I recently took up guitar.

And when I say recently, I mean, I bought a nice guitar about two years ago, learned how to play four Taylor Swift songs, and then it found its resting place at the back of my closet ever since. 😛


But just this past week, I took it out and started playing again.

And much to my dismay, although I can still play my four token songs, I can barely play through them more than a couple times before my fingertips start hurting. I haven’t built up callouses.

You see, when I was really in the groove, rocking out to T. Swift practicing every day, my hands had become tough. I had developed callouses on all of my fingertips from where the metal strings wore against my skin.

And today, in my frustration at my inability to play for an extended period of time, I got to thinking about those little callouses. And whaddya know….how they relate to recovery, and well, life in general 🙂


A while ago, Fabreeze had a marketing campaign about being “Nose Blind.” I bet you’ve seen the commercials: They brought in two blindfolded, seemingly non-actors in an “off-the-street” kind of fashion. They put them in a car filled with smelly pizza boxes, or a small room with a bunch of smelly gym clothes, and asked the blindfolded people to describe what they smelled and where they thought they were. The people would describe the “ocean breeze” or “fresh flowers” fragrance they were smelling, and then were horrified when they took off the blindfold to discover where they actually were. The point of the campaign was to say that Fabreeze eliminates all the odors you’ve gone “nose-blind” to.



But I think there’s something we can all take away from that.

Just like becoming “nose blind,” the callouses on my fingers formed, really without my knowledge. I was just doing my thing, and it wasn’t until I examined my hands one day that I realized that they were actually unrecognizable. They were so calloused and tough. And I had no idea.

This can happen in life a lot, too. Especially in recovery.


Callouses form from places of wear and tear — read: where things hurt us. And yet, we grow so accustomed to the pain that we don’t even realize that we’re being hurt. We grow numb to it. We don’t feel it, because there’s a callous there.

In my recovery, I always have to do a mental “callous check.” Because sometimes we don’t realize something that’s harmful because we’ve grown numb to it.

For my recovery, I always have to check my negative self-talk. I can grow so used to language that tears me down, that it doesn’t even register as painful. So whenever I look in the mirror, I always check how I’m speaking to myself.


But this goes far beyond recovery as well.

In fact, most of the callouses I have are as a result of non-recovery things.


This is a huge callous. And although none of the gossip I partake in is ever vicious or hurtful, it is gossip nonetheless. And I do it so often that I don’t even realize it.


The messages in the media I consume. 

This one has really hit me as of late. As a nanny, the kids I babysit want to listen to music. And I’ll tell you what…you don’t realize some of the lyrics to songs you love, until you’re listening to it with a seven year old.


I mean, yikes! Trust me, I’m no prude, but I have just become so callused to negative messages and language in songs that I love!  I love me some Drake…I mean I loooove me some Drake…but daaaang!



I don’t care how strong in my recovery I am, I still struggle with comparing myself to others. So much so that I’ve become callous to it. I have to consciously correct myself when I find myself being envious of another person’s outfit or persona.


Dang, this one gets me every time. Every. Stinkin. Time. Pride, causing me to be complacent or careless, or thinking less of others. It sounds disgusting, but that’s what callouses do. They numb you to what’s really going on.


I could go on and on about all the things I’ve built up callouses to. And I don’t want to turn this into a public confessional; I will just leave you with this:

Repeated exposure to negativity – whether produced inwardly, or subjected to outwardly – is always painful. Toxic relationships, negative self-talk, compulsive overexercising, binge drinking, smoking, gossip, excessive online shopping, empty hookups, overspending, cheating…all these things wound our spirits, but oftentimes we don’t feel it because we’ve grown used to the pain.


What are your callouses? And what are they preventing you from feeling?

Awareness is step one.

Take off that blindfold and take a look at the environment you’re actually in…not what Fabreeze or a callous has made you “nose blind” to.

94 responses to “Callouses”

  1. I’ve build up a callus to vulnerability. I do not let anyone get too close. I say that it because I don’t want to get hurt, which is true. But another reason is because I don’t want anyone to call me out on my stuff. Being open is really hard for me because I feel judged. I’ve totally built up calluses in relationships because of that.

    • Hey Ellie! Oh I can totally relate! Calluses of the heart are especially tricky. I have been. There. Sister.❤️ Awareness is the first step:) 🙂 so good for you for being able to recognize it! Sending love and hugs! Xoxo

  2. Love this!!! It definitely has me thinking about my calluses. I have obvious calluses from the gym, but those are the good ones. I am looking harder at myself on this one!!! Thanks!!!

