Struggling with Self-Harm and Low Self-Esteem

July 22, 2013 Jennifer Aline Graham

It’s obvious that self-harm and self-esteem are linked in some way or another. Typically, if someone is feeling down in the dumps, they are going to try to find a way to get rid of that feeling. When self-harmers feel this way, they turn to one of the only coping skills they know – cutting, burning, hair pulling, scratching or head banging (as well as others, of course).

When struggling with any kind of mental illness, it is extremely tough to bounce right out of a negative place. It’s easy to listen to therapists, friends, teachers and even bloggers when they tell you to “Keep your chin up” or “Shake it off”, but is it easy to actually shake off that feeling?

Not usually.

Self-Esteem Struggles

It’s so frustrating to just tell your mind to snap out of thinking a certain way. When looking in the mirror, many people don’t see the real person they are. They see someone totally opposite and when you have to look in a mirror everyday and you’re insecure, your self-esteem instantly drops.

Self-harmers hurt themselves for many reasons, as we know, and low self-esteem is definitely linked to those personal reasons. For example, your boyfriend breaks up with you. Instantly, you may feel ugly and fat and gross. This makes you angry which leads you to taking this frustration out on yourself.

Voila – low self-esteem leading to self-destructive behaviors.

This isn’t always the case for those struggling with self-harm, but it is known that many self-injurers struggle with some kind of mental illness, which usually includes some type of issue with low self-esteem. Struggles with self-esteem don’t disappear easily.

Why? Because we are human.

How Can We Kick Some Low Self-Esteem Butt?

Again, it is easier said than done when it comes to gaining confidence. For self-harmers, scars tend to create bodily insecurities even years after the last cut has been made. To this day, I have an anxiety attack if I leave the apartment without at least one bracelet on each wrist. Many of my scars faded away over the years, but the few that remain still haunt me and since I’ve always worn bracelets, they’ve become a coping skill.

Just wearing those bracelets gives me confidence because when I look at my wrists, I see jewelry first, not scars.

Confidence comes from your own willingness to see yourself in a positive light. For years, I couldn’t look at myself without thinking I was fat, ugly, dumb, friendless and worthless. After years of therapy, medications and positive self-talk, I’m starting to enjoy this newfound confidence. It’s nice to walk with your head up high and a smile on your face. Even if you aren’t feeling that great, try to walk like that and it may change things.

Here are some possible ways to up your self-esteem and stay away from self-harm:
- Make a playlist of positive power songs and blast them in your room or when you drive.
- Dress yourself up even if you have nowhere to go – looking good makes you feel good.
- Watch Despicable Me over and over and over again – I’m sorry, but laughing is always the key to good self-esteem
- Travel out of your town – it is good to get out and go somewhere new for a little bit.

You can also find Jennifer Aline Graham on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and her website is here.

APA Reference
Aline, J. (2013, July 22). Struggling with Self-Harm and Low Self-Esteem, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 19 from

Author: Jennifer Aline Graham

August, 12 2013 at 6:53 pm

"Confidence comes from your own willingness to see yourself in a positive light." You hit the nail on the head right there! Thank you for your post!

Sandra L. Flaada
August, 1 2013 at 3:05 pm

I was in a dept. store a few weeks back and the clerk had cutting scars the entire length of her arms. She did not hide them, which I thought was a very strong thing to do. She definitely wasn't hiding. I'm glad she is in a good place now, I'm sure she worked very hard to get there.

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