Editor’s Note: The self-injurious nature of cutting is so alarming that people, even professionals, shy away from it. And yet there is a real need to address the reality of cutting head on, illuminate the whys of cutting and get everyone involved expert help. Explore What’s Next has tried to do just that in this series of articles about cutting. In this article, Kate Maleski, LCSW, Explore What’s Next therapist, offers eight helpful ideas if you are cutting and want to stop.
Why do I feel so much pain? Why am I like this? Why can’t I be more like them?
These are some of the questions that have lead people to think: I deserve pain and I want to physically feel pain. You may find yourself hurting yourself because you feel like nothing else works. Cutting doesn’t heal your pain…
But think about this: Do you ever feel like you hate cutting but it’s the only thing that makes you feel better. Let’s talk about some ways to stop hurting you because cutting doesn’t help your problems. Only you can do that.
- Know your triggers & avoid them: There is usually a time and place where you cut. Try to avoid those place, people and things that trigger thoughts of cutting. If you change the pattern of this behavior the likelihood of cutting may decrease. You may need the support of a trusted friend or adult who knows you are trying hard to break the pattern. Don’t feel badly about leaning on that support. It takes courage to ask for help.
- Get support: It is important to reduce isolation as much as possible. Talk to someone. Even if you don’t feel comfortable telling them about your cutting talking to people will make you feel less alone. And like was mentioned in #1, you could call them to take you out of a situation that makes you want to cut, or distract you when you need it most.
- Challenge your thoughts: Most people have negative feelings which lead them to cut. If you start to change these thoughts you may see that the majority of these thoughts are untrue.
- Explore your feelings: Feelings are not forever. Remember that given enough time your feelings may change or disappear. Think back to the time when you were eight and were not invited to that birthday party. You were devastated. The strong feeling about that party may have diminished over time.
- Create a coping kit: Have something in mind that you want to do next time you feel the urge to cut. Some things that can help are: writing a poem, drawing, painting, singing, listening, or playing music, anything that inspires you to feel good and brings out self-expression in a creative way that isn’t hurting yourself. Calling a friend who you can count on, cuddling with your dog. Getting out to do some physical activity like hiking or running in a beautiful park.
- Go to your safe place: Try to go to a place where you feel safe. If you are unable to get to a place or don’t have a safe place think of a place where you may feel safe. Visualize this place and imagine yourself there. Bring all your senses into the visualization. Hear the sounds, smell the scents in the air. Slowly and with practice, your body and mind will start to relax and let go of the urge to cut.
- If these don’t work, don’t give up! Splash cold water on your face or take a cold shower. Sometimes physically feeling change may decrease your urge to cut.
- Get help! Therapy can offer you with a safe place to explore the reasons for cutting and help you learn additional techniques to help decrease your pain. And please remember the scars that result from the cutting may last forever. The emotional pain you are feeling now will not.
Kate Maleski has a group called Girls Take Charge!, where young women can talk in a safe therapeutic environment with others that are struggling with the same issues. Contact Kate now at 716.880.5689 or firstname.lastname@example.org, to get more information.
Photo Courtesy of Daniil Kalinin