**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.
The concept of “self-love” sometimes enters into the conversations people have with one another; however, this doesn’t necessarily mean it is understood and practiced in ways that support mental health. No doubt there are many opinions on what “self-love” means and how to practice it, and depending on beliefs and background these differences could leave people in strong disagreement with one another. From the perspective of a mental health therapist, there is a particular way of looking at “self-love” and how to do practice it for the purpose of improving mental health. For this article, I will be exploring how “self-love” applies to working through Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and what I think is happening when a person with BPD hasn’t yet learned “self-love.”
When Borderline Personality Disorder has not yet been acknowledged or realized, my personal belief is that the odds of having an understanding of “self-love” for the purpose of improving mental health are very low. I say this as I reflect on my own experience struggling through BPD and how my disorder was active without pause for several years. During this time, I did not have a way to understand my experience, and therefore had no way to effectively manage thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that needed managing. My lack of self-understanding kept me fruitlessly grasping at ways to hold myself together while at the same time creating and re-creating life problems and emotional suffering. I was living in the mess of my mind and relationships and perpetually confused about why life remained so consistently hard.
In the previous paragraph, the words that really stand out to me as important are “creating” and “re-creating”. These words suggest that humans are constantly in the act of creating a reality for themselves. Life is constantly happening; humans are constantly experiencing what is happening; and in turn, humans are either reacting or responding to what is happening – co-creators of reality. In order to genuinely practice “self-love” a person needs to wake up to this truth and learn how to work with it. To refuse to wake up (choosing to live unconsciously), especially as a being with intense emotions, probably means going forward having unwise reactions to all that is happening (impulsively reacting rather than consciously responding), and therefore, “creating” unpleasantness – the BPD pattern in a nutshell.
As I continue to write and ponder, I recognize ever more clearly that to genuinely practice “self-love” is none other than to practice self-awareness, and in particular non-judgmental self-awareness. As life is happening and we are living in our bodies, we each experience various thoughts, feelings, and sensations. These internal experiences are happening to us through the act of living life, and probably even more so when we are in the context of being around each other. Lots of internal activity that happens! Lots of things just showing up! To take the time to slow down and objectively notice what happens and to accept it for what it is (just thoughts, just feelings) is to be “self-loving.” To be instantly reacting to what happens inside, or constantly seeking to avoid what is happening inside, is the opposite of “self-love.”
Another word for self-awareness is mindfulness. Therefore to live mindfully is to be practicing self-awareness, and likewise to be “self-loving”, and this is what gives a human the power to consciously create something pleasant because he is calm, rather than unconsciously create something unpleasant because he is frantic. The proof that a person suffering with Borderline Personality Disorder hasn’t yet learned “self-love” is simply to discover if he is understanding and practicing self-awareness/mindfulness, or not. If he understands some of the methods for practicing self-awareness/mindfulness and is in the act of practicing daily, then he has started learning. When the learning has started, the suffering person soon realizes that his “self-love” nurtures the power to literally create a different life experience.
For a person with BPD who has suffered for years in a pattern of painful dysfunction, this kind of knowledge can be extremely empowering. To continue on in disorder without developing this kind of understanding can mean a lifetime of tragedy and passing the tragedy on to offspring – kids very often take on the habits and programming of their parents. And even though people can learn to work through their internal experience if the guidance is available, they still often end up learning to habitually react to emotions (and avoid emotions) as a result of living in a culture of mental health neglect. However, a really awesome fact in all of this (and in human life) is that it only takes is a spark of understanding to begin practicing genuine “self-love,” and thereafter, living the life of a conscious creator.
PS ~ I practice meditation daily to both settle the brain and make better use of learned skills for BPD. I have become a big believer in the benefits of meditation for BPD as explained in Step-9 of the BreakAwayMHE 9-Step program. Please do check it out if you haven’t already! Having said that, I am confident in recommending a special soundtrack that works great (and that I use myself) to enhance the meditation experience and solidify the long-term benefits of meditating. An explanation of the product and FREE demo can be accessed by CLICKING HERE
photo credit: Harry Pammer love is in the air…. via photopin (license)