Self-Harm and Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone
Friday, September 13 2013 Jennifer Aline Graham
For self-harmers, cutting or burning or picking is a form of comfort. However, we also know that this is not a safe form of comfort or a coping skill that should stick around. We know that these behaviors are not only hurtful to our bodies, but also hurtful to our minds. Every time a mark is made, your mind becomes frenzied with thoughts – I’m glad I did that. That felt great. Wait, am I glad I did that. I feel much better. Did that really help me? All of a sudden, anxiety rises once the euphoric feeling disappears and that is what leads to more negative behaviors being thought about.
When I used to cut myself, I would make a mark and feel completely at ease. However, like I’ve mentioned before, that feeling only lasted so long until regret or disappointment followed. Maybe for some people, they don’t feel either of those emotions after they’ve harmed themselves. However, I’m pretty sure some people do.
So, how can you break out of your negative comfort zone and jump into a positive one?
Take One Step at a Time
Talking to a therapist was definitely a giant leap outside of my comfort zone during my self-harming years. It was painful to talk to someone about what was going on inside my crazy mind and, like many teenagers, I didn’t like the stereotypical idea of seeing a shrink. However, after taking that leap, it took more and more smaller steps until I had gone from my self-harming comfort zone into a new, healthy one. I discovered my coping skills and started actually using them. Of course, I’d look over my shoulder at my old comfort zone and take a few steps back, but after some time – I made it.
It has been five years in this comfort zone and I’m not taking steps back anymore.
However, it is harder than it seems – we all know that. Since then, I’ve looked over my shoulder, but never have I stepped back. Why? Because I’ve created a new challenge for myself.
Now that I blog about self-harm, I challenge myself to talk openly about the topic – something I have a difficult time doing. I can easily write about self-harm, whether in blogs or books, but when it comes to verbalizing about my past – I freeze. However, I know that by opening up about my past, I can help someone make their cutting part of their past too.
Instead of keeping my past to myself, I’m working on being open about it and that is one heck of a leap outside of my comfort zone.
It’s hard, sometimes, to decide where you’re going to start when it comes to change. It’s especially hard when the change you’re about to do isn’t something you’re 100% set on. By stepping outside your personal boundaries, you will prove to yourself that it is possible to do anything you set your mind to.
Some ways to step outside your negative comfort zone and find a positive one:
- Talk to a therapist. It’s always tough to get the courage to make the call and set your mind to it. However, once you’ve stepped foot in the therapist’s door, you’ll feel better on the way out.
- Do something out of the ordinary. Hike a mountain or swim across a lake. Go to a yoga class or join a book club. Heck, go ask that cute guy out in grad class. I’d call that going outside your boundaries.
- Start a blog. I was terrified when I started blogging about self-injury because it was putting my secret past out there for the world to see. If you don’t call that stepping out of your comfort zone, I don’t know what is.
- Get out of your house or room. Instead of going to your bedroom to do homework after school or to your apartment after work, go somewhere different. Change your surroundings because even that could change your mindset into a more positive one.