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Author Topic: POLL: Ten Forms of Twisted Thinking - Burns MD  (Read 21422 times)
Kwamina
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« Reply #30 on: January 29, 2015, 04:01:45 PM »

Oh yeah, I also signed up for Mood Gym (it is good and it is free!) but I have not done a whole lot of work there yet.  I plan to though.

I've also used MoodGym and I found it very helpful. For those who might not be familiar with MoodGym, it's a free online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) program:

Excerpt
MoodGym was developed by the Australian National University. It is available free to the general public... .specifically to help people with limited access to mental health professionals.

…... .

This is a sophisticated program that will take 1-2 weeks (multiple sessions online with offline exercises) to complete.

You can read more about MoodGym here:

MoodGym: Free On-Line Cognitive Therapy Program

Pete Walker's notion of the "emotional flashback" has helped me immensely, especially when it comes to emotional reasoning and other thought tendencies from Burns' list.

Thanks for joining the discussion matilda17! The concept of emotional flashback and how it relates to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is yet another fascinating subject to explore:

Excerpt
A significant percentage of adults who suffered ongoing abuse or neglect in childhood suffer from Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. One of the most difficult features of this type of PTSD is extreme susceptibility to painful emotional flashbacks. Emotional flashbacks are sudden and often prolonged regressions ('amygdala hijackings' to the frightening circumstances of childhood. They are typically experienced as intense and confusing episodes of fear and/or despair - or as sorrowful and/or enraged reactions to this fear and despair. Emotional flashbacks are especially painful because the inner critic typically overlays them with toxic shame, inhibiting the individual from seeking comfort and support, isolating him in an overwhelming and humiliating sense of defectiveness.

Could you perhaps tell us a bit more about how Pete Walker's notion of the "emotional flashback" has helped you better deal with distorted thinking patterns? How were you able to deal with your emotional reasoning?

To be more specific, what I mean is that there were ways in which I think my inner critic was partly formed that had to do with what I thought I could or should expect from life and from myself based on all of those factors I just mentioned -- e.g., "My mom is an adult and can't manage her life, so life must be too scary -- I think I'll avoid having too many positive expectations for my own life."

I think this really makes sense. You and many of us here were basically raised in a 'fantasy' world in which we were taught rules of how the world supposedly worked that don't apply to the real world. They only applied to the fantasy world created by the BPD adults in our lives. Now that we are adults ourselves, we find ourselves in the situation that we gotta unlearn those fantasy rules and start to learn about how the world really works.
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matilda17

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« Reply #31 on: January 30, 2015, 11:40:19 PM »

Excerpt
Could you perhaps tell us a bit more about how Pete Walker's notion of the "emotional flashback" has helped you better deal with distorted thinking patterns? How were you able to deal with your emotional reasoning?

Sure -- I'll use the example of procrastination and self-sabotaging behavior to illustrate.

With my parents acting as they did when I was a little kid, I grew up with a general feeling of unease and a sense that the other shoe could drop at random. My dad had an explosive temper, so my brother and I were already walking on eggshells as a general rule, and on top of that my uBPD mom increasingly acted erratically and inconsistently toward me (she treated my brother differently), particularly into my teenage years.

So while my dad's temper, while no party in itself, followed relatively predictable patterns in some senses, I experienced my mom's behavior as very confusing and crazy-making, all the more so because it was often quite subtle.

The upshot is that, without knowing it, by the time I left home for college, I had generalized their behavior and projected it so that it became the atmosphere of life in general for me -- like that was just how life was: unpredictable, punishing, random and to be feared. Unsurprisingly, I developed an overactive inner critic that was hypervigilant and pretty ruthless.

Getting to the Pete Walker aspect, what I didn't realize until pretty recently is that some of my long-standing struggles were the product of my emotional reasoning in that I didn't see that I was making life into something menacing and had inadvertently come to behave as though I should keep myself invisible, not try to make good things happen, and that I felt like "putting myself out there" in any significant way made me extra-vulnerable to ... .some unknown malevolent force that I was not even conscious I believed in.

So, my distorted thinking patterns around attempting tasks, shooting for goals, etc. that led me to procrastinate had to do with my feeling that life was too dangerous and random and the best I could do was to do enough to get by and then go hide again. Logically this made no sense, as I've always been quite capable and was an overachiever in high school, etc., so the gulf between what I knew I could do and what I was actually doing has been a source of major confusion and consternation for me.

Once I could see that I was unconsciously projecting the qualities of "life at my parents' house when I was little" onto "life in general" -- there was the hidden emotional reasoning (i.e., "I feel like life is scary, so it must be scary" that couldn't help but affect my performance. I had a prevailing sense of "what's the use?" when I would think about hunkering down to do difficult and daunting tasks, even if I logically knew that the payoff would be worth it.

The emotional reasoning I've described here was thus operating under my radar until I really got the concept of the emotional flashback, and only then did I start to see how far it extended -- even into my sense of what life in general is like. Without that piece, I couldn't understand why I balked repeatedly at doing things I technically knew I could do, and why it was like getting too close to kryptonite whenever I would try to do them. (Answer: it wasn't safe to try; I'd end up annihilated anyway, so why go through the trouble?)

That's just one of many connections I've been able to better flesh out with the help of the notion of the emotional flashback. Nothing would be wrong in my world as such and I could still feel like I was on the brink of disaster when I would be triggered, and I didn't know why.

Excerpt
I think this really makes sense. You and many of us here were basically raised in a 'fantasy' world in which we were taught rules of how the world supposedly worked that don't apply to the real world. They only applied to the fantasy world created by the BPD adults in our lives. Now that we are adults ourselves, we find ourselves in the situation that we gotta unlearn those fantasy rules and start to learn about how the world really works.

I've found this to be really true so far, and I'm at times inclined to have a mini-tantrum   because I feel like, well geez, I had all that stuff happen to me as a kid, and now I see it -- shoudn't that be enough? I get impatient and want to have everything just right itself magically in my world (there's that fantasy element again!) now that I know what happened.
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Kwamina
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« Reply #32 on: January 31, 2015, 02:42:57 PM »

Hi again matilda17

Thanks for elaborating!

I experienced my mom's behavior as very confusing and crazy-making, all the more so because it was often quite subtle.

I know what you mean! Growing up and as an adult too I've often felt like  and  and also a lot of  and  :'( unfortunately.

Emotional reasoning can be very powerful and yet I've found it very hard to become aware of it. I found the other forms of distorted thinking way easier to detect. I am very happy though that I've become a lot better at detecting any emotional reasoning I might be doing.

I feel like, well geez, I had all that stuff happen to me as a kid, and now I see it -- shoudn't that be enough? I get impatient and want to have everything just right itself magically in my world (there's that fantasy element again!) now that I know what happened.

You've come a long way matilda17 Doing the right thing (click to insert in post) Being able to recognize what's going on is the first step. Then you can start on doing something about it. This can indeed take some time but through commitment and hard work I do believe it's possible to make progress. It might not happen magically but then again, who needs magic when you got cognitive behavior techniques to do the trick Smiling (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #33 on: January 31, 2015, 02:49:56 PM »

They are magical in their own way. Smiling (click to insert in post)

Excerpt
Emotional reasoning can be very powerful and yet I've found it very hard to become aware of it. I found the other forms of distorted thinking way easier to detect.

Agreed! I think that for me, that's because emotional reasoning is so deeply buried and often manifests as "atmospheric" in terms of how it affects my outlook and my take on reality. It can be very subtle and kind of like background noise that you learn to incorporate into your sense of normalcy so much that you don't hear it anymore unless you remember to tune in (therein lies the work for me).

The effects of ER show up in ways in which I find myself putting myself down, even in the guise of "self-help," while justifying doing that by thinking that this is just how life is. Ultimately, it's my responsibility to root out all the ways my sense of reality is distorted, even unintentionally, and to do what I can to put it right.

Hoping to find a good T in the near future to help with some of that task, because my breakthrough crisis is still pretty new, and much of the work I've done in therapy previously, while enlightening, didn't fully get at the heart of the matter as I now understand it.

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« Reply #34 on: January 31, 2015, 04:26:29 PM »

Thanks to everyone for sharing their stories.

I think there’s much to explore in my case as I struggle with feelings of guilt and shame. It gets worse when I'm tired so I suppose that’s when my inner optimist is too tired to talk back Smiling (click to insert in post)

1.   When you look at your own situation would you say that you sometimes find yourself struggling with a overly negative or self-critical inner voice?

