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 Post subject: Building a strong sense of self
PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2008 4:06 am 
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Ok, so it seems that whilst I know myself fairly well on an intellectual level and can separate stuff and use the 4 agreements and not take anything others say personally and do really well if I just stay an emotionally detached person (which IMHO really is a rather fake way to live - been there, done that.) However, I find that when I get into emotional mind, I do the opposite - own others stuff, take stuff personally, take the poison to heart then go on the defensive.

The thing that pushes me into this state the quickest is when I share how I feel and somebody balks that: Stuff like "Sheesh, grow up. get a grip." I know how others react to feelings is their stuff. I know I shouldn't take their responses personally, but I do. To me being spoken to in this manner feels so totally invalidating. It feels totally rude and my personal view is it is highly inappropriate to mock/balk anybodys emotional state, (feelings just are.)

One of the things I learned in therapy is to be more mindful of what is happening for me on a physical level (I feel my feelings in my body) and to observe those feelings without acting upon them, without analysing them. Just allowing them to be there. I watch them as they pass through me. Usually I'm pretty good at recognising an emotional reaction (physically) before I react/respond.

But, sometimes I'm not very mindful and I've reacted before I've even realised what is going on for me. Or I ignore a cue - a physical cue that says "I'm feeling uncomfortable now, I need to retreat to deal with this." And so when I mess up like this, I end up feeling bad about myself for not having gotten it all together perfectly there and then on the spot, which is perpetuated by a lack of forgiveness from the other party for my making a mistake. It's like a double message - You can't make mistakes. You have to be perfect; coming from both inside and out.

For the most part, I am able to recognise that I'm feeling strong feelings, before I react/act and generally I take some time out to examine my emotional reaction so that I can formulate a healthy response. I'd say 95% of the time, I have a healthy. normal response. But sometimes the opportunity to do that (to take a breather) isn't there? And it's so much harder to not fuck it up, especially in a real life conversation.

I know part of the solution is for me to not allow others words to wind me up in the first place. Which is easier said than done. I'm not there yet. AM working on it. ANother is to walk away if that's what feels right for me. I can go back later when I feel calmer. Avoidance (or limited interaction) has been a good one for me - keeping away from people that I know aren't good for me to be around. I'm sure there has to be other solutions to this?

I struggle with finding the balance between being sure of and knowing myself on an intellectual level and the tooing and froing and losing myself on an emotional level. So how did those of you who believe they have a solid sense of "i'm okness" get to that stage? That stage where you are so sure of yourself nothing anybody says can sway you off track or cause you to react?


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2008 6:08 am 
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I do react sometimes, and I know I react. I choose to because someone's actions annoy me so much that I tolerate as much as I can and then finally say something about it, while knowing that there is nothing I can say to said people to change the situation at all. I realize I am choosing to do this, I am choosing to be around these people, and that I can draw the line and leave, or I can figure out how not to let them annoy me, which is probably next-to impossible. So I just choose to leave or ignore.

In my case, I react not because I feel defensive as much as I feel certain people are a threat, that they themselves do not have a defined sense of self, or what they do have is, to me, immoral, and/or they are unintelligent or can't take care of themselves and could put me at risk, and therefore, my threat meter goes off. Their actions, imo, are so completely ridiculous.

I'm having a lot of problems with being around certain people, and maybe that's a good thing. Maybe I don't need to be around them. Maybe they aren't kindred souls. But I think that experiencing different people and analyzing their actions and the feelings I have surrounding that is good for me, whether I like the person or not. I think the more I am around difficult people, the better I will be able to handle them. But sometimes I do have to turn and walk away in order to think and get a hold on a situation.

I think I have a solid sense that I'm ok, and I think that came from being around other people, seeing that I wasn't really different, that I had a lot of the same feelings as others, and seeing that I do have strengths. I think I lack certain skills and confidence in certain situations, but I push myself through them anyways so I can gain more confidence in my own abilities, sometimes while actually vomiting lol.

I'm also having problems as well, with being either detached or too emotional. I also have yet to maintain a balance, but I don't think it has to do with sense of self in my case. Sometimes when I am feeling too emotional, I have to step back and take some time to myself. But I think as time goes on and I experience more people and put myself in their shoes, gain an understanding, and know when to draw a boundary, and when to walk away, that things for me will be a lot easier and not so shaky the way it is now. And as I get out there and interact, I am finding that really, I have more information on these concepts than others do, and that makes for a frustrating time. Handling people isn't so easy.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2008 7:28 am 
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I am finding that when I am around people who trigger me like that, the best thing for me is to walk away. I know I am not going to change their views or how they feel, so all I end up doing is feeling frustrated and angry. I have had to learn that this is their stuff, they don't see my point of view, and nothing I say or do will change them. I have had to learn to accept them the way they are, and thus leave the situation. Sometimes I just get too emotional to be around them. I find that I cannot "handle" them and there is no use trying. This is the safest way for me to handle these types of situations.

I have also learned, at least for me, that it is better not to share how I feel about certain things with certain people. I am learning who I feel safe with and who I don't. I am learning that if I share my feelings with person A, they won't understand and might give me a hard time. So I don't bother sharing with them. All it does is cause me pain. It's a no-win situation for me, so I don't bother. I have other people I can share with. I've also learned that some people dont' want to hear my "stuff." It's too much for them and I overload them. So who I share my feelings with all depends on who the person is. I've learned the hard way who those people are. Each friendship I have is based on different things. Not all of my friends have the willingness or the capability to hear my "stuff." I don't want to burn them out. I used to think that every "good friend" should know everything about you. But in reality that's not the case.

