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Ways you unknowingly hurt yourself

by Gaby Agbulos

Warning: This article contains mentions of self-harm and abuse.

IN THE Philippines, rates of suicide, depression, and self-harm are all alarmingly high. In 2020, for example, the percentage of deaths caused by self-harm in the Philippines was 57.3% higher than the previous year.

If one were to think of self-harm, the first thing that would come to mind is acts that physically hurt you, such as wrist-cutting or hitting yourself, as these are the most common.

However, these aren’t the only ways people can hurt themselves. While physical methods of self-harm are what we are most familiar with, there are many things we do in our day-to-day lives that I think can be just as harmful. 

Your scars this time, however, are mental instead of physical, and that doesn’t make it any better. This is what’s referred to as emotional self-harm, and it should be taken just as seriously as anything else. 

Here are some examples of ways you may be hurting yourself emotionally, so much so that it may affect your happiness or your day-to-day life.

  1. Being too much of a people pleaser.

We rarely ever see kind people in this world, and there’s a reason for that: if you show people kindness, it’s more often than not taken advantage of by others. This is where the term “emotional doormat” in.

I have been a people pleaser almost my entire life. I often find myself doing things not because I want to, and not because it would make me happy, but because I know it’s what others want, what would make others happy. 

Going out even when all you wanna do is stay in, taking another shot even when you know you can’t take it anymore, doing someone else’s work for them because they say they can’t when you know you can’t either, having sex even if you’ve been saying no for the past hour – these are all ways in which you hurt yourself just to please others. 

It may not seem like a bad thing. You may think to yourself that it’s okay because you want people to know that you’re nice, or because you want to make others happy, but what about you? What about what you want? 

Your actions may be taking such a big emotional toll on you without you even realizing it. You may even find yourself believing that it’s okay if you’re not happy as long as others are – that you perhaps don’t deserve it as much as others do, and that’s harmful to you. That’s damaging to you. 

You don’t have to say it’s okay when it’s not. It’s not selfish to set boundaries and to know what you want. It’s not a bad thing to take up space.

  1. Getting pierced/tatted because you “like how it feels.”

Recent studies have shown a connection between tattooing and people with depression, anxiety, and/or suicidal thinking. It was found that adult tattoo users would often report self-injury behavior more frequently, and it is highly possible that frequently getting tattoos may be related to the presence of non-suicidal self-injury behavior and/or intentions of suicide.

In a study done by the magazine Taetowiermagazin that asked 432 readers about their tattoo and piercing practices, 119 (27%) stated that they would hurt themselves during childhood. Others who didn’t self-harm also stated that they had bad things happen in their lives, or have had bad relationships with their bodies.

Many also explained that they liked to get tattooed or pierced either to deal with negative experiences or to feel physical pain. 

Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with getting tattoos or piercings. I, personally, have a lot of them. It’s important, however, to ask yourself why exactly you’re getting one. Are you doing it because you like a particular design, or because you think it’d look cool, or because you like how it feels? More specifically, because you like how it hurts? 

If you’re getting something done to your body, do it because you want it to be a part of you for the rest of your life, or because it has meaning to you, not because you feel like you deserve to be hurt. 

  1. Not thinking about future you.

When I was younger, any time I had schoolwork I would finish it days before the deadline, because I didn’t want myself stressing out on the day that I wouldn’t get it done in time. 

As I grow older, however, I find that I have more responsibilities. It often feels like they never end; any time I check something off the list, I have to add three more, all due within the same timeframe. It seems almost impossible to keep up with deadlines, so now my work is passed either on the day of the deadline… or a few days late. 

I think one reason this has happened is that I learned the concept of leaving your problems up to future you to deal with. Do this essay later, it’s future you’s problem. Make that impulse buy, figuring out how you’ll make ends meet is future you’s problem. Vape as much as you want, your lungs will be future you’s problem.

I’ve come into this mindset that I can do whatever the hell that I want because I won’t be dealing with the consequences of them now, but I will be a few days from now, or a few months, or a few years, and that’s okay because at least it means getting to have these few moments of bliss.

I’ve realized, however, that this is a toxic mindset, and I think we need to practice more of basing our decisions on how they’ll work in the long run. If you do something, ask yourself what that’ll mean for your life, not just for this particular moment. 

If you know that it’s just going to hurt you down the line, but you’re doing it anyway, then maybe it’s time to sit down and figure out why you have no problem doing this to yourself, no matter how long it’ll be before you have to deal with the repercussions. 

If you could meet 5-year-old you or 50-year-old you, would you be able to look both in the eye and tell them that you’ve treated them well? 

Future you is still you, just as past you is still you, and they deserve to be treated with kindness. They deserve to be loved, especially by the person who understands them most.

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