I used to hate going to the barbershop, and you probably do, too. For us suffering from trichotillomania, getting our hair cut is usually more fearful that liberating. The experience often goes like this.
The barber will be getting started on your haircut, and just before the scissors reach your hair, the barber’s face will freeze. An expecting stare, followed by some good old lecturing — all with the assumption that you did this on purpose. And it will feel just as good every single time.
For years, I relied on this experience to see if my latest efforts had cured trichotillomania or not. Most of my pulling was unconscious, so having a third-party checking areas I could not normally see was helpful. For ten years I tested continously, but nothing ever worked — that is, until last fall.
Midway through a sales course, when I was learning a technique for controlling emotions during sales calls, I was asked to remember a recent negative sales experience. Surprisingly enough, I was blank. But, being curious to find out what the exercise was all about, I chose a different negative experience — my trichotillomania. And what happened next was unbelievable.
After finishing the exercise (not sure if I even did it right), I had to test it. What I found was that when raising my hand to pull my hair, a natious feeling crept up my stomach which immediately made me lower it down again. The exercise had made it painful to even raise my hand, let alone pull any hair.
But even though there was pain, it only lasted for a couple of milliseconds, and what followed was the interesting part. As I lowered my arm down again, the exercise had programmed in me a feeling of relief. A kind of “reward” for my new habit. So, not only did me raising my hand — even without my knowledge — trigger an intense disgust that made me lower my arm again, but me lowering my arm gave me the most comfortable and soothing feeling of relief I had ever experienced.
In those ten minutes, a failed sales exercise showed me what I’d been trying to find for over ten years. A chance to have a pull-free life.
For the first few days I had to actively reinforce this exercise, but after that, the effect lasted for months without my active effort. When I occassionaly felt the effect getting weaker, I just did the exercise again. Eventually, thru trial and error, I also perfected the exerise to help anyone suffering from trichotillomania in as little as four sessions per year. I renamed it the NPA Method, and it continues to amaze both me and those who try it. In this guide, I will teach you the whole thing. For free. Are you ready?
The essense of the NPA Method
The essense of the NPA Method is changing the associations you have with pulling your hair. And to take it a step further, it also associates something with you assosiating something with pulling your hair. It’s a bit like the movie Inception, which is why most people don’t care to understand how it really works. The good news though, is that it works. And it works through associating stuff with stuff. And to make it simple to implement, I have broken it down into 3 small steps. This way you can be pull-free in no-time. Bon voyage.
PS! I am not even going to describe the steps in advance. Those who are serious will read all of it. And with Frequently Asked Questions at the bottom, there is no need to panic. Just read the whole thing and you will be well on your way.
PSS! If you do find it difficult to see the big picture after reading the whole thing, please send me an email. I am continously editing and improving this article❤
First, you create your negative image
In the first of three steps, you are going to create your negative image. To do that, you first need to know from where you usually pull, and which hand you normally use. Knowing this, you have the chance to make an image that feels real, and thus has emotional impact.
To create my image, I see myself sitting alone with my hand scanning my head. When I zoom in, I see my thumb and my index finger as they are about to pull what is my favorite type of hair. I see the root of the hair coming up, but not all the way. Around the hair that my fingers grip is nothing but skin. Something in me wants to pull that last hair, but I manage to stop it. And I watch that happen on repeat, seeing the skin being lifted up, then let down, lifted up, then let down — always scared that I might actually pull on the next try.
The first time I saw that image, I only gave it a 6/10, with 10 being the worst feeling I could imagine, and 1 being me at my happiest. Today it reaches an instant 11. Even without the details. You have to make it an 11, too, if this is going to work. What would you have to do to make your image go from a 6 to an 8 to a 10 to an 11? I see myself alone, others see themselves in the middle of crowds. Some hear nothing, I hear lots. I smell nothing, while some smell things that make them sick. This step is emotionally taxing, but it will be worth it. Use all your senses and don’t stop until you get it to an 11.
Second, you create your positive image
After you have a good negative image, one that actually makes you sick, you are ready for step two. In essence, step two is all about picturing your dream scenario; what life would be like if you didn’t suffer from trichotillomania. A way to do this is to take your worst experience and make it your dream scenario.
To create my image, I see myself walking into the call center where I used to work, but instead of being afraid of what my hair looks like, it is thick and I am smiling. For a long period of time, that was the worst part of my day; walking into that room with all eyes on me. If you can turn your worst experience around and make it your dream scenario, you have your positive image.
