Now you’ve tried our positive-thinking techniques, have a go at these three exercises designed to help boost your confidence.
Sometimes, living with visible difference or disfigurement can lead to low confidence and self-esteem. When we are feeling low in confidence, it is easy to dwell on negative thoughts or focus on our weaknesses.
Positive-thinking techniques can be a simple way to control negative thoughts and focus on the good things.
On this page, we explore the value of positive-thinking and how it works – and introduce two techniques to help you:
- Identify your positive qualities.
- Manage negative thoughts.
How we think, feel and act is influenced by the world around us. When we are born, we are like a blank canvas and we learn who we are by how people respond to us. If people respond positively, we might think we are a good person, and if people respond negatively, we might think we are a bad person.
If you live with a mark, scar or condition which affects your appearance, you may have faced many tough challenges. If you have experienced a lot of negativity, you might start to feel like bad things will always happen to you. Positive-thinking techniques can help you overcome the expectation that things will always be bad.
You might have heard about the power of positive thinking. Maybe your response was, “Easier said than done” or, “So many bad things have happened to me, how can I possibly be positive?” But actually, positive thinking isn’t about flicking a switch.
Positive thinking is about recognising negative thoughts and approaching them in a more balanced way which takes into account the good things that have happened as well. That might sound tricky, so we have pulled together two techniques which will help you approach your thoughts in a systematic way.
In the first of our positive-thinking techniques, we want you to take some time to think about the things you like about yourself. This may seem alien to you, but we want you to recognise the “whole you”, not just the parts you don’t like. For example, you may have overcome physical and mental challenges relating to your visible difference and this brings its own strength and achievements.
“I have found remaining positive challenging at times but can honestly say it is the best path to take. My disfigurement has made me feel inferior, unloved, inadequate at times and it is difficult to replace these feelings with positive ones, particularly if you’ve had negative experiences. Over the years I have also learnt that my disfigurement is a small physical part of me so I make sure that when I go out I take care with the rest of my appearance. I make sure my hair looks nice, that my clothes are presentable and I wear accessories. I find a pretty scarf or a chunky necklace distracts attention from my face”.
Exercise #1: Identify your positive qualities
For the first step of this positive-thinking technique, think about your positive qualities and list at least five of them. Then reaffirm each of these qualities by writing down examples of your positive quality “in action”.
For instance, you may write down, “I am kind”. To demonstrate this, you could say, “Last week, I listened to a friend who was having a difficult time”. Or, “I am good at my job – I recently wrote an important document on time, which was well received”.
Often, we find it challenging to be positive about ourselves, but others will come up with things straight away. If you find this task difficult, ask a friend or family member what they think. You don’t have to think of everything at once. Keep adding to it as you think of things.
Exercise #2: Identify your achievements
What have you done that you have been really pleased with? Focus on your personal achievements – these can be anything, such as:
- I volunteered for a good cause.
- I have eaten healthily this week.
- I have stuck to my exercise plan this week.
- I met my deadline at work even though I was tired.
- I went to the supermarket even though I felt anxious about going.
- I helped my kids with their homework even though I wasn’t feeling my best.
Again, you might want to ask others what they think you have achieved. You can come back to this list and keep adding to it.
Revisit these lists so you can focus on your positive personal qualities and achievements. You could even put some of them on post-it notes and stick them up around the house so you are reminded that you are so much more than those nagging negative thoughts!