Strong, painful emotions are difficult to experience and process for most of us. The ground beneath us isn’t always certain, and we may resort to behaviors that we might not even consider self-harming, but they are.
These behaviors are things that we do in an attempt to lessen the pain that we are feeling, not realising that they are actually not helpful.
When us humans engage in behaviors to soothe our pain with harmful behaviours, we get caught in a cycle that becomes difficult to end or change.
As our world is changing, these behaviors are too. There are many ways that people reach out to cope.
On a societal and individual level, we can heal. Talking about this is the start. Education is power and knowledge leads to change.
Here are some behaviors to reflect upon and think about, in terms of your own health:.
We all know that exercise is the best antidepressant and anxiety buster; however, it can also be abused and when anything is done to the extreme, it can cause harm, depletion, and even physical injury.
We all have heard of the “runners high” exercise gives us, a huge surge of feel-good chemicals.
This promotes well-being, and it is really hard for many to imagine that an activity or behavior that is promoted and good can be detrimental.
Like all addictions, the behaviour or “drug” is used to regulate moods and develop a sense of control. Exercise, when used in a maladaptive way, can spiral into other issues such as restrictive eating and other disorders.
The question to ask is: Do I control exercise or does it control me? Do I feel like I can’t control my feelings and anxiety without excessive activity? Is exercise causing some harm to me in my life and are other people sharing their concerns? When our exercise becomes obsessive and negatively impacts our self-esteem, it might be time to talk to a therapist.
When we talk about a healthy lifestyle, human sexuality is important to mention. We are all sensual and sexual beings. Part of health is our sex drive and libido. When we have sex, like exercise, there is a chemical cocktail that our brain releases which makes us feel good and helps us bond with other humans. Sex can also be used to escape pain and can become unhealthy. This is another behavior that many might not consider a self-harming behavior. When the result is guilt, remorse, and shame, sex is hurting not benefiting. In relationships, sex can also be used to keep us in unhealthy relationships. When we engage in high-risk behaviors, we engage in self-harm, and if sex is part of this equation, we put ourselves at physical, emotional, and spiritual harm.
This has to be the most difficult behavior for people to deal with and change as we need food to live. Eating can be self-harm when we under or overeat, or if we eat food that isn’t good for us, or that we are allergic to. Again, this behavior can be linked to unhelpful feelings and can be used to “stuff” emotions or numb the pain. If we are eating or not eating as a result of “feelings,” we need to check in and find out why. Food is meant to nourish us and sustain us, but when it becomes a self-harm behavior, it can kill us.
Psychoeducation is power. What we do with this knowledge, in terms of behavioral change and healing, is up to us. It is never too late to heal or get help. SOS or signs of stress can trigger us and can activate painful feelings.
Right now, many are struggling and stressed due to world events, economic strain, relationship breakdowns, and illness. Some healing methods contribute to more anguish than peace, and some healers are not trustworthy and genuine in their approach.
There are many things that us humans do to reduce painful feelings and escape our present reality, which may negatively impact us and keep us “stuck.” This is just a small list to get you thinking.
It’s never too early or late to get help.
It is imperative that we start this discussion.
Can you be the change you wish to see?
The time is now.
Join the discussion and share behaviors that could be considered harmful. It is through talking that we can end the stigma, break the cycle, and let healing begin.