Hi my friends & happy Valentine’s Day!!
First things first, I want to thank you. I was so incredibly surprised and blown away by the feedback — whether via email or in person! — you gave in response to my first acne post. Honestly, I was quite terrified to share all of those thoughts and feelings with you but have been hoping and praying for some sort of way to grow through my insecurities, free myself from the hopelessness and self-hatred I had been feeling, and to connect with others who might also be feeling the same way. I had been holding myself captive, trapped in my thoughts for far too long. I let myself believe that I was ugly, unlovable, lonely, no fun and nothing special. But gracefully, life has shown me that we all face challenges that prick and pull at our hearts. Sometimes they go away, sometimes they linger, and sometimes we conquer them only to be met by something new. We may not get to decide the difficulty or the duration of the challenges we face, but we do get to choose how we face our challenges. And it all begins with the thoughts in our minds. Here’s what it boils down to:
What you think, you believe. What you believe, you do. And what you do becomes who you are.
I still don’t know the main underlying reason why I have acne (I do see a food/stress/hormonal connection though and have found great practicals that have gotten me about 90% clear!! I’ll share more in Part 3!), but if I’m being honest, I’d have to say that I’m actually so so grateful for my skin. Even the red, blemished, scarred bits. Here’s why!
My acne has acted as this self-reflecting mirror, revealing so much of my character back to me. Throughout this pursuit of clear skin, I have become shockingly aware of the emphasis I place on physical beauty, how quickly I am to compare myself to others, and how much confidence and security I place in what others think of me. It would be easy to blame social media or point a finger to the all-consuming pressures placed on women (and men too!) to be all things to all people at all times. It would be easy to let myself feel ashamed and broken beneath this glowy clear-skin standard of beauty. And it would be all too easy to beat myself up day in and day out, keeping myself trapped in a prison of negative thoughts; I’m the ugly girl. I’m a failure of a health professional. I’ve wasted so much time and money looking for a solution. I am a waste. I must have done something to deserve this. I deserve to suffer.
But enough is enough. (!!!!!) I was drowning in my thoughts until suddenly, it became clear to me that I would not find healing until I learned the very thing that my acne had come to teach me. In that moment, I realized that I had been focusing all of my energy on hiding, covering up, and trying to escape instead of tuning in, listening, and letting this challenge grow me.
I was overflowing with negativity. Quite literally, negativity was seeping out of my pores.
I stopped believing in myself and therefore stopped believing that I would find a solution for my skin. I saw my skin as a problem that needed to be fixed as soon as possible, therefore I saw myself as a problem. In my shame and insecurity, I shut myself out from other people, arriving late to meetings & hangouts and leaving early so that I would be able to avoid eye contact and social interaction. I was so worried about every little thing I ate because I didn’t know if it was making my skin worse, so I would find reasons not to eat and then I would feel so guilty about not eating that I would just end up eating really unhealthy. What I thought, I believed. And what I believed became what I did. And before I knew it, I was a shell of myself, totally unrecognizable as I stood in front of the mirror.
I became my thoughts. Defeated. Hopeless. So so negative.
The truth is, I didn’t start to see any improvements in my skin until I changed my mindset and learned how to love myself in my current state. I started to believe that there were far greater and more noble things worth striving to be than physically beautiful. I decided that my skin was not going to be the thing that kept me from pursuing my dreams. I resolved that even if my acne never went away, I was still going to be the girl I wanted to be. Acne was not going to stop me be from being kind, generous, compassionate, caring, selfless, hard working, passionate, and fun. I refused to let my life, dreams, goals, and actions be dictated by the way I viewed my skin.
And that’s when the magic happened.
My skin didn’t clear overnight and I still have a lil ways to go until I have clear skin but the truth is, my heart and my mind have been completely transformed in a way that I am so grateful for. I learned a powerful lesson about my thoughts and discovered that I have the ability to control them. How you view yourself has a profound affect on who you become and what you achieve. What you eat definitely plays a role and the products you use can make a big difference on breakouts but the single-most important thing you can do to heal your skin is heal your thoughts first.
Here are five things that have really helped me transform my thoughts. It takes a lot of practice and determination to re-train yourself to love all that you are and see yourself in a positive light. But stick with me and commit to these five practices!! They have been life changing for me and I wanted to share them with you because YOU are worthy of a life lived full. So here goes nothing!
1 — Recognize your thoughts
I want to encourage you to take this moment to listen to your thoughts. What are you saying to yourself? Write one or a few of them down. Now, read each thought out loud and ask yourself, are these things true? Would you share them with your mother, sister, or best friend? Or do you keep these thoughts secret and all to yourself? Would someone you love say those words to you? This is a great tool to use throughout the day when a negative thought completely derails you. Write the thought down, word for word, and say it back to yourself out loud. Then do this:
2 — Challenge your thoughts!!!!
Just because you think it, doesn’t mean it’s true. All too often we think something and then just automatically accept it as truth. Here’s the coolest thing ever: you get to choose what is true about you and you get to have the last say!! When you think a thought, hold it up to the fire and test it to see if it’s true. If it’s a lie, replace that thought with something that is true and positive, reflecting who you know yourself to be.
3 — Give yourself a compliment every single time you look in the mirror
Okay real talk! It is wayyyyy too easy to look in the mirror and instantly see flaws and inadequacies. But instead of picking yourself apart, show yourself some self-love. Tell yourself one thing you love about you — physically or internally. Spend time appreciating what you love most about you. Maybe it’s your eyes, skin color, character, heart to love others, work ethic, or passion. What about yourself are you most proud of? I’ll go first! I love the way my eyes change colors depending on what I wear, I love the freckles on my nose, and I really love the way I pursue friendships with an open heart. Try it and let yourself feel good about who you are!!
4 — Choose gratitude over comparison
What are you grateful for? What have the challenges in your life taught you? Gratitude allows you to see your biggest weaknesses as your greatest strengths. The things you thought were failures, deficiencies, inadequacies, and downfalls are actually opportunities for you to stretch yourself and grow. Instead of comparing yourself to others, be grateful for who you are and where you are today, in this moment. If it helps you to visualize it, write out five things that you are grateful for each day!
5 — Be patient with yourself
Did you know that it takes 21 days to form a new habit? Negative self-talk is a habit that needs to be broken and replaced, but it takes time. Your brain literally has to re-wire itself, forming new neuron pathways and connections so that it can allow for more positive thinking. There’s actually some really cool science on the physical structure of brain playing a major role in the way we think! It’s crazy. Breathe deep and trust your journey. It may seem really overwhelming at first to learn how to listen to thoughts and challenge them, but I promise you that it will be well worth it in the end.
Ah! In closing, I just want to say that having this space to write so freely is an incredible gift. I am sending you good vibes from my lil office in Plano, Texas!! No matter what your Valentine’s Day looks like, I hope and pray that it can be filled with a heart full of joy, really good thoughts, and a whole lot of self-love.
You are worthy. You are beautiful. Good things are coming your way. Believe it!
PS! A few clicks worth checking out:
If you love podcasts, listen to this: Lisa Nichols — The Greatest Love that You Can Ever Give the World is the Demonstration of What Loving You Looks Like
If you enjoy books, read this: The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein
If you connect with scripture, turn to these: Philippians 4:4-8 + Romans 12:2 + 2 Corinthians 10:5
If Pinterest is more your speed, check out these pins from one of my boards!