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Can you stop self harm without addressing the underlying issues ?

24 Answers
Last Updated: 08/03/2021 at 3:10pm
1 Tip to Feel Better
United Kingdom
Moderated by

Tanyia Hughes, Adv Dip Psy


I have been through a lot in life too, which helps me to be able to empathize with situations, thoughts and feelings that we have. Sometimes, it's not easy just being human.

Top Rated Answers
February 8th, 2015 8:34pm
I think it would be very hard to nearly impossible to stop self harm without addressing the underlying issue as the self harm is I believe an outlet for the pain though temporary and if you stop that without addressing what is causing it, then something else will take its place as the mind is trying to find a way to cope with it. Emotional Pain like an infected wound. You can put a Band-Aid over it and forget about it for alittle while but then pretty soon that wound gets infected, begins to ooze a foul smelling odor. Pulling off that Band-Aid and scrubbing out the wound so it can heal is scary because we know its going to hurt, but it will only hurt for a short while and once we get it cleaned out, the wound can begin to heal and close for good.
February 14th, 2017 1:27am
Great question! In my opinion, it is possible. Often the underlying issues are more complex and more painful than the urges themselves. Since working on the underlying issues will inevitably take more time, self-reflection, self-love and patience, it may be easier to find a replacement or compromise on the self-harm urges while you are working on the underlying issues. Ultimately - you do what you think is best for your own well-being. Good on you for seeking freedom from this, and I hope you are able to stop both the self-harm and find peace with the issues underneath.
April 19th, 2015 9:26pm
You may be able to stop the PHYSICAL ACT of self harm ie cutting or what ever you do. But in my opinion you will probably REPLACE it with another. Say drinking, or drugs or maybe high risk activities like driving without your seat belt. Until the issue is addressed I don't believe it will go away. It will simply look like something else. GOOD LUCK!
March 13th, 2015 8:16am
Not at all. In order to recover from ANY problem you have, you must first overcome what is causing your distress/illness. Attacking the root of your problems and discovering what exactly is making you feel a certain way or act a certain way will open up many more doors for you, and many roads you can take to recover. Understanding what your underlying issues are and learning to accept them and move on from them is the biggest part of recovery, and avoiding that can cause you to relapse more often and face more problems along the way. It's going to be hard facing these issues head on but once you do, you WILL win, and your recovery from self-harm will be so much easier.
May 6th, 2015 8:01am
Self-harm is how some people cope with an issue they find difficult to deal with. If the underlying issue is addressed, then the need for self harm will eventually go away. Running away from the issue does not help.
May 17th, 2015 2:42pm
That seems like a difficult thing to do! I think the best idea would be to try and find alternatives to self-harm. Self-harming is a way of coping with difficult events or feelings, but there are many others! For example, if you tend to self-harm when you are anxious, you could find an alternative (like drawing on your skin, using a brush, etc) to use whenever you are anxious. However, keep in mind that while you work to find alternatives, it is very important to work on the underlying issues as well. This will ensure not only that you feel less compelled to self-harm, but also that you deal with your triggers and your emotions in a more efficient and healthy way. Try talking to a professional or to a trusted friend. Here's a website with alternatives! :
June 4th, 2015 11:20pm
No, I don't believe so. You need to figure out why you started in the first place so you can work through those problems instead of suppressing them. Suppressing issues will make it boil over later on in life and it will be much worse when it pops up again later.
August 31st, 2015 6:00pm
Yes, you just need to learn to cope with the issues. From finding a new hobby to realizing that life gets better.
January 25th, 2016 1:24pm
Instead of self harming you should draw on yourself or listen to music. I personally like to draw butterflies or small little animals on my legs and arms when I'm feeling like I should self harm.
January 26th, 2016 3:00am
Well technically yes you can learn coping skills and eventually quit, but it is insanely hard when your not identifying and trying to solve underlying issues. Cause you won't know the reason why your cutting and it'll be very hard to stay clean and will probably lead to way more relapses. Without knowing the underlying issues for your self harm you'll stay depressed and always have to live with those painful lingering emotions. Making your urges to self harm a million times worse.
