So I don’t know about you, but I loved Celine’s article from last week!
She probably hit on every single emotion that you’ve felt about yourself and your acne on this journey.
Let’s recap. In Celine’s words, she:
- Felt that my body was failing me;
- Felt frustrated that I still wasn’t clear, even after all the work (and the money) I had already put in;
- Worried about going to the shop without makeup;
- Was terrified of going out of the house at all;
- Felt stuck in my own head;
- Hated all mirrors, all windows, all cameras, and generally speaking, all things where I could see my reflection on.
- Felt guilty that I had let my skin get so bad;
- Worried that I was spending way too much money on makeup, supplements, and acne healing programs;
- Stressed about post-acne breakouts;
- Felt constantly afraid of new breakouts, especially in the morning;
- Worried about my skin, that it wouldn’t heal before my boyfriend came to visit, before the holidays, before my wedding day… That in fact, it would never, ever heal.
Your Emotions Play a Big Role in Breakouts
So, you might be on this journey, and like Celine, you’ve heard that emotional stuff and stress is probably a big factor in your breakouts.
Ugh but whatever… you get it… but “healing your emotional world” that just feels confusing and impossible … like pushing a boulder up a mountain.
And like… what does “healing your emotional world” even MEAN, anyway?
So you keep waiting, wishing, hoping, for that miracle product, or food, or supplement or whatever else. Something you feel like you can actually control.
But now you know emotions are a part of healing your skin, yet you can’t seem to control them, so now you beat yourself up for feeling shitty or not being able to stop feeling bad.
You’re Not Weird or Broken
Well first of all… you’re normal.
Almost everyone who has acne feels bad about it. We all feel embarrassed and ashamed. Even if it’s mild.
And guess what… trying to stop or avoid your feelings is the exact opposite of what we want to do in order to heal emotionally.
Yet it’s the one thing that every body does!
In fact, what we want to do is….
We want to feel them!! More feelings!
(now hear me out before you run away screaming)
Change Your Thoughts, Feel Your Feelings
Look.. here’s the straight dope…
Thoughts and beliefs can be changed… often we think and believe a lot of things that aren’t necessarily true, and lead to us having the emotions in the first place.
We can practice catching those detrimental thoughts, interrupting them, and replacing them with something more supportive… then we can often circumvent the negative emotions from generating in the first place.
So we can work with our thoughts to change those, but if we’ve already blown past that and it’s too late….
Well,when we try to actually stop the FEELINGS when they arise, wherever they arose from, that’s when things get messy.
It takes an ENORMOUS amount of energy to repress and push away those feelings.
Think about how friggin insanely hard it is to stop from crying when you just want to break down in tears.
Yet if we don’t let em flow, the feelings don’t ever really go away… they just get pushed down deeper, and then your struggling body cries out through your skin.
But I Feel Lots of Terrible Things…
You might be saying right now….. well no. I feel lots of emotions. I feel SO many bad emotions. I have never once succeeded in stopping them, so why aren’t I cured?
And I would say to that…. no. You aren’t REALLY feeling your emotions.
Yes you are “feeling” them in your head. You are stuck in feeling the story of the emotions in your head over and over again.
You’re trying to either get rid of them or distract yourself…. by, pick your poison:
- Judging (self or others)
- Looking for advice/the magic answer
- Buying stuff (usually a new skin care product or supplement)
- Planning (to cancel all your plans)
- Being really busy
- Numbing out
- Thinking about the future
- Thinking about the past
- Endlessly talking it out, over and over
It never really works. Temporary relief maybe, but just more problems in the long run because they are not really getting processed.
So What Do I Actually Do!?
Well for one, understand that there is a part of your brain that is just constantly trying to make you anxious about everything… what we call “the critter brain”.
It’s scanning your environment looking for potentially “dangerous” things to make you worried about in order to keep you safe.
When it identifies a ‘threat’, it gives you anxiety to make you fight, flight or flee.
It hates change, and it doesn’t care if you’re happy, it only cares if you’re alive.
So if you constantly fear your own emotions and refuse to feel them (maybe because we’ve picked up the message along the way that it’s not safe to feel them)…
Then this part of your brain will learn that it’s doing a good job….. emotions must be dangerous… so let’s keep making you afraid of them.
Yes. That’s right. “Let’s make you fight or flee them at all costs”, it says.
Now you’re just a big bundle of emotions, fear, and self loathing because you couldn’t successfully make the pain go away, and you feel like there’s no way out.
This is how everything spirals out into this big emotional mess.
So… Wait…. What Do I Do Then?
So again.. what do you actually do when you start to feel the dreaded “emotion”?
You just feel it.
But not in your head.
In your body.
What are the actual physical sensations of this emotion?
Does it feel like a lump in your throat?
A tightness in the chest?
A brick in the belly?
Focus on the physical, not the mental.
Name it. Feel it. Let it be there. Breathe into it. Allow it to flow through you.
Counter intuitively, you may actually invite the feeling to get stronger, which is my favourite trick.
(That essentially shows your brain you aren’t afraid of it, and you’ll find the emotion tends to actually decrease in response!)
Observe it all with curiosity, not judgment.
The more you get in the habit of focusing on the physical sensations (ie. getting out of your head and into your body) as the emotions come up, the healthier your emotional world will become.
You will actually process them and allow them to move through you, rather than get stuck in you, or end up coming out through destructive behaviours.
You might feel more emotional at first when you start doing this…
But as you process all that stuck emotional junk whenever it surfaces, eventually you’ll feel lighter, brighter, energized… and very likely clearer.
Tracy Raftl is just some guy who used to have acne and a barrel full of bad feelings about it, and now she writes things for this website. Also, she created the Naturally Clear Skin Academy.
Check out the About page to learn more about her!