ROADS TO RECOVERY: DO SOMETHING… ANYTHING…
Habit Reversal Procedures
Behavioral modification is a basic process in psychology. And you can apply it to your picking. Such treatment has been used to successfully to treat everything from tricho to tourettes to thumbsucking!
The basic steps of habit reversal are not unlike those 12 steps we just went through.
- Identify the problem
- Identify the triggers
- Analyze the consequences
- Uncover the internal cues that perpetuate habits
- Set goals for a habit-free lifestyle
- Learn and reinforce more benign tension relievers
- Get support for change
- Maintain gains
- Learn how diet and exercise can help
- Avoid relapse
Habit Reversal Procedures – Logging Your Progress
Part of successful habit reversal is documenting the process. Create a Daily Progress Log for yourself. Make notes every day on the following:
- Type of Urge(s) Felt
- Possible Trigger(s)
- How You Are Feeling
- What your Strategy is to Combat the urge(s)
- What You Did
- What you could have done instead
- How you Felt Afterwards
You need to keep track of when you are both successful and not successful in combating your habit.
The strategy part is essential for success… Try to identify all the potential triggers and feelings that might come up to make you want to employ your habit and have some specific ideas about what you will do to overwrite the old patterns… For instance when you feel like touching your face, you will get up out of your seat and do a few jumping jacks!
Don’t forget to reward yourself for a job well done. Buy yourself a box of gold stars and every time you are successful in combating the urge, give yourself a gold star for that time.
Habit Reversal Procedures – Analyze Your Compulsion
After you’ve logged enough instances, take a look at the trends you see and start to compile an analysis of your compulsion. Think back to before you started your log and the first times you picked and compare them to now.
- What are your current trigger(s)
- What are the risks of continuing your behavior?
- What are the benefits of stopping your behavior?
Habit Reversal Procedures – Habit Competition
The essential feature of the habit reversal process is to employee a response of some kind that competes with the habit. Simply put, when you are driven to do your bad habit – do something else instead. For example, for someone with a nervous muscle tic, they simply focus their energy on a simple muscle isometric someplace else within their body whenever the tics appear. A vocal stutter might be compensated by deep concentrated breathing. A bad habit could be stopped by snapping a rubber band on your wrist every time you get the urge to pick.
For me, writing this book was a lifesaver. It helped keep my mind off of picking and gave me something else to distract myself with until my picking habit was broken. I became obsessive in writing it. It’s like when you have a song running through your head that you can’t get rid of. The best cure is to start humming another song when the annoying one enters your brain. Eventually your brain forgets the original song and you are released from the cycle.
It is important for you to focus your thoughts, energy and love on something else that can become more important to you. Develop a new hobby, or take up an old loved hobby. Choose something that takes detail and attention.
Gardening is an exceptional cure for habitual picking, especially when you weed, because of all of the satisfying pulling and cleansing you do to the ground. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Knitting and crocheting and embroidery all keep your hand busy. Crafting jewelry can be very satisfying with the manipulation of metal wires and threading beads. Miniatures or dollhouses take lots of attention, so build a little dream room for yourself.
If you don’t feel artistic, then join a dance class. The self expressive movement of dance will feel very therapeutic, is good exercise, and it will force you to get face to face with other people on a regular basis – you’ll just have to stop picking for that. If you really don’t like to dance, at least join a gym and start an easy workout program. Don’t set yourself up for failure though. Commit yourself to only one day a week at first and see how that goes. It’s so easy to say you’ll go at least 3 times a week and then not be able to do it, so you don’t go at all and then you end up guilty and more depressed. Set smaller achievable goals.