Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Self-Talk and Borderline Personality Disorder

We talk a lot about how the things other people say can influence our feelings and emotions.  But the things we say to ourselves are just as important. Scratch that. The things we say to ourselves our more important. Because unlike with other people, we talk to ourselves constantly. We talk to ourselves much more than we probably even realize. And unfortunately a good majority of that self-talk is incredibly negative, degrading, self-loathing, and filled with self-hatred. We hear things from other people that trigger us into bad places often enough, the last thing we need to do is push ourselves into deeper, darker places by constantly telling ourselves negative things about our own selves. Hell we’ve probably heard negative talk (abuse) from others, and simply picked it up naturally. 

Breaking the cycle of negative self-talk is crucial to healing!


 by Patty Fleener M.S.W.

One of the most important things besides looking into medications is your self-talk. I know you have probably heard this discussion before but perhaps you don't fully realize just how important your self-talk is to changing your life, to defining who you are, to who you life, etc. What you tell yourself is who you are.

We talk to ourselves all the time, without really realizing it. Many of us are in the habit of negative self- talk. For example we say things like "Stupid! Only you could be so stupid! You are unlovable! You are rotten! You are horrible, ugly, undeserving, guilty, etc. etc." And let's not forget "It's all my fault!" We get into a habit of this negative self-talk. 

Here is the problem. Our subconscious mind does not know the difference between self-talk and reality. If we say something to ourselves enough times, we believe it. When we believe it what happens? It becomes reality.

If I kept saying to myself that I was fat and I will always be fat that I eat too much, etc. Guess what? I will be fat. If I am thin during the time I am convincing myself that I am fat, my subconscious mind will believe it. Once it is believed to be so, you will be out of your comfort zone. Your view of reality doesn't match reality does it? You believe that you are fat, yet reality shows you that you are thin. What happens? You must get within your comfort zone so you get fat in reality.

This is how powerful our self-talk is. Another name for self-talk is affirmations. Positive self-talk is affirmations. You can literally change your life by repeating positive affirmations over and over again. Don't worry if you don't believe them. You will in time.

The affirmation I had the most trouble with years ago was "I deserve love." In my head I knew I deserved love but my gut told me the opposite. I kept saying it in spite of the fact that I did not believe it. After a period of time I did begin to believe it.

Can you imagine how just believing that one sentence could change my life and change my decisions in life? If I deserve love, I am going to pick different partners, I am going to live in such a way that I know that I deserve love.

I don't know if any of you are familiar with Zig Ziglar but he is a well-known motivational speaker. In fact, Dr. Leland Heller was kind enough to give me a wonderful tape series of Zig's, which is priceless. If you listen to these tapes just 15 minutes every day, it can't not change your life.  

Another name for this kind of self-talk work is known as cognitive therapy. It is highly recommended for people who have the borderline personality disorder and I am sure for people with the bipolar disorder as well.

One of the first things you will need to do is to spot yourself in the midst of negative self-talk. Our style of self-talk is normally automatic. We do it without thinking, like driving a car. Realizing when we do this negative thinking will be the beginning of the end of that automatic process. 

Once that negative process starts, we need to immediately turn it around into the positive. For example, I used to be in the habit of arriving home, checking my answering machine and if the light wasn't blinking (indicating no calls) immediately I had a physical reaction in the pit of my stomach and I said to myself "See, you are a reject. No one likes you because you are worthless. You are nothing." 

Each and every time I said that to myself, I reinforced that belief. Actually what would have been more of an accurate statement as I look back was "Thank the good Lord that no one called because the only people you are involved with are addicts and alcoholics who don't care about you and have nothing to offer you."

If you are writing out your own affirmations, I caution you to read some material before you do that. The way you write affirmations are very important. You must write them in the present tense as if they are already true. Also, you don't say, "I am no longer fat." You say "I am thin and I feel wonderful." Always include feelings too.


In fact, I shall help you out with writing affirmations. There are a lot of different types of affirmations for different types of scenarios. Many of which are pretty specific to those of us that deal with BPD. Don’t worry, I would never leave you to try and figure it out on your own! But I won’t do all the work for you! I can show you where to start, but you’ll have to decide for yourself which things work for you. 


  1. I don't have a borderline personality neither have a bipolar disorder but what you talk here, as you should know, it can happen to everyone and it happens to me. I want to thank you for this, I needed to read this. You shouldn't feel worthless, you seem incredibly intelligent and fascinating.

  2. Hi, Are you well?

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Leave me a comment! It makes me feel good and less paranoid about talking to myself =)

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