Hello, and welcome to a different kind of regimen.
My story is about how addressing and healing my emotional life healed my acne. And how you can do it as well.
This is a different way to approach acne. I’m going to explain how acne is connected to our emotional health, and how both the acne and the emotional pain can be addressed with something called EFT, or Emotional Freedom Techniques.
Hopefully by using the tools and information here, you can experience the same emotional and acne freedom that I have.
EFT, or Emotional Freedom Techniques, is a simple self-help technique which enables you to quickly and easily resolve all kinds of painful negative emotions, whether past or present. By lightly tapping on a series of points on the face and upper body, EFT releases 'stuck' emotional energy, taking the charge out of painful or traumatic memories, helping physical symptoms as well. The basic technique can be learned in a few minutes. It can be used on yourself anytime, anywhere, and requires no outside help.
I started noticing the connection between my mental state and my acne about two years ago when I first learned of EFT. At the time I was in a bad place emotionally; depression, low self-esteem, no self confidence at all, couldn’t stand up for myself, etc.
I started using EFT on my emotional issues, of which there were many. It took heavy slogging at first, since I was still learning how to use EFT, but after awhile I started to notice real improvements in my mood. The depression wasn’t as solid, and there were really good days. I also noticed something else: when I was feeling positive, hopeful and upbeat, my acne really didn’t matter. In those moments, I could see a path through life where it didn’t matter if I had acne or not. It was a good feeling.
During these good times, I also started seeing something else. It seemed to me that my acne actually faded a bit on it’s own. The redness would go down, and the pimples would heal much faster than normal.
It didn’t take long for the connection between my mental state and my acne to get much more obvious. I found that when I felt threatened or in danger, like in uncomfortable social situations or facing my boss at work, breakouts soon followed. Yet as soon as I felt ‘safe’ again, my acne would begin to heal up very quickly on it’s own.
I began using EFT to remove these specific feelings of danger, which were simply reactions I’d learned from bad experiences in the past. As these painful memories and experiences were neutralized with EFT, I found self-confidence coming back, and I was less worried about what people thought. Confrontations didn’t bother me as much anymore.
My acne level reflected this feeling of safety and confidence, and went down drastically the more work I did. During this time I would still occasionally get breakouts when a really bad memory was triggered (which I then worked to eliminate), but overall my acne was noticeably better, and like my state of mind, rapidly improving.
My skin has now been clear for six months.
I don’t want to make it sound like EFT is an instant fix that’ll cure acne overnight - it’s not. This work takes time and effort, but what doesn't? Many of us have tried the instant cures, and we’re still here because they didn't work as well as we needed them to.
There are several things about EFT which make it a different approach:
- First and most important, EFT addresses the emotional damage done by acne. There are thousands of excellent regimens out there that cover everything from topicals to holistic diet, but few that give you tools for healing the real emotional damage acne has caused for all of us. Often this emotional pain is even worse than the acne itself, and for many people, it persists after the acne itself is gone. EFT can deal with that pain.
- The changes are lasting. No one can take away the emotional freedom that I’ve gained with EFT.
- I’m no longer afraid of relapses. If I do get a breakout, I can pinpoint exactly what the emotional problem is, and work on it until it (and the breakout) go away.
- I no longer use topical treatments or regimens. I made this choice back when I decided to use EFT alone to get free. As a result, I never worry about what will happen to my face if I travel for a week, or about missing a day of the regimen. This in itself took away a lot of stress for me.
(NOTE: This is a personal choice that I made, to prove that I could get free of acne using EFT.
If you have a good regimen that you’re on, but you want to add the benefits of EFT on top of it, I’d would absolutely suggest staying on your current regimen. Remember, we’re all about emotional freedom here, and if your regimen is helping you with that, by all means keep it until you’ve done enough EFT work to feel completely confident dropping it. The beauty of EFT is that it doesn’t interfere or clash with anything, so you can add it to whatever you’re doing.)
