People harm themselves because sometimes it gives them an unexplainable relief they can’t seem to get with anything else.
Emotional pain can be exhausting.
It can make people feel hopeless.
When people self-harm, the emotional pain they live with daily can often feel unbearable.
And somehow they find that physical pain releases the emotional pain.
People suffering from self-harm urges and actions may use cutting, burning, stabbing, scratching, and other forms of pain to cope with bigger issues going on in their lives.
Many people find it difficult to quit self-harming even when they want to, and might feel guilty or ashamed of the marks left.
It’s often hard for people to find alternative ways to release the pain as effectively.
And because of the shame, many people don’t seek help from parents, friends, family, or professionals like doctors or therapists.
Some people (not all) that struggle with self-harm also struggle with thoughts of suicide.
Other people that have suicide thoughts actually don’t self-harm.
When somebody is having thoughts of ending their life, they are experiencing intense emotional pain, feel helpless, and don’t have much hope of things improving.
I want to offer you hope that therapy done well can help relieve the pain you have.
I use Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) with people struggling with self-harm and suicide thoughts.
It is a highly effective treatment and helps you learn to:
- Cope with distress
- Increase mindfulness
- Improve interpersonal (relationship) skills
- Learn to regulate your emotions
Distress tolerance is the ability to cope in a crisis. To accept a situation for how it is rather than how it “should be.”
The word “should” creates shame and implies you have the power to change everything. It creates a heavy burden on you when you believe you have the power to affect how other people think and act.
“Should” makes you feel guilty for not doing something. Or it creates a hypothetical reality that does not exist. Of course this would be distressing.
And people tend to avoid and fear distress. But avoiding distress can actually make that distress stronger.
So instead, we learn that negative emotions and situations, while uncomfortable, are a normal part of life and will pass. Emotions happen in moments, and moments move on.
Distress tolerance skills broaden your ability to withstand negative emotions or physical discomfort.
Regulate Your Emotions
Managing and changing intense emotions will allow you to live at peace, with yourself and the world around you.
This requires you to understand your emotion, reduce your vulnerability to distressing emotions, and decrease your emotional suffering. To understand and accept that negative emotions are not necessarily bad, or needing to be avoided. They’re just a part of life.
They need to be acknowledged, processed, and let go of.
The key to being able to regulate emotions is in understanding them.
DBT will teach you to recognize the nuances of various emotions, label them, learn what is causing you to feel that emotion, and process it.
This is a skill that requires practice and time to develop, but is incredibly helpful to have when life seems chaotic or unfair.
Improve interpersonal skills
We are social creatures and need harmony in our relationships. But that harmony cannot come at the expense of personal boundaries or self-respect.
Assertive communication allows you to ask other people what they need so you are not expected to “mind read.” Attempting to mind-read leads to assumptions, tension, frustration, regret, and hopelessness.
Boundaries are the guidelines that allow you to help others within your realistic abilities. Without these, you may become burned out, ineffective at helping others, feel useless, or feel like you are not important or cared for in return.
Often, setting boundaries involves learning the art of saying “No.”
This prevents you from taking on unrealistic tasks and burdens. These just end up making you feel guilty for not being able to do something that you never could have in the first place.
“No” is hard to say at first, and hard sometimes for others to hear at first if they are not used to it.
But it can be the first step to healthier, well-rounded relationships. It keeps you healthy so you can help others most effectively.
Anxiety is a tendency to live in the future, trying to predict and control what will happen in every possible scenario. But no one can predict the future, so it will always be impossible to control or plan for to some degree.
And in depression, we have a tendency to become stuck in the past. Thinking about what could or should have been. But we cannot change the past.
Mindfulness eliminates these two attempts that are beyond our ability.
It helps you accept that what is happening in the current moment is all that we have control over.
It’s hard at first, but with practice, mindfulness can be freeing.
A means of letting go of extra weight.
Letting go of distressing emotions and the rigid expectations we have of ourselves and others.
How does this help with self-harm or suicide?
We figure out what seems to trigger the self-harm or suicide thoughts and actions.
Then we problem solve ways to prevent the triggers from happening.
Or prepare you for how to cope when triggers can’t be avoided.
You’ll also learn to recognize when you’re getting too emotionally overwhelmed. That way you can take a step back, use one or two of your skills, and avoid harming yourself.
I provide Hope-Building techniques that focus on how strong a person must be to have survived this long despite the situation they are in.
We build your belief in yourself to overcome challenges, achieve goals that are important to you, and create plans to keep you safe when the urges or thoughts come.
Don't Carry This Burden Alone. Get Relief Now.
Call me at (402) 937-9700 or email Christina@RiverCairnCounseling.com.
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- If you are currently working with me and we have developed a safety plan together, follow that safety plan.
- If you do not feel able to keep yourself or others safe right now, please call 9-1-1 or go to the closest hospital ER for help.
- If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide or homicide, call 9-1-1 or 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Phone: (402) 937-9700