Skin Picking and Hair Pulling
“Suffering usually relates to wanting things to be different from the way they are.”
~ Allan Lokos
Everybody suffers. But much of our psychological suffering occurs as a result of our beliefs about how we think life “should”be, or how we would ideally like it to be. Often, it is our over-attachment to these beliefs that turns normal, everyday pain and discomfort into true suffering.
If you have Skin Picking Disorder or Trichotillomania, you may suffer needlessly as a result of this type of over-attachment to certain beliefs. An unwanted blemish or hair (or event or feeling) is not as you wish it would be, which leads to distress, which in turn leads to a picking or pulling episode. This not only worsens the physical consequences of these conditions, but leads to more psychological suffering in the form of hours (or days) of self-loathing during which you spend a great deal of time negatively evaluating yourself and your behavior.
Common negative thoughts might include “I should have been able to overcome the urge to pick or pull”, or “I look so ugly”, or “I am inadequate” or “I am hopeless”. Over time, and with much repetition, these types of thoughts become internalized into an overall negative belief system you have about yourself, which only increases your suffering.
The long-term goal of recovery is to develop more psychological flexibility by making room for all of the imperfections of real life, thus lessening the emotional suffering you experience. Life will never be 100% free of pain and suffering. In fact, life is full of unavoidable pain, such as the pain we experience with serious illness or injury, or the death of a loved one. However, much of our psychological pain is self-created by thoughts and beliefs that are unhelpful, and which ultimately lead to picking and pulling setbacks.
If you do not measure up to what you think is acceptable, you may ultimately inhibit and prolong your recovery. Alternatively, by accepting all of life, including your imperfections, you will reduce your suffering, and move further down the road of recovery.
1) How often do you get stuck in the trap of judging yourself and your picking and pulling behavior, and not allowing room for imperfection?
2) What specific thoughts do you have after a setback that might increase your suffering?
3) What thoughts might be more helpful in promoting your long-term recovery?
Weekly Tip: When you experience negative self-talk, notice how this increases your suffering, and choose instead to fully accept yourself, including your imperfections.
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The OCD Center of Los Angeles is a private, outpatient clinic specializing in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for the treatment of OCD, Skin Picking Disorder, Trichotillomania, and related conditions. We offer the following services:
- Individual Therapy
- Low-Fee Group Therapy
- Online Therapy
- Phone Therapy
- Home Visits
- Intensive Outpatient Program
We treat adults, adolescents, and children, and offer services six days a week, including evenings and Saturdays. For more information, please contact one of our client coordinators at (310) 824-5200 (ext. 4), or click here to email us