BPD Emotions and Learning to Validate Myself
Learning to validate yourself is a powerful tool, especially for those of us with the ever-intense borderline personality disorder (BPD) emotions. I knew that the temptation to engage in maladaptive behaviors would still exist on my road to recovery. I did not, however, expect the extent to which I would learn to invalidate and essentially gaslight myself.
BPD Emotions and the Trouble with Being Aware
Becoming aware of my occasionally delusional thinking led me to incredible self-insight. However, it also put me at risk of being easily gaslighted. I constantly consider whether I react appropriately to my environment and sometimes it’s challenging to decipher when my feelings are valid and when I am overreacting. On the one hand, I know that extreme emotions are usually inappropriate. But on the other hand, what if this really is an extreme situation and my reactions are appropriate?
While it is true that I sometimes see ghosts where there are none (metaphorically), most of the time, I’m not picking up on nothing. One of the superpowers of living with BPD is my incredible intuition. I am very good at sensing the emotion in the room. I quickly and easily pick up on negative emotions like anxiety, frustration, suspicion, contempt, etc. Sometimes I sense an emotion before the person experiencing it senses it themselves.
It helps me to remember that the issue is not usually my perception, but my interpretation of that perception. In other words, I may be right to perceive frustration in someone, but reacting to that frustration with a fight or flight response is probably inappropriate.
Seeing Past Intense BPD Emotions
The following questions help me decipher fact from fiction during an emotional encounter.
- Describe the situation without judgments using facts. Do not add feelings or thoughts.
- Bad example: My partner and I had a fight, and I can’t tell if she’s trying to control me or if I’m being too emotional.
- Good example: My partner and I had a fight. She left the apartment. The argument was about visiting her family.
- Describe what you felt/feel due to the above situation. Take responsibility for your own emotions.
- Bad example: I feel mad, but wouldn’t anyone?
- Good example: I feel hurt that she left the apartment. I feel anxious when she seems angry with me. I feel hurt that she left the situation suddenly rather than trying to work it out now.
- Describe how the above emotions are manifesting themselves in you?. Describe their effects.
- Bad example: I can’t stop crying because I am so upset.
- Good example: Feeling hurt, rejected, and abandoned is causing me to cry.
- Describe the actions you have taken (if any) due to how this situation has made you feel. Take responsibility for your actions.
- Bad example: I destroyed a glass bowl because I can’t figure out how I should be feeling.
- Good example: The intense emotions made me feel out of control, and in response, I threw a glass bowl onto the kitchen floor.
- Theorize why they may have acted the way they did. Consider logical reasons without making negative assumptions.
- Bad example: She doesn’t get me. I am challenging to be with.
- Good example: Maybe she felt rejected because I said I don’t like visiting her family. She could have left the apartment because she didn’t want to fight, and it was getting heated.
- List what can be done to help the situation.
- Bad example: I'll explain why I acted the way I did when she’s back home.
- Good example: I'll see how she feels when she gets back. If things are calmer and she wants to talk, we can discuss the fight. If she does not seem calm, I will do something distracting and go to bed early. Talking about things tomorrow when we both have perspective is not a bad idea.
How do you react to your BPD emotions? Do you have some thoughts on this? Please share them in the comments.
Brown, D. (2022, May 24). BPD Emotions and Learning to Validate Myself, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, February 7 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/borderline/2022/5/bpd-emotions-and-learning-to-validate-myself