Hi I’m Annette Pasternak, also known as the Stop Skin Picking Coach. Today the topic is going to be “10 Things That I Would Tell My Younger Self” related to my skin picking. (These can be applied to hair pulling as well.) So, I’ve thought about this. There are a whole bunch of things that I thought, well, if I were to give my own self some advice, like myself, I don’t know, 10 20 30 years ago, however long it was. Me being caught up in the picking and all that and feeling very much alone and, like, just stuck in this whole thing, what would I say? And so I’ve compiled this list of my top 10 things in the hopes that maybe this would be helpful for you too.
(The paragraph you just read is the start of the video below. You can either watch the video or read the rest of the transcript below it. I recommend the video, but really, I’m happy with whatever you prefer. :)
#1 You are not the only one who has a skin picking problem
So the first thing that I want to tell you, younger self, and you listener, YouTube viewer, is that you’re not alone in this, like not even close. So there are actually millions of people doing the same behavior, really stuck in this same cycle of picking or hair pulling, biting behaviors, whatever you’re dealing with, any of those, there are literally millions of people doing the same thing, and boy if I thought I was the only one. You know? It’s really nice at least now there is the internet, so a lot of times people tell me they thought they were the only one, but then all of a sudden they came across something and they were like, wow, I thought this was just my thing that I did. No, it’s a thing. It’s a human thing that we tend to do and a whole bunch of us end up doing too much and being very upset about it.
#2 A skin picking or hair pulling problem is not your fault
Number two that I want you to know is that your behavior, whether skin picking, hair pulling, anything else, other addictions even, this behavior is not a failing on your part. You were doing the best you could. You are doing the best you could with the knowledge and what you’ve got at the time, whether the time is then or the time is now, so the tendency is for us to feel very much like a personal failure because of this, because of the behavior and because of the fact that we try to stop the behavior and are not successful at that. Especially on our own.
#3 There is nothing wrong with you
So the third thing that I want to tell you is just that having this problem does not mean that there’s something wrong with you, okay? I don’t know, maybe I’m more, I might be even more radical than some people in this belief because there’s a huge, well I don’t know the size of, but there’s a lot of people talking about mental illness and attempting to de-stigmatize it, and that’s great. I actually like to think that a lot of these things that we define as mental illness are really not mental illnesses at all. They’re more like we’re doing the best we can with what is wrong with our society and just the pressures that we have right now. Like we have not evolved throughout thousands and millions of years, we have not evolved to be doing the things that we’re doing right now. (By things, I don’t mean the picking)
We’re incredibly unique in the foods that we eat right now. We’re incredibly unique in the fact that we sit all the time right now. We’re very much sedentary compared to the past. We’re unique in the amount of, in the pace of society, how fast everything is, that we drive and fly places at great speeds, that we have information at our fingertips at great speeds and the thoughts in our heads are, just seem to be getting quicker and quicker because of this. So much pressure, more and more, a lot more work, a lot of … there’s just so much pressure in modern life and this is not how we evolved to be and so our bodies do our best to compensate, which at times means that we do these behaviors in an attempt to calm ourselves down or attempt to escape the discomforts and I don’t think that means that we’re ill. We’re doing these things, we’re doing the best that we can with these things.
Now if we’re not happy about these things then we’re going to have to do a lot more to learn to cope with modern society and the way that we live in our lifestyle. So that’s number three, that having this problem doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. Sort of a corollary to this is that you’re a highly sensitive person, and that doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with you, okay? We’re just, the people that tend to end up doing these behaviors, we’re like even more sensitive than an ordinary person. And that can be a good thing in a lot of ways, but it can make things more difficult for us too. And so we tend, again, to do these behaviors, but it doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with you that you’re very sensitive.
I used to, my mother used to always be like, “You’re so sensitive.” But in a way that’s like very critical, like that was a criticism that I’m so sensitive, so that’s kind of how I grew up, like I was sensitive and I didn’t think it was okay that I was sensitive. But I’m gonna tell you it is okay, alright? And it’s the way it is, and it’s the way you are, so like let’s accept it and go from there.
#4 Start meditating now
A little bit, well quite a bit connected to this, number four I would actually say start meditating now because I started meditating almost 10 years ago, and that’s where really everything started to change for me in terms of anxiety, in terms of depression, in terms of like making my life happen in ways that I was interested in rather than like just kind of heading down this train kind of in one direction, but too unable to look and ask is this what I really want? Or maybe I asked and doubted but I didn’t have any courage to do anything differently. So anyway, and I think meditation does help everything, so it’s advice for my younger self, and it’s advice for you, not that I think I probably would have listened to myself back then, so that’s the thing, if I would have told my 20 year old or 30 year old self to meditate, I probably wouldn’t have listened, so let’s move on to the next one.
