I love this site. It’s hard to stop cutting, especially when it’s the only way to deal with feeling really hopeless or worthless. For that reason, I wrote this. drawing a butterfly instead of cutting is a great start, but I want to provide an alternative for people who still feel the impulse or still have really terrible feelings.
Take out a pen and a piece of paper.
Write down the feelings that make you want to cut right now. (for example: worthlessness, guilt, embarassment, anger, etc.)
Write down the thoughts that you are having that led to those feelings. (for example: I’m a disappointment, everyone is mean and unfair, etc.)
Write down what, specifically, happened today to triger those thoughts. (for example: A group of girls from my school had a party I wasn’t invited to, and they prank called me from the party, etc.)
Now, take out a second piece of paper. Look at the thoughts (I’m a disappointment, everyone is mean and unfair) and think of specific examples when those things weren’t true. If you thought that you were a disappointment, write down times people were proud of you. If you thought that everyone is mean and unfair, write down times people have been nice to you. Then, if you think there is a more accurate way to describe what happened today, write that (for example: Sometimes I feel disappointed in myself. Today Molly was mean and unfair, etc.).
You have valid reasons to feel the way you feel, but sometimes our brains make it seem like EVERYONE is against us or that the feelings will last forever. Those things aren’t true, and by making yourself think of examples of times other people have shown us kindness or other times we overcame obstacles, we can remember that we don’t have to be afraid of our feelings.
Continue on your second piece of paper and think about things you have done in your life that you’re proud of. (for example: highjumping 5 feet, going to state in speech competition, taking care of your younger sister, rescuing a dog from the pound, etc.) Try to come up with at least 5.
Then make a list of positive personal qualities about yourself. (for example: you’re curious, a good listener, brave, etc.) Try to come up with at least 5. If you come up with more, think about which 5 are the most important to you and make the biggest impact. You don’t have to erase the others, but put stars next to the ones that best define you.
Everything you have written on this second piece of paper should be true. Once you have finished, read it again. You can read it as many times as you want.
Then look at the first page you wrote. The feelings were true. The things that happened were true. However, the thoughts you had might not have been true. As a symbol of letting go of the thoughts that were hurtful toward yourself and made you want to cut, destroy that first peice of paper.
When you want to cut, there’s an impulse to do something with your hands and to destroy something, and that impulse is turned inward when you cut. You become the victim of the destructive impulse. Now, you have a better victim: that piece of paper and all the negative events, thoughts, and feelings. If you want, you can use your cutting tools to shred the paper. If you have a fireplace or burn barrel, you can burn the piece of paper. If not, you can shred it, mix it with water and blend it in the blender, or whatever dramatic and creative way you can think of to destroy it. The more creative you are and the more thoroughly you destroy the paper, the more relief you’ll feel.
It may or may not be as relieving as self-injury, but if you do this every time you want to self-injure, you’ll learn a way to deal with your problems that won’t leave scars. Over time, you’ll also internalize the things you write on the second piece of paper, and it will become easier to remind yourself that you’re a good person.
Keep the second piece of paper. Every time you write a new one, keep those positive thoughts together. You could write them all in the same notebook. Every time you start to feel bad, you can pull it out and look at the record of things you’ve overcome and positive qualities about yourself. It takes a lot of reminding for people who cut to remember that they are good and worthy. Don’t feel bad about giving yourself this reminder.
In fact, if you do these things, I encourage you to take a picture of your destroyed piece of paper and submit it to this I’ll watch for them.