As mentioned in the previous blogs, how you react to someone who is cutting can make a big difference. Although for people who don't cut it can feel very frustrating to understand, you must be patient with that person. Again, the more you shame them or condemn them, the more emotions it creates, which is a trigger for them to cut.
How to Be Patient
Be careful what you say and how you say it. As frustrated as you may be, still continue to be as encouraging as you can. Try to encourage them to talk about their feelings, then just listen.
Don't try to talk them OUT of their feelings, even if you disagree with them. Just listen and be present. Nice ways to be there and be empathetic can be shown by saying things like, "I'm sorry you feel this way. It must be hard to have so many feelings at once." Or repeat back to them what they are saying, "So you said you feel alone when none of your friends call you. I get that." Sometimes just listening helps them cope.
Many people want to know what not to say. Good question. Don't say things like, "Why would you ever want to do that?" Or "That's disgusting!" "This just doesn't make sense to me. Why are you doing this?" (Can you hear the shaming tone in all of these statements?) Statements like this make the person feel worse about what they are doing and about themselves. Then they will want to hide it from everyone.
Before anyone misinterprets this, we are not by any means saying to not do anything about it and just listen. People who cut definitely need help, but if you react in a negative way to them that is condemning or shaming, they will not talk to you about it again or get help. You need to remain calm, supporting (of them getting help), and encouraging (so they will open up to you.)
This is a very difficult thing to deal with. It's hard to know what to say or do. We encourage anyone who is experiencing this with a child, spouse, friend, or family member to get professional help beyond just this blog. It's a very dangerous issue to deal with alone.
Tomorrow we will talk more about how to get help. Thank you for reading.
Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling. We also specialize in family counseling, child, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville