I wrote a post quite some time ago entitled “Do You Have a Mental ‘Safety Net’ When It Comes to Your Acne?“.

In this article, I was talking about how many of us have certain things or routines that we get really emotionally attached to, because we imagine that these things keep us safe from the evil acne monster.

For me, it used to be my face wash and benzoyl peroxide. Then it became my diet. Now, I have to admit, I’m pretty attached to my handy dandy ‘Estroblock‘ supplement.

We get so attached to these things because we put all of our feelings of “okay-ness” onto them. Without them, we imagine horrible things will happen which will make us feel really really bad (aka. acne). So we desperately cling to them.

That’s all fine and good while you have your safety net, but what happens if it is taken away? What if you have to skip washing your face with your special face wash tonight? What if you ate something that wasn’t on your list of “good” foods? What if you run out of your supplement and your new shipment is backordered?

Well, the answer is of course a lot of stress and anxiety, which may lead to a breakout, which leads to a self fulfilling prophecy, which then deepens your dependence!

The thing is that the majority of the attachment to the safety net is a mental one. Maybe that thing really does help your skin, but it is us who give it this huge meaning – this epic responsibility. This immense pressure to save us from our despair.

Anyway, in my article, I was condoning the safety net, saying that a safety net can be a good thing as long as it’s a very simple one that is unlikely to be broken. It’s when you start getting into these elaborate routines full of mountains of products, superfoods, supplements, procedures, etc, that things start to get complicated.

I also mentioned that I wanted to work on making happiness my safety net, so that I would know that as long as I am happy and relaxed in the face of adversity, then I will feel secure that acne will not hurt me.

Anyway, a lovely Love Vitamin reader named Ana recently commented on the article and brought a new perspective that I am totally on board with.

She said that the point is not to have a safety net. It’s to grow to the point where YOU are your own safety net. By you, I mean your inner strength to know that you can overcome anything bad that happens to you. Your strength to know that you don’t need any “thing” to save you, all you need is yourself.

Check it out:

Hi Tracy,

Regarding the safety net – what my life and experiences have to say about it: the point is not to have any. Having a safety net is remotely similar to a very mild OCD (to ease your anxiety you need some kind of artificial “affirmation” that what you are anxious about is not going to happen).

So the goal should be to get you into the state when you feel/believe that if anything happens, you can handle it. That you have enough resources to be OK, to survive, to find a way out, to accept it, or to change it.

You cannot really anticipate what life will bring your way, so you cannot prepare specifically in advance. But WHATEVER it is going to be, you yourself is arsenal strong enough to deal with it (your mind with ideas, your intuition, experiences, courage and all your strengths :)) = basically, it grows directly out of your self-esteem/confidence/awareness.

When I was a kid, I was pretty insecure – not about my flaws, but I figured out that if I needed help, my parents would not have been there for me. I basically had to learn how to deal with stuff on my own. So I started wearing a special bracelet as a “shield”. I believed (not really, I just needed something to rely on and ease my anxieties) that as long as I had it, nothing bad was going to happen to me.

Then I lost it and I had a serious thought: “Now I have to replace it quickly, but since things get lost, this time it should be something I cannot lose.” I was travelling on a train at that time staring out a window and noticed my reflection and I thought: “My hair. My hair is always there. So as long as I have my hair, I am fine.”

Some time later I got a hair cut a lot shorter than I wanted. So I felt like I lost my hair. For a few months I felt really lost but slowly I started to tell myself: “Maybe the best thing would be to just give up on this and switch to yourself. If you have managed so far you will be fine in the future too. You will never lose yourself and anytime you need help, I am here for you.”

That is my story and I realized that if you put a lot of baggage on anything (if you ascribe too much power or inappropriate powers to something) you make it rule your life and then, when you lose it or it breaks or it goes away for a while, you assume your life is gone as well.

In my opinion, even happiness does not deserve to be dumped with such a load of duties. Sometimes you are not happy, maybe you are sad or depressed… but it is because of something, and it is good to find out the reason so you can see if there is something out of balance. To feel threatened that it is going to cause you another disaster is just more stress, lowering your courage and self-esteem to sort out what the problem is with ease and without panic.

Be your own safety net! It will solve the control issues.

As long as you rely on yourself and not outer world/conditions/things/people/circumstances, you do not need to control anything. And if you rely on yourself as a whole — not only on a part of your body, like with my hair, lol, or on just a particular behavior or something — you do not need to control yourself either!

Like you say, we should not be caught in our past… well, we can use our past in a much better way – we can lean on it and build our self-confidence with it (and learn from it, of course). That is how really true self-esteem is built. You know what you are good at, what you are capable of, what you have to work on, what you like and what you do not, what you accept and what is intolerable and why.

So when you are anxious about your skin, you can just say: “If I managed it then, I can manage it now as well and will be able to in the future.” or “If I had clear skin once, I can have it again too.” or even “Do you remember when your skin was just really awful and you did not want to go out with friends and then they convinced you and nothing bad really happened? If nothing bad happened then, nothing is going to happen this time as well.”

Repeat for some time and you will start to notice that you do not care much about your skin anymore. And when it needs some cure (I actually do not suffer from acne but psoriasis), you do it without that emotional load – just like you do when you cut your nails and when you, for example, do not have time to do a procedure, you just skip it without even paying attention to it.

Keep up the good job, Tracy. Good luck!

Watch It!

Do you have an acne safety net that you rely on? Do you think you could ever get to the point where you are your own safety net?