How can I cope with being triggered by seeing other people’s self harm scars/cuts in public as someone who is trying to recover from self harm?

Thanks for reaching out about a question like this, it’s a good one!

Cuts/scars from self-harm are often triggering for many people. Self-harm is stigmatized in society, so feeling uneasy around cuts/scars is an understandable response. For some, they may feel squeamish at the sight of a cut, they might bring back memories of when they themselves self-harmed, etc. However, one still needs to realize that, at the end of the day, although self-harm is not the healthiest way of coping, it may be the only coping mechanism that works for someone. For that reason, try to see cutting as simply someone trying his or her absolute best to cope with the struggles in his or her life.

So then, how does one deal with that triggered feeling that happens when someone’s cut/scar is exposed? Well, first start with some self-reflection. How do you feel when you see a cut? How would you describe the feeling? Good? Bad? Why do you feel the way you do about cutting? In this way, try to figure out whether you are okay with responding to cuts in the way that you do. Is your response natural, or is it the product of other thoughts and/or potential preconceptions about self-harm? Are you okay with that? Are there any actions you can take to re-frame your image of self-harming?

Admittedly, the topic is complicated, and the most important step we have to first take to try to understand how to deal with seeing cuts/scars in public is simply reflecting on our own thoughts, why we think the way you do, and whether we are okay with it. If we’re not, then we should try to take the steps to change the way we think. Now this is much easier said than done. Depending on how we want to change our response, changing our thoughts is a process that can require a lot of work. However, anyone can do it with time and effort. I would suggest to research into the topic of self-harm and the feelings you have in response. Discuss the topic with people you trust in your life for other opinions and information and/or perspectives that you might have not considered. If you want, call us 403-264-8336 or text us at 587-333-2724 and volunteers can discuss the topic with you. By having an open mind and having these important discussions, we can potentially change the way we think about cuts/scars.

However, know that this is not an exact science. Self-harm and cuts/scars are a subject with a lot of stigma attached to it, and the response that is triggered depends on a lot of factors.

But, if you’re open-minded and willing to learn, then you can change how you respond to those cuts/harms with time and effort. Hope this helps! 😊