ROADS TO RECOVERY: PICKERS ANONYMOUS
Overcoming the Addiction of Obsession and Compulsion through Experience, Strength and Hope
An Obsession of the Mind and Compulsion of the Body
I saw an interesting ad in Psychology Today for a video and book that helps you overcome addictions. It links anxiety with addictions, and includes obsessive-compulsive disorders, nail biting and hair pulling.
I am starting to think that the therapies to cure picking are already out there, but haven’t been applied to picking specifically. All we have to do is make that connection. Of course it would be great if you could find a support group to help you through these steps and to share your experience. But what if you don’t have access to such a thing?
Just like addicts of alcohol, food, or other drugs, we suffer from an obsession of the mind and compulsion of the body. The mental obsession consists of subconscious and conscious thoughts that compel us to repeat harmful self destructive behavior. Once we give in to the negative thought, our fingers take over. The compulsion is the absolute inability to stop once we begin. Recovery must begin with complete ‘abstinence’ from picking. There is no halfway with addicts. We cannot just pick this one little pimple or cuticle and still be ok. Only by stopping all forms of picking can we begin recovery.
An Obsession of the Mind and Compulsion of the Body – Resistance to Change
Some of the things that will make you not want to heal and change are:
- Fear of the unknown – What will it be like if you really didn’t pick anymore?
- Stubbornness – I shouldn’t have to change to have beautiful skin.
- Self destruction – You feel unworthy of having clear skin.
- Perfectionism – Even if you stop picking, your skin will never be as perfect as you wish it would be.
- Fear of failure – What if you try to stop, but just can’t do it?
- Learned helplessness – You have never been the type of person who can be successful at accomplishing such a goal.
One good way to overcome this resistance to change is to meditate on the subject. Site quietly with your eyes closed and begin to form a mental image of yourself as the strong and capable person you know you are deep inside. Let go of your expectations of failure and imagine yourself shining as a whole being filled with love and commit yourself to being all that you can be and doing all that you set out to do.
A desire to change is the wellspring of change itself. It is the beginning of the process of change and healing. The rest is just following through on a plan and being committed to doing the footwork.
12 Step Pickers Program
As the AA philosophy goes: take it easy. Obsessive Compulsive behavior is not just a ‘personal’ issue, it is a true and real disease. It must be treated as such, so that we can be relieved of the shame of picking we have hidden in for years.
With this in mind, I have adapted the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous for my own personal steps to recovery.
To help you make it through your first days of recovery, I suggest finding a friend or confident who you can talk to regularly regarding your recovery. Make this person ‘your sponsor’. If you do not know anyone personally who can fulfill this role, try hooking up a local support group like ACA Adult Children of Alcoholics or CODA (Co-Dependents Anonymous) or other similar group and adapt their program to your purposes. You may find sympathetic people there who can understand and relate to your predicament and will support your goals.
They also say to take it ‘One Day at a Time’. Don’t set yourself up for failure by saying, “I’ll never pick again.” Although this is a noble goal to have, if you’re like me, sometimes I have to take it one second at a time. I have had experiences when one minute I had the thought to pick or squeeze at a zit, then resolve in that moment not to do it, then a minute later, found my fingers squeezing in front of a mirror. It is a frustrating and the ultimate disheartening feeling when that happens. So keep your sites on the NOW. Because that’s all you can do.