Emotional Scars - How scars can make us feel
When I talk about emotional scars, I’m talking about the emotions that you have around your physical scars. I’ve treated hundreds, if not thousands of clients over the years, and almost everyone has emotions around their scars.
I understand what it’s like to feel self-conscious and unattractive because of your scars. Some days, you may feel happy, and confident, and other days, you may feel like the world is against you, and you want to hide your scars away.
Your scars are a part of your story, and they make you who you are. They are a reminder of your strength and resilience (even if you don’t believe that right now!), and I believe that every scar has a story to tell.
If you’re feeling self-conscious or unattractive because of your scars, you’re not alone. I’ve been there, and I understand how you feel. But I also want you to know that there’s hope, you can start feeling confident in your skin, and move forward from the emotions that don’t serve you well.
Emotions run high
However, your scars make you feel, know that it’s OK. It is completely normal to have an emotional response to physical scars. Often, scars represent trauma or a difficult time in our lives. Whether that’s from surgery, an accident, or self-harming.
And our emotions can change, depending on a multitude of factors and what’s going on in our lives. We may be triggered by specific situations, or be on the receiving end of an unkind comment. Sometimes, the pressure of seeing flawless bodies and faces in social media and magazines takes its toll too. Just know that whatever you’re feeling – it’s entirely normal and, ‘this too shall pass’. Emotions, thoughts, and feelings are all temporary. We experience thousands of different thoughts, feelings, and emotions every single day. If you’re struggling, it might help to imagine that feeling or thought as a cloud in the sky – and know that it will blow over, and move on.
Words associated with my scars
These are ALL words that I have, at some point associated with my scars. As you can see, the emotional scars that can be left by physical scars can be complex.
My feelings and emotions I have around my scars are so varied. They differ, depending on each scar, the story that surrounds it, and the experiences I have associated with them. And they are interchangeable.
Some days, I look at my scars and feel proud that I’ve come through so much, or that I’ve survived a traumatic time. I feel strong and brave. For other scars, I feel super self-conscious, I’m embarrassed, I feel they are ugly and as though I’m flawed and not good enough.
I also have scars I’m ashamed of. I feel guilty, angry, and frustrated that I have had to live with such visible scars for most of my life. I also feel exhausted sometimes, when people ask me about my scars. How I got them, why I had surgery. I don’t want to share my stories, but somehow people feel it’s OK to intrude and ask me.
I’ve really worked hard to change my beliefs and stories about my scars and work towards finding more positive emotions and feelings. It’s not easy, but it gets easier, the more you practice.
Here’s the key word that I associate with emotional scars. BRAVE. Every single client that I have ever spoken with or treated has been brave. To reach out and trust a stranger with your scars is HUGE. I never underestimate this, as I know that my own scars have so much emotion around them. My facial scar is linked to one of the most traumatic experiences of my life. If you haven’t read my story, you can find it HERE.
I’ve found that really understanding your WHY is important, to ensure you feel supported through your treatment. Whilst our experiences and feelings are completely different, I do understand the impact that living with scars can have on your life. Helping to heal emotional scars, is part of the healing process for improving physical scars.
How scars can impact your life
I have a question for you? Do you KNOW how your scars impact your life? Sometimes, we don’t even realise the extent to which our scars have impacted our lives. My scars used to hugely impact my life, and I didn’t even realise it (I’ll share more below). Grab a pen and paper and get ready to do some self-reflection!
Write down a list of all the activities you used to love doing but stopped doing because of your scars.
Think about a recent event or situation where you felt self-conscious about your scars. Write down what you were thinking and feeling at that moment.
Write down three things you wish you could do but haven’t done because of your scars.
Imagine a future where you feel confident and proud of your scars. Write down three things you would love to do differently in your life. Don’t be afraid to dive deep and get real with yourself. You got this.
How my scars impacted my life
How did you get on with the exercise? Did you have any big realisations? You might find things come to you over the coming days and weeks. Maybe keep a notebook on you, or write notes on your phone, if you realise you’re saying ‘no’ to something, because of your scars. Or, perhaps you’re making clothing or hairstyle choices?
I have a lot of scars, all over my body and also on my face. They are from childhood accidents, and injuries and I’ve had 14 surgeries in total. Some are visible day to day, others are covered naturally with clothing and only visible in underwear or swimwear. Here’s how my scars impacted my life:
- The clothing I chose to wear.
