People learn from a very early age that life has many ups and downs. Feeling physical pain is unavoidable. So, is emotional pain. The problem for people with BPD is that we get stuck in our emotional pain and like a person who is drowning, don’t know how to rescue ourselves. When you experience emotional trauma such as abandonment, rejection or profound failure it can be extremely difficult to recover. With the help of good therapy, however, we learn to cope and reframe future abandonments, rejections and failures so they become less intrusive in our lives. We learn how to stop letting our emotions and our emotional gut reactions control our lives.
Some people use self-help books to try to learn how to deal with things such as this. I had more than 30 years of intense therapy. Gaining insight into my past and my past hurts taught me how to deal with them when they “resurface” disguised as other people or issues.
There are specific skills you need to develop in order to deal with these issues.
How do you deal with rejection?
If you perceive that another person has rejected you for ANY reason, that hurts. People with BPD are acutely attuned to this kind of thing. Rejection can come in many forms: a person “unfriends” you on Facebook, someone stops returning your calls, someone repeatedly declines your invitations for dinner. The first strategy is to not engage in self-criticism. Focus rather on your strengths and look for another person with which to engage. The world is FULL of people. Just because one person has rejected you does not mean another will.
I am so lonely
For many of us, loneliness is one of the largest, most silent dragon we have to battle. We become lonely because we isolate ourselves or cut ourselves off from loved ones. Studies have shown that the longer a person goes without having contact with others, the more difficult it becomes for them to re-engage. Get out there! Join a meet-up group, go to a lecture. Just get out there and do something. If you wonder why anyone would ever love you, challenge that belief. Know, however, that making new friends is a process that takes time. Give yourself time.
Trauma and its aftermath
Most people have a natural sense of resiliency, most people with BPD do not. If something bad happens to us, we think it is safe to assume that the world is a scary place and it will happen again. Experiencing a loss is a trauma, no matter how you slice it. It can turn a person’s ability to establish new relationships on its head. Once burned, twice shy. Don’t be afraid to give yourself some time to grieve the loss and reflect on the importance of the loss in your life. Acknowledging that a loss has occurred is the first step.
Why do I feel so guilty?
People with BPD are often consumed with guilty feelings. Guilt isn’t always a bad thing. If it keeps a person from straying too far from their emotional compass, it can serve a purpose. It reminds you of the person you want to be. But when feel too guilty you become the creator of your own misery. If you have a lot of unresolved guilt (guilt about things which have not been resolved) then the best way to approach this is to take the steps necessary to resolve the problem. If you were rude to someone in a store, go back and apologize. But how do you resolve guilt over something that happened between you and a person who has since passed away? One crucial part of dealing with guilt of any kind is the act of self-forgiveness.