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When I'm angry, why do I always feel the need to hurt myself?

315 Answers
Last Updated: 02/08/2022 at 12:56pm
When I'm angry, why do I always feel the need to hurt myself?
★ This question about Self-Harm was starred by a moderator on 5/12/2016.
1 Tip to Feel Better
United States
Moderated by

Tracy-Kate Teleke, M.A., LMFT

Marriage & Family Therapist

I assist adults and couples in CA experiencing relationship challenges and interpersonal struggles including anxiety, depression, and a myriad of other life challenges.

Top Rated Answers
Anonymous - Expert in Self-Harm
November 21st, 2014 8:39pm
You feel everything is your fault. You cannot take it out on the other person so you take it out on yourself. You hate yourself for what you've done, so you feel the need to hurt yourself.
Anonymous - Expert in Self-Harm
December 25th, 2014 7:08am
Many people turn to self harm as a form of control when they are experiencing something they feel they are unable to control, such as intense emotions.
Anonymous - Expert in Self-Harm
December 7th, 2014 7:11am
Often when we are experiencing extreme emotions such as anger, we may feel the need to do something which allows us a moment of calm or relief. Sometimes hurting oneself results in a release of endorphins or "happy hormones" which give us this relief.
- Expert in Self-Harm
November 21st, 2014 10:09pm
My self-harm was also very tied in with anger. For me, I did not allow myself to express my anger outward, and I invalidated my feelings to an extent that I didn't think there was even any reason to talk about things because they 'weren't real'. Also, I did not express my feelings/distress in a healthy and frequent manner so they built up to a point where I was going to explode at someone - and it was either myself or others. Because I felt it was unacceptable to throw things or hit people, I hurt myself (which I considered a better or totally fine solution). It took a long time for me to re-learn how to manage distress and anger, but one of the first and most important things I tried (for me) was journaling and drawing and seeing a counselor. Those three things gave me private places to express and explore my feelings. I still got angry and hurt myself for a while (I had to learn DBT and CBT skills before I really recovered) but verbalizing my feelings and exploring where they originated was a critical first step to understanding what was going on in my head and heart.
Anonymous - Expert in Self-Harm
May 21st, 2018 6:57pm
Personally, I do it because I like the pain, and it keeps me grounded when I’m angry. Instead of hurting others physically, i do it to myself and just say hurtful things.
June 19th, 2015 7:41pm
I struggle with this sometimes on a daily basis. I would want to take my anger out on myself because I didn't want to burden anyone with my problems or my anger itself. I would feel guilty for having people try to help me.
December 20th, 2014 4:07am
Well, multiple reasons, one has to do with control. When we feel we have to control over our lives and the direction it is headed, we self-injure as a way to take perceived control, as in "I can control what I do with my own body at least." But that idea is a façade. You are actually losing control when you self-injure. Another reason has to do with not having a coping mechanism to deal with a flood of overwhelming emotions. The concept of cutting when in pain is actually more universal than one might think. A lot of tribal cultures self-mutilate after the death of a loved one to show that they are grieving. I think that people want the internal pain to match their external. It's a way of crying out for help. But it isn't healthy. It's an endless cycle. When you self-mutilate you create a permanent reminder of your pain - and then looking at the scars will take you back to the same state - as in, "oh my, I can't believe what I did to myself" and make you want to cut again because you can't contain the guilt that you feel - when instead you should focus more on the positives and not sink into the cycle. Once you start, it can be very difficult to stop. I suggest finding alternative/healthy coping mechanisms, such as writing as a form of release, or exercising when you feel depressed, or any other hobby that sparks passion in you and that you find stress-relieving. It helps more than you know. Take that emotion and direct it toward something more productive and healthy that you can feel good about.
July 25th, 2015 4:24pm
Self-harm releases hormones known as endorphines - which reduce the sensation of pain, relieve stress in the body, reduce blood pressure, boost self esteem and simultaneously act as a trigger for positive feelings within both the body and brain (like morphine).
July 12th, 2015 5:11pm
Because you feel helpless, that no one can help, therefore you hurt yourself, because you need somebody to listen, to care and by hurting yourself you feel that you will get the attention you need to help you deal with the emotions and problems you are having to deal with.
November 22nd, 2014 11:08am
You feel like punishing yourself for something or you want to release all that anger on something so you decide to hurt yourself. but honestly, it will lead you nowhere. hurting yourself will only affect you, no one else
July 30th, 2015 10:38pm
Depression and anger are linked. It's possible that your anger is actually sadness. Another thing might be that you feel guilty for being angry. It's is perfectly ok to be angry. It is just another emotion.
December 18th, 2014 4:30am
