I was recently interacting with someone online who was struggling with acne. It quickly became clear that he wasn’t actually looking for help – he was looking for ways to shoot down every single idea or suggestion I had, or that anyone had for that matter.
“I’ve tried that, it didn’t work.” “That doesn’t make sense.” “I don’t know how that would help.” “That’s dumb.”
Eventually he said (I’m paraphrasing here) “for some of us, there is no cure for our acne. There is nothing we can do and we just have to accept that.”
Well then, case closed. There was nothing left for me to say.
To be perfectly honest, I have no problems with someone giving up the battle of healing their acne and just accepting it for what it is. In fact, I applaud that choice.
It can be a long and exhausting fight – especially if you don’t truly understand what’s going on with your skin or are trying to figure it out on your own. (You don’t have to do that by the way).
I would disagree with him that there is no cure, but sometimes, yeah, it’s hard to find. I don’t blame anyone for throwing their hands in the air and saying, “that’s it! I give up!”
But in order for that to work, for you to find relief in that choice, you have to follow through on the second half of what this guy said. You have to accept it, or rather, learn to let it go. If you aren’t working on healing your skin, you have to release the emotional grip it has on you. Otherwise, you turn bitter and pessimistic – much like this online fellow.
Why am I sharing this story?
Because the things I’ve learned in healing my own skin and in helping others, have been lessons that go far beyond skin care. I am reminded of that in situations like this.
If you are unhappy about anything – whether it’s your skin, some other aspect of your body, your job, your relationship, whatever it is, you always have three options. In fact, you only have three options.
1. Take action to change the thing that’s bothering you.
2. Take action to change the way the thing affects you.
Honestly, number 2 is the short cut, but that’s a post for another time. For now I’ll just admit that neither of those options is necessarily easy. Pursuing either choice can come with its own challenges. But if you do not consciously choose one of those options, you by default chose the third.
3. Do nothing.
Tough love time – it needs to be clear to you that doing nothing, is in fact a choice. Most people, for most problems, choose number three. It’s the easiest thing to do as far as effort is concerned, but ironically often results in the most pain. It leaves us feeling powerless.
But worse, if it goes on long enough, we let ourselves get used to the feeling. It becomes a background dissatisfaction with life and ourselves. Like a low grade fever that never goes away. It makes us more and more uncomfortable over time, but we forget the reason why. Then it becomes general bitterness, resentment, and unhappiness.
Taking action, though it may have its challenges and frustrations, will always feel better than doing nothing. Doing nothing is standing still. Standing still means you’re just taking it. And then you blame the world because you got beat up.
Take online acne guy. He told himself there was no cure for him – so he’s now no longer open to hearing new ideas. Option 1 is closed. We apparently can’t change the thing that’s bothering him.
This could be a great opportunity to start finding emotional healing, changing the way it affects him. This is where some serious magic can happen. But he wasn’t into Option 2 either. When I suggested methods to help him find emotional relief, he told me “society” would always make him feel bad because of his skin, so why bother. (Side note – “society” will screw you over every time – stop listening to them…)
What he really wanted was to prove me wrong and that he was right. That he was justified for feeling hopeless, and thus not responsible for being hopeless. He chose Option 3.
If you are tired of looking for a solution for your skin, if you’re exhausted, if you don’t know what else to do – then take a break, it’s ok. But make it a conscious choice. And don’t go idle. Eventually get back on the horse and saddle up for Option 1 or Option 2. (You can do both by the way.) If you don’t know how to do that, I can help.
Just please – don’t settle for Option 3.