Friday, December 21, 2012

Article: Mental Illness: How the Media Contributes To Its Stigma

I was flipping through some article today and I saw this one. How many times have you felt you needed to reach out but were afraid to because of how others would perceive you? Ever stop to consider just why it is exactly that people would view your need for aid so negatively? Surprise! The unsympathetic media plays a big part in the problem. It’s sad when you already have to deal with so many common misperceptions and now you have the media perpetrating the most narrow minded view they can cling to. Adding to the stigma is the last thing we need, especially when you’re already living with something as stigmatized as BPD already.

Mental Illness: How the Media Contributes To Its Stigma
December 9, 2012 | by Jarune Uwujaren

Credit: Mary Evans / UNIVERSAL PICTURES / Ronald Grant / Everett Collection
The scene opens with an unsuspecting woman taking a shower. Through the shower curtain, we see a figure approach her. As violins screech in the background, he throws the shower curtain aside and repeatedly stabs her in the back, leaving her for dead.

We later learn that the killer, Norman Bates, has multiple personalities and deep seated mommy issues. He is the main antagonist of the film Psycho, and the shower scene is one of the most iconic in recent horror movie history.

Psycho killers, crazy girlfriends, unhinged stalkers, languishing mental patients, and schizo criminals—these are the mentally ill according to Hollywood. They are written to seem out of control, confusing, or scary.

All too often, media portrayals of the mentally ill reflect our culture’s fear and ignorance about mental illness.

The fact is, you’re more likely to see scantily clad women getting lobotomized in an old school mental asylum than you are a sensitive media portrayal of mental illness or the mental health industry.

And, according to some research, seeing so many stereotyped fictional characters with mental illness impacts how we see real people with mental illnesses.

Television shows depict being the victim of violence as more desirable than being mentally ill. Because the media is meant to entertain, depictions of the mentally ill are sensationalized.

To help separate fact from fiction, below are some media-perpetuated myths about mental illness so you don’t project these stereotypes onto people with mental illness:

Myth 1 – Mentally Ill People Are Violent

As many as 61% of Americans believe that people with schizophrenia have violent tendencies. The media perpetuates this view of mental illness by linking violent events and characters with madness, even though the mentally ill are more likely to be victims of violent crimes than perpetrators in real life.

This is sad for me. My grandmother was classically schizophrenic with all the physical, auditory, and visual hallucinations that went along with it. She loved science, was quite a genius, loved to play the piano, cook and bake, and spend time with her family. Watching her struggle with her mental illness was devastating but never violent.

Take a movie like The Dark Knight as an example. The Joker’s motives for wreaking havoc on Gotham city are never fully explained. He seems to be bombing hospitals in nurse outfits not because he’s spreading some coherent message of villainy—he’s just a lunatic.

            Well, he’s supposed to represent chaos.

We might be inclined to give The Dark Knight a pass because it’s pure fiction, but news outlets try to link mental illness with violence when reporting true stories. This Huffington Post article about the James Holmes mass shooting describes “cracks in the mental health system” at his school.

Whether more could have been done to prevent the shooting or not, the portrayal of symptoms like psychosis as markers of violence is problematic since most people with psychosis are not violent.

Myth 2 – Mentally Ill People Are Beyond Help

In the media, when a criminal or violent person is mentally ill, the illness is overdramatized. When a successful person is mentally ill, the illness is downplayed. As a result, successful people with mental illness are not very visible on the news, in television, in movies, or in video games. Even in real life, people avoid seeking help for mental health problems to protect their careers and credibility.

I know so, so many highly intelligent people that are afraid to even seek help for depression or anxiety for fear that it could impact their job due to the stigma being so sensationalized.

Shutter Island is one movie that invokes this myth in a few ways. Spoiler alert: a bipolar character in the movie drowns her children and gets shot by her husband, who goes mad himself. Since the film is set in the 1950’s, the mental health system is depicted as so broken that it aggravates the mental conditions it sets out to cure.

Myth 3 – Mentally Illness Makes People Geniuses and Savants

This is the inverse of the last myth, where successful people with mental illness are depicted, but only if they are extraordinarily gifted savants. This romanticizes mental illness, turning it into an acceptable spectacle. Since mental illness has been linked to creative professions, it may also be seen as the romantically tragic affliction of “tortured” artists like van Gogh.

