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 2024, July 21 from

Author: Kim Berkley

Find Kim on Instagram, Facebook and her blog.

June, 28 2024 at 10:26 pm

I’ve been doing sh since i was 8, so it’s been really hard to quit. The best advice is probably to sleep so i hope this helps, i don’t really know what to say.

July, 15 2024 at 4:35 am

I'm 15 and yesterday my mom did a few things that angered me and instead of talking to her about it like a civilized human being, I was off the charts out of line. I was very disrespectful, I was very upset with myself, so I started praying to God that he would take me away from my family because they're good people who don't deserve an awful daughter. I often slapped or pinched myself when I was mad and there was a time where I didn't put on body cream after a shower because I knew it would really harm my skin and hurt me because I had sensitive skin and then yesterday, I took a nail clipper and glided the sharp part against my skin so I can feel the pain of the mistakes I made. And since the age of twelve I would pray that God would take me away so that I wouldn't make mistakes anymore. I'm not suicidal and I don't want to be a horrible person. But often times I let my emotions get the best of me, and I tried to go to sleep to calm myself and I'm awake and certainly calmer but I'm feeling this abundance amount of guilt. And I'm now avoiding my mom afraid I'll mess up or again or that I'll never be loved again. I no longer have any idea on what to do.

July, 17 2024 at 1:44 pm

Hi Z,
I'm the Blog Manager here, and I want to address your comment.
First, I'm so sorry you're feeling such distress right now. I want you to know that no matter what mistakes you make, you do not deserve to be physically harmed because of them. It's great that you want to be a good person, but everyone slips. None of us are perfect, and we all deserve patience when that happens. You also deserve love no matter what mistakes you make.
It's normal for your emotions to get the best of you sometimes. It happens to teens a lot because they're growing, changing, and maturing, but it happens to adults too! Please know that a huge amount of guilt probably hurts more than it helps.
It sounds to me like you have some pretty tough things to work through. You should talk to an adult that you trust about what's happening. That might be a parent, or it might be another adult in your life who is supportive and nonjudgmental.
You could also reach out to a professional for help. You could talk to a school counselor, for example. They may be able to help you deal with the emotions you're having more effectively.
You may also want to connect with this resource:
SAFE (Self-Abuse Finally Ends) Alternative
Information Line
800-DONT-CUT (366-8288)
Also, remember, you can call 9-8-8 any time to talk to someone. You don't have to be suicidal to call. They may point you toward additional resources.
You're dealing with some difficult emotions right now, but you don't have to do it alone. I've been where you are, and I promise that reaching out in one or more of the above ways can help.
-- Natasha Tracy

May, 8 2024 at 9:55 pm

Hi! I'm 14 and I, for some random reason, always feel the need to hurt myself when I'm mad. I don't even need to be mad at myself, just angry in general. I don't believe that I'm suicidal but I just wanna slap, punch, or cut myself when I'm mad. This has been a feeling that I have felt (When angry) for years now. Even when I was, like, 8 years old. Which is concerning to me. Does anyone else relate or is it just me?

May, 1 2024 at 7:39 am

Hi I'm 15 and I have severe anger issues that I can't control. I don't know why I am like this but when I am super mad I like to punch myself in the head repeatedly until I pass out and I sometimes slam my head against the wall. I used to cut but I try not to. I would just take scissors and you know, snip snip. I think this started when I was younger- around 12 years old. I always thought about sh but now I actually do it. I wish I had never started because once you start you can't go back. It's like a one-way road. There is no way you are going back to where you started.

Em Chu
January, 20 2024 at 5:22 pm

I slap myself in the face when I lose a sports bet. Then I keep telling myself, “ I’m so stupid!” Can anyone relate to this?

January, 8 2024 at 3:12 am

Hi I'm S, female and 16 I started sh a year ago reaching two. I remember the first time I had been wanting to do it for years but I didn't then I did. I did it on my thighs cause I didn't want anyone catching me though my sister did and used it as blackmail. I used to do it daily and when I felt overwhelmed or mad but know I do it even when I don't feel happy or sad but I still wanna do it it's like a craving you could say or an addiction. I don't have anyone to talk to my mom's an alcoholic so not the best and if she found out I'm going homeless, my father passed when I was young, my siblings you can see why, my mother hates our family so we don't talk to them, and I have social anxiety so I don't talk to anyone at school too much i did have a bff but she want to a different school she doesn't know she was one of the main reasons I wouldn't sh but know we barely talk. Also thanks to my mom I have trouble expressing my emotions, can't cry, have panic attacks, and super insecure. I think I just might join the army next year.

February, 28 2024 at 11:02 pm

hi S! im 20 years old, my dad passed when i was younger so i grew up with just my mom and my brother (who i had to parent) and you are the same age as him which is why i felt inclined to reply. i have been struggling with self harm and other issues since as long as i can remember. i think that unfortunately you, much like me, have some sort of addiction gene that kind of makes this whole thing more intense. truthfully i can only say that this is a very difficult thing to go through and that you are not alone. corny but true! i personally find it easier to interact with people online through like discord servers and such because well its good to have people to talk to! i also think that journaling and writing out how u feel (even if it doesnt make much sense) can also help and if youre worried about someone finding it and using it as blackmail its also (in my opinion) nice to watch the paper burn after writing everything out (SAFELY BURN IT) i dont know who you are but nobody deserves to suffer in silence and i really hope and wish that one day you will feel relief and be clean of any sort of self harming. i send love to you angel !

May, 4 2024 at 3:48 pm

I want to be friends, i can relate to this. if you need a friend or just a vent buddy comment back 🫶🏽

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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