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How to stop hurting yourself
Most Google searches leading to this blog involve the words, “hurt myself.” So many people are looking for help in stopping self-harm, stopping cutting, bruising or any other kind of self-hurting.
Self-harm is something I know a lot about. I could write hundreds of posts on the topic (and I probably will), but for now, I have two pieces of advice that are my secrets to stopping self-harm.
- LET YOURSELF FEEL
No feeling is wrong. Absolutely every single emotion you have is legitimate and allowed. Read that sentence again: Absolutely every emotion you have is legitimate and allowed. Sometimes we don’t understand our feelings, where they’re coming from or why, but that shouldn’t stand in our way of permitting ourselves to feel exactly how we’re feeling. Let yourself feel and identify the feeling if you can. Say to yourself, “I feel _______.”
- EXPRESS YOUR FEELINGS
You can’t skip this step. This is the answer to stopping self-harm: Allow yourself to express your emotions in a way that doesn’t involve hurting yourself.
Here are some ideas:
Talk to someone, cry, scream, whimper, holler, write, play music, run, dance, or tear up pieces of paper. Go out into a field and throw rocks at the sky. Don’t just punch your pillow, pummel it. Run faster than you’ve ever run before. Use the energy created by your feelings and do something with it.
A lot of the feelings I first expressed through cutting were related to my memories of violence. I felt hurt and damaged and I wanted to damage something to communicate my pain. So I damaged myself.
But, do you know what? You can damage things other than yourself. Never damage another living thing and try not to damage property that isn’t yours, but if you want to destroy something, IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE YOU.
Emotions don’t always feel nice and pretty and socially acceptable. I used to cut because I didn’t want to be nice or pretty or socially acceptable. I wanted the whole fucking world to know just how terrible I felt.
Hurting myself didn’t help me feel better. It hurt me! And there is enough hurt without me hurting myself extra. You can’t get better if you hurt yourself.
Writing and making art works a MILLION times better for me than cutting ever did. Remember my drawing from my last hospital stay? It showed black swirls of monstrous arms attacking me. Drawing that helped me feel SO MUCH BETTER. And I showed it to people, I said, “THIS is how bad I’m feeling.” No, it’s not art for a museum. It’s art for me. And it worked.
Go ahead, be destructive if it doesn’t hurt anyone. Let yourself feel and then express those feelings in a healthy way. Never pretend to feel something that you don’t feel. Be honest about what’s in your heart and it will heal you, I promise.
Erin Schulthies is the writer of Daisies and Bruises, a blog about "finding her way one step and one word at a time". After losing most of her youth to severe depression, she decided that since death was no longer an option, she had to find a way to live. This is it.