An unrealistic and misguided striving for perfect skin tone is a frequent cause of compulsive skin picking (aka dermatillomania). Similarly, a striving for perfect cuticles, knuckles, or fingernails is a common cause of compulsive finger picking.
The mark of most great men and women in history — especially in the arts and sciences — is that they strive to improve, to “perfect” their skill or knowledge. They are perfectionists.
But then there is the unhealthy strain of pathological perfectionism. To those with this problem, perfectionism an invisible monster speaking nagging thoughts in the brain like an unwanted guest…
- “I’m not showing my face at the party this weekend until my skin is perfect” (procrastination)
- “I only earned a B+ in Physics this semester — I’m a total idiot” (self-deprecation)
- “I can’t believe I ruined my diet with that ice cream cone — I can’t do anything right” (all-or-nothing thinking)
Needless to say, the unrealistic and impossible goals that perfectionists set for themselves frequently lead to failure, which only bring about feelings of shame and anxiety. Even clinical depression can result.
For those compulsive finger or skin pickers who are finally making the effort to kick the habit — whether with the help of various psychological treatments, antidepressant drugs or natural remedies — its very important to remember to take things one step at a time, and not fall into the perfectionists trap. Don’t be surprised if you “fall of the wagon” and pick once in a while. Success takes time — the important thing is to keep at it and work those unwanted “mental guests” out of your mind for good.
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