#5 You don’t have to solve a picking problem on your own
Number five, this one’s really important, you don’t have to solve this problem on your own. So the way I was, the way I was as a kid, I mean, and even a little later than that, I spent a lot of time on my own, a lot of time alone. I did – a lot of my pursuits were solo kind of things, even things I did with people, like on the track team or the gymnastics team, things like that, they’re still, it’s not a team sport exactly. They’re more solo activities, I used to read a lot, I used to draw, and listen to music, you know I spent a lot of time in my bedroom, and my mother and sister were very close and they would kind of tend to make fun of me and so I would just hide in my bedroom a lot.
And then really I was thinking about this even in graduate school, it was always like the things I was being taught were you have to learn to do on your own, like I had to be more independent, my advisor told me, and think and solve problems and all that kind of stuff on my own, and so it was very much ingrained in my head that this was my problem to solve and I was so reluctant to get any help for it. So I would have told my younger self you don’t have to solve this problem on your own. And maybe even that you’re gonna struggle a lot longer if you try to solve this on your own, which I did for many years.
#6 Getting help doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you
Number six, getting help doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you. So I’m getting kind of personal I guess in this video. As a kid there was a time when I was in 9th grade, sort of in the beginning of 9th grade, I had sort of a little, a moment in a class where I started crying and I started crying in the class ’cause there was a lot of pressure. We were going around the room, asked to go around the room to think of something and I couldn’t think of anything and I just started crying instead of saying like, Oh I don’t know. I don’t know what I would say to that.
And this set off a cascade of events, some of which I did not know about. I did not know that my guidance counselor told my mother, I didn’t find this out until like 10 years ago, like not too long before my mom died she told me, The guidance counselor had told her that I could be suicidal, or they thought maybe I was suicidal. And that actually was not at all true. I was quite a happy kid I just had a moment there. But what happened, I’m getting to the point here, what happened was that my mother brought me to therapy. And she didn’t tell me why. She just like brought me to this place and I had to talk to this guy and he got all frustrated because … and he told her, “she won’t talk to me I can’t do anything for her.”
And I really, the message I took from all this was that there’s something … either there was something wrong with me, or my mother thought there was something wrong with me. Like just ’cause you know? Explain why are you sending this kid for therapy? And you know probably therapy had a stigma too, that I might have been aware of. So that stuck with me, that stuck with me for a long time and I did try therapy a couple of times, but I always felt really uncomfortable with it. So anyways. Wow, what was the … oh yeah, so getting help doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. So I kind of thought, I had that wiring that I was unconscious of for quite a while that getting help does mean there’s something wrong with me.
#7 Therapy or coaching for skin picking is a great investment in YOU
Number seven, the seventh thing I would tell myself is that taking care of this will be the best investment you make in your life. So this was, you know, the best investment of time and money was when I got some help by finally looked on Google, thank goodness there was Google. Anyways I found that there was this OCD Center of Los Angeles, they had a group therapy for skin picking and hair pulling and I went. And I went for five months about once a week, every Saturday afternoon, and that was great. Not that you have to go to that, because you have me now, and I do group coaching, I do individual coaching, and I think it’s at least as good.
#8 Later you’ll get scars
Okay, eight is just to tell you, younger self, and young person out there, that later you’ll get scars. Like there was no real, for many many years there was no real … no big enough downside from this behavior. Like I would do it, I would more just squeeze the pores, let’s say on my face and other parts of my body too, but I just remember like when it really started in college, just like doing it in the mirror and then kind of sneaking off to my room so people didn’t see, but by the morning, my skin looked more or less fine.
For a long time and I didn’t have any acne at all. But then later I would develop acne and I would get scars and it’s something I don’t know if it’s just from age and the changes that happen like that or from that, or if it was because of just some health issues I ended up getting from having done some third world travel and having issues there, who knows? But I’ve heard it from other people that not too much happens and then you start to get maybe in your later 30s and you start to get scars. So take care of it now.
#9 You’re beautiful anyway
The ninth thing I would tell myself is that you’re beautiful anyway, and just step back from the mirror and look at yourself and smile and just see. Like you’re beautiful anyway.
#10 This is going to be the biggest blessing
Number 10, the 10th thing I’d tell myself, and this is not something that’s going to apply to everyone, but it definitely … the thing that I would tell myself is that this thing that seems like the worst thing that, or one of the worst things that’s happening to you or the worst thing in your life or whatever, this is going to turn out to be the biggest blessing. And the most amazing thing because you’ll get to help so many people. Which is kind of what I always wanted to do anyway, but i didn’t really have anything unique to give. And so now I do, excuse me. Yeah it’s just given me such a purpose and such a ability and means to help other people. So anyway, I don’t wanna ruin my eye makeup here.
So that was 10 things I’d tell my younger self. And I’ll say goodbye right now and then go ahead and clean myself up, get myself together before I see my next coaching client. But I hope you enjoyed this video, please share in the comments. What would you tell your younger self? Alright, see you next time.