Resisting the Urge to Cut Yourself

In my blog, "How to Quit Cutting for Good", I talked about 3 alternative coping strategies for self-harm: Talk it out, wake up to your actual feelings, and seek God. 

Once you decide you're committed to stop cutting, you will find out what a struggle it is to go sober and stay free from this horrible addiction.  Even as you are beginning to recover, you still will feel the cravings to cut again. You are going to need to be prepared to know how to deal with those powerful urges. Here are some practical ideas to help you or someone you know be set free.

Stop feeding the cutting monster - wait it out

Every urge you have to cut will go away in time, but only if you don't act on it. Each time you act on your urge to cut, you're making that urge stronger kind of like feeding a monster. Each time you feed the addiction, the more likely you will feel the urge to cut the next time you feel the same emotional pressure. The more you stand against the urge, without giving in, the more your urges will decrease.

Distract yourself from the desire to cut

One of the best ways to stop cutting is by distracting yourself with someone or something else. This will allow the moment to pass when you're feeling the deep cravings to cut and get your mind off of it. It's impossible for your mind to think about two things at the exact same time. Here are some ideas on how to do this.

  1. Call a friend or meet them in person. Talk about what's comfortable for you. The key is to keep talking.
  2. Take a shower. This will help invigorate your body so physically it too is distracted. (Make sure there are no razors in the shower).
  3. Exercise Walk, run, ride your bike, climb, swim, do yoga, etc. While you are exercising, your mind is more likely to think about something other than cutting.
  4. Play with a pet. Take your dog for a walk.
  5. Watch television or a non-violent, healthy movie.
  6. Make yourself a sandwich, drink a glass of water or a cup of hot chocolate.
  7. Listen to positive music. It will definitely help to change your mood.
  8. Write in your journal. Learn to express your feelings through writing.
  9. Create art or some kind of creative hobby.
  10. Volunteer somewhere like a nursing home, or a hospital. In fact, getting a job will help as well. Some people cut out of sheer boredom.

Natalia put it this way: I still fight the urges, but the way I deal with it is by writing in my journal or talking to my best friend and boyfriend who are currently helping me through this.

The point is: Find something else to do. If none of these ideas are possible at the moment, try finding a substitute for the cutting sensation.

  1. Rub an ice cube on your skin, instead of cutting.
  2. Wear a rubber band on your wrist and snap it when you feel the urge.
  3. Draw on your skin with a red marker or food coloring in the place you would normally cut.
  4. Put temporary tattoos in the places you have the urge to cut.

Angel said rubber bands have helped her. I've learned that snapping them against your wrist takes away a little bit of the amount to want to cut yourself. Ali said the key for her was she needed something physical to feel like she was still alive, that she was OK. So, I mark a little pink heart on my calendar for every day I don't cut...and believe it or not it helps. Help is possible and stopping is realistic.

Tell your story

The biggest problem with a cutting addiction is it forces you to focus on how YOU are feeling.  Stop thinking about yourself so much and focus on other cutters who need your help.  The more you can reach out to others, encouraging them to find better ways to express their feelings, the better you will be able to resist your own urges. Courtney said: I'm proud to be able to tell people my story of overcoming my self-destructive behavior. Every day is a struggle, but I always choose to find hope in the darkest situations and fight the urge.

Think About your Future without Cutting and Self-Harm

You have an incredible life ahead of you, filled with many, many years of potential joy and time with people you love, and who love you as well. Think about what you'd like your life to look like in 5, 10, 15 years, and start taking steps to move forward in that direction.

Abby is 25, and she sees hope in her future: If I don't stop cutting, then a lot of the things I want aren't going to work out the way I dream they will.

