**The ideas contained in this post are the opinions of the writer and communicated without reference to supporting documentation. The writer also recognizes that BPD is a disorder that affects both males and females, and uses of “she” or “he” in the communication of ideas are not intended to covey sexual bias. Breakaway MHE Disclaimer
If you struggle with emotional sensitivity and reactivity and have been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), then you may be starting to realize that your knowledge on the subjects of emotions and mental health, and BPD in particular, needs to be improved. Without a doubt, the BPD pattern can be one of destruction and tragedy if left untreated, both for the suffering person and those who are connected to the suffering person. That being said, I also believe that Borderline Personality Disorder is very treatable and manageable.
People quite often don’t understand what is happening (when it’s happening) in cases of BPD and so end up reacting in ways that aren’t helpful or constructive. In other words, the reactions of everyone involved do not help a person with BPD to take emotional responsibility, and likewise, do not help with solving everyday problems and preserving relationships. Getting informed enough to have an understanding about the BPD pattern helps to maintain life and relationships, as opposed to learning little-to-nothing and losing out on life and relationships.
After some time is spent learning about Borderline Personality Disorder, the truth of the matter becomes more and more apparent: that the escalating emotional experiences are self-induced, and only influenced by those connected to the suffering person. At first, it can be difficult to grasp the concept that we create our own emotional experiences, but this is understandable since we have been culturally conditioned to believe that our emotional experience comes from the outside (things that happen, things people say, things that we see, things that we read, etc.).
Our internal process of interpreting events and experiencing emotions also happens so fast; it tricks us into believing we didn’t do it. I have spoken at some length about this phenomena in 9-Steps to Mastering Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) if you would like to learn more (click here). The fact of the matter is that our emotional experience comes the inside – from our interpretations of the things that enter through the five senses (taste, sight, touch, smell, and sound), no matter how much we may believe the opposite is true.
You have probably heard people say things like… “you made me feel…”, “that person makes me feel…”, “this job makes me feel…” etc. Therefore, the ways people commonly speak about emotions and “how it all works” has become inaccurate and misguided. People speak in these ways so often that they have no idea what they’re doing to themselves – rendering themselves powerless and dysfunctional. They are powerless because their emotions are dictating what they choose to do and say (no matter how ineffective their choices may be). They are powerless because they don’t know what to do with the emotions.
It’s no wonder that people continue to believe they don’t have to take any real emotional responsibility! We continue to convince ourselves (through the common ways that we speak to each other) that emotions come from outside of us! And because we believe this so firmly and profoundly, we then demand that other people change how they are and how they behave so that “we can feel better.” For instance, we say things like “if only that person would act differently, then I wouldn’t feel this way.” Then if people give in to our demands for control and we feel a sense of emotional relief, we might then demand even more obedience from them.
Without knowing that we need to take this kind of responsibility, we deny that we are responsible for our own emotions and instead attempt to make others accountable for our feelings. Sometimes people give up on life challenges and themselves instead of taking ownership of their feelings. Sometimes people believe they are entitled to punish anyone who “does something” that leads to feeling in a way that isn’t wanted. There can be lots of self-defeating, passive-aggressive, and aggressive tactics that get used by a person not yet equipped to take emotional responsibility. And every time these unhealthy approaches are used, the possibility of experiencing drama and turmoil in our lives and relationships increases.
Choosing (or not choosing) to take emotional responsibility, I believe, becomes the difference between living as a slave to your emotions versus becoming the master of them. If you are the one suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder, the only way to indeed stabilize yourself is to learn how to take emotional responsibility without resorting to avoidance, no matter how emotionally unhelpful or unsupportive they people in your life may be. If others in your life are willing to offer informed/skillful support to work through painful emotions, then that is great! That being said, I wouldn’t keep high expectations about receiving emotional support whenever you might need it – people are on and off in their willingness to help, at least in my experience.
The benefits of taking responsibility far outweigh the costs, mostly because you have more power and freedom to create the life you want and increase the odds of keeping what you invest your energy into (especially your relationships). It might be a lonely emotional road at times as you are working through your daily stress and all the emotions that go with it, but even so, this is much better than being lost to dysfunction. You already have all that you need to become the master of your internal world; it’s just a matter of learning how to use it!
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