2.   If you do, where do you think this inner voice/critic comes from? Is it really yourself talking or could it perhaps be that you've internalized the negative or critical voice of your parents, siblings, in-laws etc.?

3.   Can you identify any of the listed forms of distorted or warped thinking in your own thinking patterns?

4.   How do you deal with your negative inner voice? Have you found ways to effectively talk back to your inner critic?

 

1. Yes, certainly. It doesn’t happen all the time, but when I am triggered I find it hard to silence or ignore that voice. It says things like: that’s all your fault, you can’t do this, you’re not good enough, you don’t try hard enough, and the like.

Besides that there’s a bonus version that says things like: you’re not supposed to feel hungry/thirsty/tired, you’re weak when you have physical needs, you’re weak when you’re upset, you’re not supposed to be sad/stressed/depressed…

2. It was only last week or so that I realised that these voices (it seems like there are two of them) stem from the treatment my mother gave me. The first one is from my teenage years. The second one is from when I was a little kid and is the hardest one to ignore. It is speaking to me right now, saying that I don’t deserve to get myself a snack while typing this. So I’m going to be nice to myself and get myself some chocolate right now :P

The thing is that my MIL (who was raised by a uBPD/uNPD dad) has some BPD traits including the fact that she imposes her view of “work is God” upon those close to her. This makes the first voice louder in my mind, though it is the easier one to recognise.

3. Yes, all of them.

4. When that voice is yelling at me, I try to see how it is actually my mother and I mentally tell her to shut up and that I’m going to do something different than she’d want me to. This issue is on my mind quite a lot and it fuels my nightmares as well (last week or so I dreamed that she was actually saying those negative things to me and I was shouting back at her that they were all lies).

When the voice is my MIL I try to remind myself that it doesn’t really matter what she thinks and while she is a difficult person sometimes, she doesn’t mean harm to anyone. I try to remind myself that my partner and I are grown up and we can make our own decisions.

I’d like to reply to everyone’s responses but I don’t have the time or energy today…  I’ll come back here soon though Smiling (click to insert in post)

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« Reply #35 on: January 31, 2015, 07:25:47 PM »

I thought I should pop in here and attempt to answer the questions asked of me:

Not only the words of our parents can get internalized but also the messages they silently express through their actions. Do you feel like this might be something that also happened to you?

While there is still so much I don't remember, there are snippets here and there that I have been able to recall. Mostly though I would tend to agree with you, that many of the messages I absorbed as a child were silently expressed through their actions. The 'silent treatment' was so common in my mom towards me or anyone else she happened to be angry with. Don't get me wrong, there were plenty of angry shameful words directed at me and at my siblings. I suppose I not only absorbed those directed at me but also those directed towards my dad, siblings, and even towards the relatives that my uBPDm hated viciously. Come to think of it, like Matilda17 said,

To be more specific, what I mean is that there were ways in which I think my inner critic was partly formed that had to do with what I thought I could or should expect from life and from myself based on all of those factors I just mentioned -- e.g., "My mom is an adult and can't manage her life, so life must be too scary -- I think I'll avoid having too many positive expectations for my own life."

 

There are times when I wonder what things I learned/absorbed when my mom would threaten to jump out of the car while we were driving, or when my dad would load the pistol and tell me he was going out to kill himself. Geez those things are still painful.

I think in general it would be helpful to me to start paying closer attention to what my inner critic is saying. It's easy to hear the typical comments of "you're stupid, too slow, why haven't you learned this yet, I'll never get it right," etc. It's much harder to sort out those that we absorbed without hearing the words.

I've been heading back in time in my memory, back to those early childhood years this past week or two, not just remembering, but feeling strongly the need to allow myself to experience some of the memories. As I do so, I think that I will also be hearing more. I've been much more aware of my mom's voice lately, recalling what it sounded like, that she was very vocal and loud. Interesting points for me to observe. Just last night Little Wools took me on a journey of sharing some of the things that hurt her in those early years. She finally feels safe enough to share those things with me which is really good.

This post is a good one to get us all thinking. Thank you!

Wools

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matilda17

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« Reply #36 on: February 01, 2015, 03:15:35 PM »

Excerpt
It's easy to hear the typical comments of "you're stupid, too slow, why haven't you learned this yet, I'll never get it right," etc. It's much harder to sort out those that we absorbed without hearing the words.

Totally agree with this, Wools.

Following on that point, I also think it's harder to hear the messages my inner critic tells me that aren't 'word-based' in terms of how I experience them in my mind and body. Through feelings, or reactions, or lack of reaction, etc. They can be very subtle messages.
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« Reply #37 on: February 03, 2015, 02:09:41 PM »

2. It was only last week or so that I realised that these voices (it seems like there are two of them) stem from the treatment my mother gave me. The first one is from my teenage years. The second one is from when I was a little kid and is the hardest one to ignore. It is speaking to me right now, saying that I don’t deserve to get myself a snack while typing this. So I’m going to be nice to myself and get myself some chocolate right now :P

Chocolate! Very good polly87 Doing the right thing (click to insert in post) Being nice and loving to yourself is very important and also a very good way of (indirectly) talking back to that negative inner voice. You eating chocolate is like you saying "Well inner critic, I actually believe I am deserving of a snack so you must be wrong!"

4. When that voice is yelling at me, I try to see how it is actually my mother and I mentally tell her to shut up and that I’m going to do something different than she’d want me to. This issue is on my mind quite a lot and it fuels my nightmares as well (last week or so I dreamed that she was actually saying those negative things to me and I was shouting back at her that they were all lies).

I find this very interesting. Has this happened before that you started talking back to your mother in your dreams?

There are times when I wonder what things I learned/absorbed when my mom would threaten to jump out of the car while we were driving, or when my dad would load the pistol and tell me he was going out to kill himself. Geez those things are still painful.

I am very sorry you experienced these things Wools. It's indeed acts such as these that can relay a powerful silent message of how unsafe and dangerous the world is. When you grow up like this you might also believe that this is 'normal' behavior and also expect other people outside of your family to behave like this. My uBPD sis has threatened to commit suicide several times, often to get away with things or to get others to do what she wants, yet you never know for sure what's going on. I always found this behavior very unpleasant and quite disturbing, but I had also become so used to it that after a while I wasn't shocked anymore when she said something like this. A few years ago I all of a sudden realized how totally not 'normal' it is to make suicide threats and how used I had gotten to this type of behavior. In a sense I had gotten desensitized to her threats.

Excerpt
It's easy to hear the typical comments of "you're stupid, too slow, why haven't you learned this yet, I'll never get it right," etc. It's much harder to sort out those that we absorbed without hearing the words.

Totally agree with this, Wools.

Following on that point, I also think it's harder to hear the messages my inner critic tells me that aren't 'word-based' in terms of how I experience them in my mind and body. Through feelings, or reactions, or lack of reaction, etc. They can be very subtle messages.

And I totally agree with what the both of you are saying here!  I think mindfulness might (also) help us become more aware of these silently conveyed messages that we have internalized.
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« Reply #38 on: February 06, 2015, 11:12:34 AM »

Kwamina, no it’s only recently that I started to talk back to my mother in dreams. Before that, I often had dreams in which I’d bite her lips off, which I suppose would stand for both disabling her ability to talk and stopping her from sexually abusing me.

Woolspinner, I’m sorry those terrible things happened in your youth. (I hope you're not having to deal with this alone... ?) I agree with Kwamina – such incidents teach us that the world is unsafe, and that people who love us might leave anytime. We have to unlearn that lesson now that we escaped the circumstances of our youths but that’s not an easy task. I’ve quoted this line before but as the Buddha said, all conditioned things are impermanent. 

At the moment I’m reading Surviving a Borderline Parent and I am struck by the realisation that my MIL’s BPD traits might be more serious than I thought they were. When my partner goes to the pub for some beers with his brother V., who is in his late twenties, she calls them before midnight to ask whether V. is coming home yet, as he is still obliged to sleep there during weekends.

