Self-Harm: Why it Happens

It may surprise you to hear that even a person who ends their life is, in a strange way, seeking to preserve themselves. Not their physical existence, of course, but what they have left of their mental wellbeing. As an act of self-preservation in terms of their mental state, they end their life.

Nearly everyone is all guilty of similar thinking, though usually in less dire circumstances. For example, pretend you’ve done a beautiful job painting and decorating a room in your home.  You show it to a friend, who immediately ooh’s and aah’s over your work. How do you respond? For many of is, it’s something like, “Yes, it went pretty well. But see that corner over there? I couldn’t get that line straight.” In other words, we pick out the tiny flaw, magnified in our eyes, and pay little attention to the beauty our friend sees.

Wow! How do we allow a tiny flaw to ruin the whole experience of beauty? And we do this in so many aspects of our lives. The simple reason: It originates with a brain pattern.

There’s a brain pattern driving us to see everything (the whole) based on one little thing (the tiny flaw). If there is a flaw, then the whole thing is flawed, and there is no beauty. This kind of all-or-nothing thinking supports negative self-talk, poor self-image and – in extreme cases – thoughts of suicide. 

A far better option is to optimize our brain patterns to reduce and eliminate the all-or-nothing outlook.  In therapy or life coaching, we address the underlying issue that produces this thinking based on feelings of hopelessness, despair, and the sense that you can’t go on – a result of the imbalance in the brain.

These are feelings, not the total of our reality. This coaching/counseling technique allows the brain to return to a state of balance and harmony, from which flows a life that’s characterized not only by the will to live but also by the will to be our best self, with the ability to see the flaw as a flaw and not as the entire room

Confessions of an Alcoholic

The following is from a letter sent to me from a man who calls himself H.B.  H.B. identifies himself as an alcoholic and hopes his letter may give hope to someone else who is suffering the same way he did.

  

So you finally went on such a binge where you:

A) Wanted to end your life because you think there’s no way out.

B) Lost all of your friends/family due to your drinking/drugging.

C) Did something so embarrassing you don’t want to get out of bed and show your face to the world.

D) Have health problems due to your substance abuse.

E) Lost your job.

F) All of the above.

Most or all of this has happened to most alcoholics and drug addicts at one time in their lives. Personally, I was in the “All of the Above” category. I’m sure you are feeling vulnerable and desperate at this point. NOW, is the time to do something. Desperation is a gift! It moves us toward change and gives us the motivation to do what we need to do for ourselves. Step 1 is reaching out for help to groups such as AA, NA or a Rehabilitation center / Recovery Program.

I am a 36 year old business owner that quietly hid my desperation for years, only speaking to close friends about it. Most people thought I had it all together, but I didn’t. I had to hide this massive problem from everyone to save my reputation. Eventually, it came out and could not be hidden. I was in a terribly dark place and didn’t know how to get out.

When I walked into my first AA meeting, my first thought was “I’m not like these people!”. You see an array of different types of people. You see anything from well-dressed attorneys and engineers to people that look like they are homeless and haven’t eaten in days. I came into those meetings with an ego that barely fit through the door, so what did I do? I went home and drank a few days later. I kept coming back, but this time I actually listened to what the speaker was saying. He had so much wisdom! I noticed how happy most people in the room looked. You could see that their lives had transformed in such a positive way and they had a wonderful energy. They have a chip system denoting their time of sobriety. The white chip is for anyone who wants to stop drinking just for today. This chip is for the newcomers. When I hesitantly picked up that chip, I was surrounded by people giving me their phone numbers, hugging me and truly wanting to help. I’d never felt more cared for in my life.

After I heard that speaker, I felt a wave of humility wash over me. I knew that I was exactly like everyone in that room and they knew exactly what I was going through. No matter how good I thought I was, how much money I had…I was still an alcoholic. All of a sudden, I saw a light at the end of the tunnel. It took me a while to find a room I was comfortable in. Sometimes you have to visit several rooms to find the right place for you, but it’s well worth it.

They told me it was not a program of perfection. Believe me! I wasn’t perfect. I relapsed a few times after that, but something finally clicked for me. I started blogging my experiences and this has helped me so much. I am now accountable to my readers, to my friends, family and co-workers. I now have a purpose in my life. I am slowly gaining the respect of everyone around me and mending my relationships.

I am early into my recovery, but taking a drink or doing drugs is not an option to me anymore. The hardest part of recovery is changing your social habits. I don’t go to bars or get around people that would trigger me to drink. You will probably feel isolated at first, but support groups help. You will start to surround yourself with people that really care and understand you. This is a PRICELESS gift. Do not feel ashamed! Everyone has skeletons in their closets and demons to deal with. There will be small minded people that gossip and talk, but time will pass and those so called friends will fall away. You will start to feel a sense of peace, stability and hope.

 

H.B. is just one of hundreds of thousands of people who live with this disease.  If you struggle with alcohol and/or substance abuse, or know someone who does, you don’t have to face it alone.