Self-harm scars are a visible reminder of past struggles, and as you may be able to relate to, they can cause a range of challenges for people who have engaged in this behaviour. And, for this reason, in this blog post, we are going to:
- Identify some of the most common emotional impacts of self-harm scars;
- Share with you some practical tips to help you cope, heal and overcome the challenges that are associated with self-harm scars.
As soon as you're ready, let's begin ❤️
1. The Emotional Impacts Of Self-Harm Scars
Self-Harm Scars Can Cause Shame
Very commonly, self-harm scars can trigger feelings of shame - because, for example:
- People who have self-harmed often feel that their scars are a sign of "weakness" or "failure" - since in their eyes, if they were "stronger" and "better able to cope with the overwhelming emotions that led to them self-harming", then they wouldn't have done so.
- Additionally, shame over self-harm scars can often be fuelled by other people's judgment - particularly if you're surrounded by people who don't have self-harm scars themselves, and who minimally understand the mental health issues that frequently contribute to self-harm.
Self-Harm Scars Can Cause Embarrassment
In addition to feeling shame, it's common for people who've self-harmed to also feel acutely embarrassed of their scars. This is often because, for example:
- They may feel that their self-harm scars make them ugly;
- They may feel that their self-harm scars make them stand out and look different from others;
- They may feel that their self-harm scars draw unwanted attention to themselves;
- They may feel that they'll be judged, criticised and/or looked at differently as a result of their self-harm scars.
Self-Harm Scars Can Cause Feelings Of Worthlessness
Furthermore, self-harm scars can also cause feelings of worthlessness, since, for example:
- People who've self-harmed may believe that their scars are a reflection of their "inadequacy" and/or their "lack of self-control";
- They may feel that their self-harm scars make them less "worthy" and/or "less deserving of love and respect". In particular, common negative thoughts associated with this lack of self-worth may include, for example: "I'm not worthy of love because of my scars", "my scars are a reminder I'm not enough", and/or "my scars make me look damaged and broken".
Self-Harm Scars Can Cause Anxiety
Self-harm scars can also commonly cause anxiety and self-consciousness, since like we've mentioned, people with self-harm scars may worry about how their friends and family will react to seeing them. Consequently:
- When it comes to social situations for example, people with self-harm scars may constantly worry about other people seeing them, expend considerable effort and energy into thinking about how best to hide their scars, and/or be hyper-vigilantly on the lookout for any changes in other people’s behaviour that may arise if their self-harm scars are in fact noticed.
- Additionally, when it comes to becoming intimate with someone, people with self-harm scars may have an increased sense of insecurity about their scars, difficulty trusting others, and a persistent fear of being abandoned - as a result of worrying that they won't be able to be accepted because of their self-harm scars.
2. Tips For Overcoming The Emotional Impact Of Self-Harm Scars
As we've just looked at, there are sadly a wide range of painful emotional impacts that can stem from having self-harm scars. However, it's also important to note that there are a variety of strategies that, if practiced, can help you to cope with-, heal from- and in time overcome any shame, embarrassment, feelings of worthlessness, and/or any anxiety that you may feel surrounding your self-harm scars.
On that note, we'd now like to share three such practices with you.
A) Practice Self-Compassion
We really encourage you to practice self-compassion if you have self-harm scars, since doing so can help to free you from self-blame and feelings of shame.
In particular, in order to practice self-compassion, it can be really helpful to acknowledge all of the negative thoughts, the painful emotions, and anything else that triggered you and caused you to self-harm.
This is because the more you’re able to acknowledge and be mindful of all of this, then the easier it will be for you to see that engaging in self-harm - while not something that you want to continue doing - was at least understandable given everything you were going through. And, for this reason, it's not something to continuously beat yourself up-, criticise- and shame yourself for.
Additionally, if you'd like to learn some more ways in which you can practice self-compassion and cope with the shame that can stem from engaging in self-harm, we encourage you to read our blog post The Biggest Causes Of "Depression Shame" And How To Overcome Them.
B) Practice Self-Acceptance
Self-acceptance involves embracing all of yourself - including your flaws, imperfections and any mistakes you've made - and recognising that they do not define your worth or value as a person.
In order to practice self-acceptance, it can help to firstly, replace self-critical thoughts about yourself with thoughts that are much more self-accepting.
For example, the self-critical thought "I hate myself for having self-harm scars" could be replaced with:
- "I love myself because I'm a good person, and this doesn't change just because I have some self-harm scars".
- "While I may not love my self-harm scars, I accept that they're a part of my body, and recognise that they do not define who I am".
If you'd like to learn more about this thought-replacing strategy - in addition to other strategies to help you combat negative thoughts - then we encourage you to read our blog post 50 Examples Of Negative Thoughts When You Have Depression.
Secondly, when it comes to practicing self-acceptance, it can also really help to bring much more awareness to all of the good qualities you have, and all of the other reasons why you should love yourself - instead of focusing exclusively on the things you don't like about yourself (such as your self-harm scars).
To help you do this, we've written a separate blog post for you titled Reasons Why You Should Love Yourself.
C) Tell Yourself Positive Affirmations
Whether used to help fight off negative intrusive thoughts or as a daily practice to encourage self-compassion and acceptance, repeating positive affirmations to yourself can be a powerful strategy to help you cope with and overcome the emotional impact of self-harm scars. In particular, some examples of positive affirmations which you may find soothing include:
- "I am so much more than my self-harm scars"
- "My self-harm scars do not define me as a person"
- "I am worthy of love and kindness"
- "I will let go of any shame I feel, because I don't deserve to hold onto it any longer"
- "I am proud of myself for surviving my darkest days"
- "Each day I choose to give myself more self-compassion than the day before"
For a list of additional positive affirmations which you may find helpful, please have a look at these two blog posts:
- 75 Affirmations To Improve Self-Love, Self-Confidence, Self-Worth & Self-Esteem
- 75 Positive Affirmations For Depression
From the bottom of our hearts, we really hope that you've found this blog post helpful, and that the strategies we've shared with you help you on your healing journey.
All our love,
The Depression Project Team
P.S. If you found this blog post helpful, then we think you'll find our Self-Sabotaging Habits Bootcamp helpful as well, in which we'll cover:
- The exact steps you need to follow in order to break out of self-sabotaging habits like binge eating, overspending on "retail therapy", substance abuse or self-harm, for example;
- What to do if you relapse back into your self-sabotaging habits;
- And much more.
Access to this Bootcamp and lots of others are included as part of our Depression Bootcamps Membership Platform - which you can learn more about by clicking the button below.