"But what will they think?"
Part of the reason Rheum For Improvement has not seen more frequent blog posts recently is because I have been worrying that no one will want to read what I have to say.
“Am I arrogant enough to think people will be interested in my words?”
“Surely everyone has something far more interesting and important to do?”
“If I don’t think I’m interesting, no one else is going to!”
These thoughts are really negative, defeats the point of this website entirely and also has ended up creating a downward spiral for me; no blog posts means no writing, which means less communication of my thoughts and more self-doubt and worries. The end result is less people talking about what I’m doing when everyone has been so positive about it so far and I really enjoy it!
So, mindful that I need to knock all this nonsense on the head and having had a real confidence boost yesterday (I will explain), I thought I would write about how our insecurities can come about and what we can do to reduce them.
I have always been a worrier about what other people think. This comes partly from me not having a huge amount of self-confidence despite seeming to on the outside, and also because I prefer to look after others than myself so like to be liked. My teenage years were spent trying to impress a boy who took over my world, spent keeping my Arthritis at bay and be a ‘normal’ teenager, and also spent competing with the clever clogs to try and constantly be top of the class to please the teachers! All those things failed at some point and each time a little bit of me was chipped away making me doubt myself when really I was just piling on far too much pressure and had been doing just fine.
Over the years this self-doubt and worry got more and more difficult to manage and I constantly found myself wondering what people thought of me, was conscious all the time of how I spoke, what I said, how I looked and how I came across. It is exhausting and bad for our own mental health to think in this way.
With help from a book about, I quote, “not giving a f*ck” and slowly maturing a little more to realise that not everyone is going to like me, I felt a lot more content in who I was and how I came across and for the last year or so I haven’t really given it too much thought.
Since Rheum For Improvement has begun I have been so privileged that strangers from all over the world and different walks of life have contacted me to ask questions, give feedback and some have let me know that what I write has helped them. This has been such a confidence boost and made me really proud of what I have achieved. So why have things started changing again?
I launched Instagram and Facebook pages to aid traffic to my website and get Rheum For Improvement out there, despite not being a huge fan because of how I have been made to feel through Facebook in the past. With social media presence comes a lot of comparing and criticism and I was determined to take an ‘unfollow’ or negative comment with a pinch of salt but it really hasn’t been that straightforward.
Slowly I have found myself looking more and more at other people doing similar things, trying constantly to change myself and have been so conscious of what I write and how I come across that I end up saying nothing at all, defeating the whole point of what Rheum For Improvement is about.
Social media can be a terrifying place and I can only think how stressful it must be to be a teenager now with access to all these platforms, constantly encouraging us to compare ourselves to others and battle against the expectations through online content. At 28 years old I didn’t even consider that it would be a personal challenge, but despite having a purely professional account aimed for business, it has still sucked me under and brought negative thoughts, as well as opening so many doors in a positive way too.
One of the many positive aspects of social media was that yesterday I met a girl, Nadine, who contacted me through my Instagram page and invited me to meet up with her. She lives in Liverpool, has had Rheumatoid Arthritis since childhood and so I thought I would take the plunge. This leap of faith paid off as we had endless things in common, chatted for hours and I felt I’d known her for years. We talked about how our Arthritis has impacted our lives, possibly contributed to our social anxieties (as discussed in my previous post here) yet whilst I sat there worrying about my body language, what I was asking and saying and whether she thought I was boring or not, I looked at her and saw a confident, beautiful person who had so many interesting things to tell me.
I found the courage to talk about how I sometimes feel and learnt that her feelings were mutual. I know I’m not alone and I realise that things have started getting worse for me again, so what can I do to change it and what can we do for each other to help us all be more self-confident and less insecure?
Firstly, let’s have a word with ourselves! When you talk to someone are you judging his or her every move? Do you critique the words coming from their mouths as they stand there and speak to you? Most people just like to have a chat and get to know others. There will be times when we all make a judgement, but it doesn’t tend to be there and then, mid-sentence. if you find that you are being judgemental or don't like something someone does, ask yourself why and whether it's actually you with the issue, not them.
Secondly, if we were all the same then life would be boring as hell so let’s get out there and make sure our friends and family know what brilliant things we can offer them, as well as making them feel the same way.
Not everyone is going to like everyone and that is ok. Sometimes, as I have found recently, old friends may also take a step back or tell you they don’t like something about you and that is also ok. The important thing is to realise that we will never be able to please all people and as long as we are happy with ourselves then everything else can be a little easier. The more time we spend putting ourselves down, the less time we have to make new relationships and improve the good ones that we already have.
Yesterday was a wonderful experience for me and also encouraged me to look at myself a little differently, think that maybe I do have something interesting to say that someone will want to hear about, and that although not everyone may want to read my website, those of you that do are the people who really matter to me and appreciate the message I am trying to get across.
If you feel that you have insecurities, worry about what others think of you and spend more time considering that than the wonderful things you could share, drop me a line and I will be more than happy to help you realise what positive things you have to offer the people in your life.
Take care of you,