Every time we encounter someone who steals from us, we always associate them with the idea of a criminal. We do not feel sorry for these individuals since we think that they do it on purpose. However, some people are only victims of a mental health disorder called kleptomania. According to Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC, “Kleptomania is a psychiatric disorder that is extremely difficult to live with. It can have some serious legal and personal ramifications.”
Kleptomania is the inability to prevent oneself from stealing from other people and feeling guilty and ashamed after. Take note that this is different from those who steal just because they’re bored, they want a thrill, or they only wish to. Kleptomaniacs feel uncontrollable urges to do this act, even if they don’t desire to. If you are experiencing these impulses, you might want to try these self-help strategies to overcome the disorder.
Accept Your Situation
It is essential to recognize that you are experiencing kleptomania and understand that you need help. Some people fail to address this because of their inability to accept their situation. If you keep on putting aside this problem, your disorder might escalate more in the future. Take note that according to Michelle Overman, LMFT, “People who deal with kleptomania are going to be focused on the high or intense urge they are feeling. It is like the itch that they just cannot avoid scratching.”
You should start contemplating and reflecting to understand your condition completely. Ask yourself the following questions:
- When do you usually steal?
- How often do you do it?
- How does it make you feel?
- What do you think are your triggers?
- What do you think are its consequences?
- Who benefits from this?
You can grasp your stealing behaviors with the answers to these questions. Do you engage in this act to escape from reality or do you steal to experience emotional high? Are you more likely to do it when you’re stressed or when you’re relaxed? There are endless answers that you can obtain from these myriads of questions. You only have to analyze your responses to see the whole picture of your situation.
Create A Prevention Plan
Drafting a prevention plan can help you take control of your desire to steal. Start by identifying your stealing history. Then, determine your triggers from stealing and come up with specific steps to avoid waking up these urges. Here are some strategies for your prevention plan:
- Observe. If you feel the urge beginning, stop what you are doing and stand still. Observe your environment, the people around you, and yourself. This action will help you calm your mind.
- Talk to yourself. When you’re on the verge of succumbing to pressure, try talking to yourself. Remind yourself of your values, how good you are as a person, and how much you love yourself.
- Exercise relaxation techniques. You can use relaxation techniques such as yoga or repeated breathing to calm yourself.
- Distract yourself. Do something that you are passionate about, be it playing sports, painting, writing, or watching a movie. You should find a positive alternative to stealing.
Paul Dalton, LCPC says, “Treatment for chronic impulsivity includes medication and therapy to curb impulses. Therapy guides clients in modifying behavior and developing healthy self-esteem to get to the underlying cause of impulsivity and to produce more positive or more appropriate responses.”
Aside from these self-help strategies, it might also be helpful for you to seek the help of a therapist. Remember, you don’t have to endure your problem alone. You’ll get back on track faster with the help of your family, friends, and some professionals.…