Reality Check: The Stories of our Scars

If you’ve spent much time at all on this earth, you probably have a few scars to show for it.

Some people view their scars as embarrassing. They agonize over them, and buy not-so-magical potions in efforts to get rid of them. They dress strategically and carefully apply makeup so they’ll appear to be scar-free.

As an adult, Kelli is still sensitive about the acne scars that developed during her youth. Whenever she meets anyone new, she comes away with the perception that her facial scars have created a negative first impression.

Kelli has spent considerable money on products that promise to rid her of this scourge. She’s also undergone painful procedures, and she’s become a master of skillful makeup application. Still, when she looks in the mirror, all she can see are her scars.

While facts are facts, we can choose to view facts from different perspectives. In this case, perhaps Kelli (and the rest of us) can choose a more helpful perspective through which to view our scars.

One perspective is to acknowledge that the scars we wear are reminders. Perhaps the scar was the result of an accident, which may have occurred during difficult times or during fun times.

Depending on the circumstances surrounding the scar, through it we can remind ourselves of, “Wow. I was lucky!” Or perhaps, “Wow, I was unlucky!” Either way, the scar could well remind us to be forever grateful for the way things worked out. It may also serve as a reminder to do something differently in the future.

Some scars are reminders of life-saving or pain-relieving events. Perhaps you have scars from surgery that changed your life.  When you look at your knees or hips, do you have a scar to remind you of a time when the simple act of walking was painful? Does a surgery scar on your chest remind you to be grateful that your heart still beats and your blood still flows?

Perhaps you have reminders that you are missing parts: breasts or limbs or digits. Incision scars may remind you that tumors have been removed that were getting out of hand.

Or perhaps your body carries scars and stretch marks from childbirth; reminders that pain sometimes results in wonders.

Scars sometimes take the form of hard, thick tissue. While they may not be pretty, the area is stronger than before. When we go through a difficulty and come out the other side, we’re not quite the same as we were when going in. We may indeed be a little thicker, a little harder, and maybe a little less pretty. Is that something to be embarrassed about? Or perhaps, something of which we can be proud?

Of course, not all of our scars are physical, but whether mental or physical, our combination of scars is unique to us. Our scars can serve to remind us of where we’ve been and what we have been through. As we grow, our character, skills, and experiences makes us who we are; our scars are part of that story.

Scars, mental or physical, tell us we have lived through an event. How we choose to acknowledge that event is up to us. We might choose celebration. Gratitude. Sadness. Or any of a myriad of responses. We get to choose our own perspective.

So Kelli may continue to apply potions to her face. Or, she can perceive those scars as reminders of what she has overcome. She’s no longer the uncertain teenager she once was, but a mature and capable woman. And she has the scars to show it.

If Kelli wants a satisfied, happy life, which perspective do you think will be most effective?

How do you view your scars?

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