For the last six years, I’ve been traveling down the bumpy road (pun intended) of managing cystic acne and the scars it leaves behind. When it began in 2010, I was in a very emotionally raw place in my life, not feeling too great about myself. And of course, the onset of blemishes everywhere didn't help that.
The next four years were spent trying everything—and I mean everything—I could get my hands on. Chemical peels, product kits, all-natural ... everything would work for about a week, and then slowly stop, leaving me feeling repeatedly let down, which would then lead to a vicious cycle of picking, guilt, depression, and so on.
(You know what I’m talking about.)
At the time, I was working with a therapist-of-sorts named Thomas Jones, who ironically reminds me of Indiana Jones with a charming and characteristically witty sense of humor. During one session, he leaned back in his chair, folded his hands in his lap, and with a big, sly grin asked, “Isn’t it time to declare peace with your body?”
That question stuck with me. I realized that even though I had switched to more natural products and cleaned up my diet, I was still attacking my body because all my motives were driven by fear rather than because I wanted to take care of myself. And because they were driven by fear, I was still picking like crazy, still standing two inches away from the mirror and inspecting every little bump, still eating in a very disordered and neurotic way.
He was right. It was time to declare peace.
Over the last year, I’ve been on a gradual journey back to self-compassion, something that wasn't an overnight change (although I believe it can and may be for some). For me, it was a road of trial and error. My reality was one step forward, two steps back, until it began to become two steps forward, one back.
Slowly, through a consistent practice of Kundalini yoga, meditation, journaling, and other healing modalities, I began to feel that my motivation was changing. An inner shift began to alchemize and I felt a genuine desire to take care of rather than attack myself.
Even though there are still physical signs and symptoms healing is still taking place, I feel better, more optimistic. I can see my skin healing. I can feel my heart healing after years and years of self-hate and self-sabotage. By finding motivation in self-care rather than through self-sabotage, the uphill battle slowly begins to disappear.
Here are a few tips on how to start treating your skin and yourself better:
With a daily meditation practice, you begin to learn how to slow down enough to see that you have a choice in any given moment: to choose self-compassion or self-sabotage.
Kundalini is my personal favorite practice that not only gives me the strength to choose self-care over sabotage but also to keep me radiant, balance my hormones and glandular system, and clear out any physical or emotional.
I offer up the idea of looking at your morning and evening routines as rituals. Oftentimes, we rush through our skin care routines, looking in the mirror and telling ourselves the many ways we don't accept who we are. Then we walk out the door or fall into bed feeling terrible about ourselves. Not a great way to start the day or slip into sleep, right?
One of the biggest ways I changed my morning and evening rituals was by thinking, WWFD?: What Would French (Women) Do? Silly, but honestly, it was a game-changer. The French are extremely passionate about beauty rituals and the idea of being beautiful. They embrace it and radiate in their confidence, which comes from extreme amounts of self-care. In the morning and evening, I channel my inner French girl and ask, how can I make myself feel beautiful?
I’m not going to tell you what to use on your skin; it’s not my place and I believe things work differently for everyone. It’s up to you to get in touch with your intuition and learn how to listen to your body and what it needs.
The quickest way to do this is a trick my incredible esthetician, Melanie Herring, taught me: whenever you go to buy, use, or try a product, stop before you pick it up and ask your self, “Am I choosing this out of fear or out of wanting to treat my body kindly?”
So many times I caught myself wanting to pick products out of fear or I would change my routine even when things started to work because I became anxious. It definitely took time to learn how to flex the intuition muscle and allow myself to stick with using the products I knew were chosen out of compassion, but I'm amazed how quickly my skin began to clear up the moment I began listening to what my body actually needed versus what I thought it needed.