The Journey To Self Compassion With Eczema
Last updated: November 2023
Something I have been working on cultivating for some time now, especially recently, has been the practice of self-compassion. So far, this has been one of the most important and vital aspects on my journey with chronic health conditions, especially eczema and topical steroid withdrawal.
With external, visible conditions like eczema, not only are we able to see our skin rashes, flaking, and other symptoms, but so is the rest of the world. This creates more self image and self esteem issues for those of us with any kind of skin condition.
Why have I felt so ashamed of my skin?
I have spent most of my life hiding away, covering up my rashes, and even avoiding people and connection, because of the shame, fear, anxiety, and everything else associated with this condition. Growing up, I was bullied quite a bit, and have been asked on more occasions than I can count about my skin - even just out in public by strangers, whether in the street or the grocery store. Someone always felt they had the right to comment or ask about my clearly painful and uncomfortable skin.
How has my self-perception impacted my skin?
This created so much shame and self hatred for me over the years, that it has been hard to break away from that. Self compassion was sort of a foreign subject for me, as I have always had a harsh inner critic, and I found it hard to accept myself – especially all the parts of myself I (or others) deemed to be “unworthy.” Through self compassion practices, slowly healing both internally and externally has been much easier and had much more impact for me. The more I hate on myself and am hard on myself, the worse my health tends to get. And on the flip side, the kinder I can be to myself and the more love and acceptance I can shower myself with, the healthier I feel (and look, for that matter).
How have I practiced self compassion?
To me, self compassion has been about acceptance of everything that is in the present moment. Whether I am feeling angry, sad, joyful, disappointed, etc. - all of it is okay. The same goes with whether I am feeling itchy, am in pain, or just uncomfortable with my skin and eczema, especially when in a flare.
Can self compassion actually help eczema?
I remind myself that I am human, as we all are, and we all feel the same emotions, whether we deal with eczema or not. That is the thread that connects all of humanity and unites us as one. There have even been some studies to show that self-compassion can be very beneficial for those of us with atopic dermatitis.1 However, further research is still needed.
Regardless, I have personally found it extremely beneficial on my journey. If this is something you don’t think about often or try to cultivate within yourself, I encourage you to give it a try. I think, oftentimes, many of us undermine the power of kindness, compassion, and love, as well as the recognition that we are all simply human. And there is something quite comfortable in coming back to that truth, and reminding ourselves of it, especially when life feels extra heavy and hard.
With compassion, we are never alone, no matter how much we may feel like we are at times.
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