Have you ever had the following thoughts?
“I hate my life!”
“I look like sh*t!!!”
“This is genetic, I will never fix it!”
“My skin is horrible!”
“I’m always breaking out!”
I used to think those thoughts, a lot. The thoughts led to negative emotions. I was consumed with feelings of shame, and self-pity when I looked at my skin. I just wanted the pimples to go away.
But the pimples stayed. Oh they stayed.
And I was allowing my exterior to dictate how I felt. My negative thoughts led to negative emotions, which of course, led to negative results on my actual FACE.
NEW IN 2017!
I was so consumed with not having what I wanted (clear skin), that I wasn’t even present to enjoy my journey. It seemed like I was always in a state of waiting… Waiting for clear skin, so that I could live my life and be my best self. My joy was conditional.
But I was approaching the problem from the wrong angle — backwards in fact.
I needed to start allowing my interior to dictate my exterior, that is have my feelings dictate how I looked.
What if I told you that you can look amazing, only if you feel amazing first?
Wherein lies the pickle.
What Are Thoughts?
I don’t know about you, but I think a lot. A LOT a lot.
I’ve been thinking since an early age, and then I started overthinking, and practiced becoming a professional ruminator…
I thought that thinking a lot made me smarter, more capable of dealing with the world around me. This is probably true to a point. But where did my thoughts end, and somebody else’s thoughts begin?
How could I even be sure that my thoughts were my own?
I couldn’t, because my thoughts weren’t my own. They are a part of the collective thoughts — my mom’s thoughts, my neighbour’s thoughts, the media’s thoughts…
We’re bombarded by good and bad messages from a very young age and we have to make sense of them all — categorize them, accept them, ignore them. The sad thing is that we take a lot of them on board and start identifying with them, whether we relate to them or not, whether they help us or not.
When I was younger, I had so many insecurities…
I was afraid my toes were weird so I wore socks with sandals in the summer. Then I was afraid my ears were too big, so I never wore a ponytail afraid to expose them. Then I thought I was fat, had a huge forehead, my eyes were too big, my eyes were too small, my lips were too small, my lips were too big, my waist was too small, my waist was too big, my eyelashes were too blonde, my skin was too uneven, my butt was too small, my butt was too big… I can keep going.
None of those things were real. Even I, the very person who was thinking these things, was contradicting myself. How could I think my eyes were both too small and too big?
Only through the gift of hindsight did I realize that I was making things real that were never real. That was the power of my thoughts.
When I thought my eyes were too small, they seemed small.
When I thought my eyes were too big, they seemed big.
Either way, I was right.
Once you take a step back, and realize that your thoughts aren’t even your own, you can actually start observing your thoughts without judging yourself for thinking them in the first place. You can even start choosing your thoughts…
I realized that negative thinking was a mental waste of energy and that negative thinking led to negative emotions and negative results.
Furthermore, negative thoughts actually physically WEAKEN your body. Obviously, I couldn’t start healing if I was simultaneously thinking and feeling badly.
Stop Taking Your Feelings Personally
I’ve stopped identifying with my thoughts and my moods once I started realizing how many different factors actually influence my feelings.
The most important factor that influences how I feel is actually my physical state — how my BODY feels.
If I’m hungry, I’m more likely to be irritable. If my gut is out of order, than I can feel low energy or sad. If I don’t get enough sleep, I can feel lethargic and unmotivated.
I used to think I was just irritable, sad, lethargic, and unmotivated.
As my wise friend, Danielle Lynn says, “The less stories you tell yourself about ‘why this is happening’ the more you are connected with the present moment.”
I took my PHYSICAL state personally, and identified with my body. I told myself stories about why I was irritable, sad, lethargic, or unmotivated… I’d blame myself or others, or a situation. And I believed my rationalizations.
But I am not my body.
You are not your body either. It’s super important to know the difference, and to take care of your body, because it’s through this one beautiful vessel that you get to experience the world.
I realized that if I eat more regularly and more healthfully, take care of vitamin deficiencies, exercise regularly, and sleep well that I have an easier time thinking good thoughts, and therefore feeling really good!
Did you know that your gut produces more serotonin than your brain? If your gut is having issues, like leaky gut for example, then you might experience symptoms like depression. So are you depressed, or does your gut just need healing?
Understanding that your feelings don’t actually mean what you think they do is a powerful shift that can help you ultimately feel better. You give your feelings meaning, they don’t give you meaning.
Again, you are not your body, but you need to take care of your body so that it helps you take care of your mind.
I usually exercise about 3-4 times a week, which makes me feel amazing. If I stop exercising for only 2-3 days, I feel less focused, less motivated, more tired, my sleep isn’t as good, and I feel uncomfortable feelings like guilt and fear.
A healthy body is a healthy mind.
How To Turn Off Your Negative Feedback Loop
Your negative feedback loops are a well-practiced part of who you are. You’ve been thinking the same thoughts for a long time, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t change them.
And there’s one easy way to do it: gratitude.
Gratitude Is The Secret Sauce
Gratitude is becoming a mainstream phenomenon that I’m happy to write about. Gratitude actually WORKS.
No matter what situation you’re facing, you can ALWAYS cultivate the feeling of gratitude.
Learn the skill of gratitude on demand — practice this especially when you’re not feeling your best. The more you practice gratitude, the easier it will become to be grateful instead of worrying.
