The habit of self-harm can form when a person intentionally hurts himself as a way of dealing with unpleasant feelings or stressful situations. People who do this habit will feel better and able to face difficulties for a while. But in the long run, this will only make things worse and harm themselves. There is no certain solution that can definitely stop this habit. In addition to the difficulty of changing habits, a person will easily return to old habits because this process takes time. If this happens to you, stay nice to yourself and don't feel guilty. Make this recovery process the most important thing for you.
Part 1 of 6: Take Action Quickly Stop Hurting Yourself
Step 1. Find people who can accompany you
If you feel the urge to hurt yourself, it's a good idea to find people who can accompany you. It's easy, go to the sitting room to gather with your family or roommates. In addition, you can also go to public places such as coffee shops or malls. Whatever you are doing, wherever you are, stop before you hurt yourself. Try to always have someone else with you.
Step 2. Try calling someone
If you're home alone and have nowhere to go, try calling someone, such as a family member, close friend, or 24-hour service who can provide information and support for people struggling with this habit.
- Prepare a list of the phone numbers of people you can call. If you live in Indonesia, save the Halo Kemkes phone number (local code) 500567.
If you live in the US, save this phone number on your phone:
- 1-800-273-8255 (TALK): This is a 24-hour telephone number that can help if you want to hurt yourself or are in an emergency situation.
- 1-800-334-4357 (HELP): This is the Self Injury Foundation's 24-hour service telephone number in the event of a national crisis.
- 1-800-3668-288 (DON'T CUT): This is the telephone number for self-harm information services.
- You can also talk to immovable objects, pets, photos, or posters. These objects can be a place to vent feelings that will not judge your actions.
Step 3. Seek help if suicidal ideation occurs
Seek help immediately if you are contemplating suicide. For those of you who live in Indonesia, immediately call Halo Kemkes at number (local code) 500567. For those of you who live in the US, immediately call 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or 911 to get help in an emergency. You should watch out for any of the following signs:
- Talking about wanting to die or commit suicide.
- Looking for a way to kill yourself.
- Make a statement about despair.
- Talking about having no reason to live.
Step 4. Draw your body with the marker
If you notice thoughts that make you want to hurt yourself all the time, try drawing your body with a marker on the part of your body that you want to hurt. The ink will not leave scars on your skin.
Step 5. Divert your attention
Distraction is a way to prevent the habit of hurting yourself when this urge arises. In addition, you can break this habit if you are doing it. You have to figure out the most appropriate way to distract yourself in any situation. Sometimes, the trigger or desire for self-harm arises based on certain feelings or situations so that the response to prevent or stop this behavior will be different. Try some ways to distract, for example by:
- Change your hair color.
- Make a cup of tea.
- Counting 500 to 1000.
- Assembling pieces of a picture or playing a game that requires a lot of thinking.
- Go to a place where people are crowded.
- Play musical instruments.
- Watch TV or movies.
- Paint your nails.
- Organize things such as books, wardrobe, etc.
- Make origami to keep your hands busy.
- Exercising game.
- On foot.
- Composing your own dance moves.
- Make art creations or color pictures.
Step 6. Give it time
Delaying self-harming behavior when you feel like doing it is another way to break the cycle of this habit. Start by waiting for 10 minutes while watching if this urge goes away. If it's still there, wait another 10 minutes.
Step 7. Remind yourself of your actions
If you want to hurt yourself, talk to yourself. Remind yourself of the choices you can make.
- Tell yourself that you don't want to have a scar.
- Remember that you don't have to hurt yourself just thinking about this.
- Repeat "I don't deserve to be hurt" even if you don't believe it yourself.
- Remember that you always have a choice not to hurt yourself. You are free to determine your own actions.
Step 8. Remove self-harm from your home
Throw away all equipment that you usually use to hurt yourself such as knives, matches, and other tools including hidden ones.
