Please Note: The ideas contained in this post are the opinions of the writer and are communicated without reference to supporting documentation in most cases. Other inspiration and influence for the writing came through consultation with other mental health professionals but the writer “Peter Quintano” is also fully qualified in DBT making him qualified to talk about the things discussed in this article.
One of the most important steps I have taken to lessen the symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is to REALIZE that we collectively inhabit a world that is by-and-large sick and dysfunctional. In other words, I have embraced the reality that we as humans have mostly decided to structure our lives (in particular economically, financially, and materially, etc.) such that healthy childhood brain development, mental health and relational health are unconsciously, but ruthlessly, undervalued. It’s so sick and dysfunctional in this way, and yet we have become so accustomed to living like this, we don’t even realize we are doing it.
How are these essential areas of human health undervalued? We (as humans) prioritize the gathering of money, power, rewards, and physical items OVER AND ABOVE health-related matters as we choose – or perhaps more accurately “are forced” – to conform to an industrialized capitalistic system. We unquestioningly and relentlessly keep our priorities in this manner, regardless of any mental health or relational consequences that may result. And when we do experience mental health or relational problems, we look for something other than our priorities issue to blame. It has indeed become our default way of being human whenever there are large-scale buying and selling involved. We don’t even know any other way unless we take specific steps to learn, to self-reflect, and to wake up, and finally, to come out of our deep state of unconsciousness.
When we realize and accept that humans by-and-large are programmed in a particular way (to prioritize economy over health), it helps to reduce the suffering of BPD. We are no longer unrealistic. When we unrealistically assume (or believe) that our emotions and mental health “should” matter to most people living with us in an individualistic culture, then we will experience frustration and disappointment (or harder feelings) over and over again.
Most of the people we occupy an individualistic culture with are unquestioningly and relentlessly focused on figuring out how to pay bills, make more money, and get more rewards and material things. Most of the people we live with are therefore NOT primarily focused on being mindful of maintaining mental health and relationships. Even when people claim to hold values and morals that could potentially or temporarily influence their behaviour in other directions, the push and pull of needing and wanting more money, more power, more rewards, and acquiring more material items remains the dominant motivational force.
This way of prioritizing life activities translates into many people (or most people) having little capacity, knowledge and the ability for meeting crucial human emotion and connection needs. Human needs for emotional understanding and connection become mostly irrelevant when priorities are so strictly set on economy OVER AND ABOVE mind/body health. Relationship and emotional needs tend to become irrelevant not because they aren’t essential to meet, but rather because the bulk of our collective energy is directed towards meeting the needs of the economy, and very little energy is therefore left over to invest in learning (and practising) how to meet these other needs.
People get worn out through giving so much to the economy, and so if there are any complaints about other need areas not being met, it may be viewed as “unrealistic” or even as though a person is “asking too much.” People also get “trained” to believe that the economy is all that matters because taking our focus off the economy could result in losing money, power, rewards, and material items. Considered yet another way, meeting human connection and emotional needs may be viewed as necessary to sacrifice (to give up) so that “the higher/more important” economic needs NEVER get neglected.
In many instances, a person with higher emotional and connection needs, such as someone who ends up suffering from BPD, realizes that she is almost entirely on her own for meeting these needs, even in the context of presumably accommodating circumstances (e.g., living with family or partner). It is a sad realization when it becomes clear that these human need areas are not adequately recognized as being important (even though they are essential). At the same time, however, this sad realization is easier to deal with than thinking (or believing) you are not worth connecting with, loving, supporting, etc. in the ideal sense.
We can validate our sadness by understanding the world and people for what they are: for the most part, programmed and unaware of their programming and lack of awareness. Fighting against our sadness and refusing to accept this reality for what it is can easily result in reactive/protest behaviours, thus making a difficult situation even harder to bear than it already is.
If you struggle with BPD and have reactions when your emotions and need areas go unmet, then you are probably also getting used to the experience of people in your life becoming more distant (and possibly rejecting) when you have these reactions. The people around you, most likely programmed into a western industrialized/capitalistic/individualistic culture, cannot and will not help you gain this realization so you can find peace. How could they possibly know how to help you!? You can only make this realization for yourself. Please do take this notion seriously. The consequences of fighting the reality of mental health ignorance will no doubt include paying the emotional and associated life-drama consequences over and over again. Your choice.
One last point about making this realization is that it supports you in having more choice in what you take seriously (and personally) and what you do not take seriously. For instance, when you experience the lack of capacity people have for making healthy connections and understanding feeling, you can notice that your interpretation (e.g., “I am not worth connecting with and working through feeling with”) does not have to mean that you ARE a low-worth person. Making these thought adjustments is what is called “separating thought from a fact” and likewise “separating a feeling from a fact.” It is not a fact that “you are low-worth” even though you may think and feel this way at times because of the way people function in the world as it is.
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