Selfishness and Borderline: Three Questions to Ask
While not one of the nine criteria for a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD), selfishness can be a symptom of the disease. Selfishness interferes with healthy relationships, worsens risky behavior and worsens addiction--all symptoms of BPD. How do we know when we're being selfish? There are three questions to ask.
How Selfishness Manifests in Borderline Personality Disorder
According to HealthyPlace, selfishness in the case of BPD arises from unmet needs:
People with a borderline personality often report being neglected or abused as children. Consequently, they feel empty, angry, and deserving of nurturing. They have far more dramatic and intense interpersonal relationships than people with cluster A personality disorders (odd or eccentric personality disorders such as paranoid personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder). When they fear being abandoned by a caring person, they tend to express inappropriate and intense anger.
In other words, we're selfish because we're hurt and we don't know how to react. But there's good news--an honest examination of our behavior can help. This leads to the first two questions we should ask ourselves and answer honestly.
The First Two Questions about Selfishness
- Am I putting myself ahead of this person's needs?
- Are they hurt by my choice?
If the answer is "Yes", we need not be ashamed. We are human beings first. We are, by our very nature, selfish--we've had to be in order to survive. But the good news is we don't have to be any more. There is a three-fold remedy for selfishness: service, empathy and spirituality. While we need to be on guard for toxic relationships, we need to put God first, others second and ourselves third.
I've found service to be incredibly healing. When Hurricane Katrina hit, I went to Biloxi in search of God. I learned that you get what you give, that someone always has it worse than you and that service brings you closer to your Higher Power. Service teaches empathy, which promotes spirituality.
The Third Selfishness Question: Am I the Problem?
This is a difficult question for someone with BPD, because we often think we're the problem when the real problem is our illness. For those of us with addiction, however, this is a vital question to ask. In my case, alcohol and self-injury are symptoms. The real problem is me--or more accurately, my illness.
So what do we do when we're the problem? The good news is we're not responsible for our illness, which more often than not makes us the problem. We are, however, responsible for the treatment of our illness. We are responsible for taking steps to get better. We are responsible for staying in treatment, staying on our medication and monitoring our symptoms. As HealthyPlace reads:
Living with borderline personality disorder can be difficult. You may fully realize that your behaviors and thoughts are self-destructive or damaging yet feel unable to control them. Treatment can help you learn skills to manage and cope with your condition.
Other things you can do to help manage your condition and feel better about yourself include:
- Sticking to your treatment plan
- Attending therapy sessions as scheduled
- Practicing healthy ways to ease painful emotions, rather than inflicting self-injury
- Not blaming yourself for having the disorder but recognizing your responsibility to get it treated
- Learning what things may trigger angry outbursts or impulsive behavior
- Not being embarrassed by having this condition
- Getting treatment for related problems, such as substance abuse
- Educating yourself about the disorder so you understand its causes and treatments better
- Reaching out to others with the disorder to share insights and experiences
Remember, there's no one right path to recovery from BPD. The condition seems to be worse in young adulthood and may gradually get better with age. Many people with the disorder find greater stability in their lives during their 30s and 40s. Their inner misery may lessen and they go on to sustain loving relationships and enjoy meaningful careers.
Oberg, B. (2014, November 25). Selfishness and Borderline: Three Questions to Ask, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 23 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/borderline/2014/11/selfishness-and-bpd-three-questions-to-ask
Author: Becky Oberg
...ok.....so we still talk on the phone...last night she had a litle breakdown on the phone because she said she had a dream about her dog who has died......so i listened, sympathized etc..she cried etc......i waited till she was throguth to talk about me...she said hows things.. " well, my entire family has gone on vacation , so im here alone and it sucks right now "....here repay.. " i dont want to hear your whining..you are lucky to have a family period "....just blew my moind after i listend to her about her dead dog, ( which happened way back in june )....i have life chanaign injuries and she " doesnt want to hear about it."
i told her she was very rude and hung up on her.