A Beautiful Mind, for example, isn’t an unsympathetic portrayal of mental illness but it is a romanticized one. Based on the biography of mathematician John Nash, it includes an inaccurate portrayal of schizophrenia symptoms and rearranging of biographical details for dramatic effect.

Myth 4 – Mental Illness is Sexy, Cool and Mysterious

Some people think the mental health industry or mental illness can be used to make characters more interesting, mysterious, or sexy because they are a sort of exotic other who does not think like “normal” society. The most common portrayals of this myth are heavily traumatized women.

The 2011 movie Suckerpunch exploits this trope in a big way. The film takes place in an asylum/brothel where the scantily clad mental patients have high-octane fantasies about killing the abusive staff. It also includes a lot of imagery connecting mental illness with helplessness, escapism, and sexual exploitation.

Inaccurate portrayals of mental illness in the media are going to happen. After all, the goal is to entertain people, not teach them.

However, the media affects public perception. It is important for us to distinguish between media sensationalism and mundane reality.

The mundane reality is that mentally ill people are not unusually violent, broken, gifted, or entertaining. Getting sick is something that happens to everyone, and since our bodies and minds are linked and not separate, mental illness is no more sensational than physical sickness.

So if you or a friend is experiencing mental illness, avoid looking to media representations to educate yourself. There are plenty of resources on mental health, including those listed below, which can help you learn more about living with mental illness.

In many cases people with mental illness need people they can feel comfortable reaching out to in crisis situations, like suicide attempts, self-harm injuries, or nervous breakdowns.

Or they may simply need a non-judgmental friend who acknowledges that they can’t just “snap” out of it.
To be that friend, we need to understand that mental illness is not a sign of weakness or inadequacy.
In fact, living with or overcoming mental illness takes a lot of strength and when needed, support.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI):
Mental Health America (MHA):
Psych Central:
Healthy Place:

Jarune Uwujaren is a Contributing Writer for Everyday Feminism. A Nigerian-American recent graduate who’s stumbling towards a career in writing, Jarune can currently be found drifting around the DC metro area with a phone or a laptop nearby. When not writing for fun or profit, Jarune enjoys food, fresh air, good books, drawing, poetry, and sci-fi.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Quick Article - Tending the Fences: Setting Healthy Boundaries

As promised here is my last post on boundaries. I like lists. I find they’re easy to see a variety of possible aspects and pin-point where we do and don’t need to put a little effort. Reading down this list it’s pretty easy for me to spot which things I do and where I need to put in a little more work than with other things.

So take a look at this article I found and see if you can relate to any of these:

Tending the Fences: Setting Healthy Boundaries

“Good fences make good neighbors.” So goes the old proverb from the well-loved Robert Frost poem.

Likewise, good personal boundaries make for good relationships. Boundaries are those invisible lines of protection you draw around yourself.

They let people know your limits on what is acceptable for you. Healthy boundaries give you freedom in relating to others. Make them too solid and you build walls, too weak and you allow other’s actions to harm you.

It’s not always clear where our boundaries are or need to be. Recognizing and studying the signs of ignored or ineffective boundaries is a good place to start, as these “symptoms” give clues to the needed boundary. See if any of the following ring true for you.

Aloofness and distance

When you are unwilling or fearful of opening your space to others, or when you build walls to insure that others don’t invade your emotional or physical space, this may be a defense against cruel behavior, abuse or neglect that you allowed to happen. A person with healthy boundaries draws a line over which they will not allow anyone to cross because of the negative impact of its being crossed. They recognize their right to say, “No!”

I can’t tell you how long I let this method rule my life. I’m talking years, and years, and years. I didn’t have walls so much as castles, with a moat, and at least one dragon.

Chip on the shoulder

This kind of attitude declares, “I dare you to come too close!” and is often the result of anger over a past violation of or ignoring of your physical or emotional space by others. Healthy boundaries mean you are able to speak up when your space has been violated, leaving you free to trust that you can assertively protect yourself to ensure you are not hurt.


In this game, the rule is that everyone must do everything together, and everyone must think, feel and act in the same way, without deviation from group norms. Healthy boundaries acknowledge that you have the right to explore your own interests, hobbies and outlets. Invisibility. The goal here is not to be seen or heard so that your boundaries are not violated. Healthy boundaries are in effect when you stand up for yourself—be visible, be heard—so that others can learn to respect your rights, needs and personal space.

I’ve certainly had some problems with this, especially in my more abusive relationships and the ones I was most afraid of losing.


