Ableism can hurt your confidence. Learn to use your voice to regain your personal power!
People living with disabilities can struggle to show up as their fully empowered selves in our typically ableist society. The Neuromuscular Disease Foundation has an upcoming webinar hosted by EMMY-winning voice-over artist Tasia Valenza to help people understand the importance of their voice and help them to move in the world with presence, charisma and confidence
The importance of confidence in daily life
Confidence is an important component of living a healthy and fulfilled life. It allows us to reach higher goals, follow our dreams and take the road less travelled.
Without confidence, we might miss out on the best things that life has to offer. But how can we strengthen our self-confidence when we live with a chronic physical disability that sometimes causes us to feel uncomfortable, or even inferior?
We sat down with a group of individuals who are living with disabilities to answer that question. Several patients let us into their lives, sharing which emotional obstacles are the most challenging to surmount, and how disability can diminish one’s confidence:
“As a person with a disability, my physical limitations really affect my sense of self-confidence, especially when I have to ask for help from others, or for special accommodations. I think the toughest part is feeling that others who don’t experience the same challenges won’t or can’t understand my struggles.” – anonymous
“I hear a lot of patients say how they’ve overcome their challenges, they’re so grateful now for their diagnosis, and they’re better for it now. This may be an unpopular observation, but that hasn’t been my experience. I really struggled for a long time.” – anonymous
“I fell into depression; and it took me a long time to feel comfortable hanging out with my old friends from childhood after my symptoms worsened. I also had some social anxiety around having to use my wheelchair in public places.” – anonymous
According to the National Institutes for Health, studies show that “those with constantly low acceptance [of disability] were 2.35 times (95% CI 1.81–3.04) more likely to have low self-esteem… there [are] several risk factors that could make individuals more vulnerable to low self-esteem. Therefore, it is necessary to help people accept their disabilities to maintain healthy self-esteem levels”.1
The emotional obstacles affecting confidence
One challenge is how we, as adults, want autonomy over our schedules. We want the freedom to choose what to do and when. After home care or other aids become necessary to complete daily tasks, everything changes. Life becomes regulated by an endless schedule, and each action hangs upon the caregiver or helper who is available. Things we once thought nothing of doing, like bathing or eating, necessarily become planned group events. As such, our lives become more regimented. We must also rely heavily on others for every aspect of our daily lives.
When we struggle with feelings of unworthiness or embarrassment, we can feel tempted to respond to those feelings by withdrawing. But it is critically important for us to realise that not every day is easy, and that’s okay. We all struggle, we all feel down sometimes. When these feelings become stronger than one’s motivation to live life in full swing, then it might be time to reconnect with close ones, establish a healthy support system, or even seek counselling.
The Neuromuscular Disease Foundation recently invited the community to attend an online presentation hosted by EMMY-winning voice-over artist Tasia Valenza: Give Great Voice! The Art of Confident Verbal Communication. Tasia was “thrilled to work with this courageous community to empower them to use their voices more confidently”.
 Jung YH, Kang SH, Park EC, Jang SY. Impact of the Acceptance of Disability on Self-Esteem among Adults with Disabilities: A Four-Year Follow-Up Study. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022;19(7):3874. doi:10.3390/ijerph19073874
Correction: Tasia was mistakenly represented as disabled in the original version of this article. She is, in fact, non-disabled.