Today, we are going to explain the idea that every vitiligo fighters should learn right after their vitiligo diagnosis. Dr. Maxwell Maltz said it was the greatest psychological discovery of his generation; it’s the self image.
Self image differs from self-esteem even though they are closely related. Self-esteem is how you FEEL about yourself while Self image is how you SEE yourself and how you believe other people SEE YOU. It is more of a perception; hence it is not always backed up by facts. Self image in vitiligo is the sum of all your thoughts on the following:
- What kind of individual do you think you are?
- What you think you look like physically with those white patches?
- Your interpretation of how other people see you and your vitiligo?
- What you are in comparison to other people?
- How much you like YOU?
- How much you think other people like YOU after knowing that you have vitiligo?
Unfortunately or fortunately, your personal life and professional life (especially relationships) are dependent on how you see yourself. A healthy self image will keep you from beating yourself up over your vitiligo. You will learn to forgive yourself and learn that no one is perfect, including you. With an improved self image, you will become more relaxed about life and will be able to minimize vitiligo-led stress. By developing a better self image, you will feel like you deserve the good things in life. You will be more accepting of the fact that vitiligo is indeed a blessing in disguise.
So, how do we change the way we see ourselves? Can we unlearn what vitiligo made us learn about ourselves? We have compiled a list of tips for you to improve self image in vitiligo:
1. Make a list.
Write down all your best personal qualities. If needed, spend weeks to finish the list, but don’t stop until you’ve jotted down every positive thing you know about yourself. If it took you a long time to create the list, then take some time out to review the list every day and let all these positive qualities sink in. This will remind yourself of your value.
Once you are deeply familiar with all of your positive qualities, choose the one that best represents you in a word. Make it the foundation of your character as you begin to build on it.
2. Speak kindly to yourself.
A vitiligo fighter’s self-esteem is built on the way he/she talks to himself/herself on a daily basis. Are you aware of how your mind talks to yourself? Keep track of your self-talk in your diary or cell phone. Make an entry each time you think positive or negative about yourself. When you realize just how hard you’re being on yourself, revisit the list of personal qualities you’ve created in the first place.
3. Reflect well on others.
Be empathetic. If you really want to feel valuable, you have to add value to the people around you. Mentor people or give assistance to those less fortunate than yourself. Find a way to serve others by utilizing your strengths.
Vitiligo fighters often develop an inherent tendency to SEE themselves based on others’ opinion. And, this is where this exercise can help them. As long as you will help people around you, you will improve their perception about you, which will help you improve your self image. Didn’t understand what we mean? Just introduce yourself to a stranger who looks lost, confused or alone. You will be viewed as a savior, which will contribute to a positive self image.
4. Don’t compare yourself to others.
It’s hard not to, especially when you have asymmetrical vitiligo patches all over your body – something not very common? But, you got to do that. When your self image is based on how you compare yourself to other people, you will be in a constant state of frustration.
Build your self image based on what YOU have accomplished in life so far. So, it’s best to compete only with you. Focus on you and strive to be superior every day. As an exercise, set your own internal standards more willingly than comparing yourself to others. Keep upgrading these standards in areas of personal grooming, lifestyle, behavior, professional accomplishments, relationships, etc.
5. Enhance your appearance.
Self image is the conceptual and visual display of your self-esteem. So assess your clothes, vehicle, home decor, dresser drawers, work desk, etc. Make your body look good by jogging, walking, swimming or some other healthy exercise at least thrice a week. To make the most of these exercises, you need to eat nutritional, balanced meals instead of junk food.
6. Have supportive people around.
Surround yourself with a group of people who really appreciate you, but can provide you with constructive and honest feedback. Provide warmth, kindness, and friendship to these people. This will keep you grounded and make you value yourself as an honest human being.
7. Imagine yourself achieving your dreams.
Keep 20 to 30 minutes to yourself every day when you can relax and imagine yourself achieving and enjoying your personal dreams. To prepare yourself for this daily exercise, read a biography of someone you admire each month. As you read, picture yourself attaining the same accomplishments.
You should also:
- Replace the word ‘can’t’ with ‘can’ in your vocabulary. Substitute the word ‘try’ with ‘will’ in your daily conversation. Associate with optimists and winners.
- Don’t worry about your fears. Fears are a part of being human. Share your fears with someone who can help you look at them sensibly.
- Read books, listen to tapes, attend seminars or learn a new skill.
- Smile! It’s contagious. Mediate to calm your anxiety.
- Do the right thing. You cannot do bad and feel good. Take the blame and the credit honestly and openly for your position in life.