Two mornings ago, I woke up with a sharp pain on my right cheek. I put my hand to my face and felt the culprit: a huge zit forming about two inches below my eye. Before I even looked in the mirror I knew it was a doozy--deep, cystic and red. My first instinct was to pop it.
But then something stopped me.
I remembered that every time I pop a pimple it scabs over and takes twice as long to heal, and when it finally does, it sometimes leaves a little scar. Plus, it's painful and looks terrible, even under makeup. So I decided to try something else: leaving it alone. I washed my face, dotted it with acne medication and went on with my day. Now, two days later, my zit isn't gone but it is much smaller and less painful. I thought it was going to be hard to leave it alone but it really wasn't. And it got me thinking...maybe this is an applicable principle.
Because it isn't just my skin that I have a tendency to over-pick. I over-think interpersonal dilemmas. I over-process external conflicts. I over-garnish entrées. I over-accessorize outfits. If I really think about it, these are all just different manifestations of picking at my skin--doing too much when I should just leave things alone.
The tendency stems, I think, from an inherent belief that not only are things not good enough, but that they won't be OK if they are not fixed right now. That I need to pick, process, decorate, garnish--take more action to keep the paltry mess lurking just beneath the surface from being exposed.
But what I need to remember is that my skin is just fine. Zits are not a big deal--everyone gets them sometimes. You wash it, maybe you put on a little cover-up, and then you move on with your life. Not only does picking not help, but it makes it worse. Suddenly you have a problem where before you had only minor irritation.
So that's my New Years resolution this year: to sit on my hands, bite my tongue--do whatever it takes--to stop picking at the proverbial zit.