Self harm is used to relieve emotional pain
This is because emotional pain is overwhelming. It pauses our lives while we watch it seeping into, and affecting almost every aspect of our experience. There’s incredible pressure that comes with this emotional pain – the pressure to relieve it. Lest, it overwhelms us and pushes us off that metaphorical insanity cliff.
Many people turn to self harm – cutting, pinching, burning, or banging themselves when they feel this way. If you haven’t done this yourself, you may know people who have.
You might have wondered, what makes you do this? What makes them do this?
Self harm is done with the intention to escape or control horrible feelings.
This is how people describe the benefit of self harm:
It’s a way to have control over their pain.
It brings the emotional pain out into the physical and relieves it.
It makes something confusing and overwhelming, tangible.
This is what the problem is. People often feel a lot of shame after self-harm. It makes them feel crazy and out of control. (Yes, even though they’ve done it to feel more in control. This might work in the very short-term, but it unravels quickly.)
Unfortunately, it becomes a cycle of feeling worse and worse, even though you’re trying so hard to feel better.
To help, we want to hold onto and honor the intention to feel better. It’s wonderful but is rendered obsolete by the shame around cutting and self-harm being pathological.
Shame is the biggest obstacle to getting emotional relief.
(Watch my free videos to learn how to get rid of shame!)
People mistakenly think they have to get rid of the behavior to get rid of the shame. They may try to resist temptation for the behavior, but still suffer with the shame of being tempted in the first place or having done it in the past. This doesn’t help them feel better.
I think it is the opposite (which is the basis of my video OCD treatment). We have to forgive and let go of the shame and then, we’ll let go of the self harm.
When we let go of the shame, we bring in compassion for our pain. This is acceptance of our worth and value. That self-love is what heals our emotional suffering and then we don’t need to turn to self harm anymore.
At first, like my OCD video, people protested that this is counter intuitive because they liken it to “giving permission to self harm.” This is not what I am saying at all.
I’m suggesting to keep the beautiful intention of feeling better by honoring it. Have compassion for the pain (forgive the shame). This self kindness will be healing, it will relieve suffering easily, and painlessly eliminate the behavior of self harm.
Self harm is a ritual
Rituals are helpful. Replacing self harm with a ritual that will have the positive effects and support self compassion is very helpful. In this video I tell you exactly what I do.
Stop Self Harm
Taking some kind of action to ground yourself into the present moment and back into reality is helpful because when you are suffering emotionally, you tend to be up in your head too much overwhelmed by anxiety, stress and sadness. You have to get yourself out of your head.
There’s many other things that can take you out of your head and into your body. Yoga, walking, petting your dog, and having some hot tea.
Start with my very simple action in this episode and try others to see which work best for you. No matter the action, they will put you in the present moment.
What helps you get out of your head when you are having an overwhelming day?