In the most recent Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the symptoms of borderline personality disorder have been categorised under impairments in personality functioning and pathological personality traits. One of the subcategories of impairments in personality functioning is self functioning. This has been divided into two further subcategories, identity and self direction. In this blog post, I’ll be reviewing impairments in identity, and how to heal them.
The impairments in identity are characterised by a poorly developed or unstable self-image; which is associated with chronic feelings of emptiness, excessive self-criticism and stress induced dissociation.
In order for us borderline individuals to overcome our broken identity, we must learn to love ourselves.
Loving yourself essentially means having a positive self-image, self-respect, and above all self-acceptance. Acknowledge that your wellbeing and happiness matters. Your health is important, and you deserve to be happy.
The first step in loving yourself is self-acceptance. Through self-acceptance, you allow yourself to be you. You let yourself experience all your thoughts and feelings, the good and the bad. While this can be challenging, as many of us have been invalidated at some point. Know that all your thoughts and feelings are valid, no matter what anyone says.Since us borderlines tend to emotionally implode or explode when we lose control, embracing your emotions can be extra difficult. But by recognising how you feel, and allowing yourself to feel these emotions without being destructive, you are able to release them. Having a journal to write down your thoughts and feelings is one example of a healthy release. You are able to dig deep into the core causes of your thoughts and feelings and identify the real issue. Many of us carry around emotional pain from our past. So, by releasing your emotional pain from past experiences, you are letting go of past and living in the present.
Lighting a Chinese paper lantern and releasing it into the sky, is another example of releasing your thoughts and feelings. They symbolise letting go of the past, your past self. This can give you the closure you need to let go of the emotional pain you hold onto.
The next step in loving yourself is self-respect. Observe what aspects of your thoughts, behaviour and interpersonal relationships are causing you emotional pain. Observe what situations are causing you emotional pain. It is important to identify what makes you unhappy and confront it. What can you change? What should you let go of to allow yourself to be well and happy? Move into taking loving actions on your behalf.
Take care of yourself; your mind, body and spirit.
Borderline personality disorder is painful to live with. But you don’t have to continue to live with it, it is treatable through therapy (such as DBT). Instead of viewing yourself as an individual suffering from BPD, view yourself as an individual recovering from BPD. See yourself in a positive light, and take the necessary actions to recover.
A lot of us tend to neglect our health in general. It is important to eat well, exercise and get plenty of rest. By also taking care of your physical health, your mood and overall wellbeing will improve. But loving yourself isn’t just about taking care of your health, it’s about allowing yourself to be happy. You should find something, a hobby, that makes you feel good. Paint, write, play a musical instrument, dance… there are so many different things you can do. Focus on healthy things that make you feel good. Treat yourself too. Taking a long bath and pampering yourself is a great way to relax, a great way to heal. When you feel relaxed and happy because of the positive choices you’ve made for your wellbeing, you’re giving yourself self-respect.
The final step of loving yourself is having a positive self-image. Remember we all have our strengths and weakness. With a positive self-image, you recognise and own your strengths and potentials, while being realistic about your weaknesses and limitations.
It is vital that you accept and love every aspect of yourself, no one is perfect. Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t. Replace self-criticism with encouragement. By giving yourself constructive criticism, you allow yourself to grow and think about what you can do to make things better. Don’t forget to compliment yourself on what you have achieved. If you struggle to maintain a positive self-image, refrain from comparing yourself to other people. We are all individuals, we are all different. Make a list of your positive qualities, your strengths; and develop them. You are your own person, and you are amazing!