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The Emotional Elephant in Aesthetic Medicine

Vanity vs Integrity

Before we delve into the science of disfigured skin that is suffering the effects of such things as acne scars, stretch marks and melasma, I want to address the elephant in the room whose name is Denial.  Denial is made of pure negative emotional energy, and has an uncanny talent for twisting into contorted knots of unhappiness, both women who are dealing with debilitating aesthetic issues such as melasma, stretch marks, acne scars and wrinkles, as well as their partners or husbands. 

As you know, Melasma can be difficult and tricky to resolve.  Consequently time, emotional energy, money, patience, discipline and life style changes might be needed to achieve a happy result.  If you are in an intimate relationship with a man, it is a virtual certainty that he will feel the impact of your melasma even though he might not realize it.  Even more importantly, you might not be fully aware yourself of the impact your Melasma is having on you.

Let’s start with the man:  Can your man understand what you are going through?

For men who are reading this, the term “emotional anguish” that I used above might sound overly dramatic… like an over-hyped vain hysteria typical of high-maintenance women and spoiled narcissistic celebrity men.  I get it.  Being a man I to use to feel that way.  However by the time we treated our 50th woman with melasma, I knew the anguish was both genuine and natural.  Surprisingly my understanding was even more deeply impacted by the profound relief and authentic joy that women experience when their skin heals, and their natural radiant beauty is restored.  Authentic joy emanates from a place to deep inside the human spirit to be a contrived affectation.  Like a radio station broadcasting waves of irresistible joy-filled music, authentic joy resonates deeply with everyone around them. Teary outbursts of contagious joy regularly sweep through our offices as patients rediscover and reclaim how it looks and feels to be restored, whole and beautiful once again. Indeed, boxes of tissues are always close at hand.

Men and even many women may think that pursuing beauty is vanity and an indication of emotional weakness and spiritual immaturity. Consequently all sorts of conflicting emotions and polarized values cause confusion and stress for both women and men who are dealing with difficult aesthetic conditions.  She takes so much longer than before to conceal her “imperfections” and get out of the house.  She is stressed about what people are saying at work, and scared about going out in a sunny day to play.  She is embarrassed by her internal turmoil and ashamed that it matters as much as it does. They both stress over the money she is spending dealing with it.  He doesn’t get why she doesn’t get that the melasma doesn’t bother him at all.  He barely notices it, and honestly feels that it doesn’t detract at all from her beauty.  Why doesn’t she believe him?  Why is everybody else’s opinion more important than his?  Neither wants to talk about any of it.  Besides, it’s not really a health problem…. So why make such a big deal of it?

But what nearly all men and most women do not understand, is that for a healthy and balanced woman pursuing beauty is not sourced in vanity, rather it is rooted in integrity.  By “integrity” I mean the alignment of a woman’s “inner and outer image”.  Stated differently, the critical issue is whether or not the physical-image that a woman sees and feels about herself on the inside matches what she sees on the outside… what she sees in the mirror.   If there is a misalignment or “gap” between those two worlds, all manner of problems are likely to arise in the space of that gap.

Men to have the same integrity issue with their internal and external physical-image.  For men the analogous element to a woman’s beauty is his physical strength.  A man doesn’t feel right about himself when he is, feels or looks physically weaker than he thinks he should be.  Being “handsome” carries with it the mantle of physical fitness and strength, which makes a guy desirable, confident and centered.  For a man equanimity requires the elemental ingredient of physical strength, whereas for a woman, equanimity requires the elemental ingredient of beauty.  Conversely, declaring a man a “wuss” or “wimp” hits a deeply guarded painful vulnerability in the same way as calling a woman “ugly”. 

Looking at this from a physiological or “hormonal” perspective makes it easier to understand: As the fundamental energies of Yin and Yang define two distinctly and purposefully different universal forces, so too are Estrogen and Testosterone the biological agents of these two fundamental energies.  Estrogen makes things beautiful.  Consequently women who develop physically and emotionally under its purposeful influence instinctively desire to be in a state of “integrity” with this natural and purposeful feminine force.  On the other hand testosterone makes things strong, and men instinctively desire to be in “integrity” with this natural and purposeful masculine force.  Bottom line: Women and men are purposefully wired differently, and consequently they experience life differently. 

*******

Nugget:

You probably noticed in the preceding discussion the emphasis on the element of “purpose”.  The reason for this emphasis is to highlight a problem and thereafter illuminate a path to its solution.  One the one hand aesthetic medicine focuses on the “beauty” of the human body.  On the other hand however, in the science of medicine which at its core is based on defining everything, nowhere is “beauty” defined or described.  Thus, how can we create something that we don’t know how to define let alone describe?   

