Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Don't Try to Stop Pulling or Picking Before You Do This

After nearly 20 years of working with people who suffer from BFRBs and 20+ years of recovery from Trich myself I feel qualified to say that most people approach recovery from these disorders all wrong. Here is why: most people think that if they could stop here pulling her skin picking their life would work. Most people think that having a BSRB is their only problem. There are experts that will tell you that this behavior is simply an anomaly and is not indicative of any other issue at all. I must respectfully disagree. The good news is that having a BFRB does not indicate any kind of serious psychological condition but rather is a self Susan behavior. And I believe strongly that the need for this kind of soothing is related to certain types of issues. this is based on having worked with hundreds of people who have these disorders, and in nearly every case finding that addressing the issues of codependence, perfectionism, shame, and self acceptance have been the only and the primary way to guide my clients into a state of either pull/pick-free or mostly pull/pick-free recovery. The reason is that it's simply not possible to recover as long as your self-love and self-acceptance is conditional and based upon whether or not you pulled or picked that day

Every time I say that new clients say to me, but I don't want to accept the picking! I hate the pulley. I cannot accept it. And I say, first of all, when I am talking about is self acceptance. I am talking about excepting oneself as one is in this moment. I am talking about loving oneself as one is in this moment. If you had a child who had a problem, any problem, that they were trying to come back you would not withhold your love for your child until they had solved that problem. You might not love the problem but you would love your child and you would love him as he is. You would also accept your child. You would accept him exactly as he is now even if you continued to encourage him and support him in his quest to overcome this problem.

Here's the other thing. Acceptance is not in any way the same thing as resignation. Accepting where you are now does not mean you are resigned to staying where you are now. First of all that isn't even possible (or desirable) since we grow and change and evolve as people throughout our lives. Say I have a client who weighs 300 pounds. And let's say this clients doctor has told her that she must lose weight and that it is crucial for her health and her lifespan. I would tell this client also that the only way to succeed is to start out by accepting herself as she is now. at the same time this client may be on weight watchers, May be walking every day for an hour, may be incorporating a variety of new behaviors into her life. However weight loss is relatively slow and it may take a year before this woman can see in the mirror what she would like to see. However in order to succeed on this journey she must begin to see that this excess weight, while it is frustrating and while it is something that she wants to do something about does not mean that she is unworthy or a lovable or a bad person. she must learn to cease saying things to herself in her head like you're fat and disgusting and horrible. Because each time she does or says something like that to herself she begins to identify her worth as a human being with her excesss weight and she begins to reinforce the fact that she isn't worthy and she isn't good enough and if she isn't those things how can she possibly summon the strength to face this challenge? If she is only worthy and lovable and acceptable and worthwhile if she is thin, how can she possibly take on the work both emotional and food-related that is required to recover from food addiction and emotional eating?

In order to begin the journey to address a disorder like hair pulling more skin picking (or overeating), One must be prepared to face some uncomfortable feelings, because these behaviors numb feelings. One must be prepared to begin to set boundaries with people in their lives and take care of themselves, which in some cases may mean people will be disappointed. in order to do these things one most value and accept oneself, and One must even learn to let go of concern about the opinion of others. this is truly possible to do but it's only possible if you do the work needed to begin to love yourself exactly as you are now, with or without hair, with or without good skin. These things can improve greatly for you over time, but you have to start by loving yourself as you are now.

I believe BFRBs are inextricably tied to perfectionism, codependence, insecurity/lack of self acceptance, Constant worry about what other people think of you or at least what certain people think of you. And what happens when you slowly reduce the amount of pulling or picking that you do is that you begin to feel more. And you begin to feel many of the feelings that are the very feelings that cause you to engage in codependent and perfectionistic behaviors. this is why I work with people on learning to be in the moment with their feelings and to allow rather than resist painful feelings. When my clients start to realize they won't fall apart if they feel sad or scared or hurt, they become more prepared for the process of recovery. When my clients learn that even if someone disapproves of them, or even, gasp, if they fail at something, they are still OK and worthy and lovable, it becomes possible to let go of hair pulling and skin picking.

So if you're dealing with these issues and haven't had any luck at all with having these behavior subside, I strongly suggest that you work on self acceptance and self-love. As long as you hate yourself for having a disorder that you can't help having, trying to work on it becomes impossible. I have a lot more to say on the subject but I wanted to post something soon since it's been a while. I think it's so incredibly important to understand that without self acceptance and self-love as you are now the possibility of long-term recovery doesn't exist. If by some chance hypnosis or cognitive behavioral therapy helps you in the short term, in the long term it won't work because in the long term you have to have the ability to tolerate feelings and to set boundaries and to except yourself in order to remain in recovery.


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