I live in my head a lot – I overthink; freak myself out; get angry, then tired. With Borderline Personality Disorder, I can easily say that most of my problems are created in my head. Perceived slights and being my own toughest critic has ruined many days of mine and it’s time that I stop letting my emotions control me. Learning to recognize my negative patterns of thinking in order to get rid of my poor mental habits has been challenging, but here’s what I came up with so far:
Don’t Take Everything So Personally
I’ve had to learn that the warmth or coldness of someone probably has nothing to do with me, as much as it does with how their day is going. 99.9% of the time, my family, friends or coworkers aren’t thinking about me and how I feel; they’re carrying on with their lives with their own ups and downs. I need to recognize that most people aren’t concerned with me and I’m just stressing myself out without reason.
Learning to stop overdramatizing a situation has also been a challenging one for me. My anxiety likes to make mountains out of molehills and small setbacks end up turning into huge, catastrophic events. Learning to take a moment to breathe, step back from a situation and viewing it logically has helped tremendously. I have to change my emotions and essentially give myself a pep talk, “This is not the end of the world.”
Stop Making Up Rules
All those “shoulds” and “oughts.” Who says so? Most of the rules I used to have were self imposed, imaginary rules that only ended up limiting me and my beliefs. I made myself feel guilty and nervous for no reason and took it out on others around me. Realizing that I was the only one that cared about my arbitrary rules, I learned to let go and I’m happier for it.
Don’t Stereotype People or Situations
I find that the words I use directly reflect how I feel and in turn, what I do. Using negative and critical language produced the same thinking. Stereotyping was a great way to not think and when I simply put someone into a pre-made box, it didn’t matter if it fit or not. Over time, I realized how much i limited my thinking (by not thinking) and going on “emotional autopilot.”
Stop Being a Perfectionist
With BPD, I have black and white or “all or nothing” thinking and I’ve had to learn that that’s not how the world works. There is a grey area and perfectionism simply serves to destroy my self esteem and happiness. It simply sends me off on a hunt for something that can never be attained.
Stop Jumping to Conclusions
This habit ruins things in two ways: 1) It makes you think you know what’s going to happen next and 2) that you can read minds. Wrong on both points. I stop listening and start making assumptions which then leads to blaming, a twinge of anger, then rage. If I just stopped and took a moment to realize that every situation is unique and that I can’t read minds and assume, life would be a whole lot easier.
Stop Trusting My Emotions So Much
This might not be a good tip for the average person because emotions are very important and could tip you off that something isn’t quite right, however; for someone with Borderline, this is a whole different situation. I have to learn not to trust my emotions because they betray me constantly. Things I should be a little annoyed at, I get enraged. If there’s a moment in a movie that makes your heart twinge with sadness, I’m probably bawling. As much as I try to be logical with my emotions to combat this, it’s incredibly difficult because it’s hard to ignore your heart when it’s hurting. But that’s the thing. It’s almost always hurting – most of the time again, for no good reason. I’ve learned to become more logical when I feel emotional to really evaluate – what is going on here? And what reaction does this situation warrant?
Implementing some of these tips has been a huge challenge for me – especially where I’m learning not to trust my emotions. However, I know that putting in the hard work now will help me, over time, break these poor mental habits so I can move on with a healthier mindset. What habits are affecting you? How do you deal? Let me know.