Here we go with another installment in our series entitled “The Five Pillars of Trichotillomania Freedom”.
In our first article, we talked about the importance of the first Pillar: the value of a true commitment to attaining ANY goal – doesn’t really matter much what the goal itself is.
The second Pillar centers around our beliefs – because what we believe to be true usually shows up as real in our world. Change your beliefs, and you literally change your world.
The third Pillar is:
EMOTIONAL HEALING – Cutting Ties to An Emotionally Painful Past
Here at the TRS, we’ve had the privilege of guiding hundreds of clients over the years to quick, often near struggle-free independence from trichotillomania. It turns out more than a few clients started pulling their hair at a young age, usually right around the time when there was a great deal of stress going on in their lives.
These painful experiences can take several forms. Often, it’s marital conflict between mom and dad – arguing, physical violence, often separation and even divorce. Sometimes, a child’s pain is the result of the family’s relocation, or the child’s move to a new school. At times, chronic hair-pulling can result from the stress associated with being the victim of abuse – emotional, verbal, physical or sexual.
Now again, it’s certainly the case that we’ve had clients tell us they have NO IDEA what was happening in their lives that might have been difficult or stressful around the time their hair-pulling habit started. Indeed, maybe there was nothing; maybe their habit was merely the result of happenstance… perhaps the result of simply idle experimentation.
But about a quarter of the time — which to us means it’s more than just a coincidence — clients are VERY certain about what kinds of difficult life experiences led to their challenges with trich.
The Tie That Binds
From a healing perspective then, it has to make sense that for such individuals, present-day hair-pulling must be tied on some level to mental “programming” that originated in earlier emotional pain or trauma.
So how useful would it be if there was some relatively quick and easy way to literally cut the ball and chain on those earlier events — not just by talking about, and trying to “understand” them as you do in traditional therapy… But actually heal on a truly meaningful level the often deep-seated emotional hurt still associated with those earlier events?
Well, let’s try something, shall we?
A Powerful Mental “Reprogramming” Exercise
Are you the victim of one or more painful incidents which, if they had never happened, you believe you’d never have developed this problem with trichotillomania? Do you have emotionally painful memories of ANY kind that continue to haunt you here in the present?
If so, here’s a basic version of a powerful mental exercise we use here at the TRS to help free our clients from emotionally wrenching memories.
- Close your eyes and create an visual image of a past event that still bothers you to this day. Be sure to think about it the way you think about it when it REALLY bothers you.
- As you’re seeing the memory of what happened in your mental field of view, notice the intensity of your negative feeling about it. Rate the intensity of your feelings on a scale of 0-10, 0 being emotionally neutral, 10 being the worst, most difficult kind of emotional pain you can imagine.
- Notice the visual qualities of this mental image.
- Is it in black and white or in color? If color, turn it into a black and white image, just as if you had turned the color off on your TV. Quickly rate your feelings about the event now. If you’re like most people, you’ll notice the intensity of your feeling has reduced at least somewhat.
- Is there motion in the image? Are you seeing a movie in your mind’s eye, or is it a still-frame? If it’s a movie, freeze it into a still image. You should be seeing a black and white still image of what happened now. Once again, rate your feelings about the event now. If you’re like most people, you’ll notice the intensity of your negative feelings has been reduced even more.
- Does the image appear to be CLOSE to you, or far? If close, move it far away from you until the central object(s) appear very far away from you, and therefore very, very small. The entire troubling image should be no bigger than the size of, say, a dime – or better yet, the head of a pin. Once again, rate your feelings about the event now. If you’re like most people, you’ll notice the intensity of your negative feelings has been reduced even more.
Only when you’re convinced you’ve lowered the intensity of negative feeling down to a 0, 1 or 2, feel free to open your eyes and come back into the room.
Get up, jump up and down, or just walk it off for about minute, breathing deeply. This allows you to break your state – in effect, hitting the emotional “reset” button, allowing you to fairly and accurately assess how successful you’ve been in doing this exercise now.
When you’re ready, go ahead and try to feel bad about that formerly painful event once again. And really try – I know you don’t want to, but how else will you know how effective you’ve been in scratching the mental record of that old, outdated event?
Notice how you can be free to experience that memory much differently now. Notice how it’s even possible to consider that event in emotionally neutral fashion. Rather than forever remaining a victim of what happened, you are now free to fully consider the question of what there is to be learned from that event – the knowledge of which can free you up from the need or desire to pull your hair ever again?
Be sure to answer that question before concluding this exercise! And notice how much more choice and behavioral flexibility you seem to have in the old situations that used to lead to hair-pulling.
Question: What is there to be learned from that previously hurtful memory – the knowledge of which can allow you to totally let go of any remaining hair-pulling now and into the future? Feel free to leave a comment below.
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Would you like some assistance in working through some similar exercises? Are you sick and tired of struggling against an uphill battle with trichotillomania?
Feel free to call The Trichotillomania Relief Specialists at any time of day or night, toll-free at (866) LIFE-NOW, Ext. 2. We’re always here to provide a personal experience of the kind of healing that leads to true and lasting freedom from trichotillomania.