FACE-OFF Challenge: Follow-Up

Susan offers thoughts on the challenges and opportunities of creating a new relationship with her body image on her spiritual path.

A reader recently suggested that I follow up on a blog that I wrote in December 2010. I made a commitment to myself to not wear make-up at all for two weeks. I called it the Face-Off Challenge. You can read about my initial thoughts about this subject at http://www.spiritualawakeningprocess.com/2010/11/face-off-challenge-taking-on-female.html. I never knew the challenge would be so transformational, going well beyond the context of eliminating make-up. It propelled me into a space that allowed me to begin to cultivate the relationship with myself that I always longed for.

Flawless Perfection

I can write many paragraphs about the physical changes that occurred when I stopped wearing makeup. The initial days of this promise seemed more of a burden than I expected it to be. It was difficult being out in society, willingly exposing all my acne blemishes, scars, lines, and dark circles under my eyes. In fact, the appearance of my skin worsened in the first week. Soon after I realized that I needed to be in this vulnerable state to see the attachment I had with make-up and how I am accepted by my family, friends, and society. There was a lot of junk that needed to be sorted through. For the first time I could see the lack of self confidence that I had. I not only had a lack of self confidence, but I was holding onto this idea of being less beautiful or unworthy than others. Why in the hell wouldn’t I want to feel beautiful?

Well, it is easy to attach one’s self to a particular category if you identify with it for so long. It’s too scary to think otherwise. For example, before the challenge I was never able to see my acne as a positive thing. It was ugly and unattractive. I accepted it as the norm, but in a negative way. Forcing myself to expose my acne and blemishes in public helped me realize that the ego “I” was the one who made my acne unattractive. I noticed that I was the one creating the story in my head and making my complexion a problem. This is the point when I noticed I have a choice. Even if society did see my physical image as a problem, I had a choice to make it a problem in my mind or not. I chose to see my acne as not an extraordinarily beautiful or ugly quality, but just as it was. All my flaws make me who I am. My physical flaws make me flawlessly perfect. I wouldn’t be Susan any other way.

Transforming All Aspects of Self
Now although I recognized the duality I was creating in my head, I knew that didn’t mean I should ignore the possible causes of acne. For me, I knew acne was a sign of imbalance. I could have been eating healthier, drinking more water, and doing all the things that countless dermatologists have told me to do. However, I knew I didn’t need to be “cured.” I wanted to find the root of the source of the imbalance. Now that I didn’t have the external factor of make-up affecting my skin, I could focus on the internal factors. This is the point when I was forced to trust my inner body intelligence. With the help of applied kinesiology and other tools, I ended up changing my shampoo, soap, moisturizer, and exfoliating methods to being all natural. I’ve been through the process many times before, but I was coming from a deeper and more honest place this time around.

After a few weeks I noticed the acne significantly diminishing, although it was far from eliminated. I continued further by eventually changing my eating habits, eating more vegetables, less sweets, and drinking more water. Switching my eating habits was difficult at first. (Let’s just say I used to cry as a child from the sight of a small portion of vegetables on my dinner plate). The process continued on to eating less meat. I, the meat lover, not eating meat? Blasphemy! Although I’m not sure if eliminating meat from my diet affected my skin, it certainly shifted my energy level. I would have never felt compelled to do such a thing, seemingly unrelated, without starting the Face-Off Challenge

Slowly, over the last eight months, my relationship with my body has dramatically changed. It is impossible to ignore the energy differences that occur in my body when I eat/drink. The little changes I made in small amounts over the following weeks compiled. I started to feel more energized due to the food I was putting in my body. I was feeling more confident and aware of my body, especially in public. The journey has even overflowed into cultivating a more honest sexual relationship with my self. My level of self-confidence has shifted significantly. Blockages in my solar plexus and throat chakras have been shattered. This resulted in me rediscovering a whole other sense of empowerment I had forgotten prior to the Face-Off Challenge.

Now I don’t even think twice about leaving the house with make-up on. I actually prefer to not wear as much make-up, if any. My skin feels lighter and less heavy. The stares I once thought I was getting from strangers transformed into something different. I noticed that even if I was only making eye contact with someone passing by on the street, I was having a conversation with them and they were with me. I was the one judging my acne and creating a separation from my true self, not them. I had a choice. They were seeing me, because I allowed my whole self to be seen. I was no longer hiding behind a mask.

Having a Choice is Always an Option
Choice. That’s a huge concept that we often don’t use. Most of us are creating extremes in our mind. We don’t recognize we have a choice in everything we do, even if it is as simple as choosing to wear make-up. I’m not going to lie. I do continue to wear make-up, but it is far less than what I used to wear and how often I would wear it. However, I make sure I am aware of the intention each time I put on make-up. The most important thing I keep in mind is that I know I have a choice to wear make-up or not. It is no longer a requirement.

The Importance of a Support Network

When I first created the challenge, I encouraged women through the blog and Facebook to join me on the journey. Many women thought it was a great idea, a small percentage said they would do it, and even a smaller percentage of women stuck with the commitment for longer than a few days (if at all). Putting a conscious effort to do the work, dig through the junk, and remember your true nature can sometimes feel overwhelming. I haven’t heard of anyone else’s experiences from the Face-Off Challenge. It’s not necessary, though, since the challenge is about You and Your journey. That is why it is important to have a spiritual practice and tools to help you along the way, including a support system. Family, friends, spiritual networks, or even co-workers can all be useful means of support during your Face-Off Challenge. My partner and a few close friends were the primary supporting people for me. They encouraged me to keep looking closer at how I was feeling during moments of insecurity. They asked questions and then stood back to give me space as I rediscovered myself more deeply. Just know that if you did decide to start your Face-Off Challenge (or your own variation of it), you are not alone.

My Face-Off challenge was intended to last for only two weeks. It’s been eight months and hasn’t stopped. That’s because this challenge has transformed itself into a beautiful journey. It will never end, because there is nowhere to go to. That’s why it is called a journey. Perhaps it is time to reveal the radiant being that you are, just as you are.

Susan started to cultivate a deeper relationship with the Creator four years ago when she was introduced to the works of Eckhart Tolle's, "The Power of Now" by Jim Tolles. Her life has been transformed in countless ways since then.


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