I was doing an interview recently for a podcast, and the host asked me how I built up enough confidence to compete in pageantry. I paused for a second and considered the question. How exactly did the little girl who was too scared to start a conversation muster enough courage and confidence to roll on stage in front of hundreds of people?
The truth is, I had a low self-confidence that plagued me for years. At times, I felt like it was a weakness I could never overcome. Luckily, a few key experiences and realizations ended up changing my mindset forever and put me on track toward becoming a more bold and confident me.
The struggle to find self-love, especially when you deal with urinary incontinence, is one that I know all too well. I am here to say that it doesn’t have to control your life - you can still hold your head high and take on the world! So in honor of preparing for the Miss North Carolina USA pageant in March (yes, on stage with bladder control pads and all), I wanted to create a six-part series for you of specific strategies of how to beat the insecurity of having an injured body and build confidence to love yourself just the way that you are!
Confidence Challenge #1
I constantly crave sugar. I always want to sleep in. Sometimes I get super emotional. Because of my injury, I can’t control my bladder and often have accidents. My list of weaknesses is longer than I would like to admit! My bladder “weakness” in particular used to constantly make me feel ashamed as I went through my day. I remember having visible accidents in school and thinking that everyone was judging and laughing at me. This made me hang my head low and hide in the background. I believed that my imperfections were too great for me to ever find confidence. How could someone like me be proud of who she was?
Here is the thing - we ALL have imperfections. Your “flaws” are things that are uniquely yours. The first step to overcoming your hang-ups with these imperfections is acknowledging them. Which specific qualities about yourself make you feel insecure? Do you feel self-conscious about physical attributes? Do you have tendencies that you dislike? Do you struggle in certain areas of your life?
Write these things down and begin to face them HEAD-ON. Some of the items on your list will be things you can improve and some of them will be things you cannot. (Remember the serenity prayer!)
God give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
With the things you can change:
Make an action plan of ways that you can improve these weaknesses (ex. Sign up for a fitness boot camp and create a healthy weekly meal plan if you feel insecure about your weight.)Meet with experts who can help to support you on your journey (Schedule an appointment with a psychiatrist if you are dealing with high anxiety.)Share your desire to improve with your friends and family (Ex. Tell your best friend that you will be working towards being more assertive and you would love their support along the way!) This step validates your commitment in your mind.
With the things you cannot change:
Wake up in the morning and find gratitude for these challenges. Think about how they are put in your life to make you stronger and wiser in order to fulfill your life purpose.Find people who are dealing with the same difficulty. Being able to relate to others is a huge asset in learning to accept major challenges.Take a moment to have COMPASSION for yourself. Take away the criticism and replace it with love. You are doing the best that you can and are uniquely beautiful just the way you are!When I was dealing with incontinence, I realized I could take both of these approaches in order to take control of my confidence and my life. First, I found bladder control pads and other incontinence products that would help protect me when I had an accident (Thank you Aeroflow!) while working with specialists to help retrain my spastic bladder. With bio-feedback, I was even able to gain greater control of my bladder and learn to go to the bathroom without using a catheter. Second, I completely shifted my mindset on how I viewed the situation. I was just a girl whose body was a little damaged from a spine injury. Yeah, some things don’t work as normally now, but they are just BATTLE SCARS from living a full life. And at the end of the day, it was just pee. Everybody does it and honestly, nobody cares!
When you take control of the things that you feel insecure about, they don’t have power over you anymore. YOU become the boss, and they are just obstacles that you are prepared to overcome. With this first step toward confidence, you stop your weaknesses from undermining your belief in yourself. You accept and love who you are while working to become better every day!
Write a list of your insecurities; under each item, describe how you will either work to improve it or learn to love yourself the way that you are! Share yours by using the hashtag #AeroflowConfidenceChallenge.
After miraculously surviving a car accident that left her paralyzed from the waist down, Madeline Delp decided that she would refuse to be a victim to her circumstance. She’s a Ms. Wheelchair USA winner, keynote speaker, and fear chaser. She founded her nonprofit organization, Live Boundless, to provide wheelchairs to those in need.
Madeline has also been an Aeroflow Urology Brand Ambassador since 2019. During her time as Brand Ambassador, she has helped spread awareness of the Aeroflow Urology brand and has assisted in tackling the stigma associated with incontinence.