Harming Self

This is one of those topics that people who experience this don’t want to go. It’s a subject close to me as I do this all the time but not in the way you would expect. Before you read on, do be ready to feel emotions surfacing at tsunami rates of speed, that trigger you on very deep levels to upset your equilibrium and stability of mind.

If you wish, turn away now and speak to your therapist before travelling further along the route created by my words. Following me in my landscape of life will not be the same as yours so expect some confusion and upset. There is no blame in turning round and running to the square marked ‘start’ as that’s where I ended up many times since my childhood and now into my sixth decade.

I chased the snakes up their ladders and fell many times as the discovery process was far too painful to accomplish in one sitting. My throwing arm kept on repeating 1s on the dice when I would have hoped for 6s. I’m still not fully there, wherever there is, and really is why I’m writing this article to help me as well as those experiencing the same or similar situations and feelings.

Many times I came across this wall. A wall, solid and seemingly impenetrable, standing proudly in my path, as if it was trying to tell me something. As I stood there, wondering what to do, balls and plates came over the wall thrown by persons or things unknown. The balls had sharp spikes forced into their surface, and many words written on them; words of derision and hate, of spite and ridicule. Occasionally, I caught one, not thinking, to feel the barbs skewer themselves into my unprotected hands, and even less protected psyche.

The plates I tried to catch so I could add them to the poles surrounding me, trying to spin them precariously balanced on their finely honed tips, and watching them fall and crash noisily, breaking into fragments on the ground. I was never any good at balancing many things at once; not enough physical and mental agility to mix differing tasks.

It’s not nice to keep receiving shards of demeaning comment and poison. One’s self confidence is damaged beyond recognition, constantly skewered by knives and the sharp tongues of people you think have the right to have that opinion of you. And you are still only five years old.

There are times when you are so focused, so distracted, that a shard bumps you in the back, tearing into your skin so fast that it enters your being, your soul. It gets under your radar and you find it resting quietly in harms way, reformatting your synapses for its benefit rather than yours.

As I began to dismantle the wall I discovered it was me that was throwing the barbs. My beliefs about me had been formed by the opinions of others and I had simply learnt to continue the destruction of my self esteem over many decades. It’s what subconscious programming does. You literally don’t know it’s happening. Until you start the process of looking at the pain you feel after a simple comment by a spouse or colleague. Or even your best friend you consider having your best interests at heart.

That simple comment triggers a cascade of feeling difficult to manage. For me, anger rises at incredible rates of speed and although I try to suppress it, heat fills my belly, and my stomach turns over like speeding over a humpback bridge. Sometimes the reaction is to destroy something of mine. Even something worth £100s. It matters not the cost of replacement. I have to try to diminish the pain, the stress, the inconsolable anger, that directionless rage that appears instantly, seemingly without a focal point of creation. I know the comment triggered the rage, but what underlying belief has been subconsciously awakened to generate such a substantial reaction within.

I know some people cut themselves in order to assuage their feelings, to attempt to anaesthetise them, but why does this action, and my attempt at managing my rage, become so addictive.

Cutting provides a physiological response. When the razor breaks the skin and blood flows, the body creates endorphins to lessen the physical pain and in turn, the emotional pain, giving a momentary release from the intensity. There is a very subtle cycle to this that is difficult to unravel.

The emotional pain we feel comes from the traumas experienced by us. Those traumas create an underlying belief about ourselves that subconsciously feeds our conscious waking moments. That belief is what motivates the emotional pain which in turn feeds the need to assuage it by cutting to create the surge in endorphins.

I have experienced some understanding about the beliefs I hold about myself. By listening to the voice of those beliefs and the emotional pain associated with them, I can begin to comprehend how to find the foundational belief which is sabotaging my sanity.

But, in order to discover the belief, I have to be willing to sit with the emotional pain, allowing it to be without trying to push it away, to be willing to hear the timid inner voice as it tries to articulate its suffering. Any attempt at assuaging it, the voice is drowned out by the assuaging process so you lose the opportunity to hear. And thus the opportunity to mend and release.

Sitting with your pain instead of tranquillising it at the first hurdle stifles the addictive cycle and so opens up opportunities to heal. Listening is what I’ve done for years. I catch glimpses, momentary flashes of understanding which provide keys into subconscious beliefs. It takes work, lots of work, and even more commitment to your Self to smooth and soothe the pain to a more constructive level instead of a destructive cycle difficult to master.

I’m not suggesting this is an easy road to navigate. Far from it. Mountains as well as mole hills are in our path. And many walls thrown in for good measure. Understanding one’s modus operandi helps you deal with whatever life brings to your door and vastly increases your resilience.

You are who you are. The real and authentic you is unencumbered by the beliefs and diktats of those around you. You find the authentic you by listening. By listening, you break away from old beliefs whose sell-by date has expired and create new ones ready for the next stage of authenticity.

When you know why you know what you know, you become unshakable.