If you “blank out” or “go away” during stressful emotional events, it results in you being out of touch with your feelings and unable to assert your limits. Healthy boundaries allow you to assertively protect your- self from further violation or hurt and to choose to end relationships with those who will not respect them. With healthy boundaries, you can begin to feel your feelings again.

Yeah, I do this a lot, often, and for extensive periods of time. Learning to reconnect, and stay in touch with my feelings, in the moment, while I’m feeling them, has actually been a difficult process. I still do have some problems with connecting to my feelings, but I’m getting much better.

Smothering and lack of privacy

When another is overly concerned about your needs and interests, or when nothing you think, feel or do is your own business, it can be intrusive into your emotional and physical space, leaving you feeling overwhelmed or like you are being strangled. Healthy boundaries ask that others respect your uniqueness, your choices, your autonomy.

I actively try not to do this, but I know Zoe and ex-friend with BPD Riot used to do this A LOT (And I won’t lie, if I’m in an especially hard fit of paranoia or fear from abuse I’ll fall into this as well). Riot especially would have complete melt downs when she felt she was being shut out of people’s emotion space and didn’t recognize that other people have a right to not share absolutely every single thing.

Applying Boundaries

Once we see where our limits need to be clarified or put in place, we can begin to install fence posts or patch holes, to keep unwanted critters out. Here are some strategies for applying limits when your boundaries are intruded upon:

-          Calm yourself and take deep breaths.
-          Remind yourself of your right to set limits.
-          In a firm and composed manner, tell the other person how you feel.
-     Communicate clearly what your limits are, especially when you are extending a new boundary.
-          Ask the other person to respect your boundaries.
-          Make decisions about the relationship according to how the other person responds to your request.

So that’s it! Don't forget to check out my post from earlier today as well.  I hope this series has been helpful for you and provided some insight. If you want to discuss it more there’s always the Comments and I believe there’s a thread in the Forum started.

I’ll be posting a little sporadically this upcoming week due to the holiday and travel, but I have some great topics lined up and I’ll try not to lose too much momentum! Cheers! 

Boundaries and BPD: Origins of Poor Boundary Development

I think today will be my day focusing on Boundaries. This first post will be on the origins of ineffective boundary development in childhood and just how much of an impact that has on us as adults. The second will be just a quick breakdown of signs that we may relate to that indicate poor boundaries.  

The Extremes Created by a Poor Sense of Vulnerability and Undeveloped Boundaries

As we will note in all of the characteristics of children that parents must honor, in dysfunctional homes, children tend to develop the same kinds of boundaries both modeled and taught directly to children by parents. Problems tend to develop when children fall to one extreme reaction or the other, or an ineffective mix between the two, wherein the child learns only partially effective boundaries. As one only protects what is worthwhile protecting, boundaries can be closely tied to self-worth.

The child who learns ineffective boundaries becomes too vulnerable because the parent fails to teach the child self-protection. The parent may overprotect this child, objectifying them by viewing them as incapable of any discernment of their own, or they just fail to protect them altogether. The child never learns where they begin and end, and they walk into dangerous situations with no awareness of the threat of harm. Some children are taught to place implicit trust in any adult and authority figures, and in religious groups that follow patriarchy, girls are taught to obey all men without qualification. Likewise, some Christian groups teach that adults and children alike have no personal rights, viewing any suffering that comes because of lack of boundaries to be an opportunity to develop character through disappointment. These children learn passivity, or they follow passivity to avoid punishment by the parent who will tolerate no assertiveness.

The exaggerated alternative results in a child who does not set boundaries but establishes walls and thus avoids vulnerability by feigning invulnerability. They're too fearful to be vulnerable, and the cost of their safety comes at the forfeiting of emotional intimacy. They may start to develop friendships but will retreat in withdrawal. 

Internal Versus External Boundaries

An internal boundary involves behavior and thought originating with the self, that which refers to what that person does.  Of people who have poor internal boundaries and set no limits on their own behavior, it may be said of them that such a person "knows no bounds." The primary problem originates with them as a lack of their own internal boundaries.  

A child with a collapsed sense of self may have been conditioned to set very narrow limits on their own behavior in a way that is inappropriate, allowing others too far in to their inner world, if they have any internal boundaries at all.  When any child has not been trained to respect others or basic rules of appropriate social behavior, they may violate the boundaries of others without realizing it, merely out of ignorance.   Their self-centered perspective may be the only indicator of appropriate behavior because they have not been taught to anticipate or be sensitive to the needs of others.

