It’s Not All About Me

Recently I had cause to want to say something to someone, who like me, has Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), or the new name Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD).  I wanted to say to her “It’s not all about you.” I could see her doing, what we with BPD always run the risk of, in taking a situation that wasn’t anything to do with her, and making it all about her.  I quickly came to the conclusion that it was best to keep my thought to myself this time, as otherwise it would have indeed, become all about her.

I should say that I know us well, and so if you have BPD and are thinking that I’m talking about you…  I’m not.  You know that song “you’re so vain, I bet you think this song is about you“?  It’s true.  This is nothing about you.

That said, all of us with BPD will know our tendency to think that the world revolves around us.  Whatever is said, must be about us. Whatever is said, must be confirmation that we have just been, or about to be, abandoned.  Whatever is said, must be an indication that the speaker doesn’t like us.  We use it to feel rejected, hurt and abandoned.  Every time.

The problem with it is that not only do we take the wrong message from what has been said, but we also run the risk of making that rejection happen.  People get tired of us taking things the wrong way.  They get tired of us making what has been said, all about us, when really it has nothing to do with us.  The ultimate is that we end up abandoned, as we feared, because of out own actions.

This is something I know about, because I have been doing it for years.  I could have gone on doing it too.  I could just say “it’s just my BPD that makes me do that“.  I might not be popular for saying it but BPD can be used as an excuse way to easily.  For me, I know my BPD makes it likely that I will interpret situations/conversations to be all about me, but I’m trying to make it different.

I’m trying to say “hang on a minute, this is not all about me.”  Actually, it’s probably got nothing to do with me and I would be a much better friend to myself and those around me, if I could distance myself from the automatic reflex of ‘it’s all about me‘.

I know what I am suggesting is not easy.  Actually it’s really hard to un-do a lifetime of reacting this way.  But I realise that while BPD is part of my personality, I don’t have to let it rule my life.  I don’t have to let that reflex kick in.  It is possible to do things differently… if I try.

BPD isn’t something that can be cured.  We know this, but I don’t believe I have to be permanently disabled by it either.  I can teach myself to react differently.  I can tell myself “hang on, this isn’t about me, how about I react differently?

Maybe you have BPD, and disagree.  That’s okay.  I know that this is really difficult to do, and maybe you’re not in a space to be able to try.  This is just something that I have been trying for myself, for about six months now, and while no one else might be able to see a difference (and that’s okay), I know that for me, there is a huge difference to how I react to the things that happen around me.

I admit it’s still not an automatic thing for me.  I think it takes time to make things automatic, and maybe even the existence of my BPD will mean it’s never automatic.  But I’m not going to let that stop me.  I know that if I am to have a good life and healthy relationships I had to make a change.

It’s about self-talk.  There are no miracles and each time I see or hear something I consciously have to say to myself ‘it’s not all about me‘.

It’s hard, and it won’t happen for me unless I make the conscious decision to do things differently. When the person I referred to above tried to make a conversation all about her, I too (and I know that sounds crazy) had to then tell myself that her response was ‘not all about me’.  It ran the risk of snowballing for me, but this time I was able to stop myself and remind myself to do it differently.

Now, a reminder for readers who have BPD.  What I have written is ‘not all about you’.  What you choose to do with this information is your choice.  I have not written this about you, or even for you.  How do I know that?  Because this written ‘all about me’.

And if you don’t have BPD?  Believe me, that this is a big issue for us.  We struggle with it in every connection we have.  It’s disabling to the point that it prevents us communicating with others.  But I’m not willing to let it disable me anymore.  If I want to have healthy relationships then I have to find a way to beat this aspect of my personality.

“It is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” 

―    Abraham Maslow

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4 thoughts on “It’s Not All About Me

  1. I can’t tell you how ecstatic this made me. Now clearly I don’t know you, and I don’t have BPD, but for people with a any mental illness it’s so difficult to understand that thoughts and actions are changeable. And that is the first step. If you use the diagnosis as a crutch you will get nowhere, and though it’s a painful process to accept responsibility for words and actions, I know, it’s so worth it to gain control. So, with all my heart: you go!
    And another thought: I’ve studied personality disorders quite a bit because my family members are diagnosed, but the disorder aspects baffle me a lot. By calling some traits a ‘disorder’ it implies other personality traits are normal, and what does that even mean. But almost everyone has one if not many traits and hard habits that completely hinder their life. What you described is a trait of many not just people with BPD. And BPD is a cluster of ‘symptoms’ I understand, but I don’t get the need to pathologize it because I think it makes people with the disorder lose hope and think its unchangeable. It’s so funny to even talk about there being no ‘cure’ because the only way to change personality is through you. Although, one aspect that makes BPD or NPD uncureable supposedly is that those individuals are seen as refusing to take responsibility, which of course, can hinder change and make it even impossible almost by definition. But it doesn’t make the lack of taking responsibility unchangeable. Once your personality is given a label doesnt mean you are stuck. our habits and traits change all the time. You are proof of that. So, again, I hope that you find success in your attempts to change. We all have to do it, you just have more awareness than many.

    1. Thanks for your comments and your encouragement. I admit I am inclined to disagree with you on the need to pathologise. I have no medical or psychological training but I know from my own experience and that which I have witnessed in others that the traits in someone diagnosed with BPD are significantly greater and more harmful to that person than the standard personality traits seen in the every day person. While I’m not keen to see people diagnosed unnecsessarily, I do think that there is a place for BPD as a label (much as I hate that word) so that it can be addressed. If we just say that everyone has these issues then we dent the reality of how difficult it can be to live with the illness. But then that’s a personal opinion and I recognise that many people see differently.

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