How Can I Stop Cutting?

Resisting the Urge to Cut

If you've been cutting and you want to stop, here are some approaches that might help you.

For people who cut, doing something different may be a big change. Making this change can take time because you are learning new ways of dealing with the things that led you to cut. The tips you'll see below can get you started. But a therapist or counselor can do more to help you heal old hurt and use your strengths to cope with life's struggles.

Start by being aware of which situations are likely to trigger your urge to cut. Make a commitment that this time you will not follow the urge, but will do something else instead.

Then make a plan for what you will do instead of cutting when you feel this urge.

Below are some tips you can try when you feel the urge to cut. We've put them into several categories because different people cut for different reasons. So certain techniques will work better for some people than others.

Look through all the tips and try the ones that you think might work for you. You may need to experiment because not all of these ideas will work for everyone. For example, some readers have told us that snapping a rubber band works for them as a substitute for cutting but others say that the rubber band triggers an urge to snap it too hard and they end up hurting themselves.

If one tip isn't right for you, that's OK. Use your creativity to find a better idea. Or talk with your therapist to get other ideas on what could work for you. The idea is to find a substitute for cutting — something

that satisfies a need you might feel without being as harmful as cutting.

You may also find that one of these ideas works for you sometimes but not always. That's OK too. What a person needs can vary from time to time and from situation to situation.

The techniques listed on the following pages will help you think about why you might cut — as well as offer ideas on other things to do when you feel like cutting. The more you learn about what's underneath your cutting behavior, the better you will be able to understand and develop healthy ways to heal that pain.

Things to Distract You

Like all urges, the urge to cut will pass if you wait it out. Distracting yourself with something else helps time go by and gets your mind off the urge to cut. The more you wait out the urge without giving in, the more your urges will decrease over time.

Here are some things you can try while waiting for a cutting urge to pass:

  • call a friend and talk about something completely different
  • take a shower (make sure you don't have razors in the shower)
  • go for a walk or run, take a bike ride, dance like crazy, or get some other form of exercise
  • play with a pet
  • watch TV (change the channel if the show gets upsetting or features cutting)
  • drink a glass of water

Things to Soothe and Calm You

Sometimes people cut because they're agitated or angry — even though they may not recognize that feeling. If that's true for you, it can help to do something calming when you feel the need to cut.


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