EFT can be effective on two levels. On the surface level, EFT can help with the painful physical and psychological effects of acne. Physical things like:
Healing breakouts and pimples
Helping oily skin
Reducing rosacea and facial redness
Healing post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation
The direct emotional and psychological effects of acne that EFT can be used on include:
Uncertainty, feeling at the mercy of acne
The jinx effect, feeling that if you talk about progress, you’ll lose it
Acne feeling permanent and forever
The spotlight effect, and feeling everyone is watching
EFT is also powerful on a deeper level, going to the root cause of acne. In this area EFT is directed at past events and memories/experiences which taught us that we were unworthy, unloved, or actually in danger. The items on this list are connected to the ones above, but these are much deeper identity issues which we would still have to face even if acne went away tomorrow:
Feelings of isolation
This is a very organic process, and entirely based on our individual experiences. Since each of our lives are unique, working on these deep, defining self-beliefs is a matter of tracing back to formative events which created them. .
The key here is not to judge events, because what can seem like an insignificant word or action to one person, can be a powerful negative (even traumatic) event for another. It is important to understand that all of your own experiences are completely valid, no matter how they might look on the outside. They have affected you deeply, and deserve respect and consideration.
With EFT, these painful traumatic events can be de-energized very rapidly, taking the emotional sting right out of them, and moving them from feeling life-threatening or painful, to simply being ordinary memories.
Going to the Core
A few techniques for accessing these deeper level events are, as I mentioned above, to trace them back to their origin. It’s common not even to remember them, especially the more painful ones.
As an example of what I mean, say that acne is causing me to feel helpless or powerless. To find out if this is feeling is based on an older experiance, I start asking questions. What do these feelings remind me of? Can I remember any times in my life when I felt powerless like this?
Before very long I start remembering times when I was powerless. Memories of being punished as a kid start coming to mind, and other times when I wasn’t able to protect myself. These may be memories that I’ve hidden from my conscious mind because of how painful they were.
One clue see how close you are to a core event is by watching your own emotional intensity. You can be sure you’re getting close to a core memory if the negative emotions start to intensify, or you are really bothered or agitated.
At that point bringing EFT to bear on the problem will start getting results.
Explaining Breakouts and ‘Triggers’
Whenever we experience traumatic events (both big ‘T’ and little ‘t’ trauma) which feel threatening, it’s like our bodies take a recording of that event, and file it away in a safe vault. However, instead of having one secret code that we hide and forget about, these vaults can be opened by any number of codes, like sights, sounds, smells or feelings which remind us of the event. When this happens (usually subconsciously and out of our control), our bodies automatically re-open the vault and start replaying the painful memory on cue.
These replays take different shapes. Sometimes it’s a subliminal response, and we may feel nervous, fearful or uneasy for no apparent reason. Other times we may know exactly what this situation reminds us of, and just how bad it was the last time. In both cases, something in the present triggers a reaction from something similar (and unpleasant) in the past.
In normal situations this is unpleasant, but not disabling. For acne sufferers though, it’s different. For us, these events are usually strong enough to trigger a fight-or-flight mode, where our bodies physically start to shut down and go into survival mode – including our skin. When we are in this state, some of our organs don’t get the energy that they need to function on a healthy level.
One of these organs is our skin. When our bodies sense that we are in danger, the skin is no longer regulated in a normal, healthy manner. Thus a possible overproduction of sebum, a weakness to the bacteria that cause infection, etc.
With acne, this can start a vicious cycle, because once a breakout has happened, all of our attention is now focused on this very visible, painful condition, and we usually completely forget about the original event which triggered it all.
When this happens and old memories and reactions are triggered, it’s helpful to realize that our bodies honestly cannot tell the difference between these past recordings and the present reality. This is why a seemingly insignificant event can happen, and suddenly we feel like we’re six years old again and in for a scolding, or worse.
This is the how-to section of this post. There are many excellent free resources on the internet. I’ve gathered a few of them here.
Here’s a short pdf guide that I put together, which teaches the basic technique of EFT, and includes tapping scripts for many of the acne symptoms that I listed above. You can start using these right away.