- Throwing them in the trash won't solve the problem. You have to throw it where you can no longer retrieve it or ask someone for help.
- You can perform symbolic "funeral" ceremonies for these objects, burn them, throw them away, or bury them. Say in a loud voice: "Get behind you!".
Part 2 of 6: Understanding the Triggers for Desire to Hurt Yourself
Step 1. Be aware of self-harm behaviors
There are a variety of self-harm behaviors ranging from physically injuring yourself by slashing your body to exposing yourself to risky or dangerous situations such as driving under the influence of dangerous substances, or ignoring your own needs for example by not taking your doctor's prescription medication.
- Self-injurious behavior can be followed by or without suicidal intent.
- In addition, this behavior can be a symptom of other problems such as depression, anxiety, or other psychological disorders.
Step 2. Recognize that self-harm is addictive
When someone hurts themselves, the brain's glands produce chemicals called endorphins, hormones that trigger feelings of pleasure. This cycle is very difficult to change because your body needs a chemical substitute that can trigger the same "feel good". It takes trial and error until you find a solution or a combination of several solutions that are most appropriate for overcoming this addiction.
Step 3. Find out why you hurt yourself
You or your lover's habit of self-harm is formed for different reasons. In general, this behavior arises because of a sense of relief, for example after experiencing anger, guilt, anxiety, loneliness, sadness, or hopelessness. This behavior can also be seen as an expression of these feelings. Another reason is because a person wants to control his own body especially when he is not able to control himself. There are also people who hurt themselves because they want to feel something when they can't feel anything (numbness). Another reason that makes a person do this habit is in response to trauma or other problems such as anxiety and depression.
Recognizing triggers is one way to start recovering. If the main triggers and causes have not been addressed, there will continue to be a need to repeat this habit
Part 3 of 6: Changing Negative Mindsets
Step 1. Get to know your thoughts
In order to identify the thought patterns that lead you to the habit of self-harm, first identify your thoughts. Your thought processes will shape your habits. Habits of negative thinking can be eliminated by being aware of these thoughts.
Step 2. Start journaling
One way to find out your triggers and thought patterns is to keep a journal. Try to identify patterns that lead to self-harm by writing down all your feelings. Plus, journaling can be a great way to channel your feelings and identify your thoughts.
- Write down if you feel the urge to hurt yourself or while you are doing it. Record situations, thoughts, feelings, or emotions that you experience. In addition, you may also feel physical sensations such as energy, abdominal muscle contractions, or other conditions. Write down things that happened before and when you hurt yourself.
- Keeping a journal can reveal that you are going through certain situations that make you want to hurt yourself. This situation can be triggered by problems with friends such as physical or cyber bullying, pressure at school, difficulties in socializing, drug abuse, confusion about sexuality, or problems in the family.
- The goal is to be aware of what you're thinking and not act impulsively following negative thoughts that lead you to self-harm.
Step 3. Assess the thought process
The next step in conquering negative thoughts is to assess the thought process. Are your thoughts correct? Read the thought notes again and make judgments when you find yourself in a similar situation. Are there things you can learn and what are the long-term consequences of these thoughts? Would you be able to deal with this situation in a different way?
- The best way to assess negative thoughts is to look for words like “must”, “must”, or “should”. Statements that use these words are usually negative and self-critical.
- Try asking a close friend or family member if you're not sure if your thoughts are correct.
Step 4. Interrupt negative thoughts
Another way is to interrupt negative thoughts. Imagine that a red light or sound stops your thoughts. The goal is to interrupt negative thoughts and remind yourself of your mindset. After that, you will feel a sense of control and awareness of your thought patterns.
How to stop the mind can be through physical changes, for example by doing certain activities. Try walking, chatting with friends, reading a book, or doing household chores
Step 5. Replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts
If you're used to thinking negative thoughts, try to counter them by making positive statements. Read the journal about your thoughts again and write another positive statement.
