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Why Do I Do This?

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I recently came to the realization that all my life, since maybe 8 years old, I have been micro-harming my body. I bit my lips when I was younger, possibly the first of these occurrences. I would seriously go at them, biting and scabbing, never giving them a chance to heal. Then I remember biting/clipping off my cuticles. Something I’ve been doing for years is flossing WAY too hard, on purpose. I have floss sticks so I purposely make my gums bleed, literally cutting out parts of my gums (none of this is severe, all on a “micro” level like I said). Another one is always picking at my scalp, again purposely creating scabs and picking at them. Sorry for the graphics, but I am so curious as to why I am doing this. Is it a nervous release? Parents got divorced when I was 8, by the way.

Why Do I Do This?

Answered by on -


It could be a response to anxiety, as you have suggested. Perhaps that is what you meant by “nervous release.”

The fact that you are aware of these behaviors is great news. When you are aware of them, you can work to change them.

You might consider documenting how often these “micro harms” occur and what you are thinking about while they are happening. It might provide useful information about what precipitates or causes these events.

You might also find alternative ways to release your anxiety. Trying new behaviors might make a difference. The goal is to find alternative stress relieving behaviors that don’t involve self-harm.

Another idea is to consult a therapist to determine why anxiety may be present. They can also provide suggestions for new behaviors. Good luck and please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

Why Do I Do This?

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2018). Why Do I Do This?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 23, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 3 Dec 2018 (Originally: 6 Dec 2018)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 3 Dec 2018
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