A Guide To Healing: How To Make Scars Go Away

Medically reviewed by Paige Henry, LMSW, J.D.
Updated April 14, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that could be triggering to the reader. Please see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

Healing emotional scars is a journey of introspection and courage. These invisible wounds, often stemming from past trauma, negative experiences, or emotional distress, can linger for years, shaping your beliefs, behaviors, and interactions with the world. While making them disappear entirely may not be possible, you can heal, grow, and find ways to lead a fulfilling life despite them. 

This guide offers a roadmap to navigate the complex process of healing emotional scars, including recognizing them, their effects, and steps to reduce their impact on your day-to-day life.

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Recognizing emotional scars

Emotional scars are the long-lasting psychological impacts caused by deeply distressing or traumatic experiences. These experiences can include but aren’t limited to, physical or emotional abuse, neglect, loss of a loved one, witnessing violence, or living through a natural disaster. Essentially, any incident that evokes high levels of emotional distress can leave scars.

If you or a loved one is experiencing abuse, contact the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Support is available 24/7.

A person's emotional scars are hidden wounds that manifest as fear, anxiety, depression, anger, or trust issues that need to be acknowledged before they can heal. Awareness of the triggers and emotions resulting from these scars is the first step in understanding them.

How do emotional scars affect us?

Emotional scars can manifest themselves in various ways and may vary significantly from person to person. Some common effects include:

  • Anxiety and depression: Past traumas can cause chronic anxiety and depression. People may worry constantly, struggle to concentrate, feel hopeless or helpless, or lose interest in previously enjoyed activities.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Some people with emotional scars may develop PTSD, marked by flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, and intrusive thoughts about the traumatic event.
  • Difficulty forming relationships: Emotional scars from childhood may make it difficult for an individual to trust others and form meaningful relationships. They may fear vulnerability or anticipate harm or rejection, leading to social isolation.
  • Low self-esteem: Emotional scars can lead to feelings of unworthiness and low self-esteem. Individuals may constantly criticize themselves and harbor negative beliefs about their abilities and worth.
  • Physical symptoms: Emotional distress can also lead to physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, muscle tension, and fatigue. Individuals may also develop chronic pain or other long-term health issues due to persistent stress and anxiety.
  • Substance use: Some individuals may use alcohol or drugs to cope with their emotional pain, leading to an unhealthy reliance on substances. 
  • Behavioral changes: Emotional scars can cause changes in behavior, such as loss of interest in once-enjoyed activities, altered eating and sleeping patterns, heightened irritability, or trouble focusing and completing tasks.

If you are struggling with substance use, contact the SAMHSA National Helpline at (800) 662-4357 to receive support and resources. Support is available 24/7.

Remember, these effects vary and can differ based on the individual and their experiences. Recognizing these effects is the first step to seeking help and healing.


Taking steps to reduce emotional scars

Each of the following methods contributes to the process of healing emotional scars. Remember, there is no ‘right’ way to heal. What works for one person might not work for another, and a therapist can help you find what methods resonate with you.

1. Self-awareness and acknowledgment

To heal emotional scars, start by acknowledging their existence. Suppressing negative emotions and painful experiences creates a barrier to healing. Being self-aware involves recognizing past traumas and understanding their emotional impact on you.

2. Mindfulness and meditation

Mindfulness and meditation are powerful tools for healing emotional wounds. They involve nonjudgmentally paying attention to the present moment. Observing thoughts and feelings without identification gives you perspective on experiences and emotional reactions.

3. Journaling

Journaling can be a therapeutic practice when healing from emotional trauma. Writing down thoughts, emotions, and experiences related to your emotional wounds can provide a safe outlet for expressing pain, making sense of your feelings, and tracking your healing journey.

4. Physical activity

Physical activities like yoga, jogging, or dancing can ease pent-up emotions and alleviate anxiety or depression. Exercise stimulates the production of endorphins, our body’s natural mood lifters, promoting happiness and relaxation.

5. Positive affirmations

The practice of positive affirmations involves repeating positive statements to yourself daily. These affirmations can help replace negative thought patterns related to your emotional scars with positive ones, improving self-esteem and a positive outlook.

6. Professional therapy

Psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and other forms of professional counseling can be instrumental in healing emotional scars. Therapists can provide a safe and non-judgmental space for you to explore your feelings, understand the source of your pain, and develop coping strategies.

7. Support groups

Support groups are highly beneficial for healing emotional scars. They offer community, a safe space for expressing experiences, and the chance to learn from others facing similar issues.

Taking care of your physical and mental well-being profoundly impacts your emotional health. Prioritize enough sleep, a balanced diet, and hydration, and seek support when needed. Remember that healing is not linear—it's okay to have bad days. Be patient with yourself and embrace the journey.

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Find the right healing path for you

Get support from a therapist

Online therapy is an excellent option for those affected by emotional scars. You can see your therapist quickly, from the comfort of your home, rather than visiting an office for scheduled appointments. Through programs like BetterHelp, you can find a specialist experienced in supporting people with scars like yours, which may help you on your path to emotional healing.

Research suggests that online treatment is just as effective as in-person therapy for treating a wide range of mental health conditions, including the effects of trauma and emotional scarring. One study found that emotionally-focused online treatment brought about a drastic reduction in trauma symptoms over five weeks.


Emotional scarring can feel overwhelming, especially when compounded by unhealthy habits that affect our daily lives. With the help of a professional, you can overcome emotional scarring and reinstate healthy habits in your life.
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