For example, if you're thinking "I always mess up dinner because I'm always late", counter this with positive thoughts, for example: "I'm a very considerate person because I like to bring flowers to the host."
Step 6. Use a worksheet to record thoughts with the cognitive behavioral therapy method
This worksheet will help you take a few steps to identify negative thoughts and know how to replace them with positive ones.
- This thought note serves as a reminder to you about the questions you need to ask regarding the thought process. This process includes how you describe a situation, recognize what you are responding to, see a situation from another person's point of view, judge the truth of a statement or situation, and how you respond to a particular situation.
- There are many mind log templates with cognitive behavioral therapy that you can access online, for example through sites that provide information on how to help yourself and apply the STOPP method.
Part 4 of 6: Learn Positive Problem Coping Skills
Step 1. Get in the habit of saying positive things to yourself
The habit of saying positive things to yourself can reveal your inner voice and the way you talk to yourself. This inner voice affects your motivation, outlook, self-esteem, and the overall state of your life. Positive self-talk is how you talk to yourself so you can have self-confidence, live a healthy lifestyle, and reduce negative thoughts. Some positive statements about yourself include:
- I deserve to be loved.
- I am a special person.
- I am a confident person.
- I can reach my goal.
- I am beautiful.
- I won't be able to solve my problem by hurting myself.
- I can deal with anger, sadness, and anxiety without hurting myself.
- I can trust someone with how I feel right now.
- I can find support.
- Use a small sheet or post a message on your mirror.
- If you find it difficult to accept abstract statements like “I am a special person” or “I am a confident person”, don't use them just yet. Instead, use positive statements that focus on the behavior you want. This can be a specific guide for you, such as "I can trust someone with how I feel right now" and "I can't solve my problem by hurting myself."
- Talking positively to yourself cannot be controlled by others. Instead, use this method if you find it helpful.
Step 2. Create a skill box to deal with the problem
This box is a container for storing supplies that you can use when you want to stop the urge to hurt yourself. These kits will remind you of what you have and direct your energy towards positive things like creating art. Some of the equipment you can put in this box include:
- Photos of friends, family or pets
- art objects
- Inspirational quotes
- Recorded music or song lyrics
Step 3. Talk to your loved ones
Don't wait until you feel like talking. Share the joys and sorrows you feel with your close friends and family. Ask for their support. If you want to hurt yourself, the best thing you can do is to tell someone how you are feeling.
- It's not easy to express our feelings verbally and sometimes it's easier to express sadness, anger, or loneliness by hurting ourselves. However, in order to be successful in dealing with this problem in the future, you must be able to address the cause of the stress you are experiencing.
- If you're in the habit of hurting yourself, you may be embarrassed or find it difficult to talk about it. It's possible that you're worried that this person will judge you or force you to share this. But you should share your worries about life with your loved ones because they will help you.
Step 4. Take notes
If you're having trouble expressing yourself verbally, take notes or text your friends or family. This will help you communicate your thoughts without having to say them directly.
Step 5. Use the technique of activating the five senses as a calming exercise
One aspect of this recovery process is learning new skills that can help your brain produce the feel-good chemicals that come with self-harm. This technique is used to care for yourself and focus attention on the current situation. The benefit of this technique of activating the five senses is as a way for you to achieve certain states of mind that can overcome feelings of hurt or extreme experiences that lead you into the habit of self-harm.
- Sit comfortably. You can cross-legged on the floor or sit on a chair with your feet touching the floor.
- Start by being aware of the breath. Focus your attention on the process of breathing (inhaling, holding, and exhaling) and don't need to breathe in a certain way.
- Next, become aware of your five senses (sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch).
- Focus your awareness for one minute on each sense:
- Hearing: what sounds do you hear around you? Focus your attention on outside noises (do you hear passing vehicles, people talking, birds chirping?). Focus your attention on the sounds within you (can you hear your breathing or digestion?). As you focus on hearing, do you notice sounds you've never heard before?
