Feel Better Without Hurting Yourself: Coping with Self-Harm

Megan Smith
 min read

Fighting negative thoughts and emotions does not have to lead to violence against yourself. It’s possible to feel better without hurting yourself.

Feel Better Without Hurting Yourself: Coping with Self-HarmUnfortunately, some people may even feel like hurting themselves physically, especially when they have self-esteem issues or are unhappy with themselves.

In this article, we will try to define non-violence with yourself and find solutions to avoid mistreating yourself.

Feel better without hurting yourself: Introduction

When you have problems with your self-esteem, it is sometimes possible to hurt yourself.

For example, people hurt themselves by biting, burning themselves with the end of their cigarettes, or banging their heads against the wall.

Not only do people who abuse each other do so with gestures, but they also use words to insult, threaten or devalue each other.

What is self-abuse?

Sometimes self-esteem issues can cause us to slip beyond simple annoyance with ourselves, such as when we fail to do what we would like to do or to be as we would like to be.

There are different degrees of poor dialogue with yourself:


Self-aggression can be expressed in several ways:

  • Mental, for example, by insulting ourselves
  • Or physical with a desire to hit ourselves or do violence to objects.

Sometimes, we can also find suicidal impulses related to this self-hatred caused by being disappointed with ourselves.

Failure behaviors

There are behaviors of failure that are ways of avoiding judgment on oneself.

For example, suppose one does not prepare for an exam and fails. In that case, one can say that the failure was due to unpreparedness rather than a lack of intelligence.

Some failure behaviors may also have a self-punishing aspect. For example, one might say:

“Since this is the way it is, I don’t deserve to go on vacation, to go to this party, or to get this award.”

Intimate self-deprecation

This can be defined as noting that you have failed to achieve a goal and adding a second layer by overly criticizing or devaluing yourself.

Generally, in this case, it is the work of the emotion of regret that comes into play: we will inflict a little pain to make us want to do better the next time.

However, there is no need to go overboard! Indeed, the role of our intelligence is not to punish us but to help us reflect so that the disappointment does not recur.

Doubts and dissatisfactions

In this case, one never gratifies oneself or recognizes one’s progress.

Chronic dissatisfaction can be considered a form of violence against oneself because it represents an injustice (and injustice is violence).

Why go to war with yourself?

It is possible to fight yourself for several reasons:

  • Because we prolong and replay the deficiencies of our childhood. In fact, hating oneself is frequent, especially in those who have not been loved and have been deprived of affection from a very young age.
  • Because we are victims of our ideals, we can deceive ourselves, making us violent towards ourselves. We are only ready to accept ourselves if we are perfect.
  • Because we think that being hard on ourselves is good. In this case, we are permanently distrustful. We feel that if we let ourselves be too soft, the “bad tendencies” would invade our existence and lead us to mediocrity.

Do we want to punish ourselves or help ourselves to change?

This is an important question to answer:

“Am I trying to punish myself, or do I want to change?”

If your answer is “punish myself to change myself,” you should know that psychology has primarily shown the inadequacy of punishment as a teaching tool.

Punishment teaches only one thing: to avoid punishment.

Punishment only serves to maintain order, not to create a psychological atmosphere of motivation for personal change.

It must also be emphasized that violence, in all its forms, even violence directed at ourselves, is only a gross misuse of force.

To think that strength and severity towards oneself can be enough to change is an archaic and inefficient vision. This vision can also be dangerous.

Indeed, this will establish a logic of violence that facilitates the systematic return of the same mistakes and feelings of self-dissatisfaction.

Suppose the results we dream of do not come to anything. In that case, we can redouble our violence towards ourselves and increase the severity of the punishments we inflict on ourselves.

This is the logic of the double penalty, i.e., in addition to failure, there is also punishment.

However, suffering does not make you progress! What allows progress is understanding the reason(s) for suffering and finding ways to overcome that suffering.

Punishment and violence have nothing to teach us in the area of self-esteem.

But then, how do you treat yourself? Should you be harder or softer on yourself?

It is interesting to note that the opposite of violence is not weakness but gentleness. Therefore, it is perfectly possible to be gentle and firm with ourselves.

Non-violent change is an art! Feel better without hurting yourself

As you will have understood, any form of violence and regular offense to oneself is unnecessary. In all situations where humans have renounced the use of violence, humanity has progressed.

We must understand that violence towards ourselves only makes sense, and even then, in a figurative sense.

In this context, bringing violence on ourselves means constraining ourselves. But exacting violence on ourselves in the literal sense does not work!

We can also talk about double punishment: it prepares for the return of violence at the next difficulty.

This also risks facilitating its spread in our environment: our violence towards ourselves can contaminate our close relations and our children because they see us behaving like that towards ourselves.

Some people have given up their self-abuse with the help of their children’s eyes. So we find wise words like:

“What made me change were my children: I did not want to pass this on to them.”

Let’s take the example of a person who yells at himself and calls himself names while screaming at home:

“You are stupid, oh so stupid!”

This person punishes himself by refusing to go on a family outing on the weekend or to a family party.

However, his children gradually understood that this was how this person reacted to his failures.

One day, this person’s son insulted himself. He got angry with himself because of an assignment he couldn’t solve, using the same insults used by his parent.

Therefore, the questions to ask yourself are:

“Is this what you want to teach your children? Is the image of a person insulting themselves what you want to leave them with? Do you want them to act the same way?”

Generally, people don’t want to pass on their unhappiness to their children. They will therefore avoid abusing themselves in front of their family and friends.

Eradicating violence is a long process, especially if you have become accustomed to it under the pressure of your self-esteem problems.

Suppose you have been practicing aggression against yourself for a long time. In that case, you should probably continue to be wary of it throughout your life.

Indeed, the more tired we are, the more the old reflexes will try to come back.

But each successful fight, each setback we inflict on it, can make its returns less violent.

Feel better without hurting yourself: Conclusion

Self-esteem problems can lead to violence against ourselves. Whether it is physical or verbal violence, it is still violence.

You should know that punishing and abusing yourself will not change your self-esteem. There is little point in devaluing yourself or going to war with yourself if you want to improve your mood and self-esteem.

These violent behaviors can come from different sources:

  • A lack of affection during childhood,
  • Being victims of our ideals, or
  • Thinking that being hard on ourselves is beneficial for our well-being.

Being violent towards oneself can have an impact on those around us. Indeed, we can transmit our harmful behaviors to others.

Therefore, it is essential to have good self-esteem by accepting yourself as you are and especially by avoiding self-abuse, mental and physical.

About Megan Smith

Megan has been fighting overweight and her plus size since her teenage years. After trying all types of remedies without success, she started doing her own research. Megan founded Plus Size Zeal to share her findings. She also developed various detailed buying guides for plus-size people in order to make their lives easier and more comfortable. Read More