Misinterpretation and Misunderstanding in BPD – Step 2 (slide set 3)

**The ideas contained in this post are the opinions of the writer and communicated without reference to supporting documentation. Any uses of “she” or “he” in the communication of ideas are not intended to covey sexual bias. Breakaway MHE Disclaimer

Author: Peter Miller

When you can’t “see yourself in action” by developing an ability to do so, a very natural long-term consequence is to become chronically defensive, or even slightly (or very much) paranoid. You can be living your life as though you are “always under attack” and need to be saying and doing anything and everything possible to stay safe. After all… these “awful feelings” keep getting activated whenever you are around people and life situations, and “this just isn’t right or tolerable!”(The feelings are actually tolerable; you just don’t know it yet).

Recall from previous slides the everyday process that 1) life events happen, 2) you form YOUR interpretations as to what the events mean, 3) YOUR emotions get experienced, and then 4) there is a behavior of some kind (words, actions, etc.) that may (or may not be) wise/effective. Without being training in these skill areas, chances are very good that your behavior is unwise/ineffective and does not produce a desirable outcome.

It can be VERY HARD to take full responsibility for this 1,2,3,4 biological reality, and that is why people have a tendency to blame others for their feelings and frequently be in conflict with each other… uttering such things as “YOU MADE ME FEEL THIS WAY” or “HOW DARE YOU!”. If you are suffering with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) then this tendency to blame others can be extremely strong. Why? Because the emotional experience for someone with BPD is usually much “bigger or stronger” than the average person.

And what happens if you’ve got two (or more) people who have no idea what’s happening or how to take care of these perceptual/emotional issues? You guessed it… loads and loads of drama! Then eventually when people have experienced these perceptual/emotional difficulties repeatedly with each other, they may resort to “solutions” like punishment or avoidance, which I mean to say are not helpful solutions and usually break relationships more than were broken before.

The truth of the matter is that many of these interpersonal difficulties are rooted in lack of self-awareness, unrecognized patterns, lack of individual thought/emotional skill, and lack of relational skills when emotion sensitivities or disorder may be happening.

If you are frustrated as you are learning about all this, I hear you!! I know how real it can SEEM that others are “the root cause” of our feelings… because things happen so fast and the emotions FEEL really intense as they happen. I get it!! We can feel SO STRONGLY about our perceptions being “the truth”… as though they are indisputable and everyone else is just wrong.

And while it may be true that others have an influence on the way we feel (being a stimulus only) the BOTTOM LINE REALITY IS ALWAYS that we end up feeling a certain way because of the way WE have interpreted the information taken in (the words, the looks, the tones, the gestures, etc.)… in our own particular way… using our own unique filter. Therefore, our perceptions are ALWAYS ONLY ONE of many possibilities, ALWAYS OUR OWN, and many times may also be influenced by past trauma we have experienced (hence the over-estimation of threat as indicated in the last slide of this page). Starting to see what I mean?

It isn’t your fault that you have emotions, because after all, it is just part of being human to experience these things. The problems start to happen when you haven’t developed an awareness of your emotions, all of the many related thoughts, and how these things may influence your behavior (for better or for worse). Also as you can see in the slide below, it makes sense that you could start to become anxious about living life when these difficult emotions keep getting experienced, when difficult life situations keep happening, and when there is no effective way to work things through.

When no awareness or skill is developed with regards to emotions (and how emotions function in relationships) people may simply opt to “blame emotions” for causing so much difficulty in life… unwanted outcomes, fights, etc. So when others show emotions, or when you start to notice emotions arising within yourself, the default response may be to “shame the experience”… hence to try and shut the emotions out, or shut them down.

Ignoring emotions like this is not only hurtful to the soul (as emotions get invalidated) but it can result in an accumulation of emotional energy that will eventually burst out of the body in some shape or form (perhaps an extreme behavior) or otherwise be “ever-waiting” for resolution. And when emotional energy does not get resolved for extended periods of time, it can do surprising damage to the body and contribute to disease processes of all kinds (mental and physical).