinking, “All my friends will be at the party and it will be fun”.
Or you might think, “People will stare at me”. Instead, try thinking, “People who stare may be curious and that’s OK. I’m curious sometimes too. It doesn’t mean they are thinking bad thoughts about me.”
What would you say to a friend?
We are often better at being kind to others and thinking good things about them. So try to imagine what you would say to a friend who was having the same upsetting thoughts as you.
Imagine a friend said, “I don’t want to go to the birthday party – I’m worried people will stare.”
What would you say to your friend? Something like, “You can handle it. You will be with friends and we really want you to be there. Please come – it will be fun and we will support you.”
Do you know what a motto is? It’s a short sentence that sums up your beliefs and point of view. You might find it helps to have your own motto to remember when things are difficult.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- I can do this!
- There’s more to me than how I look.
- My friends think I’m really great / clever / fun / talented – and I am!
- I am unique and proud of myself.
- I have overcome many challenges. I am a strong person.
- I’m OK and I will show other people I am OK.
It’s usually best if only a few trusted people know about motto, like your family or best friend.
Try out this example:
Imagine you are at the checkout in a supermarket with your family. You notice some children behind you staring. You start to feel embarrassed.
Think of a motto to use in this situation and write it down. Then think of other situations and mottos that might be useful. You may want to have a few different mottos you can use in different situations.
This tool was created by Alison, who has a visible difference. She came up with it as a teenager and wanted to share it with others. This is how Alison explains it:
- S = Speak: For me, it’s the most important way to let my personality shine through and make people see I’m more than how I look.
- M = Mix: Take up a new hobby, go out, meet people – it’s hard but it’s worth it.
- I = Ignore all the magazines and celebrity culture which promote the idea that if you’re not beautiful you don’t have a nice life – it’s just not true.
- L = Live. There are many occasions when I could just have closed the door and never gone out again but it would not have been a life. Having a life, however hard it can be sometimes, is really worth it in the long run – it has taught me so many valuable skills in handling other people and my visible difference.
- E = Eye contact. I always maintain eye contact with who I am speaking to. It helps me to show that I’m comfortable with my appearance and also to show that I’m listening to the other person.
Looks are usually the first thing we notice about someone. But how our face or our body looks is just one part of our overall appearance. Our whole look is made up of all sorts of things, from what we wear to how we do our hair. Put together, this is our “image”.
You have a lot of control over your image, and this can help you feel confident and tell other people who you are. If you’re happy with how you look, you’ll feel good – and if you feel good, you’ll look good too.
Try out different styles, colours, hairstyles, clothes, bags, jewellery, hats, accessories, and so on. There are so many ways you can show your own unique style!
It’s not about brands and fashion. It’s about thinking about all the different things that make you you. What helps you to…?
- Feel comfortable.
- Feel confident and good about yourself.
- Express your personality.
- Have respect for yourself.
Try out this example:
Imagine you are going to a party. Draw or write a list of the outfit you want to wear and the style you want to have. Label or describe each bit of your outfit to say why you like it.
When you’ve done this, think of some other situations and imagine how you might style yourself for them.
The butterfly activity pack was created during the lockdown to keep you busy and help you learn about difference.
It’s packed full of activities like colouring in, making 3D butterflies and even some baking! You can find it here: