injury, and then they learned to consciously focus on distracting thoughts, such as
watching TV, listening to music, taking a nap, or reading a magazine or book. Still
others found the chain of thought leading to more serious depression or self-hatred
could be broken early by talking to supportive people, calling their therapist (or just
thinking about topics for the next session), or posting to an online self-injury group
(or imagining the conversation at the next support group meeting). Also, a few found
interesting activities to do, like relaxing and meditating (see chapter 12), going
shopping or for a walk or a workout, writing their life story (see chapter 15), or doing
drawings or art work to express their feelings.
More self-help ideas
Make a serious, effort (it will take therapy or weeks on your own) to understand
these awful feelings that start and generate this whole process. Ask: Why am I
feeling so awful? Are my thoughts and feelings reasonable? If not, what
unreasonable beliefs do I have that give me such a heavy emotional load and sap my
self-esteem? How can I change these feelings and get a more realistic view?
During some good times, prepare a list of things in your life that you appreciate,
really enjoy, value, and feel grateful for. Use this list (keep it updated) as a handy
reminder when depressed that there are good things in your life as well as bad
things. Be sure to include your good traits, talents, good deeds, assets, beautiful
parts, etc., showing you arent as bad as you sometimes think you are.
Procrastinate doing self-injury. Tell yourself to put self-criticism or self-injury off
until latermaybe tomorrow. Most impulses lose their urgency when you put them
especially if coupled with keeping your mind on other things. The need to feel
pain will diminish also because the deep depression, self-hatred, guilt or whatever
The environment is a powerful determinant of our behavior (see chapters 4 and
11). Hide away stuff you use to self-injure. Stay out of the room, chair, sink, or
situation you usually hurt yourself in. Dont go there mentally or physically. If you
are triggered somewhere (a room, a TV show, a book, a discussion, an idea),
quickly get out of that situation and think about other things.
Develop a routine to easily use when feeling especially badnurture, even
baby yourself. Perhaps go for ice cream with a friend, take a long, warm bath, look
at especially selected pictures of good times and people you love, play with a pet,
develop special activities with your family, enjoy a nice romantic/erotic story, etc.
Sometimes people find it helpful to sign an agreement with someone to not self-
harm without calling them first. For very distraught times, however, the contract
may not be a strong deterrent.
The above methods have worked for at least a few people. No one method works
for all people who self-injure. The methods that work are usually tailored for a
specific person. I hope this long list helps you believe that you too can devise several
techniques that might guide you away from deep depression and/or self-injury. Then
try them out.