People around us can be very unkind about scars, just as they can be unkind about any perceived blemish. Hardly fair, but in a society obsessed with beauty and being slim, this superficial attitude can then spill over, casting judgement on anything that doesn’t fit in with the ‘ideal’.
Children are often more cruel than adults, teasing and laughing at any ‘deformity’ although, happily, I think our way of perceiving people has become a bit healthier recently and films such as “The Greatest Showman”, and particularly its hit song This is Me!. They are empowering those who do not fit the general mould, encouraging them to stand up to bullying and mockery.
Inside, we are all the same; we have our hopes, loves, fears, joys, skills and weaknesses. We are all on this planet doing our best to live in a way that makes us happy. We have no right to judge others and, in doing so, are more likely to harm ourselves, as negative thoughts have been scientifically proven to damage our health, not that of the people we mock.
Those of us who have scars might see them as disfigurements and, especially if they are very visible lesions such as those on the face, find our confidence destroyed by something that we may feel spoils our looks and might make others feel squeamish.
Scars that are less visible are easier to deal with, but often just knowing they are there and not feeling able to touch them, let alone allow anyone else to, can affect our relationship with our body and with another person.
Teach a child to be grateful to their scars. “Without that operation scar, you would not be as able to run around as well” or “That scar comes from an accident and you survived it – you’re tough”! Make it a badge of honour by finding the good in the situation.
And our own scars, as adults? Here are some tips to help you deal with the negative thoughts you may have around them:
- Try to find even the tiniest bit of good in your scar; it may be the result of an operation that saved your life, or your baby’s if it’s a Caesarean. If it reminds you of a painful time you have come through, write down your admiration for yourself, and for how far you’ve come since then.
- If there is trauma associated with your scars, or if they come from self-harming, find professional help to deal with the psychological backlash.
- Start teaching yourself to be more comfortable and accepting of your scar, gently massaging it with quality creams or oils and finding the courage to look at it more. The oils I recommend are from Zephorium.
- Don’t try to ‘break down’ the scar tissue with heavy pressure and knuckling into the scar. Light touch is more effective, in my experience, but there is almost no research on why. You can apply a feather light, sweeping movement which is one of the Sharon Wheeler’s ScarWork moves. Providing your scar is one you can reach with both hands, use one hand as a ‘brace’, i.e. gently pinning the skin into position a few inches away from the scar, and with the other hand stroking gently towards the scar from the brace. Move your hands around so that you stroke towards the scar (not over the scar) from a variety of angles. This is a very gentle sweeping movement, which appears to increase the resilience of the skin and restore normal nerve function.
- Practise showing your scar to family and friends and see what their reaction is; it may not be as bad as you expected and you can build up your confidence bit by bit.
- Just because someone might ask you about your scar doesn’t mean you have to talk about it – you can choose to share, or you can just say “It’s part of me, it was a difficult time and I don’t talk about it.” It’s your body – it’s your call.
- ScarWork therapists are based around the UK. CLICK HERE to find one near you.
It is genuinely hard to cope with some scars, but try and remember that the important thing about you is the person you are inside and that you love yourself, scars and all. When joy of life bubbles up from inside and generosity of nature overflows, then someone who is genuine, who has integrity, will not care about a scar and love you for exactly who you are and the inner strength you have found.
 Molecules of Emotion; book by Candace Pert, published 1997, Simon & Schuster UK Ltd.