*The following post discusses self harm. If you are feeling unsafe please let someone know. If you are in immediate danger please go to your nearest Emergency Department.*
Over the last 13 years I have struggled on and off with thoughts of self harm of varying degrees. These thoughts have ranged from fleeting images to seemingly relentless onslaughts. For a lot of years I separated those thoughts from my body, choosing to see them as an entity I was too weak to resist.
I have tried different distraction techniques over the years, all with their own rate of success. I have posted before about living in a triggering world, and the steps that I take to protect myself from it. These steps help immensely in the long term, however I still struggle with the day to day impulsive triggers.
Since Mr 6 came along I have used him as a reason for refraining from self harm. I told myself that I couldn’t afford to self harm while being a parent and I used that guilt against myself. It hasn’t always helped, and I feel weak for being unable to resist.
I have however built on that technique, using it in a more positive way, a way that relies less on other people and more on myself. I know that it is unfair to subconsciously rely on a child to keep myself safe and it is one of the reasons that I am reluctant to talk about the catalyst for change. I don’t want Mr 6 to feel that weight, I don’t want him to feel that my happiness rests on his little shoulders.
So I began the delay technique. For anything else, delay and procrastination would be a disaster but for my self harm thoughts it has been a saviour. It does sound a little daft, but it works. I simply tell myself that I am too busy for self harm right now. I list in my head the things that I have to do that day. I capitalise on my fear of failure being strong enough to override my self harm thoughts.
Telling myself that I am too busy right now for self harm thoughts helps to stop them in their tracks. I cut them off before they begin to take hold and I don’t give them they power that I have in the past. Using my wise mind, I create logical reasons that I cannot give in to my self harm thoughts.
Like mindfulness this is a technique that I didn’t realise I was doing until I analysed my behaviour more closely. Once again, I didn’t give myself credit for being able to take back control of my thoughts. I let my mind talk me into being a failure when the it couldn’t be further from the truth. Who knew that procrastination could serve such a useful purpose!?
Have you used delaying tactics to stop yourself engaging in negative behaviour?