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It can be difficult to help an individual who self-harms when you self-harm yourself.  The individual may call you a hypocrite.  You may accuse yourself of being one.  However, trying to encourage someone to quit from the standpoint of one who has or is self-harming can have certain benefits.

In some instances, the individual receiving your encouragement may think you are a hypocrite.  This would probably not be the case if you self-harmed in the past but have completely given it up.  However, it can be an issue if you still engage in the behavior often or fall into it from time to time.  In this case, the individual may think that you are telling them to “do as you say, not as you do”.  This can be aggravating and may make the individual reject your advice altogether.   

On the other hand, you may accuse yourself of being a hypocrite.  I have personally never been called a hypocrite in similar situations.  However, I have often suppressed my desire to help because I felt that I had no right giving advice that I didn’t follow.  I was upset with myself for not being able to quit and fearful of being deemed a hypocrite.  These feelings prevented me from giving the best support that I could.

Despite these possible setbacks, your situation may make an individual more comfortable listening to your advice.  Although you and the individual may have different emotions regarding self-injury, you will likely relate with the individual better than would an individual who has never self-harmed.  An individual may be more prone to take your words to heart if he/she can relate.

BUT, do not make it completely about yourself.  You may want to share personal anecdotes about how you quit or why it was difficult.  But remember that your situation is not this individual’s situation.  What worked for you might not work for this person.  Also, do not be offended if this person does not take your advice.  You cannot force anyone to recover.  You should support this individual and encourage them to get help, but in the end the individual has to make the decisions.

Conclusively, despite fears of being hypocritical, it is important to help these individuals in need.  For those receiving help, do not expect your supporter to be a saint.  Do not dismiss him/her for not completely quitting self-harm.  His/her support or advice may still be beneficial for you.  And if you are trying to support someone, focus on that individual.  Don’t expect him/her to recover instantly.  Really listen and encourage him/her with any progress he/she makes, no matter how much or how little.

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