During these unprecedented times of isolation and uncertainty, it is more important than ever that we remember we are not alone. These are anxious times, and each of us is coping in different ways. We all know that being human is to be imperfect. Our behavior is an area we like to manage and control, but sometimes cannot.
According to the scientific advisory board of the TLC Foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRB), prior to the current pandemic and political unrest, “2 to 5 percent of the US population pulled out their hair or picked their skin to the extent that it caused noticeable damage.”
Maybe you have noticed someone with a bald spot, without lashes or eye brows, or with scars on their face, arms, back, or legs. While you may or may not have observed such a behavior in someone close to you, there is a fair chance that you know someone who knows someone that struggles with hair-pulling (trichotillomania) disorder, skin-picking (excoriation), disorder, or another related BFRB.
I was 15 years old when I first starting pulling out my eyebrows. My lashes followed a couple of years later. Given the possibility that BFRBs have genetic and neurobiological origins, it was a way of coping with uncomfortable feelings. High levels of stress and tension were no doubt a trigger for pulling, but so was boredom.
Today, I am a Professional Behavioral Coach specializing in anxiety and shame. Emotionally focused, I work with people that suffer from BFRBs. Those affected should understand that it is not only the behavior that is destructive, but the shame associated with it, because shame is a focus on self, not behavior.
In February’s edition we will explore the question: How does shame operate in your life?