I recently found a job as a freelance tutor and I noticed that I took on pupil after pupil until I got more than my MIL (who is also a tutor) so that she wouldn’t be able to ever say that I’m lazy. For various reasons, this is not a good idea. But the point is that she influences my decisions by her high expectations. For instance, when my partner is ill, she’s sorry for him, because he can’t go to work. When I told my MIL a couple of weeks before that I was having trouble with nightmares, she wondered what the problem was, because I didn't have a job anyway or did I? Now that I have a job, she suddenly is worried about me, because the job is all-important. I mentally know how this stuff works in her mind and it makes me sick. Yet, I comply to her expectations and I’m worried that she’ll judge me for my choices. Of course, the fact that my uBPD mother always told me I did not count as a person until I had a job does not really help. Why do people think work is so important? Man, I have to eat and pay the rent but it’s not like it’s who I AM or something…. However, I am actually quite a mess at the time, so maybe I’d rather be a tutor anyway  Smiling (click to insert in post)

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Kwamina
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« Reply #39 on: February 06, 2015, 01:08:52 PM »

Now that I have a job, she suddenly is worried about me, because the job is all-important. I mentally know how this stuff works in her mind and it makes me sick. Yet, I comply to her expectations and I’m worried that she’ll judge me for my choices. Of course, the fact that my uBPD mother always told me I did not count as a person until I had a job does not really help. Why do people think work is so important? Man, I have to eat and pay the rent but it’s not like it’s who I AM or something…. However, I am actually quite a mess at the time, so maybe I’d rather be a tutor anyway  Smiling (click to insert in post)

It could be that your MIL as a result of her BPD traits also has some distorted thinking patterns of her own. Perhaps she identifies with her work to such an extent that her work has become her identity. Not working would for her then mean not having an identity and she could be projecting this line of thinking onto you. You ask why people think work is so important. Dr. David Burns also lists seven areas of personal vulnerability and I think some might be related to the emphasis your MIL places on work. He lists these areas of vulnerability to help determine why people have distorted thinking patterns in the first place:

  • The need for approval (you are very sensitive to criticism and the good opinions of others, you feel the need to keep others happy).
  • The need to be loved (you feel happiest when others approve and love you, without it you feel worthless and rejected, if someone you like doesn’t like you, you feel unlovable).
  • The need to succeed (you feel you must be outstanding in one area at least, you feel inferior and a failure if you do not succeed).
  • The need to be perfect (if it can’t be done excellently, then there is no point in doing it at all, falling short of perfection is pathetic and B (even C) grade, making a mistake is devastating.
  • The sense of feeling deserving (if you can’t get what you are entitled to, then it’s not fair, it’s unjust, unreasonable and frustrating; if you are kind and thoughtful then others should be kind back).
  • The sense of being able to influence all things (if something happens, somebody gets upset then it is your fault and you are responsible).
  • The sense that happiness is contingent upon external things (you feel you have no control over your emotions, your feelings, that happiness is dependent on external factors).

When you look at this list, would you say that certain areas of personal vulnerability might also apply to your MIL? Perhaps the need to succeed and/or the sense that happiness is contingent upon external things? Would you say that your MIL finds the approval of others important and might think that they will only approve of her if she works? Perhaps work's a part of your MIL's 'perfect picture' and fulfills her need to be perfect... .
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« Reply #40 on: February 06, 2015, 08:44:18 PM »

You both came up with the same likely message received in the circumstances I mentioned in my post:

Kwamina said

Excerpt
"It's indeed acts such as these that can relay a powerful silent message of how unsafe and dangerous the world is. A few years ago I all of a sudden realized how totally not 'normal' it is to make suicide threats and how used I had gotten to this type of behavior. In a sense I had gotten desensitized to her threats."

I don't think I ever stopped to ponder on the fact that this might be what I picked up. I know I've become desensitized, very much so. It never ceases to amaze me when I observe the expression on a face when they hear about my parent's suicide threats, not just from one parent but both. I think I'm still quite in that mode of  thinking, "it wasn't that bad, was it?" But I have come a long way on the path to healing, and Polly, I'm not going it alone. I have a wonderful T who is helping me so much. I don't think I'd be making it without him.

This week I identified 2 different things my inner critic was saying. One was when I thought I looked nicer as I was getting ready for work. "Wait a minute!" I thought to myself. "Why would I look nicer now than any other time?" and I immediately recognized the fact that I was still hearing the voice of my mom when I was 12, "You'd be prettier if you lost weight." I tucked those literal words away, brought them silently out nearly everyday of my life. And I'm not very much overweight, but that inner critic stays busy reminding me.

The other identification was from a book I'm reading. Here is a small quote:

"It is important to know that being speechless from trauma is not the same as withholding. Withholding is a purposeful refusal to respond appropriately and is designed to punish the [person] by threatening withdrawal from the relationship."

This would be one of those times of absorbing without hearing the words. My uBPDm would be quiet, but her message was loud and clear, that unless I conformed or apologized or whatever, she would threaten to never speak to me again or to kill herself or... .  Even up to the time she died, my siblings and I knew that she would disown us in a moment if she felt like she wanted to because of something we'd done or not done.

I'll keep listening with open ears to hear what more I can discover.  Smiling (click to insert in post)

Wools
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« Reply #41 on: February 07, 2015, 10:18:23 AM »

I think there certainly are a couple of areas that apply to my MIL.
 
  • The need for approval. Besides her job as a tutor she does volunteer work as a remedial teacher, and I have never ever heard her say she liked it. (I also do volunteer work, as a translator, but that’s because I really like it.) Apart from that, she is obsessed with “caring” for my BIL. She buys his groceries and she does his laundry. I never heard him say a word about it but she often says that he needs her to run his life because he’s too busy with his job and his hobbies.

  • The need to be loved. I think the above examples apply to this aspect as well. Besides that, she always goes on about her pupils and how they confide in her and how they need her as a mother figure. I already told about how she wants my BIL close to her to an unhealthy extent.

  • The need to succeed. To my MIL, work is God. It is what she lives for and it is what she thinks others ought to live for. When my partner and I visit my in-laws, my MIL goes on and on about how things are at my partner’s job at that moment. She rarely asked me any questions….until I got a job about two weeks ago. Question time (as we jokingly call those job updates) has literally doubled. This gives us the message that it doesn’t matter who you are outside of your job.

  • The sense of being able to influence all things. My MIL wants to influence the truth above all other things. When someone close to her is ill, she makes up her own truth about it, ignoring however they actually feel. I think this is related to an experience that was very hurtful to her. As a kid, she was sent to school despite the fact that she had an appendicitis. Her father had uBPD/uNPD and he was very controlling. My MIL used to see a T for depression and the T diagnosed some serious PD traits that needed full time treatment. She refused to leave her family though, so she quit T and has remained at the same point ever since. She doesn’t even acknowledge that she was emotionally abused though this is clear from the stories she tells.

Since I realised that my MIL has some treats that overlap with my uBPDm’s treats, I’ve been thinking about how she influences my partner and me. For myself, the need to be loved is relevant, as I didn't experience unconditional love from my uBPDm as a kid (my dad was absent as my parents divorced when I was one year old and I wasn't allowed to see him).
 
Woolspinner, I’m glad you are seeing a T and that he’s of such good help to you.
 
My uBPDm would be quiet, but her message was loud and clear, that unless I conformed or apologized or whatever, she would threaten to never speak to me again or to kill herself or... .   Even up to the time she died, my siblings and I knew that she would disown us in a moment if she felt like she wanted to because of something we'd done or not done.

I so know what you mean. My uBPDm would give me the silent treatment to punish me as a kid. A couple of years ago, when I still saw her, she would not literally say what was wrong but she’d stop eating, simply because I went to live with my partner. When I saw her again after some time she was as thin as a stick and this was supposed to make me feel guilty.
 
Sometimes she’d say what was wrong but in such a vague way that I’d wonder how much of it was true, but then the message would somehow still stick in my mind, sadly. She’d say that I was disrespectful to her (because I loved my partner), she’d say that I was rude (because I moved out of her home), she’d say that my problems were all my own fault (I was distressed because she picked fights with me all the time). I struggle with feelings of guilt and I wonder how much of it is related to these experiences. Besides that, I am tempted to punish myself when I'm feeling angry, because I got punished for that as a kid.
 
Wools, do you think your mother hated her own body and that she’d project that feeling onto you when you were a girl? Or do you think she simply disliked the way you looked? Either way it’s not something people ought to say to a kid and I'm sorry she did.
 
