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Self-harm is something that kids and adults are dealing with on a daily basis.

This happens when emotional pain has become so much that it has to be expressed, and it happens in physical self-injury. There are ways to overcome this, and steps to take to get better.

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What is Self-Harm?

Self-harm is when you decide to hurt yourself as a way to externalize the pain you are feeling internally.

Many do this by cutting their skin, but others pull their own hair, scratch or burn themselves. Some may even hit themselves. However the pain is caused, this is a way to get relief from the internal stress.

Some people cannot talk about their pain, and because of this, they feel there is no other option. With self-harm, you are taking out your feelings on yourself and not hurting others, so you may feel this is a better way. Hurting anyone is wrong, yourself included. Instead, it is better to find ways to stop the extreme feelings of pain and anger that are causing these actions.

Know Why You Self-Harm

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The first step to stopping self-harm is knowing why you do it. Are you angry? Upset? Is something happening you are ashamed of? Some reasons for self-injury are:

  • Anger at self
  • Need to punish self for perceived wrongs
  • The need to feel something other than numbness
  • Feelings of release resulting from pain

Usually cutting is a private process, and people do not want to share it with others.

This also goes for what the actual problem is; they don’t want to share the pain, so it’s easier to self-harm.Once you know why you are doing it, then it’s easier to start addressing the actual stressor or trigger for self-harm. This won’t happen overnight, and it will take time to address the emotional scars that are causing the real ones.

Additionally, it’s good to know how you are feeling. Try to get in tune with yourself and your feelings. When you know that depression is coming or an outburst that results in self-harm, it makes it easier to address it before it happens.

Ways to Stop Self-Harm

Unfortunately, there is no simple answer or words that will stop self-harm immediately, but there are steps to take to minimize these actions, and then stop hurting yourself–especially once you know what causes the need to hurt yourself.

  • Learn about yourself – The more you know what stresses you to the point of harming yourself, the easier it will be to catch it before it gets to be too much.
  • Remove yourself from unhealthy environments – Remove yourself from friends or people that are hurting you, and adding to your stress.

    They are not worth the harm you are doing to your body. Unfortunately, this is not always an option if the unhealthy environment is at home. But if there are issues, report them to the proper authorities.

    It may be hard, but you need to take care of yourself.

  • Take it one day at a time – Start slowly. Try to wait out the urge to self-harm; the longer you wait each time is a victory. If you do still hurt yourself, try to do less and less each time. It’s a weaning process sometimes and that’s okay.

  • Find someone to talk to – Some people find they can talk to friends, but a counselor may be better. It is occasionally easier to tell a stranger about your self-injury because they are not invested in your life, and they are outside the pain. If you can get the words out and explain your pain, that in itself may reduce the need to hurt yourself.
  • Find a distractor – Sometimes the only thing you can do is find something to distract you from the urge to scratch your pain into your skin. Find something you enjoy doing, something that requires movement. Cook something, clean something, play a video game, take a walk, dance wildly–anything to distract and exert your excess panic and pain into something positive.
  • Find a relatable action– Sometimes the only thing you can do is find something to replace hurting yourself.

    Why not start kickboxing or karate? Exert your pain on a punching bag or by sparring in class. These are healthy and productive ways to get the pain from inside you, to outside.

  • Use art to help you express your pain – Many people who have pain do well in expressing it with art, because you do not have to say it out loud. It does not matter if you cannot draw, or paint, or write. Find the artistic medium that works for you and do it anyway. Throw paint on a canvas, get your fingers in the paint and just express your feelings through your fingers onto the canvas. Color in a coloring book; write a poem.

    Find your way to express you pain.

No matter what steps you decide to take to stop hurting yourself, remember you are worth all the effort to keep yourself safe. You deserve to be healthy and happy, and not hurting.

Lesson Summary

Self-harm is something many people deal with everyday.

For some it feels impossible to express the pain inside without hurting themselves to get rid of the agony. However, there are ways to stop this. The first is to know why you self-harm. Once you figure this out, then you can start to fix the causes of your pain.

Then you can start working on ways to stop self-harm. Just remember, whatever steps you choose, value yourself and your safety, always.The contents of the Study.com Site, such as text, graphics, images, and other material contained on the Study.com Site (‘Content’) are for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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