Borderline and Self-Acceptance: Loving the Hidden You
I am a devout Mennonite. On Sunday, we sang the hymn Will You Come and Follow Me? A line stood out to me--"Will you love the 'you' you hide if I but call your name?" It reminded me that in order for borderline personality disorder (BPD) treatment to be effective, we have to do just that--we with borderline need self-acceptance to heal.
Why Borderline and Self-Acceptance Is a Difficult Combination
One of the symptoms of BPD is self-hatred. Simply put, we don't like ourselves. It goes further than that, however, as we also believe that if people really knew us, they'd reject us. We believe that no one can love us as we are. We then try to become what we think the other person likes, resulting in uncertainty about our own identity and rapid personality changes.
The Bible says to love your neighbor as you would love yourself. With BPD's symptom of self-hatred, this is impossible. This results in another symptom of BPD, stormy relationships. Our relationships with others flip-flop; one minute we idealize and idolize the person, the next we despise them. This often results in a history of broken relationships, which confirms our belief that no one can love us for who we are.
Accepting Yourself, Borderline Personality and All
The first step to accepting the hidden you is found in the Serenity Prayer. "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." You are not responsible for your diagnosis of BPD, but you are responsible for getting treatment for it. In this way, you are doing all three parts of the prayer. You are accepting your diagnosis--which you on your own are powerless to change--courageously going through treatment, and wisely learning what you can and can not control.
Self-acceptance does not come overnight. It is something that must be worked for. You have to find who you really are before you can accept that person. It starts by finding five good things about yourself. Maybe you're a talented singer or piano player. Maybe you're compassionate. There are five good things about everybody, even if you can't see what's good about you at this point in time. Therapy will allow you to discover these assets.
Once you find the five good things about yourself, write them down and carry the card with you. When you feel the symptoms becoming strong, pull out the card and read it. Remind yourself of these five good things, and ask yourself "If all this is true, do I deserve the treatment I'm giving myself?" More often than not, the answer is no.
I keep a "nice notes" file in my desk drawer. As the name suggests, it's full of kind, encouraging words I've received from readers or from friends. When I get depressed, I read the notes in this folder and feel better. You may want to consider doing the same. Sometimes it's easier to hear it from other people than from yourself.
How Self-Acceptance Effects Borderline Symptoms
According to HealthyPlace.com, the symptoms of BPD are:
- frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
- a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation
- identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self
- impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating). Note: Do not include suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5.
- recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior
- affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days)
- chronic feelings of emptiness
- inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights)
- transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms
So how does self-acceptance affect these symptoms? It allows you to believe that you will be loved in the face of abandonment. It allows you to love others in spite of their flaws. It allows you to love yourself in a healthy way. It eases the need to find acceptance through risky behavior. It strengthens your resolve when suicidal or self-harm thoughts come. It allows your moods to be more stable, and aids you in recognizing when they're unstable. It allows you to feel fulfilled. It eases your anger. It helps you realize that you don't have to be afraid.
Self-acceptance--loving the hidden you--is vital to overcoming BPD.
Oberg, B. (2011, September 27). Borderline and Self-Acceptance: Loving the Hidden You, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, October 4 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/borderline/2011/09/loving-the-hidden-you-bpd-and-self-acceptance
Author: Becky Oberg
This article basically says to build self-acceptance by
1) saying the "serenity prayer" (I don't believe in god)
2) write down 5 nice things about yourself and carry it with you
3)maybe make a "nice drawer," if people ever send you nice notes
and then the conclusion says
"So how does self-acceptance affect these symptoms? It allows you to believe that you will be loved in the face of abandonment. It allows you to love others in spite of their flaws. It allows you to love yourself in a healthy way. It eases the need to find acceptance through risky behavior. It strengthens your resolve when suicidal or self-harm thoughts come. It allows your moods to be more stable, and aids you in recognizing when they're unstable. It allows you to feel fulfilled. It eases your anger. It helps you realize that you don't have to be afraid."
Honestly, if I knew all I had to do to make my moods more stable and accept my diagnosis was to say a prayer and write down 5 things about myself and carry it around, I could have been well decades ago.
Where've you been all my life, blog?
I need so much of this kind of information can I join this blog?
I think your post is beautiful. I have BPD and I know that the key to me healing is to accept and then love myself. I just wasn't quite sure how. Thanks again for taking the time to write your post.
Wonderful post, indeed!
I just wonder why we people forgot our self?
What's difficult in acceptance your self when you are the most familiar with you??
Terrific post, Becky! I'm so glad to have found this blog, and want to add it to a post I wrote last week that recommends blogs about what it's like to be mentally ill. Although you write for people with BPD, much of your message is true for others as well -- particularly the idea that only when we accept ourselves can we have stable moods and relationships. Wonderful job universalizing the path to recovery.