My Skin Is My Teacher
Our bodies talk to us, but we don’t always listen. I know this because for 20 years, I ignored everything my skin was telling me as I suffered with the autoimmune disease, psoriasis. It was begging and pleading with me to eat real food and to show myself more love. My skin wanted so badly for me to stop, look at all the stress in my life, and alleviate it as much as possible. It took me a very long time to start paying attention. But six years ago, at 35 years old, I finally heard it for the first time. Since then, my life has drastically changed for the better!
For those of you who don’t know, the average person’s skin sheds about once a month when cells mature. However, when you have psoriasis, like I do, your skin sheds rapidly every few days. Because the cells are shedding faster than the body can handle, we are left with layers of red, thick, scaly patches on our bodies that are itchy and painful. Although it’s not contagious, you wouldn’t know it from the way people look at us.
I was treating my psoriasis like most people treat anything in western culture – with doctors and prescription medications. These were temporary fixes and my psoriasis always came back, often at inopportune times. I was perpetually covering myself up and living in a constant state of fear and shame. When I started listening to my inner voice, I realized that something had to change big time. I was done living like this. I didn’t want to worry about all of the judgment, not only from others, but worse – from myself. It was taunting me, following me around wherever I went, and I was undoubtedly my own worst critic. How do we know when to say enough is enough? When do we make the decision to be more loving to ourselves, with or without our condition or illness?
When I mention self-love, most people assume that I’m talking about pampering themselves a little more. They think I’m telling them to go get that massage they’ve been meaning to get, or buy yourself those shoes you’ve been eyeing. While these are absolutely ways of loving ourselves, it’s only the tip of the iceberg. What I’m referring to when I say self-love is making the conscious decision to change your thoughts. This means that we choose to be aware during all those moments when our thoughts put us down, or tell us we are not enough. It means choosing to say, “STOP,” and instead, picking thoughts that are more helpful, kind, and loving.
I know what you’re thinking – it’s so hard right? It is. It absolutely is. But trust me when I say it’s much harder to live your life filled with doubt and negativity. If you don’t change your thinking, you allow your ego to run things and make all of your decisions. It decides how much you apply yourself, how far you reach for your dreams, how loving your self-talk is, or whether to fight through your fear. It aims to keep you small. I’m here to tell you, you don’t have to listen. You are in control of these thoughts, not the other way around. You have the power to change them.
A friend pointed out to me recently something that was so simple, yet so profound. She was going on and on about how I have made my life’s work about giving back to other people, helping them learn to love themselves, making them feel special, showing them compassion. Then she asked, “Why aren’t you that way to yourself?” Was I spreading the love around and forgetting to leave some for myself? This was a great question! It sat heavy on me and I just couldn’t answer her. I try to be giving to myself; I do. After all, it’s what I preach, so of course it must be what I practice, right? But I’m not perfect and sometimes even I forget.
I think we are all guilty of this, especially during hard times. In moments like this, we need to shift our focus. We need self-love. We need positive, kind thoughts. Think about how you would talk to a friend going through a very hard time – that’s how we should talk to ourselves. Instead of thoughts like, “I suck,” “I’m not enough,” or “I’m stupid,” what about consciously changing those to, “I’m doing the best I can,” “this is just temporary, it’ll be okay,” or “I’m getting there one day at a time.” We don’t realize how all the negative chatter in our minds can slow us down and make things worse.
The day I decided to start paying attention to my body, I heard a voice telling me to “stop being a shrinking violet and start being all you were meant to be!” I’m listening now. Words can’t express how much my life has changed for the better once I shifted my self-talk to be more loving and gentle. It literally changed everything. I urge you to make that decision right now and declare it out loud so the universe can hear you – “I am going to be nicer to myself. I am going to give myself more love.”
Kim Weiler’s 21-year journey began when she developed the autoimmune disease psoriasis at 19. After a long career working in all facets of the TV and film industries, she is now helping others through Healing My Skin, LLC. Kim holds a bachelor’s degree from Marymount Manhattan College, is a graduate of the esteemed Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN), and is a member of the International Association of Health Coaches (IAHC). As an Internationally Certified Health Coach, Kim is devoted to helping others who struggle with skin conditions. Check out her new book Ps – It’s All About Love: How A Painful Journey With Psoriasis Became A Life Devoted To Healing Others and contact Kim through her website, HealingMySkin.com or at Kim@healingmyskin.com.