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Speaking Out About Self Injury

Dreams mean many things to many people. Some remind us of memories, whether recent or long-buried; others reflect our hopes and fears about the present or the future. But what do dreams about self-harm mean?
Journaling can be a wonderful tool to use whenever you feel like your life is falling apart. The act of writing something down on paper works like magic. Your mind calms down, your emotions become more transparent, and you gain control over your self-harm thoughts.
Self-harm reasons, both for starting and for stopping, are as numerous and varied as colors in cathedral windows. I can only speak from my own experience, but in so doing, I hope to help others better understand their own reasons—or those of someone they love—for doing what they do.
Mindfulness activities like the R.A.I.N. method is not an instant cure for self-injury, but with practice, it can help you control your self-harm urges. Think of it as a yoga exercise for your mind -- if you show up regularly, you will get stronger, more resilient, and more in control of your feelings.
When talking about self-injury, often we are describing the act of causing oneself physical harm or pain. But can self-harm be emotional, too?
We all have that little mean voice inside our heads, constantly nagging us and pointing out all our mistakes. Self-harm often comes with negative self-talk, but it's worth remembering that you are not your thoughts, you are just listening to them. You can choose to ignore them -- or even create a dialogue between you and your self-injury voice.
When we hear the word "self-harm," we often think of self-inflicted physical wounds. However, negative thought patterns can lead to emotional self-harm and cause just as much damage to our mental health and lead to serious problems in the long-run. Physical and emotional self-harm can be similar in many ways, and they often go hand-in-hand with each other.
We often think of fear and pain as distinct experiences, one physical and one emotional. Emotional pain, however, is just as real as physical injury, and when self-harming and anxiety are intertwined, they may form a vicious cycle from which it can be difficult to break free.
Are tattoos the same as self-mutilation? Let's face it, tattoos do hurt, and so does self-harm. But does it mean they are the same? Having done both, I can assure you they are unlike each other, even if both are associated with some level of pain.
It may be difficult to imagine how self-harm affects others when no one even knows (at least to your knowledge) that you're hurting yourself. Pain, however, always causes a ripple effect.