Why Do I Hate Myself: Motivations for the Dreadful Habit of Cutting

July 2, 2013

Cutting and Self Harm - Why Do I Hate Myself - Motivations for the Dreadful Habit of Cutting

Cutting and Self Harm - Why Do I Hate Myself - Motivations for the Dreadful Habit of Cutting

BCC Staff Note: You’re reading Part Two in a four-part BCC Grace & Truth blog series on Cutting and Self Harm. In addition to today’s post by Deepak Reju, you can read Part One by Amy Baker 2 Lies That Must Be Defeated to Overcome Cutting, Part Three by Mark Shaw Bringing Self-Harm Into the Light, and Part 4 by Shannon Kay McCoy The Lies You Believe and the Truth That Sets You Free.

But Why?

Sally sat across from me and uttered it for the ten thousandth time, “I hate myself.” Though these might not be the words verbalized at every appointment, her actions all too often communicate self-hatred. She cut herself yet again.

I’ve seen it too many times. If you are a counselor, you know that cutting is on the rise. More and more women are doing it. But why?

Struggles with Self-Worth

Some struggle with self-worth. Her parents made her feel like trash. (Their refrains echo in the chambers of her brain, “You stupid kid” or “What’s wrong with you?” or “You’ll never be anything.”)

No surprise, she thinks of herself as worthless. Cutting is an expression of her value. No value, no harm done. There is nothing wrong with hurting herself because she is rubbish.

I Deserve to Be Punished

Others think they deserve to be punished. A woman hurts herself because she believes she can self-atone. Someone deserves to be hurt; to feel pain; to be in anguish; to shed blood.

An Attempt at Stress-Relief

Maybe cutting is an attempt at stress-relief.  She can’t control her life. It feels so out of control.  The pressure at times is unbearable. Cutting is a temporary way to relieve the stress.

To Distract and Escape

Some are doing it as a way to distract and escape. The pain they inflict and feel they can focus in on so specifically that it momentarily distracts them and takes away the deep pain they feel in other parts of their lives (rejection, loneliness, fear, anger at God, memories of abuse, etc.).

The pain they inflict is so distracting it’s the only thing they have found that lets them “escape” the other pain.

The Biological Rush

Cutting is often paired with a biological rush that comes afterwards. And, unfortunately, this rush can be somewhat addictive.

We could come up with more reasons. These pose as a sampling of why someone might cut herself.

But God!

But what about God? Though it is rarely conscious rebellion, cutting is a form of rebellion against God. As the great Creator, God owns us, so hurting myself is a way of disregarding His sovereignty over my life, especially since He made me and loves me.

The biggest reason why someone cuts has to do with God. When I cut, it is like saying to the great Creator who made me, “I don’t care” or “I can manage my life better than you” or “You are not giving me any relief so I’ll find a way” or “I hate you for making me this way.”

Again, it is rarely conscious rebellion. Most cutters I’ve known are not thinking about God when they put a knife on their wrists. But that’s the problem, isn’t it? They’ve got vertical blinders on. At that moment when the sharp edge breaks the skin, they’ve forgotten about God.

That’s why God’s Words to us mater. Cutters are rescued in God’s kingdom. The only person who ever truly atoned for sin was Jesus. A cutter’s self-atonement is worthless. You think you deserve to hurt yourself, but that’s a lie. You don’t deserve to hurt yourself. No one ever does.

The one punishment you do deserve is God’s wrath for your sin. But that’s why Christ came. Though He didn’t deserve to die, though He didn’t deserve to have nails piercing His hands, He died for the unworthy, so that they might stand before the King as worthy servants. That’s the hope that the gospel brings to every cutter both past, present, and future. That’s the hope He brings to you today.  Jesus died for you.

Join the Conversation

What additional reasons for cutting and self-harm would you add?

How can Christ’s gospel of grace provide relief and release from the desire to self-harm?

7 thoughts on “Why Do I Hate Myself: Motivations for the Dreadful Habit of Cutting

  1. I am currently counseling a young woman who endeavours to break her legs by jumping from a height knee first onto rocks below. One of her core issues is abandonment by her mother at an early age. She feels that she is not valued or loved and can not trust anyone. The Lord’s promise never to leave or forsake became a promise that attracted her to Christ and led to her repentance and reception of Him as her saviour.

  2. I too bear the physical scares of being a cutter. I was a christian but never knew how to fight sin or felt i had a purpose in life, so when life got hard I wanted to die, after all I’m going to heaven, so what’s the point of all this suffering (especially if i was the cause of it) It was my only way to stop the emotional storms and anxiety and just feed my self-hatred. I lived with the shame of one mental illness label after another. A former bulimic who used meth to control her binging . Cutting for me was like a drug and a calming would come over me that i know now was straight from the pit of hell. But it was so addicting!..and yet so dangerous. And that is what lead me to stop. My last cutting incident I got carried away and decided I’d just force it to bleed and if I die I die..then it’s not my fault was my warped way of thinking. That was my attitude in many of my suicide attempts, then I wouldn’t feel like it was my own doing , it just happened.

    I’ve come a long way in 15 to 20 years and so much of it I owe to a loving family of God and caring shepherds. I’ve been tempted resonantly with self-injury and suicidal thinking but my Savior is real to me now. I now can say I have a purpose in life (but that’s another praise story how that came about) The blood and the open wound that I’d visually use to calm myself has been transferred to seeing my Jesus dying and bleeding for my sins. And the finished work of Christ is what gives me strength, peace, comfort, hope to fight or should I sat “rest in” as I face trials and temptations in my walk with God.

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  4. Cutting works better for me than any medication that I have ever taken. And the side effects are marginal compared to the medications. I feel good when I cut and that is about the only time in my life I do. Yes I deserve it and will continue to do so. I do not know that God would, should help anyone like me. Better things to do I would hope.

  5. I don’t cut I scratch… my legs are horrible. Large gaping wounds. It doesn’ t hurt I don’t know why I do it.

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