I use pain to make myself feel better!

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I wanted to ask you this because it is starting to get really bad and out of hand…
When i think of something bad etc,Something sad,Stressfull,embaressing or something i do not like,I tend to hurt myself,Like biting my self or hitting my self at the minute i am punching myself hard in the face to make those things in my mind go away if its something really bad i might Cut myself. This happens everyday.

Just today i thought of something i wished never happened (Which didn’t) and punched myself hard in the side of my head to make it go away and then i thought of it again punching myself once again. Is this bad? It is starting to become really annoying and painfull but i cannot stop it.

Please help :(

A: Yes, this is bad. You have somehow learned that the way to cope with emotional pain is to hurt yourself physically. The trouble with the strategy is that it works. When a person is in physical pain, the body releases endorphins, a natural substance in the body that helps people feel a little better when they are hurt. Yes, it works. But no, it’s not a good thing. As you are already finding, you could do yourself serious damage.

I’m so glad that you wrote now — before this gets entirely out of hand. You need to see a counselor or therapist who can teach you other ways to feel better when you are sad, stressed, or uncomfortable. There are many, many other ways to cope with feelings besides doing yourself real physical harm.Your body doesn’t deserve to be mistreated by you. Your mind needs a few lessons to help you stop it.

You are smart and insightful. Some sessions with an experienced therapist will help you learn the strategies you need. You, not your emotions, need to be in charge of your life.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 7 Feb 2010

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2010). I use pain to make myself feel better!. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 28, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/02/07/i-use-pain-to-make-myself-feel-better/

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