- The way I styled my hair.
- Social situations, I avoided activities where my makeup might come off (facial scar), or I had to wear revealing clothing.
- Holidays – I dreaded and avoided hot holidays.
- I avoided spa days, even though I love relaxing spa time.
- Dating/relationships, always worried about being flawed and ‘not good enough’.
My confidence was really knocked, partly by the stories I had been telling myself, and also due to the reactions and insensitivities of others. I have to work on releasing ALL of these things, so I could start to enjoy my life, and stop letting my decisions be ruled by my scars. I’ve not perfected it, I still feel uneasy sometimes, and all of the old emotions come back. But I can now change the stories and respond from a different place.
Try this powerful exercise
I’m going to share a couple of things that helped me in healing from my emotional scars. Firstly, every time I felt self conscious or embarrassed about how I looked, I took a long look around me. I reminded myself that a very high percentage of the population have scars. In a survey carried out by Bristol University in 2019, it was reported that over 20.3 million people have scars in the UK alone. And, that figure is probably much higher, in reality. Reminding myself I am not an anomaly, feels comforting.
And then this, I did THIS exercise that I’m about to share with you. I use this a lot in my life, and it’s really powerful.
Imagine you are your best friend. She comes to you and tells you how her scars make her feel. She shares her fears and how her scars are ruling her life. She’s completely open and honest with you, pouring her heart out.
EXERCISE: Now write her a letter. Write to your best friend, and share with her how amazing she is, and all the reasons you’re proud of her. Tell her how you feel about the fact she has scars, and show her the kindness and compassion we automatically show to our best friends.
Now read that letter. Read it carefully, slowly, and multiple times. Read it as if YOUR best friend has written it to you.
Emotional Scars - Healing inside out and outside in
I believe that scar improvement involves healing scars from the outside in and inside out. I offer a range of treatments that can help improve the appearance of scars, but I understand that these treatments can also trigger emotions. That’s why it’s important to have support in place, and I’m here to be that support for you.
It’s not just about improving the visual appearance of scars, it’s also important to change the stories around them, so you can feel happier and more confident in your skin. I want to help you see where your scars are holding you back in life, and I want to help you find a way to change the stories and beliefs that are keeping you from healing.
You don’t have to share your experiences or emotions with me, that’s not an essential part of your treatment program with me, but you can if you’d like to. I have been a coach for well over 20 years, and I have also lived with life-impacting, and life-changing scars. I have physically improved my scars AND changed the stories and narratives that held me back from enjoying my life fully. If you don’t wish to share with me, then I’d recommend speaking with either a trusted friend, family member or a professional talking therapist.
I have worked with hundreds of women (and some men) who have self-harm scars, over the years. I have treated some incredibly brave clients, who have embraced their scar healing journey and completely transformed their lives.
Whilst I truly believe that anyone that asks for support with healing and improving their scars is brave, self-harm clients are without a doubt amongst the most inspirational and brave people I have ever met.
Emotional scars, that are linked to a difficult period of our lives, can be the most challenging to move forward from. The amazing thing is, that it IS possible to improve the appearance of your scars, AND to help to change your thoughts, emotions, stories and beliefs that accompany them.
I have worked with clients that have been on holiday with friends for the first time ever. Others have confidently worn a t-shirt or sundress, and many clients that opened up to loved ones about their scars. They stopped hiding and started living. You can achieve this too, you really can. I’d love to help you feel confident and happy in your skin, so you can get on with the important business of enjoying life. You can book a complimentary consultation, via the link below.
Here’s a little checklist for scar improvement. It’s not just about treating the physical scars, it’s also about having support in place for the emotional scars. WHEN you start your scar improvement journey is really important, particularly if you have trauma scars, such as self harm scars. You can click HERE to read more on this.
And that, is the end of my blog on emotional scars
I really hope that you’ve found my blog on emotional scars helpful. If you’d like help with your skin or scars, then please get in touch via the button below.
My aesthetics clinic is based in Alton, Hampshire. I am on the Hampshire/Surrey border, 15 minutes from Basingstoke and Farnham. I’m also at the end of a direct line from London Waterloo, and a 5 minute walk from the station.
You can also book a consultation via the ‘book now’ button.
I look forward to hearing from you. Best, Nikki