Anger, Anxiety and Unsafe Thoughts That Lead to Self-Harm

May 17, 2014 Jennifer Aline Graham

When anger and anxiety take over, it can be hard to avoid self-harm. it is important to understand your body and direct unsafe thoughts in a positive direction.

For those who struggle with self-harm, emotions are often intense. When you’re in a positive, safe place, you tend to feel as if you will always have the strength to push past those daily stressors. When worried or anxious, your body goes into hyperactive mode, thinking that a small cut or burn may turn off the paranoia. For those who self-harm, anger can be one of the most frightening feelings of all because when you feel this emotion, it is hard to stop yourself from harming your body.

It can be difficult controlling unsteady emotions, especially for those with mental illness. Emotions play a huge role in overcoming the need to self-harm. Once you find ways to effectively control your emotions, you may find it easier to control the urges to cut or burn or pick.

Anger and Self-Harm

I’ve never really been an angry person. I have found ways to turn my anger into a different emotion after years of working at it. However, we all have moments of anger simply because we are human. During my years of cutting, I felt angry on almost a daily basis. I would become angry with myself for saying something I shouldn’t have or for looking a certain way. I’d get mad if my best friend was talking to another friend more than me and I would take it out on myself. This would often lead to anxiety over urges to cut my skin.


Anxiety and anger have always seemed to work hand-in-hand in some cases. When we are paranoid about something and if that something doesn’t turn out the way we hoped, anger typically follows if we do not use our positive coping skills.

These situations could lead to unsafe thoughts and unsafe thoughts could lead to grabbing any sharp object in sight.

Do Not Let Upsetting Emotions Turn Into Negative Behaviors like Self-Harm

Recently, a four-year-old I know hit his mother in the face. When his mother told me this, she told me how difficult it had been for her to hold back her anger. For anyone who has experienced this, you would agree that it isn’t easy. After he took some time alone, he was talked to and told to use his words when he is angry and to squeeze his teddy bear instead. Later on, when someone in the room started getting frustrated, he told them to squeeze his bear.

At a young age, we are able to connect with our negative emotions and find helpful solutions. However, as we grow older, we realize it isn’t always easy to replace negative behaviors with positive ones. We can verbally tell ourselves what to do instead of self-harming – listen to music, take a walk, punch a punching bag. However, when anger is at it’s highest peak and your mind is stirring with thoughts of self-harm, those coping skills often disappear.

It’s important to become in touch with the emotions that typically take over your body in unsafe ways. By knowing how your body reacts to certain situations, you can work on finding ways to help yourself instead of hurting yourself. Once you find ways that work, baby steps will lead you to a positive place.

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APA Reference
Aline, J. (2014, May 17). Anger, Anxiety and Unsafe Thoughts That Lead to Self-Harm, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 14 from

Author: Jennifer Aline Graham

July, 25 2023 at 12:04 am

I've been doing self-harm as an anger coping mechanism. One time, mom told me to not to grumpy because it looks annoying. My auntie also scolded me for getting furious because she got annoyed by it. they always prohibit me to angry and such things, but they never ask me what happened to me. I've been hiding my bruises and scars from self-harming.

more shallow than my cuts
January, 24 2021 at 12:34 am

that easy, huh?
I held off hurting myself for years but somehow it just boiled over a few days ago and now I've gone and cut up my leg. I don't feel guilt or shame. I'm hiding it because I don't want people to worry, but I don't feel like i can just 'control' my emotions as simply as hugging a teddy.

Nunya business
July, 2 2019 at 3:37 pm

Most useless article I’ve ever read.

July, 16 2018 at 12:35 pm

When I get upset or angry I start to cry and self harm.What does this mean and how do I control it?

Katherine Elizabeth Boulter
May, 21 2014 at 8:47 pm

I have being anger for a very long time and because of that I have been self harm with lots of different things and have yell a lot at my parents and male partner but I feel like I am bisexual which means I love both genders lots of love from Katherine

Anne Onymous
May, 21 2014 at 2:47 pm

I have been self harming for 7 years consciously, since the age of 11, but my parents have told me when I was younger I would bang my head against the wall when angry. I have depression and anxiety, and during serve panic attacks I still bang my head. I used to just scratch my skin during my low points, but recently as my anxiety has gotten worse and the insecurities and paranoia have increased I now burn and cut myself. Where as before my harming would go unnoticed it's now becoming more difficult. I worry if my parents find out they will stop me when really harming is stopping me ending it all. My parents are trying so hard to help. CAMHS discharged me and I was abandoned. The wait for NHS help is terrible. We tried the priory but they are sloppy and cost 300+ anhour which we cant afford. Its breaking my family up and causing them depression. Sometimes I think they would all be happier without me. But then I realise it would destroy them if I killed myself. I'm trying to stay strong for them but I'm loosing the will to live. If this is what my life is like then I don't want it anymore.

Mom of 4 (2 explosive personailties)
May, 21 2014 at 12:00 pm

I have two children (10 & 11) who are naturally explosive. They do not harm themselves, but they do harm each other. We have been in counseling and on medication for 3 years. As parents, we have learned new techniques and work a lot on saying what we want, as opposed to what we don't want, and walking through calm down techniques. Our biggest challenge is compliance in the moment. Any articles or referrals of information in this vein would be greatly appreciated.

May, 18 2014 at 7:48 pm

As a psychiatric nurse I deal with patients with these anger issues on a daily basis. In many cases they are just angry and don't know why. We try to instill in them different ways of coping with fear and anger. Sometimes we don't even recognize them when they are discharged their behavior has improved so much.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Samantha botley
August, 22 2017 at 6:46 am

Please tell me the different ways that you taught your patients my daughter is self harming due to anger

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Simon osgood
September, 21 2018 at 10:08 am

My partner want me to money out for about because she needs to sort her head out and i can't handle the pain, I am a very emotional bloke I am crying all the time so I am cutting myself because for that split second it's a different sort of pain.
I can't leave I have 2 children hear I can't do this also I promise my mum I would be happy with her and marry her and my mum died.
This is hard please help

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