I Used to Cut Myself

by Kary Oberbrunner

It seems like a life-time ago. And the truth is, it was.

I used to be addicted to self-injury. I literally cut myself—for years. I’m happy to say that it’s been 14 years ago since I last self-injured.

Growing up, this was a secret I hid from everyone, even God (turns out He knew anyway). I’ve since shared about my struggle with self-injury in books, TV interviews, and articles. I’m not ashamed to talk about it and every time I do, it helps others.


Sometimes people ask, “Why did you cut?” The answer is really quite simple. I cut, because I wanted the outside to reflect how I saw myself on the inside. I struggled deeply with self-image. I expected perfection and when I fell short I got angry. I simply turned that anger inward.

I carved all kinds of negative words on my body, because that’s how I saw myself. Achievements didn’t help, because they didn’t change the way I saw myself.

Now as a coach, I’ve discovered we all self-injure. We all self-sabotage our potential. I used a knife, but you use something else. Maybe unhealthy addictions, negative thoughts, substance abuse, or self-limiting beliefs.

John C. Maxwell, one of my mentors, says in The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, “People will never outperform their own self-image.” If you see yourself as a 2, then you’re not OK with the results of an 8 or 9. You’ll self-sabotage your results because that’s where you feel most comfortable and most in control.


Think of your self-image as your internal set-point.

Self-image is like a thermostat. You automatically reset the external temperature (results) to match your internal temperature (self-image).

This is why so many people continue to get poor results even though they say they’d like better ones. You don’t get what you want. You get who you are. Your external results are simply a reflection of your internal perception.


If you’re like most people you see yourself negatively with endless self-limiting beliefs. You take inventory of all your obstacles, challenges, and limitations. After working with thousands of people, I’ve discovered all self-limiting beliefs center on two core lies:

1. I am not enough (lack of worth).
2. I don’t have enough (lack of resources).

Obviously, operating with this story set on repeat inside your headspace produces a negative result. Check out the 7 most common manifestations:


Both lies (I am not enough/I don’t have enough) center on lack. Notice the result—you hide in fear.

I’ll close with a question:

How long will you keep playing safe and playing small?

Regardless of how you answer, now is the time to get a new set-point.

Will you?


Want to discover your self-image set-point? Take the free Igniting Souls assessment at KaryOberbrunner.com


Kary left his day job to pursue his dream job—Igniting Souls. Through his writing, speaking, and coaching, he helps individuals and organizations clarify who they are, why they are here, and where they should invest their time and energy. As a young man, he suffered from severe stuttering, depression, and self-injury. 

Today a transformed man, Kary invests his time helping others become souls on fire. He is the founder of Redeem the Day, which serves the business community, and Igniting Souls, which serves the non-profit community. The author of several books, Kary and his wife Kelly are blessed with 3 amazing children and live in Columbus, OH.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *