Do you ever just wish you could delete something from your personal regime? Whether it be a physical activity, an obsession, or a recurrent thought in your head, I’m sure there has got to be something…
I’ve been trying so hard to break this stupid pattern of thought that I have quite frequently, yet only in certain situations. I can’t really put a name to it, but it is eerily similar to a psychological behaviour called “splitting.” According to Wikipedia:
Splitting is the failure in a person’s thinking to bring together both positive and negative qualities of the self and others into a cohesive, realistic whole. It is a common defence mechanism used by many people. The individual tends to think in extremes (i.e., an individual’s actions and motivations are all good or all bad with no middle ground.)
Splitting is commonly seen in people with Borderline Personality Disorder. I’ve had quite a bit of personal experience with this phenomenon because my sister has BPD. I see it in action all the time and quite frequently I have been the victim of splitting. What is surprising to me (and it’s really all just coming together as I write this post) is that I tend to do this often in my head – I know it’s a stupid way to think, and I know it’s something I need to stop doing, but I just feel so compelled to do it. My mind just goes there before I even have a chance to realize that it’s happened.
People with BPD can be very sensitive to the way others treat them, feeling intense joy and gratitude at perceived expressions of kindness, and intense sadness or anger at perceived criticism or hurtfulness.
In the context of BPD, this way of thinking is harmful because some people don’t realize they are doing it. They then act on those thoughts and treat people overly graciously when they feel good and then they treat them extremely poorly when they feel bad. In my case, I don’t really let these feelings affect the relationships I have with people; instead, they just grind away in my brain, confuse me, anger me, and leave me feeling like I need to sort out this “shit.” Although my initial response when I feel criticized or rejected is to be angry at the person, the anger very quickly shifts to myself. I get angry with myself for letting my mind go into this unhealthy train of thought. Being angry at myself just makes it harder to work on my positive self esteem and positive self talk.
So, how do I deal with this situation? My options seem to be to either learn how to appropriately deal with this unhealthy way of thinking, or to just stop putting myself in positions that lend themselves to this kind of thinking. The problem with the latter solution is that it pretty much means that I have to stop interacting with the people who are important in my life… That’s no real solution.
So, how do I stop this instinctual response? How do I not get overly hurt or upset when something benign happens? Sometimes I can be so sensitive that someone not responding to a important (at least in my mind) text message can bring up the feelings. Is this just a matter of retraining my mind, or is it more deep seeded in my self-esteem, or do I have to somehow go deep into my psyche and re-learn a mature coping mechanism to replace this immature defence mechanism? I really don’t know. What I do know, however, is that this just has to stop. It’s not good for me.
Please, tell me, what do you do to deal with your stupid old habits?