Retracing Your Steps Can Lead to Fresh Perspectives on Self-Harm

October 25, 2014 Jennifer Aline Graham

We all have moments where flashbacks occur and we want to give in to the unsafe triggers around us. However, even though flashbacks can be haunting to those who self-harm, they can also make you realize how far you have come and how much you have grown. If you look at your past with a positive mindset, even if the past you are looking back at is negative, you may be able to gather a fresh perspective.

In a recent blog, Sharp Objects Recognizes Different Forms of Self-Harm, I discussed my admiration for author Gillian Flynn and her novel Sharp Objects. I was more than impressed with Flynn’s ability to intertwine the topic of self-harm into her character and for the self-harm she discussed to be a form many people overlook. In the book, the character goes back to her hometown strictly on business, but ends up stepping into the shoes of her old self and becoming vulnerable again to her past of self-harm.

We’ve all become vulnerable to our past decisions and have thought about those choices and wished they had been different. Even though it is important not to dwell on the past or regret those decisions, it is okay to look back on those moments, re-absorb them and find ways to move forward with a new perspective.

Facing your Fears Can be Rewarding for Self-Harmers

Retracing your past of self-harm can lead to fresh perspectives on self-injury and your positive change.

Many people convince themselves not to go back to the same places where self-harm used to occur because they fear how they will react under those circumstances. Some people won’t even listen to certain music because it brings them to a negative place and they do not want to fall back into that familiar darkness. There are certain bands I cannot listen to without linking them to self-harm and when visiting my high school, I will not use the bathroom I used when I needed to self-harm, to cut.

Even though I am able to redirect myself when negative flashbacks occur, I need to convince myself that it is okay to retrace those steps from my past. I need to march myself into that bathroom or listen to those songs and prove to myself that I am stronger than the negative memories attached to them.

Fresh Perspectives on Self-Harm

I went back through my young adult novel, Noon and decided to do an updated edit. Not only did I find many little things that needed to be tweaked, I also found myself recalling memories from my past self-harm addiction. Many scenes, with the character that self-harms, were from my own personal struggles and re-reading those incidents made me remember how difficult those times truly were.

By reading the novel again, I was able to gain a fresh perspective on my past issues with cutting. Instead of feeling uneasy when re-reading those difficult scenes, I told myself how strong I was to be able to recreate those negative memories into something that could help others – a relatable character in a book.

Retracing my steps back to those rough times made me feel proud knowing I had overcome those demons. It takes a brave person with a strong mind to face fears that root from his or her past. If you are not prepared to face those kinds of fears, do not put yourself in that kind of an unsafe situation. You do not want to lead yourself down an unsteady path where triggers surround you. But when you are comfortable enough to take a trip back in time, you will realize how far you have come and how strong you truly are.

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APA Reference
Aline, J. (2014, October 25). Retracing Your Steps Can Lead to Fresh Perspectives on Self-Harm, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 25 from

Author: Jennifer Aline Graham

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