Recently, I've thought about the phenomenon of humans seeking out intentionally self-harming behavior. "Cutting" is no longer the hot button issue it once was (or maybe now that I'm no longer a teenager it's no longer something that I'm as keenly aware of as a problem.) Yet, when I look at the way people live their lives, it occurs to me how easy it is to be happy. Especially if you live in a powerful country where you can get a lot of the things that make you happy. You want for nothing. Yet, we see not only unhappiness but a somewhat intentional focus on things and behaviors that produce unhappiness.
The easy answer to this question has always been that it is the behavior of the low self esteem individual. I wouldn't completely disagree with that but it misses the point. The reason people inflict harm isn't because they feel they aren't worth anything and deserve to be hurt, at least not usually.
The reason people seek out either physical or emotional pain is because it is the way they feel alive.
You drive to work, you take the bus to school. Do you even remember doing it? Do you have any recollection of it? You ate three meals today, you went to bed and woke up undisturbed. You had similar conversations with the people you've known for quite a while. So much of our lives feel like a blur, the harsh pain of a boredom that can't be lifted because it is everywhere.
And yet if you've experienced too harsh pain too early you may live in continual boredom because it's at least functional. You may life a life of "fronting" appearing to have to have the "strength" that society wants you to have so that they don't bother you anymore. So that they don't hurt you.
Inside, though, the boredom is crushing insofar as you remember that there was a life before it that you felt something. I realized that pain is, then, our last recollection of feeling before we cut ourselves off emotionally. The last real emotion we felt before we went into our "fronting."
Pain, then, feels good. It explains the phenomenon of the "bad boy" and the "hot bxtch." It explains the obsession with the hurtful parent over the loving one. It explains why paradise doesn't exist in the mind or on Earth. We fell from it and we don't even remember having been there. All we know is Hell. But even Hell is preferable to Purgatory where you live the same day over and over.
So when you see yourself stalking your ex on social media, you see yourself sabotaging your own promotion chances at work, when you feel the temptation to give up and suffer, consider that its a desire to feel alive. That's what you want...not your ex...not freedom from your job...not to lie on your bed and cry. Those are just the means. Take a look at your life and figure out a way to start living.