Those with borderline personality disorder (BPD) suffer from a pervasive fear of abandonment and are often triggered into feeling put down or mistreated. They defend against feelings of abandonment, with rage and anger, and become misunderstood when they’re longing for love. In the heat of the moment, they can send the angry text. They can look like a toddler that gets angry, when they protest as a bid for love. It is important to look at what is behind the actual behavior of a borderline person, rather than react. Most of their behavior is a way to communicate how they feel, but it comes out the wrong way.
The individual with borderline personality disorder gets angry in order to defend against deep fears of rejection, often pushing away loved ones, who do not understand them. Since they feel worthless, they test their partners love, to see if they will abandon them. They are often seen as attacking, so loved ones withdraw from them, misreading their actual behavior as offensive. It becomes self-perpetuating that the borderline person ends up becoming abandoned, by not being aware of their triggers and projecting their abandonment fears onto others, who may not actually be treating them this way. Because they doubt themselves, they do not understand why anyone would really want them.
As a child the borderline toddler tested the parent by wants or demands, in order to push the boundaries to see how much they could get away with. The toddler needed a parent who could respond to their needs, while also be calm and strong to not give into their wants or demands by setting limits on their behavior. The mother often gave into their tantrums or testing behaviors, so the child didn’t learn limits on their behavior, which later become acting out behaviors. By giving in to their testing behaviors, the parent ended up losing control over the child’s behavior, who keeps acting out, causing the parent to over react by being aggressive or abandoning the child’s needs, when they’ve had enough . The parent was either loving or mean / abandoning.
The borderline child became abandoned or mistreated, unless they complied or met the parent’s needs. Therefore, they give up their self to please others, so they can feel wanted, often not taking care of themselves, ending up in crisis and not having the conviction within themselves to have healthy boundaries or set limits to protect themselves. They usually do not want to hurt others and cannot say no. They end up solving other people’s problems, rather than focusing on fixing their actual life.
They often end up in situations that are destructive, because they do not have a strong enough conviction within themselves to trust themselves, when they notice red flags in relationships. The borderline person will put up with abusive treatment, because they associate abuse with the love they received in the past. They will often pay a high price to feel loved, to avoid abandonment, at the expense of themselves. They often do not know that they are mistreated, because it feels normal, often re-capturing a lost loved parent to meet their unmet needs in their present relationships. They repeat their pattern of putting up with abuse to feel loved, by hoping to recreate the love they’re longing for. Finding abusive or unavailable partners does not actually give them what they didn’t receive and they certainly cannot fix the past by attaching to partners who represent their past.
The borderline person often had parents do things for them, so they learned to depend on others to do things for them or take care of them. Other times they never had parents to support their growth or development. They replace the focus on themselves by focusing on others, to feel good about themselves. The borderline does not have confidence in themselves, often seems vulnerable, appears helpless and sometimes clings to destructive relationships to feel love. So, others feel worried about them and want to help. However, they often didn’t develop the capacity to help themselves, so others tend to rescue them. When others give unwanted advice, it can feel imposing or belittling. When the borderline does not think for themselves, and takes on the advice of others, it prevents them from working things out for themselves. They will not grow, but will stay helpless and dependent on others to take over their life for them, so they do not have to take responsibility. It enables them to stay stuck. Others feel annoyed at their efforts to help that seem to go nowhere, so friends give up on them or have enough, abandoning them when they’re most vulnerable.
The borderline can feel patronized by others taking control of their life for them. All they want is the space to be themselves, so they can understand themselves. They feel others impose and overstep the mark, by telling them what to do. It doesn’t help them to take responsibility for themselves, but reinforces how silly they feel.
How should a borderline individual deal with their emotions?
Firstly, do not react to your feelings. Check out whether your feelings are warranted or if you are being triggered. Recognize your triggers and situations that trigger you. This will help you work out what belongs to you or others. Are the feelings inside of you, or external by being caused by others.
If you are triggered, then digest and process the feelings, to understand them, rather than react to discharge them. Getting in touch with your feelings will help you to manage situations calmly and use your emotions as a tool to understand yourself.
Recognize that the feelings of worthiness or abandonment belong to your past, so do not let them impact the way you see yourself or others. Talk yourself out of it, to overcome these negative self-beliefs or irrational fears. No one really thinks you are as bad as you really think. Learn to deal with feelings and let it go. Be mindful of what belongs to the past and what belongs to the present. Therapy can help to deal with the past so that it doesn’t get in the way and distort one’s perception of reality.
Be aware that the wish to be taken care of or get support from others, can actually push loved ones away and not help you sort your own life. People do not want to be responsible for others, all the time. Also, leaving your life up to others, means you make them responsible for your life, rather than taking control of our life.
Learn to say no, take care of yourself, set limits on others, so that you are not overwhelmed with everyone else’s problems, to start to sort out your own life. You will not be present in your own life, if you’re dealing with everyone else, but yourself.
If you feel abandoned, by not focusing on everyone else, it is not true. Focusing on others (e.g parent) was a way to prevent feelings of abandonment, but it got in the way of self-activating. The borderline person will get better when they focus on themselves, not others. Lean to centre yourself, by listening to yourself and staying true to your real self, not base your life on what others think you should do.
Do not avoid the areas in your life that make you unhappy; avoidance or denial will further set you back. Listen to yourself. Facing the problems helps you to sort your own life out.
Do not beat yourself up or give up, if things do not work out straight away. Rome was not built in day. Understand that change or reaching one’s goals takes time; the more you do it, the more confidence in yourself you will gain. Share your goals with others, let them know what your set out to do for yourself. Share your aspirations. Become solution-orientated, not problem saturated. When you are positive, you will draw positive things toward you.
When the borderline person can take ownership for their life, and not be derailed by relationships, they can move forward and harness their real self.