- Smell: What scent do you smell? Is there food near you? Maybe you smell something you've never smelled before, like the smell of paper on a book. Close your eyes to reduce visual disturbances and sharpen your other senses.
- Vision: What do you see? Sofa or table are objects that are easily visible. Pay close attention to the colors, patterns, shapes, and textures.
- Tasteers: What do you taste? Even if there's no food in your mouth, there's still something you can taste. Pay attention to what the taste of the drink or food you just consumed. Feel your teeth and cheeks with your tongue for more awareness.
- Touch: how do you feel without changing your sitting position? Try to feel the sensation of your skin in contact with clothes, with chairs, and feet touching the floor. Try to feel also the texture of the clothes or chair you are sitting on.
Step 6. Try meditating and praying
Meditation has been shown to induce positive emotions, satisfaction, health, and happiness. In addition, meditation is also useful for reducing anxiety, stress, and depression. There are many ways to meditate, but the goal is to calm the mind. Try this simple meditation to start the process of calming the mind.
- Start in a comfortable sitting position.
- Find one point as the focus. This point can be a candle flame, the sound of a word or prayer being said over and over again, or using a specific object such as counting rosary beads. Keep your focus on one thing.
- When you try to focus, your mind will wander. If you notice that your mind is starting to wander, just let it go and return to concentrating on your focal point. This seems easy, but focusing the mind is not easy. Don't be disappointed if at first you can only focus for a few minutes.
Step 7. Try breathing exercises
Breathing is a natural response that we can control. Research has shown that breathing exercises will have a positive effect on the stress response or the “fight or flight” response. The same stress response can be triggered when we feel like hurting ourselves. We can control these triggers by learning the skill of performing breathing techniques. Try doing the following exercises:
- Count to 5 while inhaling, hold for a count of 5, then exhale for a count of 5.
- Focus your attention on each of your breathing processes while counting.
- Another way to focus on breathing is to use a balloon that is allowed to deflate. Inflate the balloon and watch as it deflates.
Step 8. Use images to imagine a “safe place”
An image is an image in your mind that creates a sense of peace or reminds you of a happy event. Sometimes it is more helpful to have this image printed to make it easier for you to focus.
Step 9. Try a progressive muscle relaxation technique
Relaxation is a way of dealing with stress that focuses on toning and relaxing different muscle groups. This technique is useful as a way of making you more aware of the physical sensations in your body.
- Start in a comfortable lying position on your back so you can focus on different muscle groups. Many people prefer to start this relaxation from a sitting or lying position.
- Focus your attention on the muscle group you want to tighten and then relax it again. Body parts that can be trained include the face, arms and palms, stomach, legs, and soles of the feet.
- For relaxation on the face, imagine that you are eating a sour orange. Try to imagine the tension in your lips, cheeks, jaw, forehead, and eyes when you bite into this orange. Your face will wrinkle in the nose area, your eyes will be closed, and your lips will be pursed. After that, focus your attention on relaxing those muscle groups. This time, try to imagine you are eating sweet food and imagine your face relaxed/calm because you eat what you like.
- To train the shoulder and back areas, imagine that you are a cat. Try imagining how the cat arches its back and sticks out its paws and then does the same. Rotate your shoulders while bringing them closer to your ears and arching your back. You can do this movement while resting on your palms and knees. After that, relax your back again and sit as usual.
- For the stomach, it will be easiest if you lie on your back. Imagine there is a ball above your stomach. Take a deep breath and then relax your stomach muscles again.
- Tighten and then relax your legs again. You can do this method for all the muscles in your body, even when you're wearing shoes. Bend your toes and stretch again as far as possible. After that, relax again.
Step 10. Try walking while calming your mind
Walking with a calm mind is a way of achieving calm while moving. The benefit of this practice is to learn mindfulness in daily life. In addition, there are people who find it difficult to sit still and do “traditional” meditation. This method is also very beneficial for health.
