How to Stop Self-Harm

Instructor: Elisha Madison

Elisha is a writer, editor, and aspiring novelist. She has a Master's degree in Ancient Celtic History & Mythology and another Masters in Museum Studies.

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.

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

You are not alone

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.

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