Women's Empowerment

I’m a Paralympic Gold Medalist, Here’s How I Use Positive Self-Talk To Boost My Confidence

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Photo: Getty Images/ Jerod Harris; Graphic: W+G Creative
Who has inspired you? Challenged you? Shaped you? In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re recognizing the women who made us who we are today. To all who came before, the mothers, grandmothers, mentors, teachers, and trailblazers… thank you. Here, Paralympian Mallory Weggemann looks at her own reflection with pride.

During the month of March, we celebrated Women’s History and honored the strong, courageous women who came before us—those who paved the path we are currently on. But sometimes, in the midst of commemorating those pioneers and forerunners, we forget the importance of honoring the bravery and strength of women whose names may never grace the headlines or history books. Just as we gave space to celebrate notable women, it is equally important that we find the grace to honor the reflection that looks back at us.

I have found throughout my journey that we are often our own worst critics; we lift others up but put ourselves down. Many of us were raised hearing the same sentiment, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Yet, when it comes to our own lives, bodies, faces, and experiences, we seem to bypass that idea, making way for negative self-talk. The truth of the matter is, the story we tell ourselves is a direct reflection on our sense of our self-worth.

Following my paralysis at the age of 18 I resented my reflection, feeling as if my body had betrayed me. I battled with the story that I was telling myself, taking on not only negative self-talk, but also carrying others’ perceptions and judgments as my own. I allowed all of those limiting ideas to impact how I saw myself and even more so, what I perceived my worth to be.

I allowed all of those limiting ideas to impact how I saw myself and even more so, what I perceived my worth to be.

Throughout the past month, we have lifted each other up. And today, I want to encourage all of you—the strong, courageous, fearless women out there—to give yourself room to honor who you are, exactly as you are. As you look in the mirror, stop, pause for a moment, and focus on the words you use, the story you tell yourself.

For me, my story is this…

You, Mallory, are resilient. You are strong and courageous. You have bravely weathered some of the most challenging seasons, yet you have not only survived, but thrived. Above all, you have done so while staying true to who you are.

The scars you carry aren’t to be concealed, but worn with pride as a reminder of what you have survived. The wheels beneath you don’t define you, but rather are a fabric of your being, making you uniquely you. Your body, which has changed since you last walked at the age of 18, didn’t betray you. Rather, it has adapted and is the very vehicle that has carried you to your wildest dreams.

Your smile is a symbol of understanding that happiness is not carved through a life free of heartbreak, loss, and grief, but instead by experiencing the depths, living through them, and choosing to not let them harden who you are. Those times have ultimately brought light to your life and lead you into the fullness of who you are.

The positivity that exists within you comes from an understanding that true fulfillment is found in living a life of purpose and holding onto the faith that good overcomes. As Dad has always told you, “You are the best, you can make a difference and you can change the world.” Believe in the power of your flames. 

And to you, reader, remember that you are worthy of all things splendid in this world. That “thing” about you? Whatever it is that you have told yourself makes you different? Celebrate it, because it makes you uniquely you and that is what this world needs. Our beauty is about so much more than what we visually look like, it is about how we show up and who we choose to be. Our beauty is rooted in the women we are, in our hearts.

As you look in the mirror, believe in her—the woman that is looking back at you—because she survived everything you have weathered to get to this moment right here. Lift her up, celebrate her, encourage her, and tell her the story she deserves to hear.

Looking for more Strong As Her? Check out these letters from best-selling author Layla Saad and Peloton instructor Tunde Oyeneyin

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