  3. well ! I love it. I will check for callouses. Because I too compare. I too get hurt by words. Thanks so much for the analogy for me to re-share verbally in meetings. And mostly thank you for reminding me that I am not crazy and I am not alone

    • Thank you so much Mike. I’m glad this struck a chord with you. You’re so right: you’re definitely not alone:) I’m so glad you stopped by. Here’s to being callous detectives and callous busters! 👍💪

  4. I love this metaphor! I had never thought of it in those terms, but my eating disorder definitely functioned as a callous: a protective covering born of early wear and tear (experiences of shame, vulnerability, and hurt) and ultimately numbing me to a range of emotions, insights, and experiences. Losing that callous is uncomfortable (hello, emotions) but I think for the better.

    • Hi Megan! You’re so right-losing the callous can be very uncomfortable, but so much better than the alternative. Good for you for recognizing ED for what it truly is! Thanks for stopping by! Blessings and love to you! Xoxo

    • Haha thank you ☺️ yeah seeing the light is a lot easier said than done. But with training we can do it! I keep having to practice practice practice that one! Thanks for reading! Have a great weekend!

  5. This is a great metaphor. It’s easy to become nose blind to the things that are hurting us in our lives.

    We all know someone who is living a self-destructive life. Like, they’re living in an abusive relationship and won’t get out of it – for example. And then we forget to look at ourselves as a lot of the time we’re also clinging to something that’s self-destructive.

    It’s easier to give good advice to others than to yourself.

  6. I’ve been playing guitar fo 50 years now… Well, not continually! What I find is that if I don’t play for say two weeks, my fingers begin to itch, so I have to play! I like how your blog is layed out all in one place like this. Smart! Also, I see you use a lot of pictures to express yourself. Good blogging technique. Cool how you put the title on the guitar neck too! My Dad used to stick his fingers on a hot stove to quickly recallous his finger tips again… Just loved how you changed calloused fingers into calloused fingers! Some humor thrown in for good measure… Great post :O)

    • Wow 50 years! That’s awesome! Haha–itchy fingers. That means it’s a true passion! Thank you so much for such kind and encouraging words! You rock! I really try and put my heart into this blog so the feedback is so appreciated! Have an awesome weekend!

      • Yeah… I have a CD it cost me $2500 to make (there’s a whole other story to that!), with 16 of my own songs, and I sing like a Lark, and WordPress has no mp3 or any music format other than for YOUTUBE… That kinda sucks! Unless I use a pdf file and put the songs in as attachment files… Hey! Thanks for helping me out! Like-wise on the awesome weekend!

      • Oh man that’s rough! I had good luck uploading music on to soundcloud, and then onto WordPress. You can see that on my “Remember Who You Are” post — soundcloud was the only format it would accept! Hope that helps! ☺️

  7. Another great post as always 🙂 Neat to hear that you once played guitar and you are trying to go back to playing it 🙂 You are so right also about callouses. The pain that comes with them are not only physical, but psychological as well. Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂

    • Thank you so much John! I just want you to know how much I appreciate your consistent engagement on here! I always smile when ever I see your name pop up on here! You always offer such great perspective and wisdom! Have an awesome weekend and thanks for being you!

  8. I share almost all of your posts with someone I love dearly and pray it registers with her spirit one day, like I know it does mine. She means so much to me, even more to God. Thanks for the post….really has me thinking.

    • Thank you so much for sharing. When someone is close to your heart you feel everything they are. You’re a good friend. I will def keep you and her in my prayers. Thanks for stopping by! Hugs!

  9. I so loved this…..and I truly related. Having set aside my guitar due to a finger injury, I understand the lack of callouses and the return of smooth skin. I also understand the callouses that numb us to the important things in our lives. Keep up the good work. You have a talent in sharing what we need to hear.

    • Thank you so much! I’m glad this -struck a chord -☺️☺️☺️ with you! ( sorry couldn’t resist the pun🙈!) But seriously thanks for stopping by! Have a wonderful weekend!

  10. This is a great way of thinking about all the things we become accustomed to that are detrimental to us. I can relate to so many of these-negative self-talk, the music I listen to (I’m a nanny as well, wow what a wake up call!), and comparisons for sure! Guarding my heart against these things and being aware, like you said, have really helped. Thanks for the great post!

