Why do I feel like I need to hurt myself in order to feel better?
Last Updated: 02/10/2020 at 12:37am
Sarah Archer, LMFT
Marriage & Family Therapist
As a Licensed MFT I work with clients to more effectively address, process and learn skills to manage the problems that prevent them from living the life they want.
Top Rated Answers
For me I never hurt myself to feel better about myself, I always cut myself because I hated myself more than anything in the world and I wanted to beat myself
The brain releases positive, comforting hormones when you hurt yourself physically, in order compensate for the bodily harm you've caused yourself. It becomes an addictive behavior, as time and time again the body will be hurt and the brain will release hormones that provide a small relief from emotional pain.
endorphins. adrenaline. the brain and neural system produces these hormones, which calms you down. this happens when a nerve or more is sending 'pain' signals to your brain. physical pain, not emotional ones.
In my expertise when we hurt ourselves we're looking for a way of feeling better, as you described. Some might call this a coping mechanism. We can all realise though that, while it does work (or else why would we do it), it isn't the best solution out there. So what we want is to find abs start using a 'healthy coping strategy'. I'm guessing you might already know a few breathing, mindfulness, grounding and safe place are just a few examples. But why do these techniques not come to us when we're that upset /why do they not work as well? They do work. I absolutely can say that these techniques work for a fair amount of people and there are lots out there so you might want to just keep trying and find the one (or ones would be better) for you. The issue with using a healthy coping strategy is 1. We need to be taught it. If we don't see someone using it or have someone explain it to us, we won't know about it. This isn't your fault. 2. The more we do something and see the benefits the more likely we are to keep doing that thing. This concept maintains both the behaviour of hurting yourself and keeps the new healthier behaviour at bay, which leads me to my 3rd point. Practice makes perfect. Healthy coping strategies can be perfected. The more you practice it, the more helpful it will be. Which is why I'd suggest starting when you're feeling anywhere from a bit down to great. In summary the more we practice and learn healthy coping strategies, the less likely it is that we'll feel the need to hurt in order to feel better. I really hope that helps. I know that not knowing what to do other than hurting yourself can be scary and confusing. The listeners at 7 cups are here for you though, to talk to, to lean on, celebrate your accomplishments with and to look for new ways to cope. I hope you feel better soon.
Sometimes people feel that by causing themselves physical pain, they will release the emotional pain inside them and as soon as the physical pain is no longer there, neither is the emotional pain. What you want to do is prevent this, because causing physical pain to yourself is obviously harmful. There is a brilliant self-help guide on this website which may help you. Instead of self-harming, try the other methods on there, e.g. writing a journal of your feelings, punching something soft like a pillow or an old teddy bear you don't really want anymore but you are being forced to keep because you have had it since your first birthday... anything soft, or marking yourself with a pen, rather than cutting. Hopefully you will get yourself to the point of feeling that you are releasing the emotional pain, without causing yourself any harm. I wish you the best of luck and certainly advise that you read the guide to find the best methods for you.
Self injury is an attempt to cope with difficulty. When overwhelmed with feeling or when feeling disconnected, self injurious behavior can be an attempt to feel stable and present once again. It is not crazy or abnormal - it is completely understandable. However, it often causes more problems than it solves. In my experience, self injury has been a coping method that has mirrored other mistreatment I have experienced in my life. When I can understand this, I know I have a choice not to engage in self harming behaviors.
Perhaps to feel a sense of control; it's you hurting yourself, not someone else. It could also maybe be if you feel worthless and you may feel like you deserve the pain.
Often times when someone hurts themselves to feel better, it is not really 'feeling better'. It is avoiding the feelings that are causing distress. By hurting yourself, it is likely that the physical pain that is caused lets you temporarily forget about the things that are hurting you emotionally. When you feel like hurting yourself, think about if it is realy going to make you feel better, or just allow you to escape from the negative feelings. You will likely realize that it will just allow you to escape from the feelings temporarily. Your best option is to talk with someone, a friend, family member, or listener here on 7 Cups.
Hurting yourself releases endorphins in your brain that make you feel good and happy and soon you become dependant on that feeling and it is the only thing that can make you happy.
This feeling is caused through grief and depression and low self esteem. it gives the illusion that you are not suppose to be comfortable and happy and it leads us to thinking we are better always sad and we deserve to feel pain due to problems being faced
If you go to a doctor and he takes a bit, maybe a bit more of blood, you will feel great. a funny great. Thats because with a bit less blood, your brain produces Dopamine and Serotonine, which makes you happy. With cutting its the same: you loose blood, and you feel better. Well, thats most of the part, the rest is psychology. You think you deserve pain, to make you feel better. Its complex, isnt it? :)
When you hurt your self you release a chemical that make you feel good, so when you inflict pain you will receive the chemical.
When I was in a situation, once, where I purposefully hurt myself, I did it because I had heard it numb the pain that people are feeling on the inside. After I did it, I felt better in one way but wrong in another. I felt wrong because I knew the numb feeling wouldn't last. I knew I needed professional help so that I not only start to feel better but I also am safe from myself.
When you feel hurt you may want to hurt yourself in order to feel like you are in control. I have a hard time letting people hurt me so I hurt myself instead to feel like it was me all along and not them.
