Learning LIST-Learning


When someone is hurting themselves, it is not always an attempt to kill themselves.

Self-harm can be a way of both expressing and managing the physical and psychological pain you are experiencing. Many people say that self-harm serves a purpose, usually to do with the idea that feeling physical pain seems easier than dealing with intense emotional or psychological pain. Other people describe self-harm as a way of feeling something.

Self-harm can be quite controlled and deliberate with the specific purpose of causing pain and/or injury. Some forms of self-harm are easily hidden, such as over work, over-training, limiting food intake, or taking extreme risks.

Self harming behaviour is something to confront and address, even if, initially it not linked to an intention to kill yourself. Self-harming behaviours can escalate over time, as both tolerance and desire for pain increases. In some cases it can lead to permanent injury and disfigurement.

The difficulty is that self-harm often only works for a short period, when you are looking for more effective long term solutions that allow you to get on with your life.

Learning some techniques to tolerate and contain distress can be helpful alternatives to self-harm. The relaxation and mindfulness exercises in this app might work for you. Writing or drawing, talking with someone, setting and achieving small goals, and staying healthy can reduce distress.

It is useful to encourage yourself to ‘surf the urge – learn to ride the wave’.

Questions to consider:

  • Do you notice that the urge to self-harm is more present at some times compared to others?
  • Are there places or people that seem to decrease these thoughts and urges to self-harm?
  • How long do the urges last for?
  • If you can predict how long until the urge passes, it can make it seem more manageable.
  • If there are places or people who help the urge to self harm, how can you keep this awareness with you?