Cyndal said: I thought about when I have children, and they see the cuts and scars on my arms, and they ask me, 'Mommy what are those booboos on your arms?' That really made me think, 'WOW, what would I tell my children?' And it made me cry for a really long time"

I want to encourage you to be strong like Amanda. She said: It's a challenge every day, but I am fighting to not cut, because I know that my life can be really awesome, and cutting does not fit into that picture. When you feel your emotions building up, remember you now have alternatives to self-harm. Get self-help by talking to someone who cares.

Be strong. There is tremendous hope for you!

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297 comments on “Resisting the Urge to Cut Yourself”

  1. Hi,my Significant other has been cutting a lot with razors and shards of glass. She is 13... I made a promise that I would stop cutting for her. She said crap like "ok" or "yeah". We had a big fight over it and how she cuts all the time. It's been tearing me apart, I have no idea how to approach this crap. She means the world too me and I hate when she cuts. She also won't accept any kind of help even from me... Please actually respond with something that will help.

    1. Carl,
      Thank you for wanting to help your significant other overcome cutting. Self-harm is an overwhelming addiction and she may not realize she is addicted to it from reading her response to your help. It’s important for her to realize the destructive addiction she in. The desire to cut comes from deep wounds. Many times it comes from self esteem issues. Tell her she is valuable, worthy and that she matters. We have a partner organization, Door of Hope, that specializes in Self-Harm and has recovery coaches available. You can contact them to get specific ways to help her. She may be open to talking to them too. Please visit for more information about them and their number to text to talk to a recovery coach. Carl, we are proud of you for trying to help her, we hear your frustration, however it is ultimately her decision to seek help.

  2. I just wanted to say that I used to cut myself very frequently (nearly everyday) and I struggled for two years with self harm, but as of today I am four years clean of hurting myself. The urge is still there; I only stumbled upon this because I mistakenly found a razor I used to hurt myself with hidden in my bathroom and it triggered me a bit. I just want to let anyone who is reading this know that healing is real, help is real, and hope is real. I got out of that dark, dark cycle when I found God. I still struggle with depression but God has given me a purpose for my life and my church family is such an amazing support system for me. I couldn’t be more grateful that I got help when I did, and although my body is still littered with scars I will continue to keep fighting. Giving up this addiction, setting aside your pride and getting help, letting yourself be emotionally vulnerable to people who genuinely care.... it’s all worth it. You are so so loved. God bless.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story! I realize not everyone's will be as successful as yours, but it will give us all hope of what we can look forward to if we are strong.

  3. I have never actually cut but I used to scratch up my thighs with my nails really harshly for the longest time. Luckily I have support from friends and family to get me on the right track. I find that a hair tie on my wrist works well and talking to people I trust as well.

  4. I stop cutting for a few weeks or days then i started again I don't want to do it but it gets the best of me and i need help. Also, i can't stop being so negative. I am wonder if someone can help me.

    1. Nathan, Thank you for reaching out. Without help overcoming the addiction to self-harm is very difficult. We are here to listen and help. We have a partner that will help you with the need to self-harm.
      You can text them at at 1-803-570-2061 (Alternative No. 914-393-1904) Texting is available Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday 8:30 – 10:30 EST.
      Their website is
      You can email them to (answered in 24/48 hrs)
      Take a chance and reach out to Door of Hope for help. You will be glad you did. They have helped many we have sent them overcome self-harm.

  5. I once stopped cutting for a year or so but then things got complicated. Ive been doing it again. Ive been resisting the urge for 2 weeks and i just want to cut to let all the pain go. How can it go away if its not from cutting myself

    1. Hello Anna,
      Thank you for reaching out. We are here to listen and help. Cutting is an addiction that is hard to overcome without help. We have a partner that will help you with the need to self-harm.
      You can text them at at 1-803-570-2061 (Alternative No. 914-393-1904) Texting is available Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday 8:30 – 10:30 EST.
      Their website is
      You can email them to (answered in 24/48 hrs)
      Take a chance and reach out to Door of Hope for help. You will be glad you did. They have helped many people we have sent them overcome the desire to cut and self-harm.

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