There is more information on my blog as well. You can find that here. I will be posting tapping information there that you can follow along with.
Another resource with information on EFT is EFTUniverse.com. They have a lot of case studies, info and tutorials and about using EFT. They also have a lot of the research and scientific testing that's been done with EFT, which is very enlightening.
You're saying that stress causes acne? Isn't that a myth?
Until now, there hasn’t been a predictable, quick and reliable way to deal with negative emotions (which are what stress is). Given that fact, asking someone to go in for three years of psychotherapy as a cure for acne is both unrealistic and impractical, given the long timeframe.
EFT changes this. Because EFT works so rapidly and effectively, it allows you to see changes happening in real-time, which is how I was able to find and examine the connection between my mental state and acne so closely.
This is just positive thinking then?
Certainly not. The problem with ‘positive thinking’ is that it ignores the very real physical side of negative emotions. If you try to simply ‘think positively’, you automatically begin to suppress ‘bad’ negative emotions, which means that instead of passing through us and dissipating on their own as they’re meant to, they stick around, clogging up our system until we process them properly.
Suppressing negative emotions takes a tremendous amount of energy. Over time, as more and more unacceptable emotions and memories build up, it takes more and more energy to keep all the painful emotions hidden - so much so, that other parts of our bodies no longer have the energy to function properly - such as our skin.
In my case, I had so much bottled up and suppressed it felt like I was literally bursting at the seams. Once I started using EFT to neutralize some of the pain I was carrying, my body began to heal itself naturally - and my skin improved dramatically.
EFT is powerful here, because it enables us to carefully resolve these powerful negative emotions which might otherwise overwhelm us.
Psychologist Gay Hendricks once said, “All emotions are gentle and short-lived, unless we resist feeling them.”
Is EFT a replacement for traditional psychotherapy?
EFT is not a substitute for professional help, and if you need it, I would urge to you get it. That said, it can be used in addition to traditional psychotherapy very successfully, as I have done myself. Most therapists will be supportive of you taking the initiative in your health, once they understand that it’s a healthy way to process emotions and not suppress them.
For myself, I did most of my emotional work by myself with EFT, and worked on and off with a therapist when time allowed.
What does tapping on these points really do?
The tapping points in EFT correspond to the energy meridien end-points of ancient chinese medicine. These are the same meridians used in acupuncture, acupressure, and a number of other disciplines. In EFT, the points are stimulated by a gentle tapping instead of needles.
Huh, that sounds like hokey New Age stuff
When I first started, I kept coming back to the results. It just worked. No matter what I thought about it, it kept on delivering results that didn’t happen otherwise. As I learned more about body’s energy system, it lost much of it’s mystery, and the logical cause-and-effect relationship continued to be both predictable and reliable.
If EFT is not working on the symptoms:
Sometimes the physical symptoms of acne (like zits and redness) won’t always respond to the tapping that we do on them, and it’s important to understand why. Since acne is a reflection of our mental state, if the acne is not responding, the first thing to look at is our current mental situation. Acne is almost always hand-in-hand with fear, danger, and feeling unsafe, so those are the first things at look to.
If your body is in fight or flight mode, chances are it’s diverting energy and resources to keeping you alive, and so breakouts are going to happen as a result. Your body has more important things to focus on than keeping the skin all pretty. In this case, addressing the immediate danger is the key to returning your body to safe-mode, and thus allowing it to function (and heal) normally.
Does my emotional state really affect my skin?
Here’s a useful way to think about it: when our bodies think they’re in danger, they go into a fight or flight mode. In this state of hyper-alertness, all of our physiological resources are diverted into keeping us alive on a very basic level. (To clarify, I’m talking about a full-body, physiological response to a perceived danger that is usually out of our control.) When we are in this state, some of our organs simply start to shut down, and don’t get the energy that they need to function on a healthy level. On of these organs happens to be our skin. When our bodies sense that we are in danger, the skin is no longer regulated in a normal, healthy manner. Thus an overproduction of sebum, weakness to bacteria, etc.