Growing up, most teenagers experience the paramount drama that comes along with puberty and wanting to fit in with the “cool kids.”
Me — I had that to deal with plus a crazy case of psoriasis, which left me feeling incredibly isolated for much of my childhood. Self-love wasn’t something I even knew about at this time of my life.
If you’re dealing with psoriasis or another chronic health condition, chances are you can also relate to that feeling of isolation.
Feeling lonely was my normal. When I had the chance to connect with friends and family, I tended to overshare the details of my personal struggles, including my frustration with my skin, my sadness about not being like everyone else, and my anger with life. What I learned, though, was that not everyone is always totally equipped to know how to process all that is going on in my life.
Have you ever noticed that before? That you might finally get the courage to bare your soul to someone, and for some reason, their reaction to it is lacking the deep connection and empathy you were longing for? If so, you’re so not alone!
Oftentimes, even though I had just told someone something really intimate, I felt even more alone and exposed than before. And it left me unsure of how to continue trying to cultivate friendships for a while. What I learned over time was that this reaction was not about me. Chances are that person was just responding in the best way they knew how, having no idea what an impact that would have on me in that moment!
One of the greatest ways we can take care of ourselves in these vulnerable and tender moments with others is by being brave enough to ask for what we need. You won’t always know what your needs are in every moment, but if you could, try to preface a share with telling the person you could really use some extra love. Or that you just need someone to hear you right now. You might be surprised at how differently they’re able to show up!
A lot of times people show up a certain way because they think they need to save or fix you. When you let them know that isn’t the case, it allows them to truly be there for you. Asking for what you need is also an incredibly powerful way to practice self-love.
So the next time you’re craving that deep support and to be truly heard in your life, choose your audience wisely. I learned (finally) that although many people didn’t know how to show up for me, it was my job to seek out those who could. And trust me, they are out there! Waiting to show up for you and listen with love.
Don’t allow yourself to be isolated or turn your problems inward. That isn’t going to help you. Push yourself until you find the tribe that can be with you, all of you. It’s so worth it and will create a tremendous amount of relief in your life. You’ll also be able to see how your own ability to love yourself grows. The more supported you feel by others, the more time you’ll take to invest in loving yourself. Promise!
Nitika Chopra is a beauty and lifestyle expert committed to spreading the power of self-care and the message of self-love. Living with psoriasis, she’s also the host of the “Naturally Beautiful” talk show. Connect with her on her website, Twitter, or Instagram.