    • Thank you so much Kelsey. Yeah it’s amazing — listening to music with a child – especially when it’s not your child–has been … Yikes! You’re right. Guarding our hearts is the best thing. Hard but necessary. Thanks for stopping by!

  11. A lovely post and very fine insights. And … keep playing that guitar! Music has been one of the most enjoyable and rewarding things I have ever done, especially playing music with others. It is a connection unlike any other.

    • Thank you so much J! You’re so right- music is a universal connector. Doesn’t matter what language or background, it instantly brings people together! Thanks for stopping by!

  12. This is right on target. Thanks for another metaphor. I work as a mental health clinician and substance use counselor. This post in general and the callouses metaphor in particular is another excellent example that I will be using to help people rethink. Thanks!

  13. I definitely have a writers callous! I wish I could say it was from something cool like playing guitar (or even attempting to) but it is just thanks to the wannabe writer in me who goes no where without a pad and pen! But I love the way you look at it, I must try to not think of my callouses as a flaw but I shall look at them and say I am proud to be a writer, and the callouses are proof that I am always in progress!

  14. Such a great and thought-provoking post, you’re right. We all grow callous or numb to certain things that we don’t even notice it any more…

    • Hi Leya! Thank you so much for this comment. Yep, I always have to do a “callous-check” just to check in on how things are actually going. Because you’re right- we can grow numb to a lot of things. Thanks for stopping by! Have a great day!

  15. As someone who’s experienced depression and struggled with compulsive behaviour, I really related to this. It’s a bright and intelligent piece, and the metaphors you use, like the Febreeze commercial are lovely.

    On the topic of popular songs with ugly messages, I really despise Stooshe’s “Black Heart”, which is basically about a woman who loves a man because he treats her badly, and runs to her parents for help. Great message for the kids, Stooshe!

    • Thank you so much:) I’m glad this piece struck a chord with you. Oh yikes that song sounds like bad news! We need to teach our kids to love, that’s for sure! Thanks for stopping by. Sending love and blessings to you 🙂

  16. I really enjoyed this read. I lived a life of constant judging others because I didn’t want to look at myself and that moment of awareness of why am I so full of hate for people I don’t know. It was a freeing experience for me, it was like having a weight being lifted off my shoulders.

  17. Awesome, good for you! I played guitar in a band for years. I’m semi-retired from the band but never from playing. Keep at it. The callouses are worth it.

  18. I am so happy I stumbled upon you from liking one of my posts. I suffered an eating disorder (still do just not as bad) for a long time and guitar was something I picked up to write songs when I needed comfort. Your writing is beautiful! Can’t wait to read more stuff 🙂

    • Thank you so much! I appreciate you taking the time to read. I will definitely intel keep you in my thoughts and prayers. Complete freedom from ED is possible. 🙂 stay strong warrior. I’m glad you’ve found the guitar! There’s something so healing and soothing about music. Sending love and hugs friend xoxox

  19. I think this is one reason why I enjoy your writing so much, why I gravitate to younger folks generally. If you’ll forgive the analogy; I’m the old dog who says, “Yeah, it’s snowin’, Your point is…?”

    Then someone closer to the puppy stage comes along and starts running around. “Dude! Are you seein’ all this white…STUFF?!?”

    He watches for a minute or two, and the ol’ dog cracks a smile; yeah, it’s coming back to me.

  20. Oh, Beebs, Life is no fun without a chance to bug you. Today is no exception. To see my callouses you’re going to need a microscope. They are viruses now, too small to see. Evolution has shrunk them so that I don’t caught for my evil doings. I only spend 84,600 seconds a day cursing the world entirely. I just used to lay it all on my mother and once in awhile my father (bad idea to do it to him). Not so, anymore. I needed a bigger venue to vent my anger. What you can’t see can’t hurt you. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Hi dan! I love when you “bug me” 🙂 hehe I’m sorry you spend so much time cursing the world. Whenever I need to vent I go to a kickboxing class at the gym 💪

      • That might be fun. I do love punching things. Kicking might be a problem on account of my 21-month sore toe. It almost feels like a son now. It’s really growing on me. The kids did call me ‘Dangerous Dan’ in grade school. I suppose they just sensed the evil in me. They pretty much all stayed away from me. Your blog is a great variety store on thought. Ver’ nice. You’ll have to charge my purchases to my credit card, though. I don’t have any cash on me right now.

      • Well…you got me there. I guess being a superhero wouldn’t be too bad. I wouldn’t be qualified, though, except maybe for the part of Don Quixote. Dream the Impossible Dream, right, Dulcinea?

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