Lies We Tell Ourselves about Cutting

Perhaps the most damaging thing about self-injury in addition to its physical consequences is the lie it tries to sell us in place of the truth that would actually soothe our breaking hearts.  The lie is what we tell ourselves to defend why cutting is the only possible option at that very moment.  I didn’t notice for a very long time that I always had to buy into a lie before I could go through with cutting myself.  Sometimes the specific lie changed, but there always had to be one.  The following is a list of the most common thoughts I’ve had whenever I was about to cut myself.

“I’m worthless.”

“I’m a failure.”

“I hate myself.”

“I deserve punishment.”

“This will help me escape.”

“This will take away my pain.”

“This will make me feel better.”

“This is the only way to deal with how I feel.”

I bought into these ideas until different people were able to convince me that I wasn’t looking at the whole picture accurately.  The list declares more about my feelings than it does about what I know.  For example, I could know that I matter to someone but still struggle with a sense of worthlessness despite that knowledge.  That’s the classic trademark of a lie—something that steps between how we feel and what we know and hides one from the other.  In order to dispel the lies, we must first uncover the truths that were meant to stand in their place.

One of the ways I did this was by listening to my innermost longings…what did I desperately wish for?  To feel loved, valued and free.  Was it possible that I was in fact all these things even if I didn’t feel so?  I knew Scripture claimed they were true but I didn’t understand how to reconcile the discrepancy between what it said and how I felt.  I really struggled with this concept for years and gradually arrived at the conclusion that God’s opinion of me is more trustworthy than my view of myself.

He knows me better than I know myself.  He designed me before I was born.  And when all was said and done, He wasn’t weighed down by the depression and anxiety I knew I had.  I found myself oddly grateful that I could trust the opinion of someone whose perspective wasn’t skewed by my own shortcomings as much as mine was.  I chose to accept what He said is true about me over how I felt about myself because His view is more consistent and accurate.  How I feel about myself changes depending on my mood, how much sleep I got, how my day went or even something as trivial as what I ate for breakfast.  God’s opinion was not swayed by such things and remained steady its assurance that I am His deeply loved daughter who will always be worth His time and attention no matter how many times I mess up.  I found in Him a merciful place to rest because His words to me were less harsh than what I said to myself every day in the mirror.

So when I find myself brushing up against the same old lies that lead to self-injury for me, I ask myself what truths I need to hold more tightly to.  The following ideas/passages have been helpful to me in that sense when I am trying not to cut.

 “I’m worthless.”

Christ sacrificed Himself for you.  What does that say about your value?

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:4-5)

 “I’m a failure.”

People are God’s most prized creations.  What are the best parts of you that He celebrates everyday?

“Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” (James 1:18)

“I hate myself.”

God loves you more than you can imagine.

“…so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)

“I deserve punishment.”

Jesus took on our punishment as His own.  It’s paid.  It’s done.  We are free.

“God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:25-26)

“This will help me escape.”

How many times have you told yourself this and how many times have you ended up right back where you were wanting to escape?  This is not the way to freedom.

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

“This will take away my pain.”

Maybe it will for a little while on the outside but it will increase the pain that burdens my heart every day.

“…but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (James 1:14-15)

“This will make me feel better.”

You’ll only feel better for a little while and eventually worse off than before you hurt yourself.

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.” (Romans 8:12-13)

“This is the only way to deal with how I feel.”

There are other ways but you need to develop the courage and patience it takes to find and use them routinely.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)

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