When I teach my seminar on how to break free, I talk about a key point in the change process where the tsunami of fear and lies is guaranteed to hit. I usually use quitting smoking as an example. I smoked for seventeen years, and tried to quit at least a hundred times. I would get sick of huddling in shame by the dumpster in the rain or would have just gone through an awful round of bronchitis, which would lead me to try again. I would start stocking up on nicotine Friday by smoking as much as humanly possible, believing I would never get to smoke again. That weekend-long binge would leave me with a raging headache so when Monday morning came, I was ready. I would ceremoniously crush the remaining cigarettes, and I would quit until "the tsunami" barreled me over.
It sounded like this: "You will never enjoy coffee again. Beer will never be as good either. How do you think you are ever going to take a long car ride without me? And vacations will never be any good. What is the beach without smoking? And sex! It will never be the same. You like to smoke. Why are you even attempting to quit? Besides, you've tried all this before and you ALWAYS fail. You can pretend you are stronger than me, but you're not. You are weak. No willpower. No discipline! You might as well go to Speedway right now and buy a pack. You aren't going to make it. Give up!" At which point, I would give in and jump back to the place I had been stuck.
My comfort zone may not be all that comfortable, but at least it wasn't THAT.
I was curious. Would I experience the same tsunami of fear when I changed my beauty routine? I wondered if concealer and eye liner were holding back an intolerable wave of insecurity, or were they just little habits I had that meant little. I decided to immerse myself in natural beauty, which is just another way of saying I was going without hair products, makeup, nail polish, shaving and jewelry. I basically followed the rules of the author of my immersion memoir assignment, but instead of a year I committed to three days.
It didn't take long for the power of the Voice to be unleashed. It was day one and I had just showered to get ready for work. It was quite nice to get ready so quickly, but when I stood at the mirror all I could see were horrific dark circles. Bloody hell, did I get punched in the eyes? Where did those come from! See, that's what being forty-eight is like. Whose face is that? Where did the time go? You'll spend the rest of your life alone looking like that. Put on the concealer! Put on the concealer!
Oh, be quiet. I remember you.
So I ignored the Voice, reminded myself that this was only a few days and there was a reason for it. I went to work without my mask, expecting quite a response. I got none. No one noticed anything! I felt like the Grinch when he realizes Christmas goes on without all the presents. With my head cocked to one side, I tried to figure out the gap between what I thought would happen and what actually did. I decided to tell a few people what I was doing to see if I could elicit a response, but it was the same. "Oh, I didn't notice."
What the heck!
I was having an epiphany. My belief was not in line with reality. I believed that my beauty routine made me look presentable and acceptable to the world, with its standards and judgment. The truth is no one noticed whether I did those things except me. I was spending time every morning trying to make myself presentable and acceptable to me.
The next few days were much the same, except with itchy armpits from not shaving. I found each day I went au natural without anyone cowering in horror as I approached, my belief began to change. The products weren't necessary. In fact, it was quite fabulous to do without. My skin started to breathe and glow. My eyes weren't irritated. My hair felt soft. And because it felt so good, a little whisper started. Your beauty is not outside of you. Your beauty is your light. It radiates regardless.
The experiment has ended, and today I am going to work without any products except concealer. I'm all for radiating my light, but I'd prefer to shine without these silly dark circles. I also shaved my armpits. It's going to be a great day.