In the world that is me, I am the center of it. As humans we’re fairly self-centered creatures. Society has programmed us to think this is a bad thing, but really it’s just the nature of existence. We see, we live, we experience from our perspective first and foremost. That is all I mean when I say I’m self-centered. Maybe I should say self-centric. Then, of course, you expand your perspective with sympathy, compassion, and empathy to encompass the experience of others.
Sometimes I think though, with BPD we can get stuck in a pit of our own small world. Where everything feels like it’s directly aimed at, or directed towards us. Not even in just a way that “life happens, gotta flow with it,” way, but when something happens or changes that we don’t want or expect, it feels like an attack or like someone is doing it to us on purpose; maybe because they no longer care, they don’t like us anymore, they found someone else, they want us to hurt, they’re really just the biggest asshole that ever existed, etc…. These are the blown up nasty exaggerations of thoughts that bang around in my mind anyways.
For example, when I went to visit my Sister, I was supposed to see another friend as well, but some things came up and our plans had to be cancelled. Completely legitimate life things that had nothing to do with me. I was intensely disappointed. The more I thought about it, the sadder and more depressed I got. I felt rejected. I felt like maybe they just really didn’t want to see me. Maybe I did something wrong and they didn’t want to be friends anymore. That the only reason they wanted to see me in the first place was for such-and-such a reason and now they’re tossing me aside because they found someone else. I found myself in tears that I was being rejected and abandoned for completely (probably) made up self- centric reasons.
It’s like that with so many things. I don’t intend to, but I make these completely innocuous events all about myself, instead of putting myself in the other persons shoes, and remembering to think about them from their perspective. I don’t mean to, because really all I can feel is that I’m hurting, I’m depressed, I’m in pain, and I’m feeling intensely rejected. It takes a tremendous force of will try and pull yourself out of that and think… No. Stop. Really this person is not intentionally trying to make you feel sad. They are not trying to make you depressed. They are not trying to hurt you. (Unless they’re actually an abusive person!) This person is just a person with their own life and sometimes life things come up and get in the way. Those life things are ENTIRELY SEPARATE events that have nothing to do with me/you. They are not things should be taken personally.
Part of the reason I think I take things so personally is I invest so much of my self-worth in the desire for others to love me, like I talked about the other day. So when those things come up, I forget that they’re completely unrelated things to me. All I think about is, this person doesn’t want to see me? This person doesn’t want to be with me? They couldn’t have done this thing some other time? That must mean something [terrible] right? Well, wrong. Really, really wrong. Because other people generally don’t think this way. All other people think is, “Damn this thing came up, can we reschedule? Awesome we’ll catch each other another time.” They don’t have so much of their self-worth, rejection, abandonment… invested in every day to day encounter the way that we so often can. For us it can be devastating, when for someone else, they may feel bad to have to cancel (as any normal person would) but they’re not out to get us, they simply had something unavoidable happen in their own life that they had to deal with.
That doesn’t mean they care any less, it just means that life got in the way for a moment.
It’s very difficult to not take things so personally. Especially the more and more invested we are in someone the more afraid we are of losing that love, and subsequently about losing how we feel about ourselves. This is why it’s important to try work on trying to step outside of our own perspective and put ourselves in the other persons shoes when these thoughts take over. We can get very upset about things that we don’t have to be getting upset about. It takes effort and practice to try and put yourself in the other persons place and just realize that it’s plain and simple life stuff, not some big grand scheme taking hold, but it’s an exercise that is extremely worthwhile in preserving not only our relationships, but our own mental health and happiness.
***When I talk about losing someone's love, this can be a significant other, family, friends... anyone you care about.