Rejection -> Reaction… and Building a Gap in Between

One of the defining features of BPD is an immense fear of being abandoned and/or rejected. Ever since a very young age this is something I have struggled with, pretty much on a daily (if not hourly!) basis.

From people-pleasing and self-sacrificing; regressing to a childlike state; ‘manipulating’ people who care about me; harming myself in destructive ways; portraying myself as helpless and unable to take care of myself so that other people will come to my rescue; over-apologising; reassurance-seeking; clinging and demanding; the list is endless.

This need to keep others close to me, taking care of me, and less likely (in my head) to abandon me, can manifest in a multitude of ways. This week the theme seems to be Bombarding Friends Who Haven’t Replied To Me Within 37 Seconds With Streams Of Desperate Text Messages.

It’s really been difficult over the last week or so, and I’ve been reacting a lot more than usual. I feel like it’s representative of progress, however, because at least I’m not destructively internalising my anger. It’s just hard to strike the balance… But this is something I am working on.

If someone doesn’t reply to me within a given time frame, my head usually creates a whole host of reasons as to why this is the case –
They hate me
I’m a burden and too much to deal with
I am boring
They’re in a crisis and I’m selfish for making this about me
They’ve given up on me

I’m an annoyance
I’m not worth talking to
They don’t care about me really
Everyone forgets about me/ leaves me in the end
And on and on and on…

I am really screwing up putting strain on my relationships by reacting to even the slightest perceived rejection from people closest to me in my life. I need a new approach. I want to commit to something new.

I am going to try and use the DBT STOP skill, specifically with regards to this method of panicked desperate Why-Does-No-One-Care-About-Me texting.

Stop –
Literally, stop. Stop my fingers typing, do not press send.
Put. The. Phone. Down.
Sometimes doing nothing is the most effective thing to do.
Just… STOP.

Take a step back –
Breathe. Count to 10. Then count to 10 again, as many times as is needed.
Sometimes taking a literal step backwards can be helpful in jerking the mind as well as the body.

Observe
Ask myself ‘What is the threat?’, ‘What am I reacting to?’, ‘What feeling am I experiencing right now?’, ‘Is this emotion justified?’.
Remind myself that a feeling does not have to equate to a) reality or b) actions. I can feel something without letting it define a situation, person, or myself.

Proceed mindfully
Ask myself ‘What is the most effective thing to do right now?’.
I can come back to the situation at a later time, if needs be.
Perhaps give myself 20 minutes to pause and distract.
Alternatively, assess whether other skills are needed.
– Self Validate
– DEARMAN?
– Self-soothing?
– MOCE?
– Opposite Action?
– Checking the Facts?
– Balancing Priorities Vs Demands?
If unsure, do a Pros and Cons. This will save time and put a gap between any emotions and the situation – long enough to stop me from reacting for at least as long as the list takes to write. Long enough to stop me from screwing up damaging another friendship or interaction.

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