The entirety of Borderline Personality Disorder can be boiled down to two fundamental, distorted core beliefs that are formed in very early childhood, and caried on right into adulthood. This is regardless of whether you are immediately accepting of this or not, if you realize you carry these hidden beliefs or not, or if you can immediately see how they relate or not. But allow me to spell them out again here.
Distorted Core Belief 1: My feelings are inherently irrelevant and shameful, devoid of worth.
Distorted Core Belief 2 (which sprouts directly from the first one): If my feelings are irrelevant and shameful, then I myself must also be inherently irrelevant and shameful; devoid of worth. (Your feelings are you. They are what make you you.)
Before we get too far into this discussion, I want to explain that I will be using a strong swear word throughout this article. This is not without good reason. There simply is no substitute word that more effectively conveys the same extremely-subtle nature of what it is I hope to communicate here. Since your ability to understand this subtlety is crucial to your ability to unravel the disorder and fully understand it, the swear word is necessary.
Inherently means the very nature of a thing. For example, no matter how you dress up a turd, it is still poop, and it will always be poop. Putting it in an ice-cream bowl and sticking a spoon in it does not change what it is; it’s still shit. It’s never going to be ice cream.
The reason it is important to understand this, for it to really click, is because a person with Borderline Personality Disorder subconsciously believes that they are inherently shameful and devoid of worth, just like the turd; that this is their natural state. The word inherently is an important nuance to grasp here. I am not merely saying that people with Borderline Personality Disorder feel shitty or poorly. Rather, they subconsciously perceive themselves as lacking any inherent value whatsoever. They don't feel like shit, they feel they are shit.
Now, think about the implications of such a subtle belief for a moment.
The person with Borderline Personality Disorder goes to church three times a week. They volunteer every weekend helping the poor. They donate all the money they can to charitable causes. They treat old people and children with respect. They work hard at their jobs and strictly adhere to ethics. They obey the law. They visit their dying grandmother as often as they can and clean her home while they are there. Other people admire this individual. In many cases, the person may be physically beautiful.
A lot of folks would say that this person has a lot going for him or her; a lot to feel good about. But do you know what the perception is that a person with Borderline Personality Disorder walks around with? That everything we just described is simply pretty dressings on a lump of shit. Are you beginning to see the importance of the word 'inherently' when we discuss one's perspective of his or her natural state?
A piece of shit that does good deeds is still a piece of shit. It doesn’t matter if anybody else feels this way about that person or not. They themselves – the persons with Borderline Personality Disorder – can’t escape it. It is their reality. Nothing external will ever change this. No amount of designer clothes, riches, social acceptance, professional achievement, number of friends – no amount of any external thing – can ever undo, fix, replace, or straighten out, this erroneous perspective which rests beneath everything else they believe, think, feel, and do.
When you, as a person with Borderline Personality Disorder have your blowup moments, where you’ve been going along treating your family and friends well, but then one day you snap and treat them in horrible ways that you will later regret, this is a natural effect of the two before-mentioned distorted core beliefs. The shame and profound gloom of what you subconsciously believe about yourself catches up to you. You spend a week pretending it away, in a white-knuckle effort to deny it, but success can only be tenuous and temporary as long as those inner, distorted core beliefs, or erroneous foundation perspectives, aren’t straightened out.
Your fundamental beliefs about yourself never take a vacation. They sit there festering subconsciously, feeding you a never-ending, steady stream of shame and self-loathing. The term ‘subconscious’ implies that you are not consciously aware that you harbor this view towards yourself. But behaviors are undeniable evidence. Behaviors don’t lie. Behaviors are the natural fruits of whatever beliefs and perspectives we operate on. So by examining behaviors, we can make accurate deductions about what the fundamental thoughts are at the root of them.
Given that you are totally unaware of the source, or of the true nature of your feelings, your mind searches for any external target or external excuse it can find upon which to direct, and express, the frustration of what is really just inner self loathing. Imagine walking around with a throbbing toothache, and regretfully snapping at somebody who doesn’t deserve to be snapped at. Your irritability has nothing to do with them at all. You’re simply using them as an excuse to unleash inner frustration. It’s your tooth that is the true cause. It’s hurting like mad.