Self harm can give a numbing effect similar to drugs and alcohol because of its intense feeling. It easily becomes an unhealthy coping mechanism when painful things come up. Self harm may in the moment make you feel better, but in the end it just makes things worse.
From experience I would say first of all it is something you can control. You can't control it when other people or situations hurt you, but when you hurt yourself it is your own choice and you feel in control of your pain. Secondly hurting yourself, especially physically, seems to temporarily numb the emotional pain you are feeling. Psychologically it may also be a way to "spite" those who hurt you and sometimes it may be a cry, not so much for attention, but a cry for help.
You are suppressing some issues that have hurt you deeply because it might seem overwhelming so you resort to self-harming. But it won't stop until you face your trauma.
the pain that you cause yourself is like a release it lets everything your struggling with come out
Because you don't want to feel only emotional pain. Emotional pain doesn't leave visible scars, and maybe you want to remember
Because yer hurt on the inside and yer want to feel that pain physically so youse hurt yourself in order to feel that pain and to feel good about yourself but the reality is yer just causing more pain which don't help
Basically the mentality of " It worked once; so it will work again." It's a coping mechanism; my brain believes that hurting myself will make me feel better because that's all it knows. In any situation where I am unclear of my emotions, or they're too much, my brain automatically goes to an unhealthy coping mechanism because it's how I have always made myself "feel better" when in reality, it only helps for the moment. It only relieves some of those feelings I couldn't express, but it does nothing for the long term situation I am facing. But in the moment, I'm not thinking of the future. Just now. It's an impulse.
Hurting yourself can be quick way to start feeling "alive". Having depression can block your emotions (you cant be happy, but arent sad either - just neutral all the time) and leaves you often empty. The pain you get from hurting yourself is a way to feel at least anything. Sometimes its also a way to cope with your bottled-up anger. You have the need to let your anger out and use yourself for that, even if the anger isnt against yourself. Another reason can be to express your feelings and watching the blood or bruises gives you some kind of "satisfaction". All in all there are many reasons people hurt themseves. But - of course: It's not the solution. You can stop hurting yourself by finding something else that gets you out of that "trance" you enter, when dealing with extrem emotions. A way to work that out is in therapy, where trained people with a lot experience can help you.
Human bodies are amazing; when we get injured our brain takes charge, and pumps out lots of chemicals that create healing. Some of these create a temporary state of euphoria, others create a numbness that many might welcome. So when I self-injured, I was "getting high." But like any other drug, it takes more and more to get the same feeling, until it goes too far. You may feel "better" but it's not a lasting better, only temporary. Some people self-harm simply to feel alive. I guess we have to keep in the front of our mind, like a giant neon sign, "This will NOT help you" in the long run. Just as an alcoholic might think just one drink will help them face their problems. Self-harm is often an addiction.
That’s not a question any of us can answer without further context. People often hurt themselves out of desperation. They are tired of feeling such intense emotional pain, so they turn to physical pain as a distraction. Another possibility is that you dislike yourself r feel guilty for things you’ve done in the past and so inflicting pain upon yourself acts as some sort of punishment. Even if you have done something wrong, even if you are dislikeable, hurting yourself is not a solution for anyone. Ultimately, you’re hurting yourself because something is wrong and you know no another way to fix it. But I assure you, there is another way. There are many other ways. Don’t know your specific situation, but the following things will help in almost all cases: Exercise - particularly team sports have been shown to release a huge amount of endorphins. Sleep - without adequate sleep (7–9 hrs for most people) you cannot hope to be in a healthy mental state. Sleep deprivation has even been shown to reduce IQ significantly, but it doesn’t end there. Lowered libido, low energy levels, significantly reduced serotonin levels, and so on. Diet - without a healthy gut flora you cannot have a healthy mind. The gut-brain connection is incredibly powerful - this is why you get butterflies when you fancy someone or feel nervous. There are more nerve endings in your gut than anywhere else in the body. I have first-hand experience with poor gut health and the weird mental darkness that would follow. I couldn’t understand where it was coming from. Nothing, in particular, would happen but I’d feel absolutely AWFUL. Social circle - you hear this one a lot. And for good reason. You need good people around you. Don’t hang around negative people. Get out of toxic environments ASAP. You need positive, uplifting people around you. If you have a great social circle already, lean on it. Get up and do things with the people you love. If not, it’s ok, we live in the best possible time to make new connections. Go on Meetup and join some groups. Find some local sports teams, join a book club etc. etc. Meditation - meditation has been shown to have higher efficacy in curing depression than medication. That’s not to say that medication is never needed. But rather, that we should try all other avenues before taking drugs. Meditation calms the mind like nothing else, bringing you to the present moment so you stop worrying about the mistakes of the past and worries of the future. It is a means to becoming a mentally centered and controlled. Don’t let your monkey mind control you. Get sunlight. We need quite a bit of vitamin D to feel happy and healthy. Stop consuming negativity in any form. No sad music, no sad/scary/angry t.v shows/films - same goes for books/plays/people/things. Create positivity all around you and you almost certainly will feel better. Say sorry to whomever you need to say sorry to. Let go. Realise we are all extremely insignificant in the grand scheme and so our worries are almost always not worth the time. Hope this helps! :) Good luck with your journey. Be well Xox -Kenzi
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