We Ignore the Good

I noticed something in the mirror today, something that I am seriously shocked that I didn’t notice until now. Because I am sure that this thing I noticed has been the way it is today for at least several days, if not several weeks.

I noticed that the severe acne I’ve been struggling with for about twenty years has almost entirely cleared up. How did I not notice that one of the worst things I disliked about my appearance is suddenly gone?

The picture above isn’t of me. I found it through a google search. But it is a close representation of what my face usually looked like. There were periods where it was far far worse than that.  Luckily I was not one who frequently picked at it, so I don’t have the terrible acne scars that are usually the result of someone with decades of severe acne.

I tried all the things. Clearasil. Proactive. Washing my face multiple times a day. I tried for a while carrying around antibacterial wet cloths and wiping my face down every couple of hours. All that did was burn my skin. Some of the things would work for a time, but not well enough, which would result in me giving up on them.

I know now that a lot of my acne was caused by my diet. I didn’t eat a whole lot of greasy fast food, but I ate my share of greasy home cooked food. Stuff rich in fats and carbs, like greasy grilled cheese sandwiches with lots of butter on the bread, kraft Mac & Cheese made more with butter than the suggested milk (or water) to make it super creamy.

I am fairly sure that most of the clearing of my skin must have happened over the past couple of months, there is no way I went more than that without noticing something that would normally make me cringe when looking in the mirror. So I am attributing it to my diet. Which, just by the sheer fact that greasy foods have more calories, the foods I’ve been eating which aren’t necessarily fresh and organic are slightly less processed and greasy and probably have less of the oils or fats or whatever was attributing to my acne. (I’m no scientist, so I’m just guessing here).

Regardless, seeing this drastic change made me stop and wonder.  Why didn’t I notice sooner?  I have always despised my acne.  I’ve honestly always kind of liked my round face, and it is one of the few things I worry about when it comes to losing weight, that it will become thin and narrow and pointed, and lose it’s round cuteness. I wont miss my double chin, or the way the fat of my cheeks forces me lips down giving me a severe case of resting bitch face. But otherwise I have liked my face, and so my acne problem has always been an ugly disfigurement on one of the few features about my physical appearance that I didn’t completely hate. So how is it that I didn’t notice this sooner?

I know for a fact that I’ve looked at myself closely in the mirror, especially over the last month or so, seeking any physical signs that the weight loss the scale is showing is also showing in my face and body. I’ve scrutinized it. So why was I blind to this!?

I think the answer is that I, or perhaps we (and by we I mean people who like me suffer from terribly low self esteem) ignore the good in ourselves. If we don’t have something to point at and dislike, to pick apart, to hate and belittle ourselves with, we stop looking. We ignore the good and seek out the bad. To torture ourselves? Perhaps to create fodder in our minds for what we believe other people are seeing.

Case in point: the other day I showed Alabama Gandalf a few pictures of myself. He made a comment that I don’t recall word for word, but it was in the realm of “that picture looks fine” when I had been sending it as a potential “before” picture of how fat I was (and mostly still am).  He then shared with me a picture that he thought made himself look like a whale and would be a good before picture.  Like his response to mine, I did not see anything in the picture that looked bad to me. He just looked like Alabama Gandalf to me.

That’s because I don’t nitpick his appearance, or anyone elses. Okay, that is a bit of a lie. There are times when I look at something, see an ugly feature and note it in my mind. Comment on it to myself. But not nearly as often as I do the same to my own appearance. And the truth is I’m sure the average person doesn’t look at me and nitpick every ugly detail about my appearance. They just see a person. I’m sure their subconscious sees a fat person, but in their mind they aren’t going “ew she’s so fat, look at her fat butt, look at the way her stomach sags, look at her flabby arms, ew” the way I do to myself in the mirror every morning.

I notice the bad, never the good. Or, rarely the good. So my cleared up acne was able to go unnoticed for weeks because I’m too concerned with the bad in me to notice the good staring me in the face.

And I wonder… am I just as hard on the mental aspects of myself?

I’ve been focusing for a while on both physical and mental me. Physically I want to lose weight, look good, maybe gain some muscle and strength, be fit, wear stylish clothes that make me look good.

But there are mental things I want to change as well.  I want to be less needy, less whiny and less over-emotional. I want to be less negative, and more positive. I want to be the type of person someone likes to talk to, who doesn’t hog the conversation or make it all about them.  Those, to me, are my greatest personality flaws. If someone says something to me like “my cat really likes such and such cat food” I respond with “oh my cat likes this or that cat food” when I’d rather be the type of person to respond with “oh you have a cat? Tell me more about it!”

I also want to be the type of person who doesn’t read too much in to peoples actions. I’ve always felt myself as empathetic, as someone who notices things in other people. If something is bothering this person, or what that person might be feeling. But I’ve noticed, at least with a few people, that these instincts are not right. But I assume them, and act on them, and that too needs work. I need to be more relaxed, and if a person is upset let them tell me and explain, rather than making assumptions and prying.

I want to get less upset about situations. I want to be a calm, relaxed, go with the flow kind of person. I don’t want to lose my ability to get things done that need doing. I don’t want to be a flighty flake who meanders about in life. But I also don’t want to be an emotional train-wreck who takes things too personally or always imagines comments or actions as slights against my person.

But would I even notice if I changed these mental things I dislike about myself? And am I being too hard on myself? That I do not know.

What I do know is that it took me weeks to notice something good about myself, whereas I see the negative every single day, and that has to change.

 

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