As for the suicide threats – that’s a sure way of making a kid feel unimportant. My uBPDm used to tell me she was going to kill my stepfather, which didn’t give me a positive worldview either... I’m not trying to say that my situation was as bad as yours but I just wanted to say that my view of the world was (and is) not exactly that of a safe place. It’s good that we’re both working on healing and I hope we’ll both manage to create a safe place for ourselves.
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« Reply #42 on: February 28, 2015, 02:27:54 PM »

A lot of interesting material here so I've decided to revisit this thread.

For myself, the need to be loved is relevant, as I didn't experience unconditional love from my uBPDm as a kid (my dad was absent as my parents divorced when I was one year old and I wasn't allowed to see him).

I think this is probably a weak spot of nearly all children raised by abusive parents that were withholding of love or only gave conditional love. Now that we are adults we must learn to give ourselves the love we never got as children. You could say this means that the adults we have become must learn to act in a loving and compassionate way towards the child that still lives inside of us. Our inner child so to speak. How does treating yourself with a little love and compassion sound to you?  Smiling (click to insert in post)

My uBPDm would give me the silent treatment to punish me as a kid. A couple of years ago, when I still saw her, she would not literally say what was wrong but she’d stop eating, simply because I went to live with my partner. When I saw her again after some time she was as thin as a stick and this was supposed to make me feel guilty.

How did it make you feel when your mother gave you the silent treatment? What message did this treatment send to you?

You're mother was starving herself in what you believe was an attempt to make you feel guilty. How did you feel when you saw your mother as thin as she had become? Did you indeed feel guilty or responsible for the condition she was in? When you look back at this episode now, how do you now perceive your mother's behavior? Starving yourself to make someone feel guilty is a dangerous game to play. Do you feel like this was just another way of her trying to manipulate you or perhaps also a clear sign that there's something seriously wrong with her and that she clearly lacks certain essential life skills? A lot of questions again I know

Sometimes she’d say what was wrong but in such a vague way that I’d wonder how much of it was true, but then the message would somehow still stick in my mind, sadly. She’d say that I was disrespectful to her (because I loved my partner), she’d say that I was rude (because I moved out of her home), she’d say that my problems were all my own fault (I was distressed because she picked fights with me all the time). I struggle with feelings of guilt and I wonder how much of it is related to these experiences. Besides that, I am tempted to punish myself when I'm feeling angry, because I got punished for that as a kid.

I'd say probably a lot of this is related to your past experiences. A lot of adults who were abused and shamed as children, find themselves struggling in their adult lives with feelings of shame and guilt. What kind of things do you feel guilty about? Do you perhaps feel like you're responsible for other people's feelings and happiness in life?
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« Reply #43 on: March 03, 2015, 02:47:07 PM »

Thank you, Kwahamina for starting this thread. Thank you to the others who’ve shared their stories and contributed to it. You have all helped me feel far less alone in all this. I know this is a little late, but at the risk of my inner negative voices scolding me for it, I’m posting here anyway.

1.   When you look at your own situation would you say that you sometimes find yourself struggling with a overly negative or self-critical inner voice?

Sometimes? It is a near constant battle. Sometimes I recognize it, sometimes I don’t.

2.   If you do, where do you think this inner voice/critic comes from? Is it really yourself talking or could it perhaps be that you've internalized the negative or critical voice of your parents, siblings, in-laws etc.?

It’s a combination. It’s mostly my mother, unless it involves my appearance - then it’s mother and sister, and unless it involves my intelligence, then it’s mother and father and sister.

3.   Can you identify any of the listed forms of distorted or warped thinking in your own thinking patterns?

Let’s see:

All or none thinking: absolutely, but only really in regards to myself, my identity. I’m either smart or I’m stupid. I’m either selfish or I’m selfless. I’m either tough or over-sensitive.

Overgeneralization: absolutely, again only really in regards to myself and my identity.

Mental filter: YES, but this one I’ve been working on with some success, I think. I lost my mother’s approval and her and my sisters’ presence in my life, but I gained contact with almost my entire (very large) extended family whom she cut off from our family.

Disqualifying the positive: Yes, primarily with myself and my identity.

Jumping to conclusions: Mind reading especially. A very mild example: Someone rolled their eyes when I smiled at them. They must hate me/think I’m an idiot/etc. (Unless you can count eye-rolling as evidence, which, um, no, probably not). Not so much the fortune teller error, I think.

Magnification or minimization: YES. I should have saved my sisters, regardless of the circumstances (the circumstances being minimized).

Emotional reasoning: YES.

Should statements: YES, see Magnification or minimization.

Labelling and mislabelling: YES, see Jumping to conclusions.

Personalization: YES. Absolutely everything is a reflection on who I am

My mother reinforced these thought patterns by sometimes showing approval when I verbalized them, but sometimes not because then I’m selfish and begging for attention. So I feel weirdly better about myself when I beat myself up, but then I have to beat myself up because I felt good about beating myself up, and apparently I can’t even beat myself up properly.

4.   How do you deal with your negative inner voice? Have you found ways to effectively talk back to your inner critic?

   As a kid in a very religious household, I latched onto the idea of God, a loving Heavenly Father. I was taught, God loves everybody, no matter what, even if you’ve sinned. So, even though my parents love was conditional, I believed that God loved me always. Whatever I did. There was an additional voice in my head, besides the negative inner family voices, and that was the voice I called God. At this point I don’t know if it was really God, or just myself, it doesn’t really matter. Regardless, I was not allowed to think well of myself at all. If I did, then I was narcissistic, prideful, full of myself, selfish, and on and on. But, if I called the nice voice in my head “God,” then it was OK. Because of course God loves everybody. It wasn’t even really a voice, because that was another teaching, God doesn’t speak in words, he speaks in feelings. So, I would pray every day, often many times during the day, and I would open myself up to ‘God,’ to my ideal, fantasy, loving, parent. He would say all the nice things nobody else ever said to me, and I wasn’t allowed to say to myself. He would tell me he loved me, and yeah, I might have made a mistake, but he loved me anyway. He trusted me to try to put it right (He can’t put it right himself, because that would take away from the free agency of humans). He would say I was just the way he made me, that he was there for me whenever I needed him, that I could trust him. I did not tell anybody about what God told me, they just knew that I prayed a lot, which my parents were actually proud of. It was only when I was getting married that the dissonance between what I believed God told me and what my Mom believed God would say (to me or to her) came to light. With our falling out and in light of that dissonance, it became hard for me to ‘reach’ God.

   Now, I’ve moved away from that religion. I’ve read many books on recovering from an abusive childhood. I think every book has included something on giving yourself the affirmation, validation, and love that you never got from your parents. Thinking back on it, I now think that I managed to do that through the idea of God. I have been working on getting back to that praying/meditating/whatever, but it has been extremely difficult to do when I think it’s myself. Because I’m not supposed to think well of myself or love myself. It’s hard to believe the good things when it’s myself saying them. And it’s hard to envision ‘God’ when I no longer believe that my family’s religion is the truth. It’s even harder when I was criticized as a kid for my overactive imagination, which they now all say is clearly why my reality, what I remember from childhood, is so different from theirs. The ‘God’ in my head at this moment feels rather like proof that nothing was really wrong, I made every last thing up, I wasn’t really abused, I’m just crazy.

   Anyway, that’s what I’m working with right now.

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« Reply #44 on: March 04, 2015, 12:28:49 PM »

Excerpt
Now that we are adults we must learn to give ourselves the love we never got as children. You could say this means that the adults we have become must learn to act in a loving and compassionate way towards the child that still lives inside of us. Our inner child so to speak. How does treating yourself with a little love and compassion sound to you?    

I mentally know that love and compassion towards the self and towards the inner child are the only way to healing. I find this difficult to put into practice though. When I am tired or stressed, it becomes even more difficult. Even on the rare occasions when I am not tired, such as today, I find it hard to free some time for myself and do something that is not *useful* but *nice*. What about if I promise you right now that I will do some mandala colouring after dinner  

Excerpt
How did it make you feel when your mother gave you the silent treatment? What message did this treatment send to you?

 It made me feel that I was unworthy of being loved, that I was a piece of sh-t, that I did not matter. It made me feel like I should have paid better attention to her needs. It made me feel like she was angry with me and I could not make it up, ever. Now I remember: she actually refused to accept my apologies when she was angry. She was often very mean.

