A Safe Place for Cutters Blog


Managing Urges Part 7: If All Else Fails…Take the Bull by the Horns
July 11, 2009, 12:50
Filed under: Borderline Personality Disorder, Coping Skills, self-harm, Tools

FearSometimes it’s just better to dive in and face a problem head on. What stops us is the fear of it. But ironically, when you face a fear head on you actually make it smaller.

It’s like when I did a fire walk once. The very thought of it was terrifying. But when I walked fast with my focus on my waiting friend at the end I made it without a singe. The people that burned their feet were the ones who hesitated and did not keep their eyes on the goal. Now when I picture a fire walk I am reminded of the fun I had doing it and no longer feel any fear at the thought of it.

The point I am trying to make is that the fears you harbor grow but when you take measures to deal with them directly they become smaller because they lose their power and dominion over you.

The following list of fear fighters by Paige S* are an excellent start for managing the siren call to cut. Much of what she suggests has to with journaling, a practice that I highly recommend.
Feeling: Upset, Lonely, Depressed, Frustrated
Method: Mirror Time
Description: Sit down in the bathroom and look at yourself and start talking. Who can understand what you’re going through better than you? Talk through the problem and do a little self-counseling!

Feeling: Upset, Depressed, Frustrated, Creative
Method: Journal
Description: Keep a journal? Either on VF, another website, or just a notebook under your bed? Then whip it out (or sit down on the comp) and write about what’s going on. It doesn’t have to be Hemingway material, but focus on getting your point across.

Feeling: Upset, Angry, Frustrated, Depressed, Lonely
Method: Write It Out
Description: Take out your notebook and get ready to be honest. If you could say anything in the world to someone, what would you say? Now say it. Write it all down. There are no limits here, no restraints. Tell your mom how she makes you feel insecure, or ask your dad why he never said he was proud of you. Let your friend know that she acts like a jerk around other people. Everything you’ve been holding in or thinking about–let it out. When you’re finished, rip that thing up into a zillion (yes, one zillion) pieces and throw them away.

Feeling: Upset, Angry, Frustrated, Depressed
Method: Self-Medication
Description: We all have someone in our life that we truly love. Think about them. Now imagine that they were in your situation. What would you tell them? Sometimes we have to follow our own advice.

Feeling: Upset, Frustrated, Depressed, Lonely, Angry
Method: Strike A Match
Description: This is a long-term activity and one that you can do every week. Whenever you get upset or frustrated or hurt–write it down on a slip of paper. Then fold it up and put it in a box or container or envelope; it doesn’t matter what it is as long as you can keep them all together. You can also write down your insecurities or fears. At the end of the week, get your slips together and head outside. Don’t forget to grab a book of matches or a lighter, too. Find a quiet place and sit down. Now, clear off a spot where you can start a small fire (safety first!). Then take out your slips. Read them, say them aloud, or just burn them. Either way, don’t stop until there’s nothing but ashes left. Let this symbolize letting go. You don’t have to worry about it anymore.

Feeling: Upset, Frustrated, Depressed, Lonely, Angry
Method: Pros and Cons
Description: This is where you actually sit down and think about what you’re doing. Get out a notebook and divide a sheet of paper into two columns. One is for the pros (good things) and one is for the cons (bad things). Now, think about what you want to do. If it’s self-harm, smacking your sister up side the head, sneaking out, whatever. Now write down the benefits of doing this, the good things. Now, write down the consequences. Sit back and reread what you’ve written. I guarantee that 99% of the time, you’ll find that a negative behavior will have far too many negative consequences to be a healthy choice.

Feeling: Upset, Frustrated, Depressed, Lonely, Angry
Method: Projection
Description: This is something that I do quite often when making a decision. Before you act, think about what you would want your hypothetical child to do. Would you want your son/daughter to stay with their cheating mate? Would you want him/her to self-harm? Would you want them to scream at you and then slam the door and stay out all night? If it’s something you wouldn’t want for them, you shouldn’t allow it in your own life.

Feeling: Upset, Frustrated, Depressed, Lonely, Angry
Method: To Be Free
Description: Take out a sheet of paper and a pen. Now, write down all the things you can do without SI that you can’t do right now. Wearing a tank top to school without feeling self-conscious. Being honest to your parents when they ask what’s wrong. No worrying about infection. Write it all down. Now, keep it somewhere close by. The next time you have an urge, pull it out and look at it. Do you want to sacrifice those things? Is it worth it?

Feeling: Upset, Frustrated, Depressed, Lonely, Angry, Aggressive
Method: Therapy / Counseling
Description: You cannot win every battle on your own. And part of being strong is knowing when to ask for help. So talk to your parents about going into therapy or counseling. Call and make the appointment yourself if you can. Start changing your life right now.

Feeling: Upset, Frustrated, Depressed, Lonely, Angry, Aggressive
Method: Breaking The Cycle
Description: Right now, this moment, get rid of your blades. Throw them into the nearest stream or trash bin. Let them go. If you can remove the temptation from your life, you can get one step closer to recovery. And a happy, healthy new life.

Feeling: Upset, Frustrated, Depressed, Lonely, Angry, Aggressive
Method: Time Capsule
Description: This is something I did when I was in 6th grade with a couple of my best friends. And it’s something YOU can do every year. Get a shoe box or plastic container (it doesn’t have to be huge) and sit down in your room. Write a letter to yourself. Write about the point you are right now in your life. Everything. And write about where you would like to be in six months or one year. Put in a picture of yourself. Add whatever else you’d like. Then find a spot in your yard and get to digging. Put that baby in there and leave it. In three, six, or twelve months, make a date with that shovel and dig it up. Think about how much you’ve changed. Then fill the box back up (or use another) to do the same thing. Continue that tradition.

Feeling: Upset, Frustrated, Depressed, Lonely, Angry, Aggressive
Method: I Overcame
Description: Keep a journal or log of every time you have overcome an urge to do something negative, whether it’s SI or something else. Now, when you have another urge, get that book out. Read what’s worked for you in the past and remind yourself that you CAN make it.

Feeling: Upset, Angry, Frustrated, Depressed
Method: Impulse Control Log
Description: Taken from Bodily Harm: The Breakthrough Healing Program For Self-injurers, this method is used to help you analyze the situation instead of just brushing it off. It will help you get to the root of your feelings. Just write this down on a sheet of paper. Or you can even start your own Impulse Control Log Journal. Then you can look back on how far you’ve come and perhaps notice some patterns in your behavior.

Next: Managing Urges at 3:00 AM.

To A Life Worth Living,

Foresteen Forbes, Psy. D.

*If you would like to be a member of my Facebook group “The Safe Place for Cutters,” please find me on Facebook and invite me to be your friend. Click here!

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