In the child who demonstrates too much invulnerability, they will either withdrawal from interaction all together (their created internal boundary) through antisocial personality traits, or they may exaggerate their behavior, willfully ignoring the boundaries of others by in order to feel powerful.  They claim everything (including other people) as within their own boundaries by setting no boundaries on their own behavior.

An external boundary is a barrier that a person creates around themselves to limit outside forces.  An external boundary involves what the a allows into their world and involves saying “No.” 

In the collapsed response, the child lets anyone and everyone take advantage of them. In the invulnerable, the child does not allow anyone to get close enough to take advantage of them, and they may be well-known for always saying “No.” Another way an external boundary can be violated presents when adults do not permit the child to own their own perceptions and experiences. If a parent does not like a particular emotion, they may punish a child for it, teaching the child that they cannot know themselves or their experience. The child is required to allow that parent in through their external boundary, exchanging their reality for that of the parent.

Vunerability Issues in Adults

In a healthy adult relationships, boundaries establish what we will and will not tolerate. For adults who grew up in very dysfunctional homes and didn't learn appropriate boundaries, this dynamic element of hard work within a relationship fails.

Those who are too vulnerable fail to establish any kind of boundary, and they let anyone have access to any area of their lives. Or they may have a difficult time establishing boundaries through assertive expression of their wants and needs, the type of person who struggles with saying “No.” Sometimes, these individuals can declare boundaries to others, but cannot motivate themselves to defend their established new boundaries. These are not boundaries at all but are merely “nice ideas” when they are not defended.

The person with very weak or non-existent boundaries may also seek to have levels of intimacy that are too close for the nature of the relationship, and this may create behavioral problems and may violate appropriate social rules. It also sets the adult up for disappointment through unmet expectations and confusion.

Some individuals may also have only partially ineffective boundaries, and in one area of life, they may be able to clearly establish what they will and will not tolerate in a relationship. But when dealing with a certain situation or a particular type of person (such as a woman raised in an extremely patriarchal system of gender hierarchy, she may find herself completely unable to establish a boundary or may have been taught that a woman must submit to the demands of men. Authority figures also pose great difficulty for the person who tends toward collapsed responses because it is human nature to tend to comply with authority.

As noted earlier, the invulnerable type of person tends to withdrawal from social interaction and may cope through an anti-social personalty. They may have erratic relationships, vacillating between the development of friendship, only to abruptly retreat in response to perceived threat. They have the opposite type of presentation concerning their problems with intimacy, but both types of manifestations prevent healthy intimacy. 

The invulnerable person can also develop ineffective coping mechanisms leading to the abuse and exploitation of others by violating their boundaries through an exaggerated response, motivated by manipulative behaviors and poorly controlled negative emotion, the extroverted expression of lack of respect. These are the classic abused people who go on to repeat the same type of abuse as their abuser modeled for them.

One might think that the person with excessively collapsed boundaries is more vulnerable to manipulation, but because the invulnerable type of person who hides behind walls craves intimacy and attachment, this basic human need can also be exploited, making this person just as vulnerable to the right influences.

Self-Awareness and Self-Regulation

Many adults who grew up in dysfunctional families of origin struggle with knowing themselves because they were never permitted to own their own experiences and feelings, constrained to feel only that which was set for them by someone else.

Because their boundaries were never respected or because the parent fails to realize that the child is not an adult with the capability of setting limits, the adult who uses their child as a companion or requires the child to be someone that they're not overrides that child's sense of self. The interaction is too intimate and interferes with the child's development of a sense of self.  

The child has no choice and does not even realize that the relationship is emotionally inappropriate or damaging to them.  (An adult can set limits and protect their sense of self when overwhelmed by another, but the child is obligated to absorb the parent's reality because of their dependence on the adult to protect and provide for them.)

Instead of awareness of self, the child's inner world must be negated (their heart denied) in favor of the adult's experience, wants, and needs. 

These adults struggle with finding satisfying vocations, pastimes and relationships because they are unaware of their feelings and emotions and do not have much awareness of their true strengths and weaknesses. They were not encouraged to make their own decisions regarding their life choices and were required to sign the right to direct their lives over to someone else or some religious system. When they work on recovery, learning self-awareness and experiencing  the liberty of choice can be a very difficult, anxiety-producing challenge.

