Disabled and feeling good about yourself
Society and the media often ignore people with disabilities – especially when it comes to sex. But people with disabilities fall in love and have sex lives.
People sometimes assume that people with disabilities too fragile to have sex or are asexual. That they have more important things to worry about. Or just aren’t interested.
Not true! People with disabilities have the same desires as everyone else. Of course, there many different forms of disabilities. For some people, it may be more challenging to have an active sex life than it is for others.
Most of the questions that people with disabilities have about sex are the same as everyone else’s, from how to find a partner to learning news ways of making love. Masturbation, finding a partner, and a good sex life are for everybody.
Here we look at these issues from the perspective of people with physical disabilities.
If your body doesn’t match society’s ideas of ‘normal’ or ‘beautiful’, it can be more challenging to maintain the self-esteem that paves the way to a great love life. But everybody has the right to a fulfilling sex life and meaningful relationships.
Self-esteem is the way you think and feel about yourself.
Do you like yourself? Do you feel comfortable with your body, and with being the person you are? If you struggle with self-esteem issues, you’re not alone.
Maintaining a healthy level of self-esteem is particularly hard if your body looks very different from the social ideals, or if you’ve been bullied in the past because you’re ‘different’.
When your self-esteem is low, it’s much harder to make the changes you want in your life.
Imagine you see an advert for your dream job. You have all the qualifications, and all you have to do is apply. But there’s a voice in your head:
‘Don’t be stupid – you’d never get that job! There will be lots of other people applying, and they’re probably better than you. It’s just a waste of time. You’re not good enough.’
If you believe this inner critic, you probably won’t even apply. And the same goes for your relationships, whether it’s making new friends or looking for love.
‘Why should they be interested in you?’says the critical voice. So you give up on a relationship before it’s even begun.
Many people struggle with the feeling that they’re not good enough. If you’re living with a disability, it can be even more challenging. Perhaps you’ve been bullied in the past. Or people stare at you in the street. You know that your body isn’t quite like other people’s – nobody’s perfect, but your disability makes you feel even more worried about how other people see you.
Having low self-esteem can affect every aspect of your life. When society tells you you’re ‘broken’ or inadequate, it can be hard to believe in yourself. But boosting your self-esteem can make you strong enough to stand up to bullies, to find a partner, and to feel more satisfied with your life.
Boosting your self-esteem
So how can you learn to love yourself?
Improving your self-esteem isn’t easy, but it’s worth the effort! Just remember that it won’t happen overnight – it will take time, and you’ll have to work at it. Realizing that your self-esteem is low and deciding to change it is the first step.
Here are a few tips:
- Try to spend more time with people you like, and who like you. The kind of people who leave you feeling great about yourself. They could be friends, family, or colleagues from work.
- Focus on your abilities, not your limitations. This doesn’t mean ignoring your disability, but concentrate on what you can do rather than what you can’t. Set yourself goals that are realistic, and then you can feel good about your achievements.
- We all have an inner critic: that voice in your head that tells you you’re being stupid, or that you’re unattractive, or that no one likes you. Identify your inner critic, and change your relationship with it. You can’t make it disappear, but you don’t have to listen to everything it says. If you start having self-critical thoughts, acknowledge them – then let them go.
- Make a list of the things you like about yourself. If you start feeling bad, read the list and remind yourself that you’re okay.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone’s different. If there’s something you can’t do because of your disability, that doesn’t mean you’re a failure. You probably can do it; you just have to consider doing it differently!
- Treat yourself as you would a close friend. Give yourself credit if something goes well, however small it is.
Benefits of high self-esteem
So what’s the pay-off? Happiness!
Boosting your self-esteem is one of the most effective ways to make yourself happier. People with high self-esteem believe that they deserve to be happy. And if you believe this, you’re much more likely to find happiness.
When you feel good about yourself, you become more confident and optimistic. It’s easier to reach your goals if you believe that you deserve to get there. It’s easier to meet people and make friends if you like yourself, because you expect them to like you, too.