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Lists should be stored somewhere easy to find, such as on a phone, and it may be helpful to have different alternatives for work, home, social situations, or school.“You want to teach people how to live a productive, healthy life …If I was angry, the suggestions were to “get it out” by punching pillows, ripping magazines or throwing ice against a wall.Well, in short, drawing on my arms with red marker only increased my desire to see real blood and holding ice cubes didn’t hurt enough.Typically, the self-destructive behavior is just the symptom of deeper, untapped, and unresolved issues that have not been identified, processed, or healed.Although it's understandable that your love and concern get harnessed in an effort to “help” your partner, it actually can set you up for feelings of resentment, frustration, anger, and helplessness when all of your attempts inevitably don’t work.
Self-injury became my way of expressing extreme feelings of fear, anger, sadness, hopelessness, shame, and a complete loss of control.
Snap your wrist with a rubber band.” However, the most often-repeated options are not always the best, and that is certainly the case with these out-of-date self-injury alternatives.
In fact, it’s time to retire these self-harm substitutes altogether. The true purpose of a self-injury alternative creates a distraction long enough to find other ways to express feelings, or to simply let difficult emotions pass without inflicting harm.
“An alternative is really a distraction from the impulse so that the person can further process what they’re thinking, what they’re feeling, challenging their negative thoughts,” says Seliner.
“It’s just creating a window of opportunity so they can think through what other choices and options they have [and] helping them to be able to sit with that uncomfortable feeling, seeing that they can manage it without being self-destructive.” The key is building a pause, or window of opportunity, between overwhelming emotions and the impulse to self-injure through harmless distraction-based alternatives.
“Drawing on your arm with a red magic marker is going to do nothing but draw negative attention,” says Seliner. “More than half of the people who answered the poll who engage in self-injury, if they engaged in substitute behaviors, their impulses to injure actually increased.” Similarly, cathartic behaviors meant to release anger such as punching pillows, ripping newspapers or throwing ice against a wall do not serve their intended purpose to discharge negative energy, but rather further aggravate a person. “Recommending physical activity to people who feel this way is like throwing gasoline on a fire: it makes them more out of control rather than less.” “Anger is a secondary emotion and often times when you get underneath the anger you’ll find a different emotion, most commonly sadness, hurt, rejection, shame,” adds Seliner. Alternatives or the Self Injury Foundation work to educate people otherwise, the old methods are drowning out safer distractions.