Much of that had little to do with acne, but I want to get back to that and bring this full circle…
During my recent experiences, I learned very clearly that when you’re in a situation that feels bad, the answer is to just accept it.
No one wants to feel bad, but the harsh reality is that life can hurt. Life is not perfect. Shitty things happen that don’t seem fair, and sometimes you have to do things that don’t feel good.
The more you mentally resist the reality of the situation, the more it’s going to hurt. The bigger the problem is going to get, and the more it’s going to take over your life and emotions.
If you are reading this blog, I can only assume that a shitty, awful thing that is happening to you right now is acne.
But I Could Never Accept Acne, You Say
People have a really, really hard time with the word acceptance.
And I get it. You don’t like it, so how could you ever accept it?
Doesn’t that mean giving up trying to get rid of it? Rolling over, and just living with it? Are you actually asking me to LIKE it?
“No way. I could never accept myself or a life like this”, you think.
I get why you feel that way (and believe me, I’m no stranger to feeling this way), but it’s not really like that.
I’m not asking you to like acne.
Fact is, you’re never going to like acne. You’re never going to like the things in your life that feel bad. And often you can’t really help the things that make you feel bad.
Notice what happens to you when you get a new pimple…
When they’re coming on strong and hard and you feel like you’re spiralling out of control? Or the disappointment when one clears up only to have another one appear?
For me, I get that kind of “oomph” feeling in my gut, like someone punched me.
And yeah, that feels terrible.
Most of us at that point mentally go “NOOOOOO!! THIS CAN’T BE HAPPENING!! I DON’T WANT THIS!! I HATE THIS!! STOP!!!” and then we tend to get this wild, beastly urge to do something, because we can’t accept feeling this way.
And by do something, I mean do something that we consciously, or often unconsciously, think is going to make the pain go away.
Take your pick of these favourites:
- Getting the urge to wash your face multiple times a day or overuse your skin treatments
- Immediately deciding to drastically switch your skin care regimen
- Picking or squeezing your skin until you hardly recognize yourself
- Obsessively looking in the mirror every two seconds
- Cancelling all your plans for the next week, or calling in sick to work
- Deciding to try a new diet or restrict more foods
- Spend every second of your free time reading endlessly about acne, searching for the miracle cure
- Trying every supplement that has ever been uttered in the same sentence as acne
Essentially, we’re trying to control and manipulate the feelings, which doesn’t often work that well.
Often you just end up more anxious, and the emotions of trying to control it begin taking over your life.
But what would happen if – before you do anything to get rid of the acne – you just completely accept the situation as it is right now in this moment.
You stop fighting it. You stop resisting what is.
How to actually do this is sort of hard to describe in words, but…
I mentioned this anecdote before, but imagine being in a canoe, paddling as hard as you can upstream against the current. How hard is that?
Now imagine just letting go. Putting the paddle down and letting the current carry you, even if it feels a little scary.
Or, here’s another example. Try tensing up and contracting every single muscle in your body all at once. Hold it for a few counts, and then release and relax everything.
Getting the idea? Acceptance is kind of like this, but translated into your mental headspace.
Now here’s what you do:
- You accept yourself exactly the way you are right now, which includes acne.
- You accept that you don’t like it and the feelings of pain that it’s causing you.
- You accept that it feels unfair.
- You accept that you are getting the urge to do something about it, perhaps that may not be in your best interest.
- You accept that people you don’t want to notice, may notice your skin, and may think things you don’t want them to think.
- You accept that you feel resistant to accepting all this.
Make it into a game, if you want. Make it a competition with yourself to see how much you can accept.
If you want, you can repeat affirmations to yourself. Just keep saying “I accept ____” and at first it will feel untrue, but the repetition will help your brain to start actually accepting it.
So while acne is never going to feel good, everything is going to feel a lot easier this way.
The more you accept, the more quickly the painful feelings will pass, and the more you are able to just get on with the other areas of your life, and maybe actually enjoy them too.
So How Do I Get Rid of Acne, From a Place of Acceptance?
Now you’ve surrendered and given up the mental fight against what’s happening, the question is… where do you go from here?
Like I said – even if you accept and stop resisting the reality of the situation, it doesn’t mean you’re actually going to like having acne. So it’s still totally reasonable to take action to get rid of it, since luckily, you can get rid of it.
However, accepting the situation will hopefully help you avoid doing and trying unnecessary things that aren’t going to be helpful, or make things worse.
Skin picking, extreme food restriction or control, cancelling work, obsessively looking in the mirror, spending too much time reading about acne.
You will start to notice these things that you want to do, and realize that they are coming out of a place of resistance.
And if you do give in to them, well… you’re human, and then you accept that. You accept that you are flawed.
But What’s Unnecessary and What’s Reasonable When It Comes to Treatments?
Unfortunately deciding what is unnecessary and what is a reasonable course of action to take for your skin can be confusing, and a definite grey area.
Sure, it’s fine to try a new skin care regimen if you think the old one isn’t working, but when do you make that call? How long to give each treatment to determine if it’s working, and how often is too often to switch?
Sure, it’s fine to read and educate yourself about acne, since, well… if you don’t have the education, how can you know what to try? But when does it cross over into unhelpful obsessive behaviour that does no good except make you paranoid?
Sure, it’s fine to try a new diet or eliminate a certain food to see if it helps your skin, but where do you draw the line before you have cut out every food and have nothing to eat and are totally stressed about it?
Honestly, I wish I had the answers, but often it simply comes from experience and intuition.
The acceptance will hopefully allow you to have a little bit more patience with your decisions, and get you more tuned into that intuition.
But the big key thing is this:
Let Go of Expectations
Whatever you decide to try, you gotta let go of the expectations of the outcome.
Generally when you are deciding to try something new for your skin, you start getting extremely attached to your projected outcome.
The projected outcome being that whatever you try works really well, and you never get a zit again, and hail Mary.
And then when it doesn’t work perfectly, or at all, or just doesn’t work fast enough, there is a lot of resistance because we so badly wanted that outcome, and it’s not here, and I HATE THIS AAAGHGGHGHGHGH!!!
But if you try things without the expectation, then you’ll be either pleasantly surprised when it does work, or it’ll be just a heck of a lot easier to accept when it doesn’t.
I’m Saying This From A Place of Knowing…
Truth is, despite everything else having improved in my life, I can’t say the same about my skin.
I happen to be breaking out quite a bit more than usual over the last month-ish and I don’t exactly know why (yes, despite still using Estroblock). So I’m experiencing all this in real time.
All the familiar feelings are cropping up – that punch in the gut when I see another one, that feeling of disappointment, that immediate urge to do something to make it go away, the confusion over the best course of action or whether I should even bother to take any at all.
But I’ve also been practicing everything that I just said above, and it’s 100% true… acceptance can feel difficult, but in the end, it makes everything so much easier.
So right now I’m just sort of being patient and reasonably contemplating what I’m going to do.
Maybe it’ll just clear up, but it’s been going on a while now that they’ve been coming on faster and more numerous than usual … so I do feel like it may be time for action.
Probably be talking all about it next week! See you then!