Watch every step as you walk. How do you feel when your feet touch the floor? How do the soles of your feet feel in the shoes? Focus your attention on the breath. Pay attention to your surroundings: stop walking to smell the roses, as the saying goes
Part 5 of 6: Getting Professional Help
Step 1. Seek help if you are suicidal
If someone or you yourself are contemplating suicide, seek help immediately. Call 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or 911 if you live in the US. If you live in Indonesia, call the 24-hour Halo Kemkes service (local code) 500567. Try to observe some of the following signs in your loved one in case he or she:
- Talking about wanting to die or commit suicide.
- Looking for a way to kill yourself.
- Make a statement about despair.
- Talking about having no reason to live.
Step 2. Seek professional help
A psychologist or counselor can help you understand your troubled emotions and deal with the trauma. They have been educated, trained, and experienced in helping you overcome the problems that have been controlling your behavior for a long time.
- Ask your doctor for a referral so you can see a counselor or psychologist who specializes in treating self-harm. Make an appointment to talk about your problem. If you can't tell the truth with close friends or family, it may feel more relaxed and comfortable if you share the problem with someone you don't know.
- If you have to deal with a very serious life problem such as substance abuse, a traumatic incident, or a feeling so depressed that it leads to self-injurious behavior, it can be helpful to find a safe, neutral, and non-judgmental environment.
Step 3. Find a support group
There may be groups that can support people who are used to self-harm in your community. This group can help you identify, talk about, and deal with the feelings associated with this behavior.
For those of you who live in the US, look for information online at the S. A. F. E. Alternatives to find the closest support group
Step 4. Talk to your doctor about other problems
There are people who have a habit of self-harm because of mental health problems such as depression, drug abuse, eating disorders, schizophrenia, or other personality disorders. Talk to your doctor if you think you have another disorder that is causing you to behave in self-harm.
Step 5. Be honest
Tell the therapist the truth about how you are feeling or what is going on. Remember that they are there to help you. If you're not being honest, you may not be able to get the treatment you so desperately need. Try to tell the truth. This therapy is confidential, so anything you say will not be shared with anyone, unless you intend to harm yourself or others.
Part 6 of 6: Letting Go of the Habit of Hurt Yourself
Step 1. Celebrate the success you have achieved
You should celebrate success when it comes to addiction. Every day you can go through without hurting yourself should be celebrated as a victory. At the end of the first week, celebrate by treating yourself to something you enjoy or going out for fun with your friends.
Try to extend the timeframe for your achievement. Celebrate each day at first. After that, celebrate every week, every month, and every year. For a while, you may have to struggle with these thoughts, but with celebration, you can appreciate the effort, look forward, and come to terms with your past
Step 2. Believe in yourself
In the end, it all depends on you. If you can think positively and believe in yourself, your addiction will become a memory of the past that has left scars on your body. Once you break this habit, you will feel calmer and more honest thoughts and feelings about life and yourself. Trust that others care about you and care about yourself. You can definitely break this habit.
Step 3. Recognize that this habit may recur
Sometimes, you'll think you want to hurt yourself and actually do it. This is called relapse. You can blame yourself for this, but everyone can relapse at some point. Remember that self-harm is an addiction and may recur during the healing process. There are times when you feel like you can't help yourself, but this means you have to keep trying. Just because you take one step back, doesn't mean you can't take three steps forward.
- For those of you who live in the US, you can find information online by accessing the S. A. F. E. website. (Self Abuse Finally Ends) Alternatives that can provide referrals to therapists and how to stop the habit of hurting yourself. The website To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) is a non-profit organization that helps people overcome depression, addiction, self-injurious behavior, and suicidal ideation.
- It's a good idea to have a pet. People who are used to self-harm are often compelled to raise animals they can care for such as dogs, cats, birds, or rodents. A sense of responsibility to care for another's life can have a tremendous therapeutic effect. Life is very precious and you can definitely live it well.