Coping Cards

I Owe Myself the Same Love I Give to Other People

This coping card is a friendly reminder to be more compassionate with yourself. To give you the same love that you give to other people. 

I used to have very strong negative self-talk, especially after picking episodes. I was mad at myself for not having enough willpower to stop picking. Furthermore, I told myself that it was my fault that my skin is so damaged and that I was weak for not having my anxiety under control. 

Sometimes I even purposely picked and scratched my skin in revenge for my ineptitude. According to the motto: since one arm is fu*%ed up, let’s continue with the other one and, on and on. 

The thing is, I would never speak like this to a friend who has a similar problem. Why don’t I show myself more love?

Stop the negative self-talk by looking for the positive

Harmful self-talk fuels negative emotions and thus the intensity of the picking. To break out of the toxic state of mind, I listen inward and try to find out where my thoughts and feelings are coming from. Doing that gives me a better understanding of myself and my BFRBs. 

I ask myself if my thoughts are valid, or is my mind convincing me of something that isn’t really true? Then, I actively refute and replace negative thinking with more rational and balanced thoughts.

For example, despite having setbacks, I tell myself to be proud of the progress I’ve made. Or instead of feeling shameful for my skin, I want to be grateful for it. I know it’s hard to love the skin with all the blemishes, scabs, and scars. However, it is easier to help and support the skin to heal when you are optimistic about it.

I invite you to examine your thoughts and become aware of your anxiety and stress factors. Try to find ways to turn your negative thoughts into positive ones and have some quality “Me Time”: go for a walk, take some mindful breaks, exercise, take a nap or celebrate your skincare routine. Yes, you deserve it!

To sum it up, reducing stress and anxiety is key to getting the picking under control. Don’t beat yourself up if you slip. On the contrary, be more compassionate with yourself because that will help you better fight your BFRB.

With each setback, you gain more knowledge, which in turn is an opportunity to move forward and heal. Don’t give up and keep trying – perseverance will lead you to your goal! 

Sending you positive healing vibes πŸ’™

Coping Cards

Trust the Progress

Every time I look at my fingers and see how my skin is growing back quite unevenly, I tell myself to trust the progress. I need to remember where I come from and where I am going. It takes time, and I will have setbacks too – both major and minor – but I know that I’m heading in the right direction.

Trusting the healing progress can be very difficult when coping with BFRBs. It feels like it takes forever to heal the damage we’ve done to our skin and grow nails or hair back. Any relapse feels like starting over.

To break the vicious circle in which we want to “repair” the skin and imperfect areas, we have to learn to leave it alone. Most importantly, we have to be patient and trust the BFRB healing progress, even if it’s not always linear.

Healing is a journey

Let’s see our healing journey like a road trip. Even though we have a navigation app, sometimes we take wrong turns or miss an exit. (Or is it just me? πŸ™ƒ) We visit landmarks, take breaks, and discover new things along the way. We try out different restaurants and return to the ones we like best. Eventually, we reach our destination.

The BFRB healing progress is similar. Our dream goal is to control our urges, not to pick, pull, and scratch. 

On our healing journey, we learn about new tips and tricks to control our urges. Some work better, others only in certain situations, and others not at all. We get to know our feelings and needs that trigger our behavior. We talk to therapists to learn more about the place – ourselves – and meet with the BFRB community to share experiences. Maybe we take pictures to see where we’ve been.

The interesting thing about traveling is that the challenging moments are often the most memorable. I hope that one day I can look back and think – wow, I got over it. Crazy times … I’m glad I made this healing journey because I’ve learned so much and came out stronger.

Some days/weeks/months are more manageable, and some are harder. Sometimes we are strong to keep going, and sometimes we just need a break. One thing is for sure, abbreviations mostly go wrong.

Let’s be patient with ourselves. Healing takes time and is never linear, especially when emotions and mental health are involved. We just have to trust the progress. 

Our stay in the “pick and the pull-free country” will most likely be extended if we are nice to ourselves. 

The route is the goal.

