Why do we pick our skin? Why do we pick our scalp until it bleeds? Why do we pull our hair, bite our fingers nails until they are raw, bleeding and down to the bone? Why do we cut? Why do we starve ourselves? Why do we eat too much? Sometimes we play video games for days or zone out through substances or alcohol.
These behaviours are a way to cope, a way to protect what feels like scary feelings. A way to continue the ‘freeze state’ or ‘immobilized state’. Such behaviours are excellent ways to leave our body, zone out, space out, stay outside of our body. They also help us stay disconnected from unpleasant sensations like butterflies in the stomach, aches, chills, tingles, throbbing pain, burning in our diaphragm, pain in our head, or heaviness in the chest.
Chronic pain, unexplained by doctors, is sometimes connected to locked trauma in the nervous system. Over time these behaviours become our rituals, our ways to self soothe. We have a dichotomous relationship with these behaviours where on the one hand we have shame and disdain for what we are doing to ourselves, and yet, on the other hand, we feel comfortable and safe in these rituals. They have kept us going in their crazy dysfunctional way.
Once you learn about your nervous system and trauma you can also learn skills to help relieve blocked energy within your body as well as help soothe scary feelings or internal sensations until you eventually become friends with yourself enough that turning to old behaviours seems absurd.
The practice is important. Mindfulness exercises, grounding exercises, EFT, breathing, and pleasure activities can easily replace these behaviours.