Excerpt
You're mother was starving herself in what you believe was an attempt to make you feel guilty. How did you feel when you saw your mother as thin as she had become? Did you indeed feel guilty or responsible for the condition she was in? When you look back at this episode now, how do you now perceive your mother's behavior? Starving yourself to make someone feel guilty is a dangerous game to play. Do you feel like this was just another way of her trying to manipulate you or perhaps also a clear sign that there's something seriously wrong with her and that she clearly lacks certain essential life skills? A lot of questions again I know  
<br/>:)on’t worry about asking a lot of questions, it’s okay!  Smiling (click to insert in post)

When I saw my mother had become so thin, I did not feel anything like guilt. I felt that it was her own fault. She had failed to take care of herself as an adult person while I had been away. I thought (and still think) it was a very childish way of seeking attention if she indeed starved herself to make me feel guilty – I cannot know for sure of course. She gave me a couple of hints however: she said that she could not eat when I was away from her and she accused me of abandoning her. This, IMHO, was meant to make me stay with her and leave my partner.

Besides that, yes, I think her starving herself was also a sign that there was and is something seriously wrong with her. She has always denied that there is anything the matter and has always claimed that I needed to seek psychological help. She even went so far as to tell my partner (while I was in the bathroom) that it was not too bad that I had been without a job for years; it was all about my way of looking at things. My partner remembers this as one of the most mean things he ever heard about me. To me this was just peanuts however and I am glad that he did not hear the worse accusations.

Oh and yes, I believe my mother lacks essential life skills. Ironically, I also tend  to skip eating when I am stressed, and in some strange way, this makes me understand what she went through and is still going through. You are unhappy and you do not like yourself so why would you feed yourself? I do not want to sound dramatic or something but I think I might have more eating issues than I admitted to myself. Well I did not expect to come to this realisation when I started typing this! Thank you Kwamina.

Excerpt
What kind of things do you feel guilty about? Do you perhaps feel like you're responsible for other people's feelings and happiness in life?

YES, I do feel totally and unappropriately and debilitatingly and exhaustingly responsible for other people’s feelings and wellbeing and happiness, especially when it comes to my partner but also in friendships. My twisted idea that I am responsible for my partner’s wellbeing is the main cause of my peaks of guilt and therefore the main reason why I resort to self-harm when it becomes too much. However, I also ‘use’ guilt to cover up feelings that I am too scared to show. I am ashamed to admit that I seek the validation that I never got from my mother in my partner. I feel like I need him to say over and over: “it’s okay polly if you feel [insert random emotion here]. You don’t have to be afraid that I’ll be angry or leave you when you feel something or when you need me. You don’t have to be afraid that you’re taking up too much of my time and energy.”

Of course, since this is about the past, it does not help if my partner tells me this in the present. It is so sad. I do not know how to get out of this groove. What do other people tell themselves when they feel an emotion? How do they know if they are safe to experience that emotion? What do they do if they are not safe?

The feeling of responsibility might have been caused by my mother’s need for me like a cat needs a mouse to play with. At the age of seven, I felt like I was her relationship therapist, her best friend, and her pastime. In a strange way, I was everything to her. She never thanked me for my efforts. Rather, she scolded me for being ungrateful. I did not know what to be grateful for. I just wanted to be left alone to do things *I* liked and wanted.

Thank you for asking these provoking questions Doing the right thing (click to insert in post). I think it is very helpful for me to consider these issues.


Forever to Roam, I would like to respond to your post as well (especially the part about religion) but I have to leave off now... .I will be back here one of these days. Wishing you strength  
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« Reply #45 on: March 05, 2015, 03:31:46 PM »

Hi Forever to Roam and thanks for your response

Thank you, Kwahamina for starting this thread. Thank you to the others who’ve shared their stories and contributed to it. You have all helped me feel far less alone in all this. I know this is a little late, but at the risk of my inner negative voices scolding me for it, I’m posting here anyway.

Don't worry about it, this is a timeless thread so you can respond whenever you want to. And if the negative voices are scolding you just tell them the big blue bird says: "It's alright!"

4.   How do you deal with your negative inner voice? Have you found ways to effectively talk back to your inner critic?

   As a kid in a very religious household, I latched onto the idea of God, a loving Heavenly Father. I was taught, God loves everybody, no matter what, even if you’ve sinned. So, even though my parents love was conditional, I believed that God loved me always. Whatever I did. There was an additional voice in my head, besides the negative inner family voices, and that was the voice I called God. At this point I don’t know if it was really God, or just myself, it doesn’t really matter. Regardless, I was not allowed to think well of myself at all. If I did, then I was narcissistic, prideful, full of myself, selfish, and on and on. But, if I called the nice voice in my head “God,” then it was OK. Because of course God loves everybody. It wasn’t even really a voice, because that was another teaching, God doesn’t speak in words, he speaks in feelings. So, I would pray every day, often many times during the day, and I would open myself up to ‘God,’ to my ideal, fantasy, loving, parent. He would say all the nice things nobody else ever said to me, and I wasn’t allowed to say to myself. He would tell me he loved me, and yeah, I might have made a mistake, but he loved me anyway. He trusted me to try to put it right (He can’t put it right himself, because that would take away from the free agency of humans). He would say I was just the way he made me, that he was there for me whenever I needed him, that I could trust him.

I find what you say about the voice of God very interesting. When you grow up in a dysfunctional household with a BPD parent, you often develop all sorts of coping mechanisms to help you get through this difficult situation. Do you feel like this voice of God, this positive inner voice, might have been your coping mechanism? Something you could cling to so you could survive your difficult childhood?
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« Reply #46 on: March 05, 2015, 04:02:45 PM »

Awesome post.  I just had a flashback that a therapist told me over 15 years ago that my negative self criticism was 30% me, 70% my mom.  This was years before BPD came into my consciousness.  All these years later, and I'm just now learning to recognize what is legitimate self-evaluation and what is ingrained patterns of negativity.  Thanks for sharing.
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« Reply #47 on: March 05, 2015, 04:50:08 PM »

Wishing you strength 

Thank you! I will send some back to you, too. Goodness knows, we all could use it.

I find what you say about the voice of God very interesting. When you grow up in a dysfunctional household with a BPD parent, you often develop all sorts of coping mechanisms to help you get through this difficult situation. Do you feel like this voice of God, this positive inner voice, might have been your coping mechanism? Something you could cling to so you could survive your difficult childhood?

I certainly think the voice of God was one of my primary coping mechanisms.

I had another coping mechanism, where I would use the negative feelings to fuel a purge of personal belongings and cleaning of my bedroom. It helped me imagine that when I was 'ready' (read: 16 and could hold down a job) I could throw my few belongings in a car and leave and never look back. (Though that was less of a mechanism against negative inner voices, more coping with the every day abuses.) I didn't realize that when I left the criticisms would follow anyway in my own head.

But the voices are still present. One of these days I'll manage to evict them, they're not paying rent anyways (wording taken from one of the Lessons that I read today).
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« Reply #48 on: March 08, 2015, 12:23:10 AM »

1.   When you look at your own situation would you say that you sometimes find yourself struggling with a overly negative or self-critical inner voice?

Absolutely. I feel like a little kid when given constructive feedback by my partner sometimes. I overreact and start to spin out internally. Sometimes I even punish myself by hitting myself. This happens especially around cleaning. When my partner wants more help around the house it's hard not to hear my uBPDm's voice yelling at me. "Why do I have to do everything around here? Why are you so lazy? I tried to teach you to be helpful, but clearly I don't matter to you!" Thanks, Mom. My inner self-critic really sounds like my childhood. It's easy for me to get stuck there.

2.   If you do, where do you think this inner voice/critic comes from? Is it really yourself talking or could it perhaps be that you've internalized the negative or critical voice of your parents, siblings, in-laws etc.?

Ha! I answered this before even getting to the question. Yeah, it's clealry my uBPDm, but I don't know how to shake it.

3.   Can you identify any of the listed forms of distorted or warped thinking in your own thinking patterns?

Most of the time I'm a pretty good communicator, but yes, I do have distorted thinking. It feels so unproductive. I get stuck. Angry that I'm angry or ashamed that I'm ashamed.

