Today is Self-Injury Awareness Day. In the traditional sense, self-injury is considered to be when someone cuts, burns, scratches, or bruises themselves. Usually, people do this as a way to deal with the emotional pain they feel from life’s stresses.
You may be wondering just how someone could do this. Most of the time, you try to avoid pain, right?
Well let’s take a journey to try to really understand what’s going on.
Think of something in your own life that you regret doing or saying the way you did. Go on. I’ll give you a minute to think about it. It could be telling your son or daughter that they were a disappointment. It could have been when you had to fire someone. It could have been the time you were drunk and cheated on your partner just because you’d had a bad day.
Now, think about how that makes you feel even now, about something in the past. Does it make you feel sick to your stomach that you actually did that? Does it make you feel like you could have handled it differently, but now you’ve left a mark that you just can’t take back and heal?
When it happened, did you beat yourself up? Did you withdraw from your family? Did you shrug off compliments because you didn’t feel worthy? Did you have a constant ticker tape flowing through your mind of negative comments like, “You are a terrible person. How could you do that? You’re no good.” Did the stress from the situation make you physically sick?
What would you have done to have gotten rid of that pain? Anything? Climbed a mountain? Done community service? Written a big check to charity? Cried and begged forgiveness? Given yourself a pay cut to keep from having to let someone go at the holidays?
Pain, both physical and emotional, is real. Everyone has their own way of dealing with it, both healthy and unhealthy. Self-injury is an unhealthy way of coping with those feelings, often because nothing else has worked or no one else was around to listen and help them process through a stressful situation.
For those who cut, or burn, or scratch, that physical pain is how they relieve themselves from those feelings. It doesn’t sound fun, does it?
It’s not. There’s a lot of loneliness and isolation felt by those who self-injure, even if they live in a house full of people.
If you widen the definition of self-injury, you could include smoking, drinking, drugs, driving fast, having unsafe sex, keeping yourself isolated from others, eating too much, starving yourself, or constantly engaging in negative self-talk. Anything that tears you down, doesn’t help you to heal, and keeps you from being the best you can be could be classified as self-injury.
Using that definition, nearly everyone has hurt themselves in one way or another.
In honor of Self-Injury Awareness Day, I hope you’ll join me in taking a vow to be kind to yourself. No more self-injury, be it physical or emotional.
No more beating yourself up for things you have tried to amend. You did your best.
No more beating yourself up when others have chosen not to forgive you. That’s on them.
No more torturing yourself for someone else’s unkind actions. You didn’t make that choice.
No more purging in the bathroom to get rid of your guilt. Slowly savor the flavors of life.
No more feeling isolated and alone. Reach out and connect. (Social media can count.)
No more hiding inside. You can get outside and take a walk, even if you are fighting tears every step of the way.
No more cuts. Learn to knit or sew and attach things together instead.
No more bruises. Allow yourself to feel someone’s arms wrapped around you in a hug.
No more burn marks. Bask in the sunshine and let it fill you with peace.