Erratic patterns in relationships are common in people who suffer from complex PTSD, both craving attachment and fearing it and feeling unable to modulate their own behavior. So in the person with patterns built around long-standing trauma, they may have a very complex mix of incomplete boundaries, varying from the extremes of walls to the enmeshed type of unhealthy attachment found in the person with little to no boundaries at all.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Boundaries and BPD: Communicating Boundaries with Love

When it comes to boundaries this is the hardest part of all. Communication. Discovering, understanding, and developing boundaries within yourself is all well and good, don’t think I’m downplaying the importance of this, but if we can’t learn to communicate our boundaries in a healthy constructive way, we’re still just a lame horse. It takes courage to work up to these discussions   Knowing the problem, but not saying anything about it…. Doesn’t help us or anyone around us. 

Fortunately I’ve done my homework so you can start on your work at home.

Often the problem with setting boundaries comes from miscommunication and feeling understood. Talking about how you feel in a way that is easily understood without leaving something open to interpretation isn’t easy. It’s important to accept that this can happen but if you remain calm and continue to talk with respect, you can get through any miscommunication.

When one therapist asked "What happened the last time you tried to set limits with your family member?" they heard tales such as these:

  "I told him he didn't understand my perspective; he told me I didn't understand his. It went in circles endlessly."

  "She accused me of being controlling and telling her what to do.

Engage those DBT skills. Be Mindful of your feelings, and the feelings of the person you’re talking to. Try not to judge your feelings, just express them. It’s also important to not to rank or place “value” of your needs vs. the needs of others. In a relationship the needs of BOTH of you are important.  You wouldn’t be sitting down with this person if they weren’t an important aspect in your life.

Three Keys to Setting Limits [1]

1.  Steering clear of FOG: fear, obligation, and guilt. FOG also comes up like little wisps of smoke during limit-setting conversations. If you don’t prepare for it, it can blur your vision and make it hard to see and remember what you want and need.

2.  Trusting your own perceptions, feelings, and opinions—most significantly, those about yourself. You have the right to your own beliefs, even if they are different from those of a family member.

3.  Refusing to rescue your family member from your limits, which gives mixed messages. If you always change your mind under pressure, you’re setting up a losing cycle.

Boundary-Setting Discussions

It’s important that you come up with a plan that can be your road map throughout this process. It can grow, shrink, or change a little as you go along, but it’s helpful to have to have something solid in front of you. Each of the following Five “C's” is a component of the plan:

1.  Clarify what your limit is. Be specific and start small.

2.  Calculate how much does not having limits in central areas of your life costs you.

We are so busy living our day-to-day lives that we don’t keep very good track of the things that gnaw at us. To maintain your limits over the long haul, you need to have conviction that the limit is necessary and appropriate. Conviction comes when you know how much it costs not to have the limit in place. The longer you wait, the more it costs.

3.  Come up with the potential benefits of having the limit in place (the carrot).

4.  Come up with consequences that you can put in place when the limit is not respected. A limit without consequences is known as nagging. These are things that you can do for yourself, like leave the room during a rage.

5.  Consider possible outcomes of each consequence, both positive and negative. Create contingency plans.

This kind of planning before limit setting discussions will give you confidence and staying power.

Above all be honest with yourself and your partner. It’s okay to say: I understand this need, I want to be able to do this for you, but I’m not sure I’m capable of doing that right now (though you may be able to work towards it in the future).  And sometimes you just need to learn to say “no” too. Saying “No” is actually an important aspect of setting boundaries. Too often we are afraid to not say “Yes” when really we should have just said “No” from the start.

When you hear something from your partner that scares you at first, take a breath. Acknowledge that they are allowed to say what and feel what they feel (as do you). Don’t bother rationalizing. It’s okay to explain why a particular boundary is important to you and can increase your or your partners’ awareness of why this boundary needs to be upheld. However, don’t allow your partner (or do it yourself) to make you feel like you have to justify it. No one should try to rationalize or talk you out of something that is a core value for you. They shouldn’t try to make you feel like something isn’t as big of a deal to you if it is actually an important value for you. This is not to be confused with compromise on things that can be compromised on without losing a part of yourself. Sometimes we do need to compromise in order to function more smoothly in the world. Relationships are between two people after all, not about one person revolving around us. Remember, we’re looking to form healthy flexible boundaries, not construct rigid blockades.

