When it hurts - surviving and coping
Self injury/self harming behaviour
An approach many counsellors take when dealing with self-harm is to accept that this is one way that people cope. Rather than taking this away from them, it is important to understand that this is a way that they are surviving. Many people who hurt themselves biggest fear is that if they confide in someone, they will try to take the one thing that is helping them to stay alive away from them. To support someone who does confide in you is to listen, not judge and try to understand.
Accepting that your mum, brother, daughter uses self-harm to cope and not stopping them, will help them to feel supported, in control of what they do and will maintain a close relationship. This may be challenging for you, you may feel scared, or angry, it is OK to feel like this.
Many people hurt themselves in some form or another, we may eat or drink too much or too little, we may smoke, stop sleeping. We may regularly eat unhealthy foods, have unprotected sex often, or enter in relationships that are harmful.
When as humans we hurt ourselves there are so many different reasons. Some reasons may be feeling a lack of self-worth, ‘I'm not good enough’, feeling bad, feeling an emotion that is overpowering. It may help to hurt to feel a release. Some of this may be triggered through hurtful relationships. It may be childhood trauma or simply not being able to express the feelings with words. There may be feelings of blame and therefore used to punish themselves.
Whatever the reason, it is individual to the person.
If you hurt yourself or you are supporting someone who hurts themselves, think about how you can take care for yourself. I do not say this lightly. Self care is essential to keep us feeling balanced.
If you are spending energy on someone else, making sure you have some support too is vital for your own well-being. No man is an island.
We all need somebody to lean on from time to time.
As counsellors, our role is to help others and we have monthly supervision to support us to do this. We must also take time to look after our own needs, relaxing, resting and taking holidays and time off then needed. If we didn't we would not be able to carry on.
There are support groups, helplines out there and websites, where you can talk to someone in confidence or to find information to help gain understanding and suggestions that may help you.
If you do want to talk to someone about your self-harming behaviour, there are people who will listen and understand you and not judge you. Please get in touch.
Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.