Self-Talk is Crucial in Stopping Self-Harm

May 7, 2014 Jennifer Aline Graham

When I was working at a residence for youth with mental illness, every day was a struggle. Not only were the youth struggling to stop their negative behaviors, but I, too, was learning to push away my past and work on helping the future of others by using past experience.

We would often focus on coping skills that were necessary to move past these urges. Yes, I know I talk about coping skills like a broken record, but once you know the positive ways to redirect yourself, it becomes a little easier to sway away from the sharp objects around you. We always hear about the common coping skills: listening to music, going for a walk or writing in a journal.

However, one coping skill that has always stuck out in my mind is self-talk.

Many people think that self-talk makes you seem a little crazy – talking out loud to yourself to find positive ways to get through a situation. In truth, we all to this and usually we do this in our brains. However, sometimes it helps to hear your voice. It makes the situation real and allows you to see the world around you through a clearer lens.

Self-Talk Means Asking Yourself Questions

It’s hard to stop yourself, step back and think about what you’re about to do, especially when you have a plan. Self-harmers tend have a battle in their brain and when the evil wins over the good, the next step is self-injury. However, it’s important to stop the war and look at the battlefield before making your next move.

How can you get to a safe place? Where can you go to step out of the war zone? Do you need to be fighting in the first place? It's important to stop and ask yourself questions before turning to self-harm. Self-talk can be the coping skill that stops your self-harming behaviors.

Just by asking yourself some questions, you are beginning to re-think the mark you want to make. By taking a look at the big picture, you may start to realize that by cutting or burning or head banging, you will only feel relief for a short period of time.

If you are someone working to overcome these urges, these questions can be the change of heart needed to stop yourself from self-harming.

Self-Talk: What Are Some Questions That You Can Ask Yourself?

Self-talk is important and it takes asking the right questions to get you to a safer place. By making a list of these questions, or putting post-its near the sharp objects you typically reach for when urges strike, you may be able to step back and see the big picture.

Here are some self-talk questions you can try out when you are about to make a mark:

  • Why do I feel the need to hurt myself?
  • What happened to make me feel upset, frustrated or angry?
  • What can I do instead of harming my body?
  • How great does it feel when I do something positive instead of using self-harm?
  • What have I done to ease these emotions before?
  • Where can I go from here?

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APA Reference
Aline, J. (2014, May 7). Self-Talk is Crucial in Stopping Self-Harm, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 19 from

Author: Jennifer Aline Graham

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