Targets usually end up being those closest to the person with Borderline Personality Disorder, and the manufactured ‘reasons’ for their rage typically end up being the stupidest, lamest little things. No wonder loved ones walk around totally bewildered, stepping on egg shells, never knowing what will set you off. .
Being a piece of shit when what you naturally desire is to be a person of value is a never-ending, incomprehensible frustration. It’s exhausting. It is a much simpler task to spare our casual friends and acquaintances from these blowups born of our inner frustrations, and nagging pain, than to spare those dearest to us, with whom we share every day of our lives. This, of course, only adds to the shame that we already carry around. Each brutal, unfair attack against loved ones simply confirms and reinforces what we have already always secretly believed; the two distorted core beliefs I mentioned at the outset: "I am inherently irrelevant and shameful; devoid of worth. This is what explains why I mistreat those who don't deserve to be mistreated, because I am inherently defective. ￼The only reason I am able to behave in such a way is because my natural state is that I am shameful."
There’s a second, equally important reason for the anger people with Borderline Personality Disorder exhibit. The same, two, distorted core beliefs have another, distinct effect: They cause those with the disorder to believe that every single, slightly negative thing that happens to them, or around them, is a personal affront, directed personally and intentionally to them. Why?
What sort of treatment, or attitude, do you naturally expect people to exhibit towards something that is valueless to them? That is, something that they naturally view as repugnant and worthless? Let’s use a sewer rat as an example: Imagine you walk into your kitchen right now, and there, sitting on your kitchen table, is a filthy, wet, sewer rat, peeing on your table. Is your natural inclination to feel affection?
How about with a cockroach? You open up a bag of potato chips and a cockroach crawls out and sits on your hand. In normal circumstances, do you feel any natural urge to treat repugnant things nicely? Of course you do not. Remember, just as the filthy, wet sewer rat, the turd, and the cockroach, lack any natural, inherent worth from your point of view, people with Borderline Personality Disorder share a similar subconscious perspective about they themselves. They believe that the total absence of worth is their natural state.
Shame is a feeling of humiliating repugnance, and as we have said, the core belief, or distorted perspective, of people who have Borderline Personality Disorder is that they themselves are shameful – that is, that their natural inherent state is one of humiliating repugnance.
So those with Borderline Personality Disorder drive down the road subconsciously certain that the guy who cut them off in traffic did it, not by accident, but because you simply aren't worth wasting time being polite towards. See, you are without worth. The person in the checkout line is taking too long because neither you, nor your feelings, matter. In fact, the reality is that you deserve these slights and subtle mistreatments. Every single action or event that inconveniences you, or makes you feel uncomfortable, is seen as a personal affront directed personally towards you. Not necessarily by that individual, per se, but by the universe. The universe is simply constantly proving and reinforcing how devoid of worth you are.
Of course, none of this could be further from the truth. The jerk in traffic is simply a jerk – to everybody. He’s not singling you out to specifically be a jerk only to you. In fact, he’s not even aware you exist, to be realistic about it; you’re just one car in a sea of other cars that he is trying to race through.
The lady in the checkout line isn’t an inconvenience only to you. She’s being an inconvenience to everybody, including the clerk. There is absolutely nothing personal about it directed specifically to you at all.
Because of the erroneous perspective – the distorted core beliefs – from which people with Borderline Personality Disorder operate, these events are not random. They are reinforcements of what they already believe they deserve. You can see how this is painful and frustrating, and naturally why it results in explosions of anger.
As in the case with rage, or anger, as we've just finished discussing, why is it beneficial to understand the real causes at the root of these behaviors? What is the practical purpose of it?
For one thing, if you are somebody who cares about somebody with Borderline Personality Disorder, these accurate insights provide you with the most powerful tool you could possibly have in your interactions with them: Context.
Understanding the context in which these behaviors, or reactions, are occurring, gives you the ability to not only know the most constructive ways to react to, or deal with, a person in the moment, but it also gives you the ability to predict with accuracy how they might reasonably behave or react in any situation beforehand, and why.
If you yourself are the person with Borderline Personality Disorder, understanding the true causes behind these behaviors is the first step to fixing them. You can't fix what is totally hidden to you, or that you aren't aware of, or that you do not fully understand.