Finally, keep in mind that you may sit down and discuss boundaries, but setting boundaries is not an Event. It’s a process. You may have to sit down and talk, come back to the table, re-discuss things again and again that have been working or not working after you’ve had a chance to implement them for a while. Even if it doesn’t work the first time, or the second time, or however many times it takes, as long as you’re able to continue the discussion you can keep making progress.

Below I’ll link to some posts on DBT that will help maintain a constructive thinking:

We also have our new Forum where you can bounce ideas and concerns off of each other if you want help prepping. Someone's always around. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

BPD and Boundaries: How to Develop Healthy Boundaries

I’m calling this How to Develop Healthy Boundaries but really, everything I’ve talked about already should be encompassed within this. 

Once you understand what healthy boundaries are, we need to discover what boundaries are important to us. Once we figure that out, we need to figure out how to put those boundaries into practice. This is not necessarily a quick process. It takes time and continual practice but eventually they become second nature.

The number one step is often the hardest. Step #1 is: Take ownership of yourself. We with BPD (as well as just about everyone else, oh yes, even those without) get caught up in the Blame Game in an attempt to shift responsibility for our actions onto someone else. This is rooted in the associated shame felt with doing something we don’t agree with emotionally but take part in anyways. Yanno what, shit happens. You learn from it. You keep going. You can’t learn from it though, if you don’t take responsibility for what it actually was: a choice you made. A choice you participated in. As adults we are responsible for the decisions we make in life. Even if they’re painful. Painful for us. Painful for those affected by us. That doesn’t mean you need to accept responsibility for more than your actions though. It takes two to affect each other. That said, we also have the ability to respond, to make choices, and to limit the way other’s behaviors affects us (or how we affect others). Setting boundaries and learning to respect the boundaries of others, is how you demonstrate taking responsibility for yourself.

When you developing your boundaries there are some things we need to keep in mind. Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend have written several books on the subject of boundaries. According to these authors, there are Ten Laws of Boundaries:

Ten Laws of Boundaries:

The Law Of Sowing and Reaping - Choices have consequences. 

The Law of Responsibility - We are responsible TO each other, not FOR each other. 

The Law of Power - We have power over some things, we don't have power over others (including changing people. It is human nature to try to change and fix others so that we can be more comfortable. We can't change or fix our Borderline (Or our Nons), but we do have the power to change our own life.

Can’t control everything. It’s hard to accept the realization that we can’t control everything because that opens us up for uncertainty… which is often accompanied by feelings of abandonment. We need to recognize what feelings have basis in reality and which are just fears. 

The Law of Respect - If we wish for others to respect our boundaries, we need to respect theirs. If your Borderline is a rager, you should not dictate to him/her all the reasons that they can't be angry. A person should have the freedom to protest the things they don't like. But at the same time, we can honor our own boundary by telling our Borderline, "Your raging at me is not acceptable to me. If you continue to rage, I will have to remove myself from you."

I’m keeping this in the perspective of being written for the loved ones of people with Borderline Personality Disorder, but that doesn’t mean it applies any less to us. I am also choosing to do this because we often feel entitled to our rage and then get even more angry when people respond by having to take some time at a distance. We need to understand that this is actually a healthy boundary. Taking time off from an overly heated situation in order to regain clarity and an emotionally safer situation is perfectly reasonable. Even though it may feel like an abandonment or like we’re being ignored and misunderstood. I also like that they say it’s not okay for others to list reasons why we can’t be angry. That would be classic invalidation, and whether you agree with someone’s reasons or not, how a person feels is legitimate and they’re allowed to feel how they feel. 

The Law of Motivation - We must be free to say no before we can wholeheartedly say yes. One cannot actually love another if he feels he doesn't have a choice not to. Pay attention to your motives.

I’ve struggled with this a lot. I’m extremely slow to say no to others when I should have a stronger regard for my own needs. This sounds like a lovely altruistic things, but it can lead to unintentional emotional self-harm and a buildup of anger and resentment. 

The Law of Evaluation - We need to evaluate the pain our values cause others. Do our values cause pain that leads to injury? Or do they cause pain that leads to growth?

“Life is pain Princess, anyone that tells you otherwise is selling something.” I have some pretty strong values. I know for a fact that some of them invoke less than pleasant feelings about peoples own ideals. For example, I try not to ever attack a person for having spiritual beliefs even though they may be different from my own, and I do like to discuss such things. In another vein, I’m a strong civil right advocate. Especially for women’s rights and LGTBQ rights. If I come up against someone that is openly bigoted, I will defend what is a core value for me: Equality of life. Attacking a person’s individual beliefs would lead to injury. Arguing on behalf of a more evolved societal view (in my opinion, and you can disagree) contributes to growth. Refrain from attacking a person directly, and focus on the argument. See the difference?

