Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Developing a LESS flexible Sense of Self in Borderline Personality Disorder

Currently I’m looking for researched journals and something more scientific to share with you. So in the meantime I’m going to share with you what I’ve been working on. These aren’t things that my Therapist has necessarily told me, but things I’ve noticed.

When I say less flexible, I don’t mean you should be rigid. Oaks in a storm are the first to break, after all. However, you don’t want to be so flexible that you are whoever the latest person that walks by wants you to be. Ultimately the only person you really need to be, is you. For someone with Borderline Personality Disorder, this is a much more complicated revelation than you would think. It’s not so simple as stopping a certain behavior, or no longer worrying about what people think. Often it’s about overcoming a lifetime of deeply ingrained fears of abandonment and rejection and the adaptations we’ve developed to acquire people’s attention and relationships.  Many of which we may not even be completely aware of.  So how do you even begin? Well we’ve already talked about everything you need to start.

Mindfulness and Self-Awareness

Before you can improve anything, you have to realize what needs to be improved. This takes time and paying attention to how we behave in different circumstances with difference people, and how we feel in those instances. When do we feel good? When do we feel wrong? When do we feel like we’re only acting for others? When do we feel like something is actually sitting right with us?

Go back and read what I’ve written on Mirroring and Projecting. Pay attention to those. When you do those things, that’s typically for other people. Spend some time on your own. Pay attention to the things that you actually like and the things you only do for attention or for other people, or because other people like them.

*** Understanding the scope of this, all the ingrained areas that this has crept into, can take a very long time.

The thing here that I’ve really taken away from my Therapist is that you can develop a caring, trusting relationship with someone that accepts you for you, even when they know your flaws and foibles… and they won’t judge you and they won’t leave you or reject you.  This has helped me develop confidence in my other relationships.  It’s helped me believe that I can open up more to the people that are close to me (that deserve my trust!!!!) and be more of my authentic self and not just who I think they want me to be.

Develop Consistency

This comes with time and is something of a Part 2 to that Mindfulness and Self-Awareness. Once you’ve had time to become aware of the things you’re doing that are less for you and more for others you can begin to put an end to that. Learn to say ‘no’ to those behaviors. Learn to say ‘yes’ to those behaviors that actually make you feel happy and fulfilled because they resonate with you, not simply because you know they will make others happy. And do it consistently.

Learn to Trust Yourself

This is something I’ve struggled with the most. When we have such volatile and conflicting emotions that change constantly, it’s hard to know what to believe, especially when those signals are coming from your own brain. My inner monologue is often of two minds: my logical half and my emotional half. Too often my emotional half (at least in matters of relationships) would win out even though I KNOW my logical mind was the smarter decision maker (which would just frustrate me further). Emotions and gut feelings are hard to ignore, but it’s important to remember, especially in the heat of the moment, that we need to respond appropriately, not simply react emotionally. Easier said than done, but it can be, we just need to learn to trust our minds over our emotions.

It’s actually incredibly scary to start doing things for yourself, when you’ve been accustomed to doing so much for others, or to keep others around, for so long. That fear of rejection, that anticipation of abandonment has deep roots that go to our very core. It takes small steps, safe environment/relationships in which to try this to really allow to this to take hold. Part of why it’s so hard for many of us to make these changes is that we don’t often have safe spaces, which is why therapy is such a great thing if it’s available to you. However it’s not a necessity and you can definitely accomplish a lot without it.  The trick however, is finding people that you can actually heal and grow with… not simply someone(s) you wish/want to.  You’ll find it’s also much more fulfilling, for you and the people around you, when you learn to be authentic to you, you can also be truer to those around you as well.

Truer and happier for everyone involved.


  1. Nice advice. I think the thing about being self aware is key. You can't get anywhere if you're not aware that you do the things and when you do it and why you do it etc etc. and I think this is the main thing that many Borderlines find hard. Some live a life of self deception and denying the truth, building false reality in their head to avoid the pain. Facing the truth can be really hard. The one I love constantly lies to herself as well as others, so yeah it's important to be aware and mindful of your actions and words etc.
    Your therapy sounds much better than the therapy she goes to, which is crap.

  2. It really is incredibly scary to start doing things for yourself, to start trying to discover the things I like, to start asking for little bits of help or letting others take responsibility for things. Very scary.

    Being self aware for me is hard, I see my behaviour & can understand why I behave that way, why I shouldnt & yet feel compulsed to be a people pleaser & try to keep safe, ie not be abandoned/rejected. Im an acting in, cant remember the last time i shouted at anyone apart from my kids when they're playing up, but I was taught anger isnt really allowed & certainly isnt constructive. Instead I S/H in a whole variety of ways.

    As Im learning more about myself & slowly getting braver the S/H is reducing. Its very hard work though & requires a lot of self compassion...


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

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