While I am now just a cat owner there was a time when I owned a lovely Border Collie dog called Jip and that said dog had terrible issues with going to toilet on the carpet. The problem was both myself and my husband were always at work and there was no point in telling the dog off when we got home hours later because he had long forgotten about it and was just excited to see us and go for his walk. We never punished him when we got home because you can only do something about a dog messing on the carpet if you manage to catch the dog doing it. The only way to train the dog not to do this was to be there when it happened and prevent him from doing so. So it wasn’t until I started to work from home that we managed to nip this issue in the bud. Why am I telling you this? Because your BPD brain is much like that bad dog!
The point I am getting at here is that those with BPD often get angry at the intrusive thoughts their brains keep having, but you never manage to stop it from happening because you often only beat yourself up about those said thoughts after actions have been caused because of them. To you, they seem to come from out of nowhere and be uncontrollable. But unlike my naughty pooch, your brain is always with you and you can indeed learn to stop those negative thoughts from ever happening!
The only way to get control of those thoughts is by training and confronting the reasons they are happening in the first place. The key thing to remember with these issues is that thoughts are just thoughts and nothing more. They don’t control you, you don’t have to act on them, they really are simply meaningless without actions and that works for both sides of the problem. You can choose to think about the things in these pages and the homework I often set for you, or you can choose to act on them. You need to learn to accept and allow the thoughts into your brain to occur and not try to push them away. By taking a short while to pause on your thoughts and react to them accordingly you can indeed learn to control them.
This method of overcoming unwanted and intrusive thoughts is just a matter of accepting those thoughts as what they are. They are just thoughts! Nothing more, nothing less, they are just your brains thought process working. Sadly, this is the hardest part of things for those with BPD to understand and accept. To accept that their partner isn’t trying/going to abandon them or to accept that terrible flashback you just had as nothing more than yet another bad memory. If you choose to ignore these thoughts you can move on with your life and continue whatever it was you were doing before you had them.
Invasive and intrusive thoughts are totally normal and we all experience them. I can’t tell you how many times I have wanted to shout at my neighbour for parking over our driveway, but knowing DBT skills and implementing them into my own life I learn to accept that his neighbour next to him often parks several cars outside their own house as well as his house meaning he has very little room to park himself. It’s no good shouting at him as he is the one that needs to address his own issues, not me.
It’s no good telling yourself “BAD BRAIN” after your actions have caused you upset, just accept that things happened like that and try to do better next time and the time after that and the time after that, taking one day at a time until that one good day you have turns into many. We are not even at the halfway mark in this year-long journey so give yourself some time to get more control and train that brain into thinking, but not reacting to things.
This Week’s Homework: While this might sound like a weird task this week I would like you to grow/train a virtual pet. This can be a retro Tamagotchi or just a virtual pet on an app that you can play on your smartphone. Have fun, grow it from an egg or baby and tell me how you got on with it in just one week. Notice how even a virtual pet takes time to grow and become better because without being given that time to grow and mature it will never make it to adulthood.