I guess its because when we are angry we tend to do things on impulse. And sometimes we feel like the anger on the inside has to be taken out and thus we hurt ourselves physically. I guess its because when its taken out physically, we feel like its something we can control. The things that make us angry might be things we cannot control, such as family problems, self-hate and such.
July 17th, 2015 10:58am
You feel everything is your fault. You cannot take it out on the other person so you take it out on yourself.
December 31st, 2015 6:01pm
Because that's how frustrated you are. But please don't do it anymore. I don't know you but I do know you're beautiful!
August 6th, 2015 6:01pm
To release the pain because you can find no resolution and you're so built up with rage at that time therefore you inflict pain on yourself to let out your anger.
November 23rd, 2014 8:03pm
Sometimes I do it for the pain, either because I want feel numb and just want to feel something, or simply to punish myself. Sometimes I am comforted by the sight of my own blood .. I wasn't allowed to cry when they were younger, and blood has replaced tears for me, or it is otherwise symbolic somehow of "getting rid of the pain." For people who are victims or survivors of physical or sexual abuse or molestation, it may be a way to "reclaim" their body, a pain that they can control, or a way to stop flashbacks or keep myself from dissociating.
August 31st, 2015 7:00pm
you may feel there need to hurt yourself because you dont know were to turn to for help as you feel lost /trapped
June 11th, 2015 3:43am
In my experience with self-harm, I believe that one needs to hurt themselves when angry because it's an easy release to quickly calm oneself down. It can become an impulse. The uptight feeling of being angry needs to escape somehow, so I think that's why some people self-harm.
November 21st, 2014 6:54pm
it's a way to cope with feelings. feeling physical pain can help you feel more real, more in control of your body, calmer (there is also a biological explanation for this connected with endorphine release). it's also a way for showing what you're feeling inside on the outside.
June 26th, 2015 3:58pm
Anger is the worst enemy to your soul. One might be angry due to several reasons. But, it eventually leads to bad situations. It blocks your positive thoughts, your mind and it disables you to think clearly. So, you see life as some in vain opportunity. You feel like a loser due to all this. You shall start to compare your life with others. So, you start harming yourself.
May 22nd, 2017 5:05am
Sometimes people hurt themselves as a way to focus their anger, some people do it so others may be able to see their pain and help them, and others do it because they feel that they need to be punished for something. If you are doing this, you should seriously consider seeking professional help. Stay safe.
July 16th, 2015 8:19pm
When you're angry, and have to keep it to yourself, your impulse may be to harm yourself to take out your anger, as a way of expressing the emotion you are forced to repress. Self-harm is a serious problem for many adolescents & adults, but the good thing is that self-harm can be overcame with positive coping methods.
January 4th, 2015 6:21am
when youre feeling certain emotions, they can seem like theyre out of control. self harm is a negative coping skill that can often bring back that feeling of control. however, you could also be using it as a punishment for feeling those emotions.
July 16th, 2015 4:03pm
Only you can know the answer to why you feel the need to react that way, but you don't have to do that to yourself. Your body is important, strong and beautiful. When you're angry try to figure out what's going on inside instead of taking it out on yourself. You deserve better for yourself
August 15th, 2015 1:53pm
Anger is such a hard emotion to deal with, and often one that we are taught to suppress instead of express in productive way! The problem with suppressing anger is that it builds up inside and can create a lot of tension and confusion within yourself. Anger, and all emotions, need to be expressed somehow! With anger though, it can be one of the most intense emotions, and without knowing how to deal with it, it can become very internalised and many peoples only technique in dealing with it is to harm themselves as a sort of release! It is not wrong that you think this way, it is natural to want to clear yourself of the pent up anger, but there are definitely more safe and productive ways, they just need to be learnt and tried! And thats where out beautiful listeners can come in, alongside any further professional help that may be necessary to teach you how to express your emotions safely!
August 12th, 2015 4:30am
One reason is because you feel the need to show physical pain to release your emotion, but you cant hurt anyone else, so you decide that the best person to hurt is yourself.
August 8th, 2015 5:07pm
We know hurting others is out of the question, yet we have to channel the anger somewhere. We hurt ourselves because we think it's better for us to get hurt than somebody else. In other words, we are just being super kind to others when we can't control our emotions. When feeling angry, it is important to remember that we have to take care of ourselves no matter what and no one would wish for us to get hurt whatever the circumstances.
July 12th, 2015 8:12pm
Angry is usually a function of lack of perceived control over a situation. Harming ourselves is something that we do that allows us to feel totally in control of the situation, the actions involved and the outcome.
June 19th, 2015 4:51am
It's a way to canalize your pain. You rather feel physical pain than emotional/psychological pain because you feel that you can't handle your thoughts anymore.
July 4th, 2015 4:42am
Well you feel like that because you need to get your emotions out, but it's not the best thing to do.