A Safe Place for Cutters Blog

Trying to be Perfect Makes for Imperfect

A high school girl in my Facebook group, The Safe Place for Cutters, wrote:

“i haven’t cut in a really long time…for me, i was feeling so lost in life and the pain from cutting helped center me. i’ve finally learned that you have to love yourself or else nobody will ever be able to love you. i’m such a perfectionist and it has been so hard to let go of the perfect image that i had of my self, and to accept that i am not always going to be able to live up to my ridiculous expectations of myself, but now that i have, i feel liberated. i hope that all of you are able to find that place of acceptance within yourself…we’re all here for you, because we all are going through or have gone through something similar if not exactly the same as what you’re going through.
much love to all of you!”

Sometimes the members in my group say it so much better than I could ever say myself.

To A Life Worth Living,

Foresteen Forbes, Psy. D.


Is there such thing as Long Term Success for Cutters?
March 1, 2010, 10:26
Filed under: Uncategorized

I had the following conversation with a young lady on Facebook:

FB: … I wanted to ask whether you’ve had any long term success with your patients. I don’t mean those people who say they’re clean for, dunno…4 years or 18 months…I mean those, who seriously don’t even get the desire to cut anymore. And not just in stressful situations- but generally.
I was just wondering if this state even exists…

Have a nice day,

Dr. Forbes: I work w/ people w/ self harm behavior at a state hosp. Yes, I do see people get better which is why I love my job so much. Mostly it has to do with creating a validating environment.  I try to do the same with my private Facebook group and blogsite.

FB: It’s good to hear that it actually is possible to get better, or well normal again. I always thought it was about control. You know. Giving me the control – not the other way round!

In one sense, it is about control. You do have to develop internal controls to quit harming yourself and create new habits to replace the self-harm behavior.  But what really helps people to get to the place where they no longer desire to hurt themselves is to be nurtured by a validating environment. Individuals with self-harm behavior typically have grown up in invalidating environments that include; physical , sexual and emotional abuse. Deep down in your soul you feel that you are not loved or worthwhile.  A validating environment is one where you are made to feel that you really matter to someone and have a contribution to make to the world. This doesn’t give you control by itself but it is like fertilizer that gives you the strength to make it begin to happen.  You then become empowered to develop new tools such as  interpersonal skills, distress tolerance skills and emotional regulation.

*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!

No Matter What!
December 7, 2009, 11:07
Filed under: Uncategorized

Some of the individuals I work with that with self-harm behavior question if life is worth living. During such dark moments, it can be uplifting and inspiring to hear from people who have surmounted great obstacles.

This is why I highly recommend Lisa Nichols’ book, No matter What!

Lisa Nichols, is a living example of what it takes to overcome the inevitable impediments that come our way and come out the other side strong, graceful, and loving the life you’ve created for yourself. Her story is a testimony to the fact that anyone, no matter how difficult their circumstances or how challenging their setbacks, can rise above anything. How? By being determined, by developing certain skills, and by adopting useful attitudes—in short, by building what Lisa calls the “muscles” of character, which she outlines in the pages of this life-changing book.

Next: Building Your Bounce-Back Muscles.

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!

An Uplifting Movie for Cutters
August 24, 2009, 05:00
Filed under: Uncategorized

moviesA friend of mine James Dye, who is a member of my private group on Facebook for cutters* created a movie that is meant to be uplifting for cutters. He also wrote the music. This is an excellent example of channeling emotion something I wrote about in an earlier blog as a way of taking potentially destructive emotions and turning them into something positive, that helps to make the world a better place.

You can check it out at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYsuRvBLeVY. I think he did a great job. Let me know what you think.

If you have a creative outlet for your destructive emotions; such as writing a book or poetry, art, making movies, writing music photography, etc. Let me know, I would love to have you share it with me.

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!

Technique for Breathing Correctly
August 19, 2009, 05:00
Filed under: Uncategorized

breathingSome people have eliminated their anxiety symptoms simply by changing the way they breathe. A proper breathing technique is very important and requires practice. A proper technique can be learned for taking breaths in and letting breaths out – without making yourself feel dizzy. And, once made a part of one’s natural body rhythm, those feelings of the onset of an attack become less frequent, and in some cases, disappear. Some people use a breathing reminder to stay focused when a panic attack is coming on.

There is a whole science behind breathing which goes back thousands of years. The mechanics of all this is discussed on a separate page, but the recommended breathing method and some practice tips are shown here.

