OCD and Compulsive Skin-Picking; Causes, Solutions

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What happens to the thoughts we suppress? The question is whether they simply vanish and cease to affect us, or whether they remain within our physical bodies and manifest physically such as symptoms, emotions/feelings and disorders? Unfortunately, what I have seen in my personal experience within myself over the years, is that all suppressed things are still here in the present moment. They exist in the form of the sometimes ‘childish’ reactions in moments, the inner tantrums, the stress and anxiety that has morphed over time into adult themes, and they exist within the patterns lived and within for example, dermatillomania. It requires only to be triggered, and it will re-emerge again, having never really left.

That being said, what I would like to do from here, is to ‘unpack’ this experience of suppression which is hidden from the world, and dwelt with, alone within oneself as one’s secret burden. Unpacking through taking self-responsibility for the reactions that have been suppressed in the past and which live in the present as they come up again and again, impossible to ignore.

To ‘take responsibility’ by looking into the reactions and seeing them for what they are. Isolation and loneliness are only valid if we accept and allow them to exist in us, and then we participate in actually creating them in our realities. The thoughts, ideas, beliefs and perceptions we hold about ourselves as dermatillomania sufferers are made real only through our participation within them by constantly thinking about them and acting on them. We are most certainly not the monsters we believe ourselves to be! We do not have to carry a burden or be the prisoners of our own minds. We have created this inner prison, and now it is up to us to learn how to better manage it and free ourselves.

And this is what I intend to do. Here, starting with myself, by having a look at some of my own personal examples of suppression. I am going to start by locating a pattern of suppression and concealment by looking at a recent experience where I went into a reaction which I dwelt with instead of finding and living a practical solution for myself.

1)  I had made a mistake at work, and I perceived a woman in my environment as being annoyed. She reacted in what I interpreted as impatience.

Instead of simply brushing it off, because there is no possible way I can know what someone else is thinking, and focusing instead on why I made a mistake and how to avoid it in the future, my mind was occupied with reactive thoughts. I reacted in self –judgment and began thinking negative thoughts about myself through the eyes of my colleague. I imagined the colleague thinking that I’m slow, that I’m not too bright, that I can’t be depended on, that I ‘m difficult to work with, and so on. In retrospect, I can see that the thoughts were very harsh towards myself, it was like putting myself down and then continuing to kick. Consequently, what I was doing was setting myself up to make more mistakes as I distract myself with these imaginary play-outs and as my confidence diminishes with each and every self-deprecating thought: thus manifesting the actual reality I was creating in my mind. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy made real through my participation in thoughts; participation through thinking them, fueling them, and focusing on them without directing myself to do otherwise.

To continue: I can see that the particular reaction was intensified within this specific situation for two reasons:

  • I had built up ideas charged with positive energy around the particular task I was working on, and it had become part of my self-image: me being a ‘star’ at work, getting praise from my bosses, getting a promotion, taking on more responsibility and being seen as ‘dependable’ by all.

My critical error here is Instead of humbly and diligently investing myself and my focus into my learning process (which is bound to be full of mistakes and mishaps till I get it), I instead invested into an idea of myself at the end of that learning process, focusing more on how I am perceived at my job, gaining a better title, or being capable of taking on more responsibility. This causes me to, during the learning process, feel insecure and constantly ‘at risk’ of losing that idea or image with every mistake and blunder, because in this particular situation, it is based in nothing real or of substance (yet). If I should ‘fail’ at it in any way, the failure is now absolute because it had become about how I define and see myself within myself.  I would feel like a fraud because what I had presented as ‘who I am’ has now been proven faulty, causing every mistake to be a blow to the entirety of how I view myself, which causes all sorts of reactions.

In the self-forgiveness and self-corrective application to follow, I will direct myself within how to now instead invest my self-image or self-definition within and as ‘Who I Am’ instead of ‘what I do’ or what labels I carry.

2) (Reaction intensifier #2) I had built up ideas around the woman.

When the thoughts seemed innocently ‘about her’ (she’s so organized, professional, responsible, beautiful, feminine etc…), they are really all about me. What I’m really telling myself is: “I’m so dis-organized, un-professional, irresponsible, ugly, masculine etc…”. The consequence of this is that I would begin to place her above myself in some kind of imaginary ranking system wherein she is exalted in my own mind, and now her words carry more weight and power over me.

With these two trigger in mind, the pattern I see here is:

1) Placing my value on something outside of myself, such as a job, title, promotion or recognition, causing insecurity and therefore stress and worry, because I have placed myself in an ‘at risk’ situation where I become defensive instead of embracing opportunities of learning.

2) Not viewing myself as equal to everyone around me, thus giving my power away to others.

All of this re-enforces my negative self-image, and places me squarely into a position of apparent powerlessness.

As multiple such reactions take place throughout the day, the pressure builds and intensifies. To me, the pressure feels as if it were ‘festering’ inside of me. It is very uncomfortable and distracting. It is heavy and burdensome, and it leads to the feelings of, for example, the self-disgust experienced by dermatillomania sufferers which is NOT improved by the appearance of blemished and irritated skin.

Altogether, this creates a toxic environment and sets oneself up to live out this pattern of self-belittling internal conversations, which become a self-fulfilling prophecy, which makes the thoughts seem as though they were real and true in the first place. This leads to the feelings of, for example, the self-disgust experienced by dermatillomania sufferers which, after a day of talking down to oneself, one would get home feeling terribly anxious about of whole broad spectrum of things.

Stay tuned! I will continue in my next blog with self-forgiveness statements.

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