Here’s an interesting phenomenon: Skin pickers have told me that just reading my book helped them cut down on their skin picking. Other skin pickers have also repeatedly told me the same thing about the bonus emails that come upon signup for my free Freedom Kit. I’ve had clients who avoided picking effortlessly after listening to my client success stories webinar. Ditto for clients who read parts of my book daily on their phones on their subway commute. What is going on here?
The commonality in all these situations is that the individuals’ typically negative thoughts are being replaced, or at least shoved aside for a time, by positive ones. Another way to say it is that their attention is placed on success at recovery instead of on the negative thoughts they habitually have about their picking.
I spoke to a woman last week who told me her mind just didn’t have the thoughts necessary to begin recovery and that the experience of reading my book was like an infusion of positive thought, like I was placing new thoughts in her mind. That would sound creepy to me if it wasn’t positive thoughts we were talking about, but it’s interesting to think about all culture like that. When we read a book or watch a TV show or mix with a group of people, we are in effect giving others permission to put thoughts in our mind. And thoughts are powerful. They truly create everything in our lives. If you feel stuck in any way, the way out is to begin to think differently about your situation. Thinking the same thoughts perpetuates the same situation. The solution is to progressively put some more positive thoughts in there.
But there is an abundance of negative thoughts out there (in our culture) and in here (in our minds) so we can’t just expose ourselves to positive thought culture once and expect the positive thoughts to continue to grow and crowd out the negative. Realistically this will happen only when we continually feed ourselves the positive culture to keep ourselves thinking that way. Positive thoughts are a higher energy than negative. But what that means is that a) it’s easier to have negative thoughts and b) it takes energy, in other words effort, to have positive ones. Effort like questioning the negative thoughts that we have and consciously choosing to think a more positive thought. We can use Byron Katie’s method of inquiry (which I discuss in my book, but you can read about in detail here). If you’re thinking, “I’ll never be able to stop this,” Katie would have you first ask “Is that true?” and then “Can I be absolutely sure it’s true?” Well, none of us can predict the future 100%, so of course you don’t know if it’s certainly true that you’ll never be able to stop. Next she’d have us ask, “What is it doing to me to have this thought?” and if it’s making us feel badly, like all negative thoughts do, we can ask, “Do I see a reason to drop this thought?” What does that thought, “I’ll never be able to stop this” do to us? Makes us feel hopeless, to say the least, right? Then I like to consciously add a positive thought. How about, “I am now learning how to stop this skin picking”?
We influence each other and one of the best things you can do is put yourself in good company. At first, any company feels good when we are used to none. Remember the first time you discovered online that compulsive skin picking, often called dermatillomania, was a “thing”? How amazed and relieved did you feel that there were others struggling like you? But, depending how lucky you were, perhaps soon you found yourself immersed in YouTube videos and discussion forums in which it seemed like nobody ever recovers from picking. What impression does that leave in your mind? There’s not much out there on the internet from people who have recovered, but they do exist. Most simply did their recovery and moved on with their lives. They never shared publicly about it on the internet or anywhere.
So company is good, but the quality of the company you keep is important too.
Now I’m going to digress into my latest guilty pleasure/obsession, a reality TV show called, “Dance Moms.” (Trust me that the digression is relevant and I’ll eventually bring it back around to the topic.) Pittsburgh dance teacher/ studio owner Abby Lee Miller has been consistently producing working dancers on Broadway, in TV etc. throughout her 30 year career. She is very tough and expects a lot from her competitive dance team of 7-12 year olds, but she clearly knows what she’s doing. However, the moms on the show continually question her motives and tear her down. They are not happy with any of her decisions and see everything that happens as if through sh*t colored glasses. They are jealous of the most gifted dancer on the team, hate her mother, and even think that Abby doesn’t want their own children to succeed. But it’s clear to the viewer that Abby wants everyone on her team to win. Why wouldn’t she? The moms cause so much drama it’s a wonder the children are able to perform at all. Here’s the relevant part: In the beginning of the show, only two of the mothers struck me as overly negative and ridiculous, but as the show has progressed (I’m in season 2 now) their attitude has not only worsened but spread. The mothers who seemed reasonable at the start of the show could not help but be influenced by their constant company. It’s also getting more and more uncomfortable for me to watch, and I know in watching it that I’m feeding my brain total junk food. I crave it like an addiction, even as I know it’s not good for me and I try to discipline myself to limit my exposure!
What if I fed my brain inspiring shows to watch instead? For example, TED talks or interviews with people who have accomplished wonderful things? People that I could learn POSITIVE things from. Don’t you think it might be more likely that I’d be inspired to dream up and create wonderful accomplishments myself?
When I wrote my first book, Skin Picking: The Freedom to Finally Stop, there were times when my enthusiasm was fading, times when it was difficult to force myself to sit down and work on it. Times when I doubted myself and my ability. All that. And nobody was holding me accountable for getting it done. Sure, all of you were out there and needed the book, which was motivating to an extent, but it still felt a little abstract. Further, the task of a whole book was often overwhelming when there were so many pages to be written. So I listened to inspiring podcasts when I cooked and cleaned. The guys on the “Self-Publishing Podcast” were my buddies. I saturated my mind with the thoughts of finishing and publishing my book and that kept me going, slowly taking the steps that needed to be done.
If you want to find freedom from skin picking, saturate your mind with thoughts of recovery to counter all the negative thoughts and resistance your mind comes up with, just as mine did when I was writing.
Here are my best suggestions:
1) Read articles on this website, especially those in the “positive thinking” category.
2) Read/listen/view the materials in my Freedom Kit.
3) Listen to the webinar of 5 women sharing their skin picking recovery stories.
4) Read my book, Skin Picking: The Freedom to Finally Stop and Christina Pearson’s book, Pearls: Meditations on Recovery from Hair Pulling and Skin Picking.
5) Most importantly, repeat as needed. When you’re slipping, listen to the webinar again. Pick up the books again. Get that positive thought culture saturating your mind. I promise it will influence your actions and your results.
Love and support,