Hold on to your seat: the following discussion will take you to the edge of science, where it merges with spirituality…

The best definition of “beauty” that I have been able to distill from life is: “Beauty is present when the purpose of a thing is manifest”.  Let me explain: We know from virtually every field of study, that the purpose of a thing is the organizing principle of its design.  Stated differently, without a purpose there is no reason or way for a design to exist. Furthermore as every design is also a manifestation of the intelligence that organized it, by definition intelligence is also a function of purpose. Intelligence is the relationship between different things so that they can function together in a design.  Furthermore, it stands to reason that the bigger the purpose of a thing is, and the more intricate and complex its design is, the greater the intelligence that is needed to manifest it, and the more beautiful it will be when it is manifest.   We see beauty in all manner of human endeavors, from extraordinary achievements in engineering, to sublime and timeless works of performing and fine art.  By extension therefore, this principle is infinitely more evident in the designs of nature, which are unfathomably complex, whose dimensionality we are barely able to penetrate, and which function with exquisite perfection (intelligence) that transcends comprehension.  After all, without the designs of nature, nothing exists, which leads to the immutable conclusion that: the purpose of nature is existence itself.  

OK… stop the train for a second, and take notice is where we are:  the instant this conversation arrived at the thought containing the words “purpose” and “existence” in the same sentence, as promised, we are at edge… where science and spirituality merge.

Again, stated differently, the intelligence inherent in the properties and behaviors of the subatomic particles that make up every component of life as we know it is the same intelligence that governs and defines the properties and behaviors of the entire cosmos.  Thus everything in the natural universe is a manifestation of the same purposeful-intelligence.  Moreover a “universal intelligence that imbues a unifying purpose into all that exists” is by any measure, a scientific description of God.  Therefore everything in existence is a “manifestation of divine purpose”… and is beautiful.

This must be the reason that throughout history in virtually every culture that has ever existed, the natural world is considered, edified, studied and worshipped as the epitome of beauty. 

The largest and oldest life-form.

To behold even an inkling of nature’s design, leaves us in speechless awe of its glorious beauty.  Imagine for a moment the purposeful intelligence inherent in the design of the sequoia seed that transforms from the size of a grain of rice, into the largest and oldest life-form to ever live on our planet… a tree 400 feet tall weighing hundreds of thousands of pounds and that is thousands of years old.  Imagine for a minute that, like a time-lapsed-video, you could condense into a full-sensory real-time experience the sequoia’s actual growth… Can you fathom the majesty, magnificence and wonder of that experience? Wouldn’t the word “beautiful” instinctively form in your consciousness?  Now imagine a full-sensory time-lapsed experience of a developing human embryo, from a microscopic fertilized egg to the baby’s first breath. The human mind has barely begun to imagine the incalculable complexity and intelligence inherent in the design of a single human cell, let alone the unfathomable perfection of a developing fetus, and the astronomical probabilities that 100 trillion cells would pop into existence from nothingness, but yet are mysteriously orchestrated with perfectly synchronized purpose that flawlessly manifests as the miracle of human life?  How beautiful is that!? (insert link to such a video)

And do you know what is even more fantastic? … That same universal and mysterious “purposeful-intelligence” orchestrates and animates every particle of our existence in every second of our life.

Oh how beautiful we must be… to thus exist!

Look at a photograph of the cosmos taken by the Hubble telescope… behold it’s unfathomable beauty… try to wrap your mind around the intelligence and creativity of its design and the power that created it… and know that all of it, including you, is in service to a singular purpose.

What else could we conclude but that: God’s purpose in creation is “all that is”.

You might be wondering why I am integrating these thoughts into an article about medical procedures.  The reason is actually quite simple, though it gives me butterflies to reveal.  You and I are meeting one another at this very moment because we are on the same path of exploring our human physiology in order to transform the health and beauty of our skin. To fulfill this purpose both of us are needed, the medical scientist and the engaged patient.  However, life is so much deeper, multi-dimensional and complex than the mere happenstance of two people who meet because a shared circumstance (skin issues) caused their paths to cross.  If you and I are already of one mind that God’s design animates our physiology as well as all aspects of existence, then perhaps the purpose of our meeting holds the promise of other dimensions as yet revealed, but that are in accordance with God’s purpose in our lives.  Perhaps our interaction this very minute is sowing the seeds of a paradigm shift that is transforming human consciousness to center on experiencing God’s presence and purpose in our lives.  Could anything be as exciting and important?  And as we have just discovered, could anything be as beautiful?

OK… take a deep breath… perhaps take a few quiet minutes with no distractions, and allow a new space to open in your heart and mind, in which you can host the possibility that God’s purposeful-intelligence not only animates every cell of your body, but that your spirit, mind and soul are also manifestations of God’s purposeful-intelligence.  Therefore … there IS a reason for your existence… and to connect with it, is to live a more joy-filled and fulfilling life than is possible to imagine.

Though you don’t have to do this….

You can do this….

You GET to do this.

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