Why Do I Feel Like Hurting Myself When I'm Mad?

September 15, 2022 Kim Berkley

If you've ever asked yourself, "Why do I feel like hurting myself when I'm mad?" know that you are not alone.

I Used to Hurt Myself When I Was Mad

The typical mental picture of someone who self-harms is someone who feels sad or hopeless. Maybe they're crying; maybe not. It's not entirely inaccurate—I was often that person, back when I self-harmed—but it's not always right, either.

Sometimes when I felt like hurting myself, I was mad. Usually, it was because the person I was mad at was me. I was angry with myself for not being who I was "supposed" to be, the person I thought I should be. I was frustrated that I'd fallen short of expectations—expectations which were usually my own and often unrealistic.

I hurt myself to punish myself, but also because it was easier to hurt physically than emotionally. Anger, just like sadness or fear, can be overwhelming. Self-harm can sometimes seem like your only option to vent anger that you might feel you have no other outlet for.

If You Feel Like Hurting Yourself When You're Mad, Try These Things

The thing to remember is that self-harm is not your only option. There are other, healthier ways to express your anger.

I've found the following more helpful than hurting myself when I'm mad:

  • Journaling about my feelings until I reach a more balanced state of mind
  • Creating art that expresses my anger
  • Singing along to angry music until I begin to get tired of it—then gradually listening to happier tunes until I'm calmer
  • Talking it out with someone, especially if it was their behavior that made me angry in the first place
  • Taking a bath or shower and visualizing myself "washing away" my frustration
  • Writing out why I'm angry and then listing things I can do to either correct the situation or manage my feelings about it
  • Getting some shut-eye; sometimes, a good night's sleep really does change my perspective for the better

These are just a few ideas; feel free to experiment with others if you like. What works for me will not necessarily work for you, but I hope it will at least provide a good place for you to start trying things.

If you're struggling with anger, frustration, or any overwhelming feelings—and especially if you're hurting yourself to cope—one more thing I would urge you to do is to reach out for help. Ideally, you'll be able to work with a mental health professional who can provide invaluable support throughout your healing process. If not, however, know that even reaching out to a trusted friend or family member can make a big difference in your life and help you change things for the better.

Whatever you decide to try, the most important thing is simply to begin. The sooner you start, the sooner you can begin to heal.

APA Reference
Kim Berkley (2022, September 15). Why Do I Feel Like Hurting Myself When I'm Mad?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, September 23 from

Author: Kim Berkley

Find Kim on Instagram, Facebook and her blog.

August, 17 2023 at 8:04 pm

This was a big problem for me in college. I was overwhelmed in my coursework and when I struggled with my math homework, I would literally slam my textbook against my head or stab my thigh with pens until I calmed down.

August, 14 2023 at 2:06 am

I also struggle with the same every time I get angry and I don’t know what to do I hate crying so when I get angry I find object and I cut myself I once used a broken mirror to slice my hand till I was bleeding badly or I would use knife scissors and if I don’t find any object I would use my hand to peel my skin unitl it bleeds I don’t feel the pain when I do it however it kicks off after a few days and I began to regret it recently I had a fight with my mom and I was so mad at her I couldn’t help it so I took a scissors and I sliced both my fingers till I was bleeding badly I didn’t feel a thing while I was doing it but now it’s kicking off and I feel the pin I wanna stop I don’t enjoy doing it but I can’t control my emotions and I don’t know how to handle them and the best options for me is to hurt myself am currently going through a breakup and recently I lost my brother it’s being rough and hard for me every time I try to be strong for my family but deep down am depressed sometimes I sit down and I have this urge to end it all but I don’t want to because I can’t allow my mom to lose another child again

August, 23 2023 at 6:07 pm

Hi Ayeba,
I am sorry for you going through so much right now. Please bear in mind that better times will come, even if it doesn't look like that at all at the moment.
If you feel overwhelmed and are really angry, and your urge to self-harm comes, try to pour cold water from a tap or shower over your arms and body parts where you would usually hurt yourself.
Maybe listening to certain music can help you too, i know some people who listen to Heavy Metal when they're angry and it helps them calm down.
In general, try to talk to someone about your problems, maybe a close friend or a therapist, there are also phone hotlines and online chats.
I wish you better times and always remember: you are loved and you are a great person!

Miss D
August, 12 2023 at 7:40 pm

For everyone struggling...we've been through worse. Tomorrow will be better. Breathe deeply.

July, 29 2023 at 1:37 am

I am struggling with this. I just burned my ankles with a lighter because i was so anger i had these uncontrollable urges to cause physical pain. I don’t know how to start looking into a mental health professional i’m so intimidated.

August, 23 2023 at 6:09 pm

Hi Dan,
Depending on where you live, there are often government websites where you can find links, addresses and phone numbers that can help you find a therapist.

July, 23 2023 at 3:00 pm

I thought I was the only person who did this... Every time I get mad, especially when I'm mad AT someone, I have to desperately fight the urge to hurt myself. This only ever makes it harder to handle my emotions, and doesn't always work. I have hit my thighs l, my knees, and the sides of my skull on several occasions. I thought I was crazy because I couldn't get mad without wanting to hurt myself. I couldn't make mistakes without needing to punish myself for it... I never realized it might be because processing physical pain is easier for me than processing anger...

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