When it is obvious that goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps. -Confucius
If you struggle with Dermatillomania or Trichotillomania, it is crucial that you establish concrete goals for changing your picking or pulling. Equally important is that you have realistic expectations about achieving those goals. If you set a goal that you do not immediately reach, you may feel discouraged, ashamed and hopeless. These self-defeating feelings are likely a function of having unnecessarily high expectations about your ability to quickly achieve your goals. The disappointment you experience when you fail to meet an unrealistically high standard might leave you feeling like your goal is unachievable, and may ultimately contribute to a relapse.
But short-term outcomes do not define who you are as a person, and what you are capable of accomplishing. While it is important to create specific, concrete, achievable goals, it is just as important to examine the action steps you have or have not taken in situations in which you have fallen short of reaching your goal. If you examine the action steps that have contributed to not reaching your goals, and make corresponding adjustments in order to continue towards those goals, you will make steady progress in your recovery.
The more you understand what is and is not helpful, the more awareness you build. When you begin to build this awareness, you might discover some interventions work better than others in specific situations. Every person and every situation is different, and you will likely need to try different interventions and make adjustments. Furthermore, what worked for you last week may not work for you this week.
Ultimately, having flexibility and patience with yourself will be extremely helpful in reaching your goals. If you do not reach a goal this week, adjust your steps accordingly and keep moving forward. Over time, changing your picking and pulling behaviors will help you to reach your goals, and to live a life that you find fulfilling and valuable.
1. What specific goals related to picking or pulling have you set that you have not yet achieved?
2. What action steps have you taken that you think may have contributed to not achieving those goals?
3. How can you adjust your action steps in order to achieve a new goal?
Tip of the week: Keep a log of specific, realistic, achievable goals for this week and how you plan on implementing them. If you are unable to reach those goals, examine what factors may have contributed to the outcome. How can you readjust the action steps you take for the following week in order to increase the likelihood that you will achieve these goals?
Written by Kelley Franke, BA and Tom Corboy, MFT
© 2014 OCD Center of Los Angeles