Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Taking It Personally

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. 




6 comments:

  1. Yes! This rang so true for me this last week:

    "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."

    It's hard this early in DBT to really know how to stop though, and I find that being aware and wanting to stop but not feeling like I'm able is causing even more distress that I worthy of being left behind and prime myself for feeling rejected. But I think with practice it could get easier. In the meantime, self-compassion and acknowledgement the "I'm doing the best I can" mantra will have to do!

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  2. Wow... Are we twins? I go through this regularly. I specifically have struggled lately with people in my life changing things in their lives and its effects on me. I rationally understand that they needed to do what they did for themselves however emotionally it feels as if it was done as a way to avoid me. I have felt unloved, unwanted, as if I am not good enough, and unimportant. When in fact these feelings have not much to stand on yet I can nit pick the little things to self destruct and cannot plainly see the rational of the bigger things. It is not too difficult for me to see at certain points that my thoughts are not the case but when I feel all these I am unable to see them. Its a work in the progress but possibly the biggest flaw at this time. My abandonment fears overcome me and leave me emotionally unable to let go and have faith.
    Its so hard to see the greener grass on the other side with a wooden fence in the way. However I do this a lot. Feeling it could be different then finding myself more miserable.

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  3. This fits perfect for the last 5 days for me...I have been hanging out with someone that has a lot in common with me. We've seen each other just about every weekend since New Year's, whether it's at a friend's house or hanging out at my place. He knows I like him, but nothing has happened between us. I kinda expected him to show this weekend and it didn't happen. I know that he's been working, but he hasn't even responded to my messages on Facebook, but I can see that he's read them. I've been driving myself insane. There has been lots of self-doubt and I can't help but think that I overstepped a boundary or that I've done something wrong. :/

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  4. This post is so true for me. It's causing me big problems in my relationship. I overreact to even minute perceived rejections then take it out on my bf and often an hour long argument follows with me hating him for hurting me and me being super defensive when the whole thing started because of something tiny like him mentioning I forgot something he'd asked, and he's not even that bothered but would appreciate a small apology but I act like the whole world has broken apart and now he mustn't love me anymore because of it. I can never see his point of view, I can never stop my own whirlwind of emotions and see that I've upset him, however minor and now I am hurling abuse at him instead of just accepting, apologising if needed and moving on with the day. I really wish I could stop doing it!

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  5. I can see now how guilty I am of this! How tiring it must be for the people I react in this way too. Maybe I have been projecting this entire time, but more than likely they suffer a similar illness but I am simply much more invested in the feelings and therefore the fear of them leaving, again.

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  6. My partner (of 19 years) with BPD tragically committed suicide just recently simply because this one Saturday I was on his laptop trying to help find information out hopeful treatments regarding my Sister's Cancer stage 4 diagnosis which she got this day before. He took it personally that I wasn't focusing on him. He put up a kind of barrier. I was Main Carer for my elderly parents and the last thing my partner said to my face was about how I look after my parents all week, he looks after me and our 10 year old daughter each weekend, plus now I would be looking out for my Sister, but who was there to look after him. I was taken back as I felt he was being so unfair putting that on me when my sister's diagnosis was so shocking to us all.
    He said he wanted time alone and a few days later sent a loving message saying he'd be more supportive and he was sorry and loved us. Then a few days later, another lovely message saying he was giving up alcohol. I didn't reply until the next day as I was surprising my Sister with my other Sister who had flown a long distance and I had to take care of my parents that day until late. I replied by text the next day and he took what I said (honestly it was nothing bad) but he twisted my words around to make it look like I was being unkind to him. I wasn't at all. He then sent me a message saying 'You just keep on doing what you're doing and everything else will sort itself out" I asked what he meant by that as I genuinely didn't know. This is when he sent me a Goodbye message saying he envies the love I have for my family, he said we were better off without him and then he hung himself.
    He used to take things personally all the time, so over the years I'd find a way to talk to him without trying to make him feel that way. I was very conscious of how to say things to him. However at the end of his life we were not at the same place as me and our daughter were up the coast near my parents so I was unaware he'd been drinking for 4 days as he said he was working this long weekend.
    From simple texts (sms) messages I couldn't tell he'd been drinking obviously, I thought he would have been at work so I didn't call him. However he'd spent 6 days at home on his own feeling neglected.

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

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