4.   How do you deal with your negative inner voice?

In this moment I'm not sure, but that's probably because I'm a little stuck right now in personalization and disqualifying the positive. I know I have built some good tools, but they feel so far away right now.
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« Reply #49 on: March 08, 2015, 02:48:10 PM »

Hi YepSheWould

Welcome back here  Thanks for answering my questions.

1.   When you look at your own situation would you say that you sometimes find yourself struggling with a overly negative or self-critical inner voice?

Absolutely. I feel like a little kid when given constructive feedback by my partner sometimes. I overreact and start to spin out internally. Sometimes I even punish myself by hitting myself. This happens especially around cleaning. When my partner wants more help around the house it's hard not to hear my uBPDm's voice yelling at me. "Why do I have to do everything around here? Why are you so lazy? I tried to teach you to be helpful, but clearly I don't matter to you!" Thanks, Mom. My inner self-critic really sounds like my childhood. It's easy for me to get stuck there.

Would you say that hitting yourself is a way for you to deal with the negative emotions you're experiencing at the time? When did you start hitting yourself and how do you feel after you've hit yourself?

You say you start to spin out of control internally. Is your partner aware of these thoughts and feelings you have when given constructive feedback? Have you discussed these things with your partner?

2.   If you do, where do you think this inner voice/critic comes from? Is it really yourself talking or could it perhaps be that you've internalized the negative or critical voice of your parents, siblings, in-laws etc.?

Ha! I answered this before even getting to the question. Yeah, it's clealry my uBPDm, but I don't know how to shake it.

Talking back to the internalized negative voice of a BPD parent can be difficult but there are certain techniques that might help you. Identifying the distorted thinking patterns and writing them down is the first step. Have you ever tried writing your negative self-talk down and right next to it writing a positive rational response to combat the negativity?

3.   Can you identify any of the listed forms of distorted or warped thinking in your own thinking patterns?

Most of the time I'm a pretty good communicator, but yes, I do have distorted thinking. It feels so unproductive. I get stuck. Angry that I'm angry or ashamed that I'm ashamed.

Why do you think that you're angered by your own anger and ashamed of feeling ashamed? When you were a child, were you allowed to have and express negative feelings such as anger or shame?

4.   How do you deal with your negative inner voice?

In this moment I'm not sure, but that's probably because I'm a little stuck right now in personalization and disqualifying the positive. I know I have built some good tools, but they feel so far away right now.

What are those good tools that you have? Could you tell us some more about them? It can help to practice these things when you're feeling good, so you can fall back on them at moments like this when you're struggling with negative thoughts and emotions.
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« Reply #50 on: March 20, 2015, 03:13:01 PM »

I love Burns' writings. they are the best. highly recommended from this corner.  Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #51 on: March 21, 2015, 01:53:55 AM »

Yeah I really liked this article a lot too
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« Reply #52 on: July 15, 2015, 12:32:05 PM »

Hi everyone

“I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself”. - Jane Eyre

Pete Walker has written about ways to shrink the inner critic and in his work he uses the above quote. It helps reminds us to be gentle with ourselves and have self-compassion especially at those times that we are struggling the most.

I have found the discussion in this thread very interesting and insightful. I am wondering if there are any more members who have found themselves dealing with so-called automatic negative thoughts as a result of their inner critic. To help explore this further I'm very interested in hearing your answers to the following questions:

1.   When you look at your own situation would you say that you sometimes find yourself struggling with a overly negative or self-critical inner voice?

2.   If you do, where do you think this inner voice/critic comes from? Is it really yourself talking or could it perhaps be that you've internalized the negative or critical voice of your parents, siblings, in-laws etc.?

3.   Can you identify any forms of distorted or warped thinking in your own thinking patterns?

4.   How do you deal with your negative inner voice? Have you found ways to effectively talk back to your inner critic?

I think it can often be very helpful to read about the experiences of others and how they might have managed to cope and heal. Thanks in advance for anything you are able to share here
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« Reply #53 on: July 19, 2015, 02:28:23 PM »

Hi,

Excerpt
1. When you look at your own situation would you say that you sometimes find yourself struggling with a overly negative or self-critical inner voice?

Trying to deal with negative inner voice or inner critic is a daily struggle for me. It is often speaking to me without me noticing. Small things like "you must clean the kitchen before you are allowed to listen to some music". When I am triggered by things that remind me of my past, the negative inner voice becomes big and all-consuming in my head. Then, it says things like "you do not deserve the love of your partner because you are anxious".

Excerpt
2. If you do, where do you think this inner voice/critic comes from? Is it really yourself talking or could it perhaps be that you've internalized the negative or critical voice of your parents, siblings, in-laws etc.?

This voice comes from my mother. She would hit me when I was upset. She would hurt me so deeply with the meanest words you can think of when I was stressed out or sad. She would actually ask me to act and look cheerful while I was suffering from depression. She always wanted me to be different than I was. to fit in with her ideal picture of me.

Interestingly, though I find my MIL very triggering, it seems as if the negative inner voice stems mainly from my own mother.

Excerpt
3. Can you identify any forms of distorted or warped thinking in your own thinking patterns?

I tend to believe what the inner critic says. This has gotten me into serious trouble. Self-harm, thoughts of suicide and a number of attempts... .

I find it hard to cultivate a more positive voice. I never got encouraged as a kid so I have no idea what to tell myself.

Excerpt
4. How do you deal with your negative inner voice? Have you found ways to effectively talk back to your inner critic?

When I notice the inner voice is actually my mother talking, I try to feel compassion for both her and myself. This makes it easier to think of more positive things.
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« Reply #54 on: July 20, 2015, 01:51:46 AM »

Hi polly87

Trying to deal with negative inner voice or inner critic is a daily struggle for me. It is often speaking to me without me noticing.

That's often how it goes, that negative inner voice can really sneak up on as and go unnoticed while still damaging us. Mindfulness is something that might also help you start noticing the inner critic early on:

Excerpt
What is mindfulness all about?  In the simplest sense, we all develop, from time to time, thinking patterns that do not serve us well.  When we do, we are easily "triggered" - having non-constructive reactions to specific words or actions based on prior experiences.  We've all been there - in resentment, pessimism, defensiveness, impatience, closed mindedness, distrust, intolerance, confrontational, defeat... .

Mindfulness is a type of self-awareness in which we learn to observe ourselves in real time to see and alter our reactions to be more constructive.

We have an article about mindfulness that you can find here: Triggering and Mindfulness and Wise Mind

She would actually ask me to act and look cheerful while I was suffering from depression. She always wanted me to be different than I was. to fit in with her ideal picture of me.

I am very sorry that your mother hurt you so. It's difficult when the people that are supposed to care for us and keep us save, actually turn out to be the ones that hurt us the most. It's quite tough never being allowed to be yourself and always being forced to basically be someone else. Do you feel like you have been able to start the process of removing yourself from your mother's 'ideal' yet totally imaginary picture of you?

Interestingly, though I find my MIL very triggering, it seems as if the negative inner voice stems mainly from my own mother.

Could it perhaps be that though the negative inner voice stems mainly from your mother, that your MIL through her behavior triggers this negative voice in you?

I tend to believe what the inner critic says. This has gotten me into serious trouble. Self-harm, thoughts of suicide and a number of attempts... .

It's clear that the inner critic has caused you a lot of pain. Dealing with such difficult thoughts, thoughts of suicide even, isn't easy at all. You've also posted about this in your own thread.

In general when dealing with negative thoughts, what might help is writing down the negative things your inner critic says and subsequently try to identify any forms of distorted thinking in them and then write down a rational more positive response to them. Seeing these thoughts written out on paper often makes it a lot easier to analyze them and identify the distortions.

When I notice the inner voice is actually my mother talking, I try to feel compassion for both her and myself. This makes it easier to think of more positive things.

Being able to develop self-compassion is very important to allow yourself to heal. Your mother was cruel to you and that can make it hard to feel compassion for her. It's also clear that she is a very disorderd and troubled individual. This doesn't excuse her behavior but realizing and accepting the reality of who she is and her disorder, can help you see that it wasn't about you at all and that all those negative things the inner critic says are nothing more but lies.
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« Reply #55 on: July 25, 2015, 02:12:08 PM »

Hi Kwamina and thanks for your reply 

I am trying mindfulness and meditation each day now. It helps me see when I am having negative thoughts again. Simply noticing that process often makes it easier for me to feel compassion for myself. Today, when I found my mind was focussing on negative and irrealistic thoughts, I was able to say to myself: calm down, you'll be okay. That was a first for me. I suppose this is how it's done - parenting the self. I never had a loving parent so that's why it took me nearly 28 years to be able to comfort myself in this way for the first time.