Another reason I dont' share everything with everybody is because not everyone knows everything about me. So if I share certain things with someone, they're not going to have the background information to put what I have just told them into perspective. They lack certain data. So my interaction with them will become skewered, depending on what I told them. So I tend not to share my feelings too much with these people either.

I have a friend who I am very close with. She will share certain things with me. After a while I get fed up with what she says - I don't agree with everything she does. So I find I have to pull back for a while. Not call her as often. Then things sort of settle down, and in a few weeks I can call her again.

So I am learning, with each person, how much I can trust them, how much they can tolerate, how much I can tolerate, and where to draw the line. To me, there is no use giving them information that they can use to turn around and hurt me with. No good comes from that and all it does is hurt me. Why put myself in that situation? It's taking a long time, but I'm learning. Sure, I'd love to bare my soul to all my good friends. But a lot of them aren't ready for it, and probably never will be. So this is a huge learning curve for me.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2008 10:05 am 
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I wish I could qualify myself as being one that has a solid sense of "I'm okness"

I don't all of the time but at time I most certainly could say that. I can very much relate to what you are saying though.

I was reading your post and thinking that this about peoples opinions as opposed to fact. For me and I can't say it is for you, but and idea I wanted to throw out as that at times our own perceptions of ourselves is that we should get a grip! However learning that those statements are invalidating ourselves we can learn to change up that thinking pattern. If that thinking pattern that we have learned is pretty negative is projected on to our selves, sure its gonna feel not right. but does it make it true cos another says that? Can we challenge that other persons opinion and decide if it a true and valid statement, sure we can, do we have to challenge them in order to do so, I am not sure it is necessary cos we can head back up the path of validating ourselves as though the other person never said a thing.

Thing is for me opinions are just the same as our feelings are about them. I was thinking back to when I was breastfeeding my children. I made a decision to because it was best for us, best for my baby and way best for me. Thing is I faced opinions and hostility based on opinions, but did it make me feel wrong, absolutely not, it was my way of doing something, sure their opinions were right for them. I spent a long time defending myself before I realised I would not change the way another thought and learned to smile eventually. Safe in the knowledge that this was ok for me! It was a process did not occur over night, but I can tell you by the third I had it down to a fine art. I learned from experience.

I could have swapped and changed around so many times had I listened to everyones opinion of how I should parent, they would have been both bottle and breast fed, in toweling and disposable nappies, spanked and not spanked. Could I say any one else was a hundred percent wrong, well no cos what worked for them did for them, what works for me does for me.

See I think this is sense of self Amanda, I think you have sense of self by the fact that you found that those messages disturbed you. Absolutely the right decision for you is to validate your feelings, the right decision for another is to not. Is one right and one really wrong, or is it preference. Do you have to take it on board or can you say thanks but no thanks?

Another thing that stood out for me in your post is the word "perfect." this is a learning process and in the process of learning it is generally accepted that humans make mistakes, but a sure fire way to learn eh!

I feel a bit like I have rambled conciseness is not a forte of mine, but I hope there is something in there for you!

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2008 9:05 pm 
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Bogit, BG & Aqua. Thanks for sharing your experiences with this.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2008 4:16 pm 
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Amanda, Bogit, BG and Aqua

Its 10 days since you had this converstaion. I found it because I am looking for people who can really see the difference between then, and now. I have never met anyone like me. I have known BPDs of the different shades all my life - we are either born around it or attract others like us, ususally both. But I have never known someone who admitted their problems openly, or have made the long journey upward, like me.
And I can tell all 4 of you, that you have a sense of self. You wrote beautiful things about yourselves. You take care of yourselves and this means that things will get better and better, with practice. And when you make a "mistake" - a reaction that reverberates of the past, know that the world will not tumble . That is ok'ness.
Amanda - 95% of the time is fantastic! And never to be affected by what someone says? What do you aspire to be? You are human. You have the right to be upset and angry and childish sometimes. You can be wrong sometimes, and own it (not too many apologies, though), and nothing terrible will happen.
I got to this stage oh, so gradually. When I undersood, "intellectually" as you say, how I react, what triggers me, what turns people away from me, and saw that sometimes I do things right, I couldn't stand myself whenever my reactions preceded my better judgement. Time and practice and forgiveness. Trust that you don't ruin things as much as you think.

A year ago I joined a dance improvisation class. 14 women, 13 "normal" and the one that is not so stable, did not trigger me. I kept my mouth shut, did everything like everybody else and was in heaven.
Then a particularly needy and noisy person joined. It took her 3 meetings to demand attention to her divorce and her miseries and before I knew it I was telling everybody there (luckily it was after class, I think they were 5), that I must divorce my husband. My daughter goes to classes there, she musn't hear anything about it. And I blew my cool image, I was shaking and nervous. Disgusted with myself.
But nothing happened. No one treated me differently later. I have made a bit of a fool of myself when we had a class gathering in the summer. They all acted very reserved - and boring, what can I say - and then that same woman made a little outlandish performance and sure enough, I did too. I don't want to be like her! but I was.
And again, nothing really happened. 6 months passed, I am still dancing there. I am carefull not to get carried away when she says stuff and its easy. Its just one simple story, relatively recent. It took me 3-4 years of many, many other blunders, to be able to feel now that I can be with people who will never have to know the story of my life. Who may actually never suspect that there is/was something pretty wrong with me. That no one will ever call me crazy again. That is really completely remote now.

Aqua wrote
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think I have a solid sense that I'm ok, and I think that came from being around other people, seeing that I wasn't really different, that I had a lot of the same feelings as others, and seeing that I do have strengths. I think I lack certain skills and confidence in certain situations, but I push myself through them anyways so I can gain more confidence in my own abilities, sometimes while actually vomiting lol.


I think this is so right and touching and courageous.

Be well, all of you


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