- 4 weeks ago
I have a queer-platonic partner who picks at themselves as an anxiety reaction, and actually I didn't realize that a stress ball or a designated "fidget pen/pencil' might be solutions; as it stands currently, I actually already do what's been suggested by admin and just take their hands in mine or take their hand and put something else in it (a fork, a pen, a book, a phone, anything nearby) and ask them to hold it for me until I can grab my fidget cube, which I then bring back and put in their hand instead. They've gotten much better at "catching" themselves picking, especially on their arms, especially since if I can't actually just take their hands in mine I gently say, "picking" to let them know they're doing it, since they usually don't realize or feel it. They tend to pick at rose-thorn scars that are up and down both arms from elbow to shoulder, because the divots get irritated very easily.
But I can confirm what Admin said- yelling or punishing them for picking was what their blood family used to do, including shouting at them for "Picking AGAIN!", which would startle them, but it didn't help them stop or notice when they start doing it. My gentler, sort of 'reminder' method helps them catch it more, and it's actually gotten to a point where when I take their hands they don't even interrupt what they're saying or doing, only seeming to realize their hand was "captured" and "distracted" two or three minutes later, when they ask me, "why am I holding--[whatever object I gave them]?"
I get where you're coming from; your phrasing might not have been the best, but you want help to break a painful, bad habit! Reward and gentle reminders tend to help more with breaking of bad habits, because if the habit wasn't somehow rewarding, we wouldn't keep doing it, if that makes sense. And you're doing what most people do- turning to your partner in life and your support network for that help, since if you could simply tell yourself "I want to stop, so I'll stop" and that would work, you'd have broken the habit already, because you do want to break it. Maybe give yourself a sticker for every time period spent not picking? That's how we're training ourselves to wake up when we want to- if we get up within 2 hours of when we want to get up, we get a sticker. So when it's really hard to start, maybe get a sticker for every half hour or hour you don't pick, and as that gets easier, make the time longer-two hours, four, eight, and eventually whole days. But this is just one suggestion, so don't be afraid to use anything and EVERYTHING that works for you!