Peace is not something you wish for; it’s something you make, something you do, something you are. ~ Robwert Fulghum
It’s quite natural to crave a feeling of peace. This is true whether you are experiencing a significant mental health issue, coping with a personal crisis such as a divorce or the death of loved one, or just trying to effectively manage the vicissitudes of every day life. If you have Skin Picking Disorder or Trichotillomania, peace is likely something you have been “wishing” for throughout your struggle. Of course, it would be wonderful if a feeling of peace would descend upon us just by wishing for it. But in reality, peace requires action. If you are committed to finding peace, you must wholeheartedly agree to do the work involved in attaining it.
Sometimes, the urge to pick or pull can be so powerful that you might find it difficult to even have a few moments of peace. In many ways, peace is a function of acceptance, in that it requires you to accept reality as it is, rather than as you would like it to be. Some with Dermatillomania or Trichotillomania describe urges as being like a loud sound that can’t be ignored – as if someone has turned the volume of the urge up so high that it is the only thing you can pay attention to. In order for you to move through and past this extremely distracting urge, the first thing you must do is to fully accept its existence. If you spend your time attempting to control or avoid your picking and pulling urges, all you are doing is spending time engaging with something you simply cannot control.
Once you have accepted the presence of your loud and annoying urges to pick or pull, you can choose to engage in other activities. When you do this, you will notice the volume of your urges decreases because they are no longer front and center. They will still be there, but they will not be all consuming. By choosing the action of doing something other than engaging with the urge, you take an enormous step forward in your recovery.
Choosing to act differently than you have in the past in response to your urges may at first feel quite difficult. But keep in mind that peace is not just wishing or hoping – peace is “something you do”. It is something that requires repeated practice. And with effort and commitment, it eventually becomes “something you are”.
1. In what ways are you accepting, or not accepting, of your unwanted urges to pick or pull?
2. What actions might you take to further develop a peaceful, accepting relationship with your urges?
3. What are some activities that you find peaceful, and how can you implement them in your daily life?
Tip of the week: This week, try to be mindful of your thoughts, feelings, and actions at those times when you are able to accept and move through an urge without giving in to it. Notice if there is a sense of peace after you accept an urge rather than trying to control it. Practice this approach in order to develop a consistent, new pattern of responding to your urges with acceptance, action…and peace.
Kelley Franke, BA and Tom Corboy, MFT
© 2014 OCD Center of Los Angeles