A person who has developed self-injury as a coping method
obviously needs to learn to develop new healthy coping methods.
Not all healthy coping skills work for everyone.
Below is a list of many alternatives to self-injury.
The key to being able to utilize many of these methods is to identify
when you are escalating to a crisis situation.
The ability to do this is a learned skill in itself but once achieved
your alternatives to self-injury become abundant.
If you are able to identify that you are
escalating in anxiety, becoming overwhelmed with emotion or detaching from your
feelings and are entertaining the idea of self-injury, here are some good
If you are unable to utilize the above methods and self-injury ideation becomes imminent then “deal making” is used by many self-injurers as a last resort and can be very affective. “Deal making” is the process where you basically make a no harm contract with yourself or with someone you trust that you will not harm yourself for a designated amount of time. Once the time elapses you positively acknowledge the fact that you did not act out on your urge, re-assess your feeling state and make another contract or “deal” if necessary. Here’s an example:
“The Fifteen Minute Rule”
One of the most effective things that can precede anything else on this list is the 15-minute rule. Make a contract with yourself that you will wait 15 minutes before hurting yourself. During this time, use whatever coping skills work for you (this is best), or just do something to pass the time. After the 15 minutes are over, recognize the fact that you were able to successfully complete the contract and immediately make another, realizing you have the power within to not react impulsively (you’ve already shown that). If you still want to hurt yourself, make another 15-minute contract making sure to give yourself credit for not acting impulsively. If at any time you believe you are in jeopardy of not continuing the self-contracting skill, reach out for assistance immediately. When the desire to self-injure finally passes, maybe you can tell a friend who knows about your self-injury that you made it through. Even looking forward to saying, "I made it!" is an incentive, and can make you feel good about yourself.
Be very careful when searching the web for sites regarding self-injury. Although they may mean well, many sites are very triggering to the self-injurer and may escalate or even induce a self-harm incident. Many web sites warn prospective surfers that their content may be triggering. It is important that an individual who is close to self-injuring stay clear of triggers and surround themselves instead with positive, affirming people and material.