Excerpt
Do you feel like you have been able to start the process of removing yourself from your mother's 'ideal' yet totally imaginary picture of you?

I feel like I am just starting this process now. The other day, I was taking a walk with a friend and I was overcome by grief and fatigue. We sat down on a tree trunk and she said: just let the sadness come. There's no need for us to hurry now.

I was so afraid to allow myself to feel, yet I did it. At first there seemed no end to it but after a while I felt myself calm down. It was amazing. So this is what it is like to be comforted and this is what it is like to allow feelings to come and go. I never knew. I feel like I am discovering who I am now instead of trying to fit my mother's picture of me. That picture is becoming less relevant now.

Excerpt
Could it perhaps be that though the negative inner voice stems mainly from your mother, that your MIL through her behavior triggers this negative voice in you?

That is well found Kwamina. I think you are right. My MIL reminds me of my mother and this puts me in an emotional flashback of feeling worthless and little. This feeling triggers the negative inner voice with thoughts like: I should not protest; if I say something she will reject me; if I disagree with her she will pick a fight again; if I do not do what she wants she will make a mean remark again... .and so on. These thoughts are linked to both MIL and my mother though they actually stem from my mother.

I have not tried writing down the negative thoughts yet, but I will try to do so when they come up again.

Excerpt
Being able to develop self-compassion is very important to allow yourself to heal. Your mother was cruel to you and that can make it hard to feel compassion for her. It's also clear that she is a very disorderd and troubled individual. This doesn't excuse her behavior but realizing and accepting the reality of who she is and her disorder, can help you see that it wasn't about you at all and that all those negative things the inner critic says are nothing more but lies.

Thank you for reminding me of this    I agree with you that I will benefit from accepting the reality of who she is and what she has done to me. Each time I try to accept these facts, I feel a bit more self-compassion.
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« Reply #56 on: July 25, 2015, 05:28:13 PM »

Hi Kwamina,

I certainly have some FOO issues.  However, part of me feels disconnected from it all, therefore I do not feel connected to this board so much.  Mostly I think this is because many of them are now deceased and the others I am NC with.  I'm going to try to participate a bit, in case it is because I am numb, but need to face some things... .to see how that goes... .since I cannot tell the difference.

1.   When you look at your own situation would you say that you sometimes find yourself struggling with a overly negative or self-critical inner voice?

Yes, especially lately.  The odd thing is though, that I am not conscious of the negative thoughts. I have to stop myself when I realize my posture and body is communicating negativity, then I have to look for the thoughts that I am missing.  I really am usually very aware of this, but this week... .disconnected.



2.   If you do, where do you think this inner voice/critic comes from? Is it really yourself talking or could it perhaps be that you've internalized the negative or critical voice of your parents, siblings, in-laws etc.?


I know that I have internalized my mom.

3.   Can you identify any of the listed forms of distorted or warped thinking in your own thinking patterns?

I find my mind accidentally using "Should statements"  Lol, I know I shouldn't... so in my speech, I don't... .but in my head, they are happening unconsciously all the time... .punishing myself.

Personalisation - I take responsibility for things, especially at work and try to rescue people, even when it is not my job at all to do so.  I tend to think, "Well, someone needs to do this, then I will."

4.   How do you deal with your negative inner voice? Have you found ways to effectively talk back to your inner critic?

I have found some fun ways to deal with this.   Smiling (click to insert in post)

--I have an imaginary me that I created in therapy once.  I imagine her and what she looks like. She is young.  When I catch myself using a criticle voice, I imagine how my little me feels, then I parent her with the words I want her to hear until she is soothed. 

--If I have less time... .not enough to get all mentally visual... .then I imagine the thought, stick it in a bubble, then try to get it to float far away from me.  If it returns, I keep encircling it in a bubble and try again. Then I try to refocus my thoughts on something intentionally positive that is not in harmony with the negative thought.

--Or, I allow myself to feel where I feel the pain of the criticism I just unleashed on myself, and I focus on breathing out the pain of it until it fades, then I try to embrace and glow in the feelings of peace that I am left with. Then I try to remind myself to be mindful again.
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« Reply #57 on: July 26, 2015, 06:41:41 AM »

Hi Sunfl0wer

Thanks for joining this discussion!

Yes, especially lately.  The odd thing is though, that I am not conscious of the negative thoughts. I have to stop myself when I realize my posture and body is communicating negativity, then I have to look for the thoughts that I am missing.  I really am usually very aware of this, but this week... .disconnected.

When you analyze what's going on, can you identify any specific triggers in the present that might be causing you negative thoughts? Did anything happen this week that might have caused this sense of disconnect you're experiencing? Perhaps a seemingly innocent or insignificant event that in some way reminded you of or triggered something from your past?

I know that I have internalized my mom.

What kind of negative or critical things did your mother say to you?

I find my mind accidentally using "Should statements"  Lol, I know I shouldn't... so in my speech, I don't... .but in my head, they are happening unconsciously all the time... .punishing myself.

Do you perhaps deep down feel that you 'should' or deserve to be punished? Is this perhaps how you're mother made you feel? Did she punish you for stuff you had no control over but were still made to feel responsible for?

Personalisation - I take responsibility for things, especially at work and try to rescue people, even when it is not my job at all to do so.  I tend to think, "Well, someone needs to do this, then I will."

Was taking responsibility for everything and being the rescuer and everyone's caretaker also the role that you were forced to fulfill when you were a child?

I have found some fun ways to deal with this.   Smiling (click to insert in post)

--I have an imaginary me that I created in therapy once.  I imagine her and what she looks like. She is young.  When I catch myself using a criticle voice, I imagine how my little me feels, then I parent her with the words I want her to hear until she is soothed.  

Thanks for sharing your ways of coping! Smiling (click to insert in post) This imaginary me you've created really reminds me of the concept of the 'inner child'. That inner child might still feel abandoned and what you're doing here sounds just like finally giving the little you the parent she always needed, deserved and longed for, yet unfortunately never got. I am glad you've find this helpful Sunfl0wer. Being able to generate self-compassion after a difficult and abusive childhood, is significant progress Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)

--Or, I allow myself to feel where I feel the pain of the criticism I just unleashed on myself, and I focus on breathing out the pain of it until it fades, then I try to embrace and glow in the feelings of peace that I am left with. Then I try to remind myself to be mindful again.

This reminds me of something from mindfulness practice when they say to focus your attention but not what you see. Accept all thoughts that come into your head, both the pleasant and the unpleasant ones, without judging them or trying to push them away. Thanks for sharing this!
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« Reply #58 on: July 26, 2015, 05:18:39 PM »

Thank you bunches for having me Kwamina!

When you analyze what's going on, can you identify any specific triggers in the present that might be causing you negative thoughts? Did anything happen this week that might have caused this sense of disconnect you're experiencing? Perhaps a seemingly innocent or insignificant event that in some way reminded you of or triggered something from your past?

A couple things:

1st -My son has left town.  I am in the home alone for the first time in a while.  When I am not in contact with others, I tend to get so deep in thought and become disconnected, that I no longer feel as though me or my surroundings are real.  I struggle to feel real and to interact with "real" when the structure is not there to "force" it. Is there any resource for this? Mindfulness doesn't seem to be a strong enough a tool for this... .I feel partly dead.

2nd -My ex is on "our family vacation" without me.  Also, last year we were on the vacation "as a family." This is a trigger for me, as it was both a wonderful vacation, (a loss of the r/s I miss) but then awful, as it signified for me the first real nail in the coffin of the r/s. (The anniversary of my realization things were coming to an end.)

What kind of negative or critical things did your mother say to you?

I cannot recall specific things she said.  The general message that she conveyed, that I repeat to myself is: I'm worthless.  My worth is only tied into what I can give of myself to another.  It’s never enough!

Do you perhaps deep down feel that you 'should' or deserve to be punished? Is this perhaps how you're mother made you feel? Did she punish you for stuff you had no control over but were still made to feel responsible for?

Yes.  I have been conditioned to expect/anticipate a certain amount of suffering and guilt to be the norm.

Was taking responsibility for everything and being the rescuer and everyone's caretaker also the role that you were forced to fulfill when you were a child?

