Choosing to Be Kind to Yourself Is as Easy as Making a Decision

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell avatar

by Jennifer (Jenn) Powell |

Share this article:

Share article via email
Heat Sensitivity in MS | Main graphic for column titled

Before turning away, I made sure to compliment my kind eyes. The green of the hazel in my eyes danced in the sunlight. The lines at the outer edges of my eyes tightened as I smiled. The crow’s-feet are an indelible reminder of the abundance of joy in my life.

Long ago, I decided to meet every critique with a compliment. With age, my critiques have been far fewer while my appreciation has grown. Perhaps this is the point of the exercise. The unrelenting need to belittle myself has vanished. Maybe age does bring wisdom.

Or maybe I am just over being hard on myself.

While I still manage to have vanity, it does not have a hold on me. I take pride in my appearance, dress well, and am not opposed to having plastic surgery. I do these things because I want to. I have no illusion that doing them will make me a better person.

During my adolescence, I confused my appearance with my self-esteem. The insecurities of a young girl seem like a story told a thousand times. But stories are for books, and I am worthy of reality.

At 52, I am more thankful than hateful. I respect that my body functions rather than stressing about how it looks. I could do several things to improve my looks, but I refuse to belittle myself into pursuing that goal.

My out-of-shape legs are miracles. They carry me to and from and hold me up. The blue-gray discoloration from vasculitis appears upon strong shins that serve to maintain balance. The skin that is now drier thanks to medication can feel my husband’s touch.

There is peaceful acceptance of aging with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis. My deep respect for my brain replaces the intolerance of forgetting words. And while I don’t meet every moment in the way that I deserve, I do permit myself to have do-overs.

It is never too late to start being kind to yourself.

My journey to healthy self-esteem began with a decision. I had grown tired of conflating my self-esteem with my outward appearance. Multiple sclerosis, its symptomatology, and the various side effects from treatment have provided me with much-needed perspective.

I see function and fight. I see reason and resilience. I see purpose and power.

I deserve nothing less.


Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Leila avatar


It is interesting. Very nice.

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell avatar

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell

Hello Leila,

Thank you so much.


Marie Demers Kelfer avatar

Marie Demers Kelfer

I really enjoy reading your writing!

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell avatar

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell

Hello Marie,

What a wonderfully kind thing so say. Thank you for reading and taking the time to let me know.


Lara Cubitt avatar

Lara Cubitt

You go, Sister! I think you're wise, indeed. I always enjoy your writing and mean to acknowledge that I use it to hone my own perspective...but guess what?! I'm generally too "tired" to crank out a comment. Though it's more an off-shoot of your message, I also appreciate that you boldly admit to a pro-[in-the-appropriate-personal-context]-plastic surgery stance here. I think I felt afraid to admit it, but I do believe I'm in the same camp. So much spins out of one's control with MS, which includes blows to self-confidence that affect even the least vain person. Why bar anything that might provide a boost, so long as it's safe and within one's means?! This turned out to be an extra-long comment, but as there may not be another one soon, I want to say a big thank you for ALL of your lovely and compelling writing. Take care, Jenn!

Lina Di Marco avatar

Lina Di Marco

Hello Jenn.
I have just discovered your writing and agree about being kind to yourself. I unfortunately am still having a hard time with this due to my PPMS worsening. Getting weaker is discouraging and it seems I am not eligible for stufies because of EDSS scores and limited walking. They have new trials but only if you are walking; oh well!


Leave a comment

Fill in the required fields to post. Your email address will not be published.

Dancing Doodle

Did you know some of the news and columns on Multiple Sclerosis News Today are recorded and available for listening on SoundCloud? These audio news stories give our readers an alternative option for accessing information important for them.

Listen Here