Gratitude can influence your body profoundly — it can actually LOWER inflammation. I told you that inflammation is the root cause of acne, so lowering inflammation every way you can is an obvious move to make for better skin.
If you start your day with 5 things you’re grateful for, you can actually prime your body to feel more grateful throughout the day, and to attract experiences that make you feel good and add to your gratitude. You can end your day the same way, by recalling 5 things for which you are really, truly grateful.
While you are feeling grateful, you don’t have space to feel angry or sad. It’s quite literally impossible to be grateful and fearful, grateful and sad, grateful and angry…
What If I’m Just An Unhappy Person?
What if you’ve just identified with an unhealthy body for too long, to the point that you started to believe that you are your body?
“I’m unhappy,” is a limiting belief — or a plain lie that you believe.
Happiness is a choice, just as suffering is a choice. You can choose to take care of your body and choose happy thoughts, or you can choose to let your body down and think negative thoughts.
You can choose to be angry, and carry your heavy anger around. Or you can forgive yourself, or the person you are angry at, and move on.
I used to carry around a lot of resentment for one person in my life — my father. So much so that in quiet moments of peace, I’d find my thoughts going to him and thinking about how much he disappointed me.
I carried that around for years, until I realized that I didn’t have to…
How To Forgive
The first person you need to forgive is yourself. I know I’ve been super hard on myself throughout the years, wanting to be my best self… Every time I didn’t measure up to my arbitrary standards, or every time I did something too slowly, or too late, I’d criticize myself.
I was hard on myself if I felt guilty, fearful, lazy…
But the aspects of you that you criticize are actually the parts of you that are most uniquely you. They are your defining features, and you can choose to be proud of them instead of hating on them.
For example, I used to criticize myself for my skin and for my inability to hold down a job. Now I’m extremely proud of my skin clearing-journey and turned it into a business. My “bad” skin and unemployability were there for my benefit all along… I just didn’t see it yet.
In this moment, you don’t see the puzzle, you only see the puzzle pieces. But one day, you’ll look back on your life and you’ll see the whole puzzle, and understand that all the puzzle pieces fit perfectly together.
Forgive yourself for being so hard on yourself, and show yourself some compassion. And forgive others and show them compassion — we’re all just doing our best.
The 3-Year Old Inner Child
One amazing exercise that helped me forgive myself and others is imaging the subject of your anger or disappointment as a 3-year-old. I learned this from the book “You Can Heal Your Life” by Louise Hay. I recommend you read it — it’s life-changing.
In this case, I pictured my father as a 3-year-old…
I actually went as far as to imagine his circumstances as a 3 year-old, a 6 year-old, a 10 year-old; the village where he grew up, his 10 km walk to school ever day, his two older brothers, his mother too busy running a farm and working as a nurse, his father away on long trips as a truck driver…
I realized that he needed a lot of love that he didn’t get. How could I be angry at someone like that? I felt so much compassion and love after this exercise that I forgave him immediately.
My father is no longer a trigger for me, and I love and accept him without any baggage.
But this exercise works with anybody because what it really shows is that we are all the same. All we want is love, compassion, and understanding. Sometimes it’s hard to understand other people, but that doesn’t mean you need to discount that person and tell yourself a story about how awful they are.
Whatever story you tell yourself, you will be right.
What You Focus On Expands
When I told myself that I had big ears, I actually saw big ears. When I told myself my eyes were too big, I saw ginormous eyes.
Whatever story you tell yourself, is a story that you will manifest. Whatever you focus on will expand.
So when you go around feeling sorry for yourself and hating your skin, you are sending out a feeling of “I’m not enough”, and you end up getting more of that feeling.
The real trick is feeling amazing about yourself despite what you think you see in the mirror… And watch your reality change…
Because you are not your body, and you certainly are not your skin. You are far more than all that. You’re a powerful mother*cker.
The Power Of Your Thoughts
Realize the power of your thoughts. Every cell of your body is always listening to your thoughts. So what are you telling yourself?
Are you sending yourself a message of love or a message of self-hatred?
You have total power over yourself, and it’s time for you to take the power back. You can start thinking more positively, and you’ll see that positivity will start permeating the rest of your life.
Your body will enjoy positive thoughts more than negative thoughts. It will heal more easily too.
I know that no matter how well I ate, no matter what supplements I took, and no matter how amazing my skin care routine was… I still broke out.
Why? Because thoughts matter! Negative thoughts kept me from healing.
It wasn’t until I took my thoughts seriously and started thinking in a supportive way instead of a damaging way, that I saw results on MY FACE.
I had to feel good first before I could look good too.
Your Life Is Your Responsibility
You are responsible for everything that you are experiencing because you are a creative being, just as I am a creative being. Our thoughts are creative too.
Every thought results in something, even if we can’t make out that result YET. As easy as it would be to make others responsible for your happiness or lack thereof — the only person responsible is you.
This means you can’t blame anybody or anything for what you’re experiencing right now. You have to make the decision to make your life better if you are unhappy with something.
Step 1 is gratitude. Everything else can go from there.
Be aware and present and grateful. Feel a negative thought creeping up on you? Stop. Reset. Gratitude.
Show yourself some gratitude and compassion. Everything happening in your life is a good thing, pimples included.
Life is forcing you to grow, become better, healthier, more compassionate and forgiving, and more loving towards yourself and others.
I am grateful to be able to sit in a cute cafe in Vancouver, enjoying a delicious organic vanilla rooibos tea and write this to you.
What are you grateful for?
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