The Law of Proactivity - We take action to solve problems based on our values, wants, and needs. Proactive people keep their freedom and they disagree and confront issues but are able to do so without getting caught up in an emotional storm. This law has to do with taking action based on deliberate, thought out values versus emotional reactions.

In my last Lucid Analysis I mentioned that as people with BPD we need to learn to sit on ourselves and wait. We need to learn to take control of our emotional impulsivity and reactivity until we are able to get that storm under control and look at the situation after the clouds have cleared.  Again, I know this statement sounds simple, but it does take practice, because it’s not so easy to stifle what can feel like your world falling apart. 

The Law of Envy - We will never get what we want if we focus our values onto what others have. Envy is miserable because we're dissatisfied with our state yet powerless to change it. The envious person doesn't set limits because he is not looking at himself long enough to figure out what choices he has.

When you begin to establish what your values are, they shouldn’t be based on what you think someone else wants you to do. They should be based on what you want for yourself. 

The Law of Activity - We need to take the initiative to solve our problems rather than being passive. In a BPD relationship, sometimes one partner is active and the other is passive. When this occurs, the active partner will dominate the passive one. The passive partner may be too intimidated by the active one to say no. This law has to do with taking initiative rather than being passive and waiting for someone else to make the first move.

I like that they don’t specify which may be which, because there really is no telling. It’s individual to the relationship. Before I learned to communicate more effectively I was often extraordinarily frustrated because I would want others to just do something for me. I would want them to intuitively know what I needed without having to tell them because if I told them, then it would lose its “meaning”, it’s specialness. This is dysfunctional logic. We need to learn to take action ourselves. Like the old saying goes: If you want something done right, do it yourself. 

The Law of Exposure - We need to communicate our values and their boundaries to our partner. Values and boundary that are not communicated is a boundary that is not working. We need to make clear what we do or do not want, and what we will or will not tolerate. We need to also make clear that every boundary violation has a consequence. A boundary without a consequence is nagging.

                I’ve talked about communication before, and I know we’re not great at it. Hell, most people aren’t really great at it, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t work on this skill. Good communication really is a skill. I know it feels like we have so much more to do but the simple fact is, our brains work differently. If we want to function in a way that is healthy with other people, we have to learn to communicate so we can learn to compromise and work together.

We also have to work harder on recognizing that our loved ones are allowed to maintain their boundaries. That it’s not an abandonment or rejection. Whether we want to think about it this way or not, when we let our tempers and anger rage out of control, when we yell and direct that anger at the people around us, that kind of behavior is abusive. It’s emotionally impulsive and reactive. We don’t set out to “be abusive”, but I think it’s pretty obvious how disrespectful that kind of behavior is. Even if we feel it’s justified. (This isn’t meant to be confused with situations where you’re defending yourself or actually in danger from an immediate physical threat).  You know what I mean, those screaming tantrums when we just can’t take it anymore, all those feelings bubbling and roiling towards the surface until you just can’t keep them down anymore and you just snap at the next little thing that triggers you. A reaction totally disproportional to the present situation you’re actually in. I know, that it’s because we’re so caught up in something that feels all-consuming for us. I know it’s difficult to keep in mind that other people have a different perspective because how can anything compete with the storm raging through our own hearts and heads. But that doesn’t mean we don’t need to learn how.  

It feels like having to admit there’s something wrong with us. That’s something that’s really hard to do. But the simple fact is that throughout our development we have had these maladaptive coping mechanisms and defense mechanisms ingrained into us. There’s so much shame and fear and anger and, everything, behind what we do, or try not to do, sometimes it is really difficult to keep things in perspective. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t learn how. Everyone should.

Admitting that things need to change isn’t shameful. It’s growth. It’s evolution. We’re not static characters that are created as one specific thing and that’s all we are forever until we die. As we live, we learn, our environment and our experiences influence us. We have the ability to incorporate things that are new and release things that are no longer needed. Relinquishing those old defective maladaptive coping techniques and incorporating healthier adaptive ones along with healthy boundaries isn’t admitting that there’s something wrong with us as people, it’s allowing room for growth in our lives as human beings.

All that said. Start small. You don’t have to take it all on, all at once. It’s okay to be human.

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