April 11th, 2016 3:24pm
You, Yourself are the only person who can truly make yourself quit... Being a former self harmer myself... I know that it seems like the only way that you can feel "Alive" or to feel control in your life, or even to control your anger/anxiety/pressure/stress/depression/etc but take it from me who did this for years but found a way to quit,... In order to quit, Yes you have to figure out the real reasons why you are doing this to yourself and realize that you are better then that, But it doesn't make you a bad person if you have in the past or still do, We all handle our daily stresses in our own ways but it is something that you will overcome, The sooner you address why you do it, and you realize that this isn't fair to you or the people who love you, You will begin to understand why it's bad and why you have to stop doing it. I recommend talking to your family, your friends, your significant other, Find somebody that you trust and love that won't judge and will help you stop. It took my significant other to finally get me to quit after years of doing it because he showed me how much it hurt him deeply since the last thing I wanted was to ever hurt him. If your mom is that person, your best friend, Anybody, Then you should speak with them alone and tell them how you feel so that the two of you can work this out so that you can quit.
April 18th, 2016 1:29am
Yes, it's in the moments of your decisions that our destiny is shaped. Tell yourself you're going to get better, seek real help from great people! But it's so dangerous to self harm. Please stop, so so so many people care about you
May 16th, 2016 10:17am
You can stop self harm by talking to the person about what's wrong. Be that person who they can talk to about anything.
May 17th, 2016 5:48am
Technically, yes. And often stopping self harming is the best first step. But it is not the only step to heal and to feel better. It should be a top priority to be addressed, but it is not the only thing to be addressed.
August 2nd, 2016 1:40pm
I don't think that self harm can be stopped without knowing the underlying issue. I didn't stop self harming until I talked it through with someone close to me.
August 16th, 2016 7:22am
Try talking to them. Seek help for them as well in order to correct themselves. Never stop helping.
August 29th, 2016 10:11am
the best thing you can do is to find whatever has you feeling so bad that you'd consider injuring yourself and try to deal with that issue at hand it should help with putting the issue of self-harm at rest:)
October 11th, 2016 9:22pm
Yes, I can choose to distance the act of self harming from those problems in my life by choosing to be the person I was earlier, and to not modify, cut, or hurt a part of me. Realizing that making that damage changes who I am.
February 7th, 2017 11:55pm
I believe that self harm is something that is very hard to control and could be even harder to find the issue behind it. But of course the first step in stopping is understand the problem and addressing it.
February 20th, 2017 5:49am
I am a former person who self harmed alot-for many reasons. I went to therapy and talked of why I self harmed and really dug into the deep reasons why. It really helped me. Do you feel there is underlying issues on why you self harm? That is the real answer you have to answer. Good luck on this
November 27th, 2017 7:23pm
You may be able to distract yourself from it, but I do not believe it can be entirely stopped until you face the root of the problem.
January 16th, 2018 7:10am
It's a controversial answer, but I think it's possible. I think that anything is possible, if you put your all into it. However, it is MUCH more difficult to stop without addressing the causes, because it's those underlying issues that are causing you to self-harm in the first place. Addressing the root of the problem will help dealing with self-harm and reducing it much easier, and possibly a higher chance of success of stopping. Addressing the issues is very tough, but personally, I believe it is worth it, if you want to stop self-harming. With discovering healthier distractions though, and being able to put them into place though, I believe it is possible to stop self-harming.
March 2nd, 2018 5:11am
No you can't. It is best to get help from a therapist and pysc MD.
August 3rd, 2021 3:10pm
No, without addressing the underlying issues, you cannot stop self harm. Maybe with enough will power, practising proper techniques, having support from others, and keeping in a safe environment (e.g. no harmful weapons, sharp objects, etc.), you can stop the physical act of self harm temporarily, but it is unrealistic to only rely on these methods if you want to completely eliminate the practise of self harm. For instance, it's unrealistic to stay away from places with sharp objects (e.g. the kitchen) in the long term. By addressing the underlying issues, you can work towards overcoming those issues and heal from them. And with that, overtime self-harm will be eliminated.