We all carry scars of one type or another – physical and emotional. How we address them and move forward with them depends on our individual choices. Recently, I received a newsletter which address the issue of scaring. Thankfully, it came with permission to share. The author is Michael Bungay Stanier. He is the founder and Senior Partner of Box of Crayons, a company that helps organizations do less Good Work and more Great Work. He is the author of Do More Great Work and Get Unstuck & Get Going, and the creator of The Alchemy of Great Work, The Great Work Movie, The 5.75 Questions You’ve Been Avoiding and The Eight Irresistible Principles of Fun. Michael was a Rhodes Scholar and the 2006 Canadian Coach of the Year. He is Australian and now lives in Canada. I encourage you to visit them on the web!
A scar is an echo of a wound
In some ways, the physical scars are the easy ones to notice – the rips and tears from bumping into things in life. We’re all carrying more subtle scars as well, emotional bruises from our past.
- Times we’ve shamed or been shamed.
- Times we’ve shunned or been shunned.
- Times when we’ve failed or caused others to fail.
- Times when we’ve let ourselves or others down.
These are older, deeper wounds, subtle and hidden. They can shape our behaviour in significant ways. We back away, not willing to try that again. We lash out, preferring attack to being attacked. We lose courage, we play it safe, we hide. We play the victim or the rescuer or the persecutor – or most likely all of them. Your scars can hold you back and limit you. But there’s another way to see them.
A scar is a story waiting to be told
In fact, two stories. One story of love. And it’s flip side, one of fear. One of nourishment. One of diminishment. Which story you choose to tell matters a great deal.
Scar tissue is the strongest tissue in your body
Or so it’s said. I haven’t actually seen the medical reports to confirm it. But it feels like it might be true at a metaphysical level doesn’t it? That where we’ve been wounded, those scars we’ve collected could be a source of our greatness. It also makes it clear that there is a choice to be made. Whatever the facts of the situation, you get to write the story about what it means. In the end, you get to regard your scars as a source of strength and wisdom, or as ties that bind.
I could ask you, what choice are you making? But a more powerful question might be this: Is there a wound or a scar you have – physical or emotional – that you’re currently using as a way of limiting who you might be in this world and what you might be doing? What is it? And what will it take for you to change perspective?
Smart people thinking out loud about scars.
“Children show scars like medals. Lovers use them as secrets to reveal. A scar is what happens when the word is made flesh.”~Leonard Cohen, poet
“To be alive at all is to have scars.” ~John Steinbeck, writer
“I think scars are sexy because it means you made a mistake that led to a mess.”~ Angelina Joli, actress
“The optimist already sees the scar over the wound; the pessimist still sees the wound underneath the scar.”~ Ernst Schroder, mathematician
“There is something beautiful about all scars of whatever nature. A scar means the hurt is over, the wound is closed and healed, done with.” ~Harry Crews, writer