A woman crying and looking into her reflection is the mirror, who is pointing a finger at her, blamingly.

Do I Deserve This? Skin Flare Ups & Guilt

Last updated: August 2022

A fellow eczema and TSW warrior recently shared with me that she feels like she's never doing enough and often feels like her flare-ups are her fault. She also asked me if I ever felt that way, which made me reflect on my journey.

I believed I deserved the pain of TSW

The truth is, not only have I felt like it's my fault, but at some point, especially during the grueling process of topical steroid withdrawal – I actually believed I deserved that kind of pain and suffering. There was no other logical explanation to me for why someone would have to go through such an immense amount of pain and suffering.

Thankfully, the more inner work I have done and the more I continue to heal the traumas of my past, especially my childhood, the more I can see that it does not serve me to believe or think this. It is also just completely untrue.

It's easy to believe we're doing something wrong

It is easy for us to start to conceptualize it that way. Especially when we are giving it our all, yet nothing seems to be working or making it better. It must be us, then. We must be doing something wrong.

Our flares have control over us

What if flares just happen - like most of life does, all on its own? And the key is just not to get attached to it or take it personally? When we feel guilty for the things that happen in our life, flares included, we only give more power to the flare and allow it to have more control over us. We only feed that negative energy and enable it to continue — negative energy breeds more negative energy.

Toxic positivity is not the answer

Don't get me wrong - I am not saying that we need to always be positive and bypass our emotions by any means. Toxic positivity is not the answer either. But I believe we need to start taking it less personally – even though that may sometimes feel impossible.

The ancient wisdom of zen practice teaches us the act of "non-doership." It teaches us that life just happens, and we must allow it. In short - if it comes, let it, and if it goes, let it.

The guiltier I feel, the more flares I have

I spent so many years feeling guilty for all the trauma I have experienced in my life, including eczema flare-ups. But it only seemed to "feed" them more and create more of them in my reality. The more guilty and responsible I felt, the more I would flare up.

Questioning the mind, ego, and attachment

It is simply the nature of the mind and the ego to identify with this and to make us believe that it somehow has something to do with us. The reality is that life just happens. Nature doesn't need to do anything to change from spring to summer, then from summer to fall, and so on. It just happens, and nature allows it to. There is no attachment and no getting caught up in the cycles and taking them personally. The human mind complicates things and gets attached to everything.

There isn't anything to be ashamed of. It is simply the nature of the ego to identify. That is just what it does and how it was created for survival purposes. In cases of actual danger, this helps us immensely. But when there is no real danger, this hurts us. The less we are aware of this, the more power it has over us.

Letting go of the need for control

It is incredibly difficult to break this cycle, and something I continue to work on every day. However, I believe in many instances, the answer isn't to do more. It is actually to do less. That may seem counterintuitive, understandably. But when we can accept our skin (or anything else for that matter) without judgment and the need to change it – it gives us (and our skin) the space to heal.

The question then becomes – how can I learn to let go of control? How can I surrender to what it is and accept it?

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