Self Harm Cycle

Self Harm

A common strategy to reduce emotional overwhelm is to engage in the self harm cycle to support a sense of control and being able to function.

Self harm is a behaviour such as cutting, alcohol/drug use, eating issues, risky behaviour or over-spending which long term harms us in some way.

The self harm cycle

A way out

If you see your behaviour as a life raft keeping you from going under. Removing your life raft can be detrimental. Replacing a raft for another, less harmful, would be safer.

Photo by Jonas Ferlin on


A emotional check in

One way to stop the cycle (or needing a life raft in the first place), is allocating some time each day, perhaps 10 mins, to connect to your emotional body. This may be by noticing what’s going on in your physical body, where are you holding stress for example. Pay attention to your feelings or emotions. Feel them. They leave the body.

This begins to reduce the overwhelm and begins to slow the cycle. Eventually you will stop the cycle as noticing your emotions daily becomes part of your life style choice. Emotions and feelings no longer get ignored to the point they end up in overwhelm.

Finding healthier coping strategies than the self harm cycle will support stressful life events going forward (see Self Care).

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Need extra support in breaking the cycle?

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