***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
Working as a mental health therapist with people who suffer with conditions like Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), I attempt to assist them – among other things – with exploring and making adjustments to thoughts and emotions. I prefer to focus on the emotional experience and what is happening with it because in my opinion, the way the emotions are either managed or mismanaged can make a big difference to the overall mental health of a person. If the emotions are both very powerful and mismanaged, living in a human body can be like trying to drive a car with engine that misfires and overheats – it will be prone to accidents, shut down, and possibly even kill you at some point.
After working with many people, I believe I have discovered some of the most common and destructive BPD patterns that are important to understand and adjust if possible. One of these patterns is that of habitually judging the self, experiencing the emotion of the judgment (usually shame and worthlessness), but then refusing to acknowledge and validate the emotion as acceptable and understandable. I call this the “self-judgment plus self-invalidation” pattern. It is a highly destructive pattern because it repeatedly produces a toxic emotion (shame) and then holds the emotion in the human body.
I can tell when people are suffering from this problem after they start explaining more about the details of their internal dialogue. For instance, a person might say to herself that “she is so lazy and pathetic because she can’t get started with a workout routine”. She feels ashamed and worthless, but then the next thing she says is that “she shouldn’t feel that way because there is no good reason to feel that way”. She says that as she follows this pattern that she is regularly angry, short-tempered with others, and sad and unmotivated. She even contemplates suicide sometimes. She then repeats the pattern once again and says that “she shouldn’t feel angry or sad, or be suicidal because there is no good reason for that either”.
In conditions like BPD, the emotions can be felt so strongly that they seem like “facts” to the person experiencing them. So for instance, if you were feeling worthlessness so strongly that you were convinced that it actually meant you were “worthless”, you would probably be inclined to fight against the feeling state instead of taking time to understand it (and release it). The problem with fighting against feelings is that the feelings tend to remain unresolved or stunted, or in other words exist “without flow”. Emotions are energy in motion, and this needs to be accepted as fact.
Another problem with this pattern is that a person’s life experience is usually missing the time to talk through thoughts and be supported in working through emotions. A person in this situation has often been on the receiving end of invalidation so many times that she has no idea how to initiate or complete a healthy mental process. She has been told “she shouldn’t feel that way”, or “it’s silly to feel that way”, or “there’s no good reason to be feeling that way”, or “it makes no sense to feel that way”. Her emotional flow has been stifled through conditioning in significant relationships (e.g., parents, partners, close friends).
Since a person suffering with this problem usually has no understanding (no awareness) that it is actually a problem, she will continue on with the pattern as though it was the only way to deal with emotions. She tortures herself over and over, and then when she reacts to her suffering she is blamed for her bad behavior. And of course, she judges herself for her bad behavior and holds in even more shame and worthlessness feelings. After more and more time passes and there is no emotional flow, a person starts to experience body and mind complications, also referred to as disorder and disease.
It amazes me how long people end up suffering so unnecessarily in patterns like this. If you find this article and know that you do this, I really hope you can make the adjustment that you need to suffer less. It may be important to further study emotional validation and how to do it for yourself. See two BreakAway MHE articles on validation here… article one, article two. It may also be important seek out others who are willing to practice emotional validation with you. It may be difficult to find a fellow human who is open to relating in ways that permit better emotional flow, but I promise you it is worth the effort.