Self harm to the soul is the inner equivalent of slicing the skin. More of an internal bleed. Long sleeves aren’t needed to cover the marks. The indentations are buried deep inside.

How many of us harbour past hurts? Childhood griefs that we have played over and over in our hearts.

Each time a painful memory is replayed it gathers strength and power. After we’ve revisited a past pain thousands of times does it it even resemble that initial hurt anymore? Or are we just creating a new memory, a more caustic one?

I used to make myself remember past pain. I’d sometimes take myself back to the core of it, needing to reinforce its hurt, to justify its existence. Because then I could validate any destructive emotions that had travelled with me. I had a reason for them. I had been hurt. I could claim the crown.

Our attachment to past events and experiences is a strong force. Being able to separate the event from the emotion can be a challenge. Our mind wants to bundle everything together. It feels easier that way. But if we are able to create some distance between what we experience and our emotional attachment to that experience then we can start to open up the space for awareness and healing to begin.

To be clear, I’m not referring to events where physical harm or mental abuse has taken place. Instances such as these are best worked through with qualified counsellors who can assist in the healing process. I’m referring to past slights that perhaps took place in the playground, at the workplace or within our personal relationships. Instances that weren’t necessarily horrific but ones that we can easily recall to mind at any given time, because we keep them alive by holding on to their memory.

When we keep past pain in the forefront of our minds we are self harming. @SkylarLiberty
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Clinging on to old hurts is a habit that we reinforce each time we revisit the wound. It’s also a sure fire way of staying mentally stuck. Energy goes where attention flows and if we allow ourselves to linger on moments that no longer serve us, we are draining our physical and mental energy.

Here are some tips on how we might start to overcome the habit of mental self harm and start looking towards inner freedom:

1) Practice mindfulness. Our minds are capable of so many wonderful things but we need to regularly take check of the thoughts we allow in and out. Remember the wonderful Mahatma Gandhi quote, “I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.” Training our minds to stay in the present moment is a discipline that can be challenging but it’s rewards are worth reaping. Try picking one task or activity and then commit to staying fully present for the entire process. A good place to start is at a mealtime. Place your full concentration on staying aware of each bite of food. Notice texture, flavour and feel. When your mind wanders don’t give up – take a new breath and start again. It’s called a practice for a reason!

2) Consider EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), also known as ‘tapping’. Sessions with a qualified practitioner usually focus on stimulating certain meridian points on the body. The desired outcome is to eliminate any blocked energy that may be contributing to emotional distress.

3) Journal. The act of writing down thoughts and feelings can be a cathartic process. Keeping a journal can be an amazing way of gaining some clarity on anything keeping you ‘stuck’ and the simple act of unburdening onto paper is a release in itself. Your journal doesn’t necessarily have to be a diary of daily events, it can be as free flowing as feels right for you. After all, it doesn’t have to be read by anyone else.

4) Get creative. I have long since believed in creativity as a way of healing. I also believe that every individual is creative at heart – you just have to find the outlet that works for you. If you’re unsure then start by experimenting. Try sculpting, painting, drawing, writing, photography – it can be anything you like. When you tune into your creative energy you are giving yourself an opportunity to take any emotions and feelings and create something wonderful from them. Doing this can decrease any self destructiveness and increase self awareness. Plus it’s great fun!

5) Find your mantra. Decide on an affirmation that you believe in fully, one that stands for who you are and what you want to achieve in life. Keep it short enough so that it’s easy to remember and use it daily. Saying it silently in your head is good, but saying it out loud is even better. Whenever you’re tempted to dwell in the past for too long, bring your mantra to mind. It will act as a reminder to stay in the present and keep you focused on your greatness.

Skylar Liberty Rose is a big believer in the healing power of creativity and the freedom found in living your truth. She is a writer, blogger and street photographer and believes in manifesting dreams through action and visualisation. Skylar is an advocate of stripping away layers of conditioning and instead discovering the person you are truly meant to be. She is inspired by souls with spirit and courageous hearts. Skylar grew up in London, and now lives with her husband in New York City. You can follow her on TwitterFB, and her blog.

Image courtesy of Chris Goldberg.