Emotional Self Harm
by Rebecca Hieronymi
Do you ever wonder what sets confident positive people apart from those who feel insecure and pessimistic? Many times it’s a matter of self-love. If we don’t take time to appreciate who we are it becomes second nature to put ourselves down instead of building ourselves up. Here are 8 signs of emotional self-harm you should recognize and work toward changing.
1. You run away from your emotions: Running away from your emotions is rejecting reality. This can look like using drugs and alcohol, or even shopping sprees to escape reality. It is normal to be afraid when we are stressed or worried about life, but don’t run away from your emotions when they’re trying to tell you something. Some helpful questions you can ask yourself are “Why am I feeling this way?” and “Is there anything I can do about this situation?” These questions help you recognize what has upset you and reflect on what your next step should be.
2. You are ashamed of who you are: Dr. Lynn Margulis says that shame underlies destructive behavior. Shame can actually be more harmful than guilt because it doesn’t need to be situational. When you feel bad about who you are, you also start to believe that you don’t deserve a healthy relationship, supportive friends, or a fulfilling job when in fact you do.
3. You belittle your own progress and accomplishments: When you bask in emptiness after working hard to achieve something instead of taking the time to practice gratitude, you’re hurting yourself. To nurture self-love and appreciation, remind yourself of one thing you’re proud of each day. Also, take some time to reflect and give yourself credit for how far you’ve come.
4. You internalize your conflicted emotions: This happens when you know what’s bothering you but refuse to get help from others. When you build walls and alienate yourself from family and friends, you’re only digging a bigger hole for yourself. Dr. Brene Brown highlights the importance of vulnerability as the ultimate driving force of happiness. In the long run, it’s good for your health when you become more open and trusting.
5. You constantly feel bad for yourself: William Shakespeare said it best, “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.” It’s okay to feel sad and disappointed when something doesn’t work out how you had hoped, but sulking in self-pity doesn’t change the outcome or help you get better. You always have a choice, so make it a worthwhile one.
6. You don’t prioritize taking care of yourself: Research shows that bad habits such as skipping meals, smoking, consuming alchohol, and not drinking enough water, can trigger and worsen anxiety. It might seem harmless but when it comes to your emotional well-being, partaking in these activities won’t make you feel good. Surround yourself with supportive, motivated, and confident individuals who are passionate about life. Although it’s good to let loose every once in a while, being around people who exercise healthy habits can remind us to stay focused on our goals.
7. You are self-sacrificial: Are you a people pleaser or do you have a hard time saying no when others ask for favors? Helping others can be fulfilling but not when you are always going the extra mile. Saying yes to things when you really don’t want to can leave you moody, stressed, and exhausted. It’s okay to cancel plans and take days off when you feel you need to. You deserve to feel appreciated too.
8. You refuse to let things go: Holding grudges is the root of all misery. It is okay to be mad at someone who betrayed you, but when you let that anger persist instead of moving forward and healing, you ignore your ability to regulate your emotions in a healthy way.
Do you resonate with any of these signs and want to know what being emotionally healthy looks like? Look for my next article where I will explore how we can nurture self-love and be emotionally healthy. If you or someone you know has experienced intimate partner violence, Crisis Services of North Alabama can help. Please contact us locally at 256.574.5826, on our 24/7 HELPline at 256.716.1000, or at our website www.csna.org. Advocates provide free, confidential support to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.