  1. breathe into your diaphragm, not shallow “chest” breathing
  2. inhale through the nose,
  3. exhale through the mouth,
  4. take longer to exhale than to inhale,
  5. slow down! (reduce your breaths-per-minute)
  6. practice until it becomes your natural breathing pattern.

Note: When breathing correctly into the diaphragm  your stomach will rise more than your chest.
First, test your current breathing pattern

  1. Begin by lying flat on your back or standing up straight. You may also sit up straight in a chair, if that is more comfortable.
  2. Place one hand on your stomach area and one hand on your chest.
  3. Breathe as you normally would and notice whether your “stomach” hand rises or your “chest” hand rises.
  4. To breathe properly, your stomach area must rise more than your chest as your diaphragm expands.

Second, Learn proper breathing technique:

  1. To learn to breathe correctly, begin by slowly breathing in through your nose through the count of 4.
  2. Hold the breath for a count of 7.
  3. Slowly exhale through your mouth for a count of 8. (Some call this 4-7-8 breathing.) When you exhale, try to make a soft “whoosh” sound by holding the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth (or lightly clench your teeth) as you exhale slowly.
  4. Repeat this process for three more times (for a total of four breaths.) Do not do more than four breaths at first – with practice, you can work your way up to eight breaths. Do this twice each day.
  5. If the process causes you to begin panicking, only do it for as long as you are able.

10.  Increase the number of breaths each day until you can do the exercise for at least eight breaths twice per day.

11.  If you continue to practice breathing this way, you will soon be doing it naturally throughout the day.

12.  An additional benefit will be that once you are familiar with the exercise, you can do it while experiencing anxiety or the beginning of a panic attack, and you will feel relief.

Now, change your breathing throughout the day:

Follow the steps above with one important twist: rather than practicing twice per day, practice throughout the day. . .it is more effective. Think about it: you breathe all day, right? So you should breathe correctly all day.

Practice taking a full breath through your nose, hold briefly, and then “whoosh” your exhale slowly as described – but do that at least every 15 minutes all day long. This has two immediate benefits, you are practicing more total “breaths” during the day, and you are making proper breathing a routine throughout your day.


Do not be angry with yourself or give up if you cannot do this exercise correctly right away. It takes practice. Give yourself time.

  • Do not be afraid of the exercise causing panic. Remember: you are in control and can stop at any time.
  • Take it as slowly as needed. Work your way up to every 15 minutes – don’t try to rush into this.
  • and, most importantly, start out seated as you may feel light-headed the first few times you breathe “correctly.”
  • Remember to breathe! Our lives are filled with distractions and a task or hobby can be so absorbing, you forget to breathe. Use a timer or an on-screen reminder to make sure you breathe at regular intervals.

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!

Avoid Toxic People

Toxic People 2Now that you are practicing gratefulness in your life and have made a list of 200 things in your life that you are thankful for you have found that not everyone shares your new attitude that there is always something to be thankful for. You’ll say something pleasant like, “Isn’t the sky a pretty blue?” and they will sneeringly retort, “No it isn’t. It’s a sickly hue of gray.” So what do you do?

Please heed this important advice: avoid toxic people! Unfortunately, there are a few people out there who see the world as one big problem, and in their eyes you’re part of it. No matter how well things are going, they focus on the nitpicking little negative details. And they do it constantly. It’s a habit that totally destroys relationships.

You may be thinking at this point, “Easier said than done. Do you mean if a friend I’ve known for years talks like this, should I just turn and walk away?” No, RUN! His or her constant negativity will drain the life out of you. Now please understand, I am not talking about someone who has a genuine challenge and needs real help. I am referring to those chronic whiners who take great pleasure in dumping all their negative garbage on your plate at every opportunity. It’s the highlight of their day. Don’t put up with it anymore.

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!

How Can I Be Grateful When Nothing is Going Right?

In my last post I discussed the importance of being grateful. Have you ever noticed how pleasant it is to be around people who are grateful for you or what you have done for them? That’s how you will know the following exercise works.


Something that will help you in practicing gratitude in your life and thus being present and in the moment (also known as mindfulness) is to make a list of 200 things that you are thankful for. Take 20 3×5 index cards and write 10 things from your list on each card. Carry these around with you and focus on one card each day.

You’ll be pleasantly surprised to find out how much is really going right in your life.

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!