Coping Cards

Focus On the Outcome You Want

Every time I manage not to pick my skin for a while, I marvel at how beautiful it can be. Or when I have lovely long-ish fingernails without sores around my fingers, I wonder how on earth I ever could bite my nails and tear off hangnails – ouch!

Yes, that can be the case, especially when I’m on vacation. My BFRBs can be less powerful when I’m more relaxed and when I’m not worried too much.

Healing the wounds, I inflict on myself sometimes feels like forever. I know that squeezing and picking are ultimately counterproductive to healing. But that doesn’t help me resist because my body-focused repetitive behaviors are stronger.

During my struggle, I try to focus on the good times: when my freckles are the only spots on my face, when I don’t have to be ashamed of my fingers during a client meeting, or when I don’t have to put extra sunscreen on all the scabs one by one. 

Focusing on the outcome motivates me to resist my urge to pick my skin and bite my nails. At least a little bit and sometimes … 😌

Coping Cards

For Every One Pimple I Pick, Three Will Grow in its Place

I don’t know yet whether to fear this statement or hope that it is true.

This coping card is one of my biggest motivations not to pick my pimples. Especially when I have those nasty cystic ones sitting underneath the skin, practically begging me to be squeezed.

Thanks to my BFRB, I’ve never experienced a full pimple life cycle. So I’m on a mission to resist picking long enough to find out what happens to these monsters. And most of all, I want to find out whether this coping statement is true or not.

I now avoid mirrors even more and (try) not to touch my face. The calendar challenge also helps me stay on top of things – one day at a time. 

Unfortunately, getting rid of those suckers just feels so damn good. I have to admit that I do love popping pimples to the extent that I sometimes watch YouTube videos where they just do that. Is anyone familiar with Dr. Pimple Popper? πŸ˜‰

So yeah, I need all of the good reasons why I should leave pimples alone. Perhaps these additional reminders will help me resist:

  1. More pimples could indeed grow back. Bacteria from cracked pimples could spread to the surrounding pores, which could lead to more pimples. 
  2. The popping of a zit can delay the natural healing process.
  3. The bacteria could penetrate even further into the skin by squeezing a pimple, creating an even bigger zit. 
  4. And of course, there is a high risk of permanent scarring from deeper cystic pimples. I know that …

Armed with these facts, I hope to calm my pimple picking urges and lengthen my squeeze-free periods a little each time.

Coping Cards

Lost But Not Losing

This coping card has two meanings for me: I sometimes feel lost, especially after having lost another fight to my BFRBs. But I have to remind myself that I’m not losing the battle

I only recently felt almost arrogant because I thought I had overcome my BFRBs. I felt like I had all of the tricks I need to control my urges. For almost a week, I managed not to pick my skin or chew my cheeks and lips. Even my fingers never looked healthier.

Then, after this long healthy period, I had a major setback. I don’t even know why it happened … I even tell myself that I had no (obvious) reason to relapse. 

And exactly that is the tricky and irrational part of BFRB – you don’t always need a reason to pick, scratch, bite or pull. 

These self-harming and very often self-soothing behaviors have been well practiced for years. It is not that easy to control this subconscious urge. Unfortunately, there is no simple solution to overcoming our BFRBs. We have to go the bumpy road. 

When I started my BFRB healing journey, I knew setbacks would happen. Oh boy, and they happen … But I didn’t think they come with so many tears, self-doubt, and even self-loathing. 

After every setback, I feel like I’m starting from scratch. But that’s not the case because with every setback, I learn something new about myself. And with every new day, there is an opportunity to kick BFRB in the butt with a new trick πŸ˜‰

Above all, it is crucial to recognize your own progress and celebrate small successes.

So when I reflect on my recent setback, I feel very proud that I left my face alone – this is a huge win! I only picked a few blemishes on my arms and legs. I just nibbled the inside of my mouth instead of biting it until bleeding. Sure, my fingers could look better, but I only bit off two fingernails instead of ten.

Yeah, I’ll lose a few fights, but I’m not going to lose the battle. Let’s get motivated by the small victories and small steps we take. Setting the bar too high will only result in disappointment.

Longstanding behavior patterns will take time and effort to change. Let’s be a little more compassionate and patient with ourselves. We deserve that.