According to widely accepted data, people touch their face 15-20 times an hour. Yes, an hour. It would be easier to ask someone to stop breathing than to stop touching their face. If I asked you to stop breathing, you would take a deep breath; remain still and hold your breath. It would be impossible to be unaware that you are holding your breath. You might close your eyes or time yourself which would bring more intentionality to the task. And then, of course, you would fail. You might try again, but you would fail as often as you try.
Not touching your face is even more difficult than not breathing. There is no timing it, no gasping, no turning blue, and often no awareness that you have touched your face again until after the fact, and by then it is too late. And just one face-touch and there you are, facing the possibility of coronavirus contamination, quarantine and even death. Then, depending on your level of fear, you may begin to ruminate about the possible consequences of your unconscious action. Even then, the slightest itch or force of habit may cause you to touch your face again.
Is there a 12 Step meeting for face-touchers? Blaming yourself; shaming yourself; and calling yourself names will not spare you. Posting non-face-toucher-affirmations on your medicine cabinet, mirrors, refrigerator and doors will not eliminate the probability of relapse into this inherently self-destructive behavior. It is even worse than that. Since you started reading this; you, most likely, have touched your face again.
COVID 19 is a powerful and articulate teacher from which I have learned to address my delusions of exceptionalism. I am only one touch, decision, and thought away being quarantined somewhere or toe-tagged in a morgue. COVID 19 has inspired me to become conscious of my unconscious impulses. COVIT 19 has tempted me to hoard hand sanitizer; but because of the coronavirus, I have also witnessed much of humanity working together to survive a threat and create a treatment for a disease that knows no geographical borders and sees no significant differences in humanity. Sometimes it takes tragedy to create unity ~ especially if we will listen, learn, cooperate, respect and, of course, if we don’t touch our faces.