After you have that, you follow the same process as you did in step one. Try to bring the positive image from wherever it’s at and up to an 11. When you have both images clearly in your mind, both at their respective 11, you are ready for step three — performing the exercise itself.
PS! Later, I switched to a scene from Peaky Blinders, showing Cillian Murphy as he enters a room with the widest of smiles. It described the feelings I was looking for better than I was able to do, and for me this scene felt like an instant 11, on the positive scale, across all my senses.
Third, you do the reps
With step one and two out of the world, all that’s left is to put it all together and do the reps. Doing the reps is easy once you know how many reps to do, what one rep looks like, and how much time one rep should take. I find it easiest to explain this step in the Q&A-format, so here you go!
What does one rep look like?
Every rep follows this format:
Close your eyes, see the negative image, make it an 8, swoosh, reset.
First, you close your eyes and pull up the negative image. Then, you place a tiny version of the positive image next to the negative one.
Next, focus on getting the negative image up to at least an 8. Once you’re there, scale the positive image up as fast as you can, and simultaneously scale down the negative image. When the positive image reaches its full size, the negative image is crushed into smoke by the positive image. This is the swoosh in the formula above.
Next, relax with the positive image for a bit, open your eyes and reset. That is one rep! Isipisi.
PS! Optimally, the positive image should grow from nothing to full size relatively quickly, and you should use your breath and voice for optimal effect. Say swoosh and breathe out hard when the positive image grows fast and crushes the negative. That will make it extra impactful. The same goes for spending time to really feel the negative image before swooshing.
How many reps to do?
The rule is five reps and then one strong rep (a strong rep is when you spend extra time feeling the negative image before swooshing). However, if this is your first time, or if it has been a long time since you did it last, it is usually best to do 12 reps, and then one strong rep.
How fast or slow should the reps be?
You should never sacrifice quality for speed, but at the same time you should try to do each rep faster than the last, until one rep only takes 1–2 seconds from start to finish.
With that in mind, there are two things that can slow you down:
- If this is the first time you do it, the reps will be very slow.
- The more reps you do in a row, the harder it will be to see the negative image clearly (your mind will automatically try to see the positive image instead). That will slow you down.
Lastly, I have included an FAQ section to clarify the road you have ahead, and where to turn if you need someone to walk with you. I also recommend reading the story at the beginning of this article a second time, if you are still considering if you should give this a try.
Is this a permanent fix?
Because you have pulled out hair for so many years, you have made your trichotillomania impossible to ever “fix”. The reason is that you have created a neurological pathway in your brain that will never go away. The same concept applies to previous alcoholics; they will always have a permanent resting habit, waiting to be triggered — which is why they need to cut contact with previous alcoholic friends in order to ever “stop”. But there is good news.
Although the neurological hair-pulling pathway will never go away, you can still hide it beneath something stronger. You can create an even stronger neurological path, like the one the NPA Method creates. However, since this new pathway is functioning passively in your daily life, it slowly fades away (because you don’t even think about it!). The solution is to reinforce this new pathway every time you feel the old one coming (back for a visit). There may never be a cure to trichotillomania, but for most people the effects of the NPA Method last for around 3 months at a time. And that’s pretty darn close.
How often I personally do the NPA Method
I feel the new pathway fading away about every 3 months, with some variation. This means that as soon as I feel the old habit starting to emerge, I immediately do the 12 reps required by the NPA Method, followed by a few days of reinforcement. Normally, I reinforce with 5 reps two to three times the first day, one or two times the next two days, and then one time the day after that. (That may be different for you.) For the next 3 months I never think about pulling my hair, and all unconscious pulling stops as well. In total, I only spend about 10 minutes every 3 months executing the NPA Method, or 40 minutes a year.
Next steps for you to take
If you have any questions at all, please send them to me at email@example.com or visit npamethod.com to ask your questions. If you followed the instructions above, then you only have to follow up for a few days before you’re on your way to a trich-free life. You've got this!
If you are shy and don’t want to send the email, please ask yourself this first: How much hair will you lose if you delay this process? And how much hair can you save if you take action now? I encourage you to take action, (whether on your own or with help). You can do this!
Best of luck,
PS! If you know someone that could benefit from this article, please don’t hesitate to share it. Copy this link: https://medium.com/p/fbdcac5f56f4