Yes, and no.  It changed to caretaker in my later teen years. 

As a small child, I was too worthless even for a role as a scapegoat or caretaker.  I was just considered insignificant.  I created for myself the safest role that I saw possible under these conditions: The Invisible Child. I remained mostly mute and overly passive throughout childhood.  My abilities, as a child, to attempt to rescue my older sister from the wrath of mom, mostly proved futile, therefore I did not take on a caretaker role towards anyone.  Much safer for all involved, that I instead remain a silent observer. 

I escaped the pain of my external world by retreating into my mind of analysis and introspection…by myself.  I played out fantasies of escape in my mind and the possibilities of love in which to soothe myself.  I distracted myself by focusing on the most mundane things for hours on end, such as tracing the vein in a leaf, just to remain quietly hidden. 

As I grew into my teen years, things began to change around me, and being invisible was no longer a safe cloak in which I could shroud myself.  The comfort of my power of invisibility, somehow, became a curse.  I observed in those around me, to react, and now behave insecure, suspicious, and threatened by my silence.  As a teen, it appeared that my long held mutism and aloofness, was now being mistaken for haughty.  It put people in a sense of unease around me, and it elicited within them, a desire to provoke me.  I was becoming a target of abuse again now, due to the very thing that once before, had shielded me.  Therefore, as frightened I was, I somehow “learned” to find the courage within me, and I began speaking. When previously in my silence, I had often wondered so long if I ever would really speak the rest of my life, I was now shocked by myself to begin to realize a voice that I could hear and could be heard.

With the disintegration of my selective mutism, I needed a new found role that would protect me.  The safest one I discovered, I’ll call: “Contributing through acts of the self.”  I learned that others were less inclined to harass me if I was doing something that they saw as meaningful and helpful to them.  So at times when I was uncertain or anxious, getting up and giving a hand or inventing a chore could mostly remove me from being a target.  Depending on who was in front of me, I could contribute by giving of myself in different ways. (ie: conversation, favors, etc.) (It was different than a parent expecting emotional soothing…not that at all)

Sometime in my late teens, my parents’ health declined.  I did take on a caretaker role to them both at this point.  I was taught, “for all they did for me,” that it was my duty.  I did not question this new role much, and I just did what needed doing.  I was raised feeling indebted to them, as though I had to earn my worth, earn my presence on this planet in some way, …being the insignificant thing I was. Adjusting to this new role of caretaker, felt natural to me at this point.  It gave me a visible role with a purpose that I understood as making sense; I felt useful.  I then began to maintain my purpose by extending this caretaker role to others, through work, and through my relationships.

--------------------------

So to connect the dots and get to the “me” of today, I have been aware and done much work and consider myself free of much of my past in many occasions in life.  However, in trying times, or moments of weakness the following resurfaces…

-This week, I am disconnected, I can see why, it is my default place to go into my head and leave the world behind. 

-I still at times find myself judging my self worth based on how much of myself I can give to another, over extending both my time and emotional resources. 

-When I’m angry, I sometimes clean feverously.  When I’m in new company, I sometimes love to give a hand with chores and such, until I’m stopped.

-I have moments, where words do not come easily to me, translating my thoughts into words can be a laborious challenge, sometimes I have moments where social situations cause me to be extremely anxious and I speak jumbled and excuse myself to change the topic. (I'm sure my brain did not get the needed practice of translating thoughts into words.)

BTW:

I find that a huge part of my healing/self discovery is tied into my ability to continue to cultivate and give power to a voice that is “me” and as clear as possible, be “seen.”  Thank you all who read this and who help me become visible!  This format/forum is so wonderful in facilitating this all in a safe way!  Endless gratitude for your work Kwamina!  It must be the blue bird thing!  

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« Reply #59 on: July 27, 2015, 04:34:27 AM »

Hi again Sunfl0wer

1st -My son has left town.  I am in the home alone for the first time in a while.  When I am not in contact with others, I tend to get so deep in thought and become disconnected, that I no longer feel as though me or my surroundings are real.  I struggle to feel real and to interact with "real" when the structure is not there to "force" it. Is there any resource for this? Mindfulness doesn't seem to be a strong enough a tool for this... .I feel partly dead.

Also based on other things in your post, this sounds like a possible coping mechanism you developed as a child, quite possibly to numb yourself to allow you to survive. Would you say this is an accurate assessment? Especially the following part of your post seems to be linked to what you say here:

I escaped the pain of my external world by retreating into my mind of analysis and introspection…by myself.  I played out fantasies of escape in my mind and the possibilities of love in which to soothe myself.

Something that helps me feel 'alive' and connected to the present moment and reality, is intense physical exercise such as running. If you aren't doing this already, perhaps physical exercise can help you too. I find that it can also be used in combination with mindfulness when you try to focus your mind on the physical activity and truly try to become one with what you're doing.

2nd -My ex is on "our family vacation" without me.  Also, last year we were on the vacation "as a family." This is a trigger for me, as it was both a wonderful vacation, (a loss of the r/s I miss) but then awful, as it signified for me the first real nail in the coffin of the r/s. (The anniversary of my realization things were coming to an end.)

I can understand how tough this must be for you and how this could trigger you. It is a huge loss indeed, I hope you'll be able to continue your process of letting go and mourning the live you had and had envisioned for the future

The general message that she conveyed, that I repeat to myself is: I'm worthless.  My worth is only tied into what I can give of myself to another.  It’s never enough!

Do you feel that some part of you still believes there is some validity in this message conveyed to you by your mother? Or is it more that it's become somewhat of a habit of repeating this to yourself and that when you notice it you are easily able to dismiss this negative thought?

Yes.  I have been conditioned to expect/anticipate a certain amount of suffering and guilt to be the norm.

How do you feel having these negative expectations has affected your behavior? Do you feel like you make different choices because of the suffering you fear will occur?

With the disintegration of my selective mutism, I needed a new found role that would protect me.  The safest one I discovered, I’ll call: “Contributing through acts of the self.”  I learned that others were less inclined to harass me if I was doing something that they saw as meaningful and helpful to them.  So at times when I was uncertain or anxious, getting up and giving a hand or inventing a chore could mostly remove me from being a target.  Depending on who was in front of me, I could contribute by giving of myself in different ways. (ie: conversation, favors, etc.) (It was different than a parent expecting emotional soothing…not that at all)

I find this very interesting! In a way it seems that the 'you' shown to the world then always depended on who was in front of you. Do you feel like you've also been able to find and show the real you? If so, in what circumstances were you able to do so?

Sometime in my late teens, my parents’ health declined.  I did take on a caretaker role to them both at this point.  I was taught, “for all they did for me,” that it was my duty.  I did not question this new role much, and I just did what needed doing.  I was raised feeling indebted to them, as though I had to earn my worth, earn my presence on this planet in some way, …being the insignificant thing I was. Adjusting to this new role of caretaker, felt natural to me at this point.  It gave me a visible role with a purpose that I understood as making sense; I felt useful.  I then began to maintain my purpose by extending this caretaker role to others, through work, and through my relationships.

It's clear from what you say here that you were taught to believe your self-worth was solely determined by what you could do for others. When you consider other people, do you feel like they also only have worth to the extent that they do things for others? Or do you feel like this 'earning of your worth' only applies to you?

So to connect the dots and get to the “me” of today, I have been aware and done much work and consider myself free of much of my past in many occasions in life.  However, in trying times, or moments of weakness the following resurfaces…

I am glad you have made such significant progress Smiling (click to insert in post) Though you still might have some areas to work on (like most of us here!), being able to recognize this is already the first step in being able to better manage your remaining issues Doing the right thing (click to insert in post) Sometimes things will remain triggers even after we work on them, important thing then is to notice early on that we are getting triggered and talk ourselves down from that heightened state of emotions. It can also help to take preventive action when you know that you might find yourself in triggering situations.

I find that a huge part of my healing/self discovery is tied into my ability to continue to cultivate and give power to a voice that is “me” and as clear as possible, be “seen.”  Thank you all who read this and who help me become visible!  This format/forum is so wonderful in facilitating this all in a safe way!

And thank you for showing us who you are! Smiling (click to insert in post)

It must be the blue bird thing!  

Thanks Smiling (click to insert in post) Parrots love interacting with talking sunflowers you know Smiling (click to insert in post)
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