As psychotherapist and mental health clinician Ugo Uche writes in an article for Psychology Today, “Simply put, having a strong sense of identity helps a person to be more consistent in honoring his or her values and beliefs.” But holding true to a strong sense of identity can be difficult if Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is part of your life.
One of the characterizing symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder, according to the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM) is a “distorted and unstable self-image or sense of self, which can result in sudden changes in feelings, opinions, values or plans and goals for the future (such as school or career choices).”
Here are some tips if you find yourself struggling with maintaining a stable self-image:
1. Take inventory. Make a list of interests you have, values you have, what makes you unique from other people, your quirks and personality traits. One blogger from My Life with Borderline Personality Disorder recently described the phrase “tell me about yourself” as “the worst question anyone can ask me.” Start by asking yourself that question, and refer to the list as needed. Focus on the positives as well as things about yourself you might like to work on.
2. Meditate. Look at your inventory, and find the things you like the best about yourself. Savor that feeling of “I like that about me,” magnify it, and meditate on that feeling. Start with just a moment, then move to meditating on your positives a few minutes a day, and work your way up to 10 minutes a day. The more you meditate on the things about yourself that you like and that you feel are important to who you are, the stronger those attributes will come across to the rest of the world.
3. Feel your body. Exercise. Move. Breathe. You don’t even have to join a gym! Any awareness of your body will do. Go for a walk once a day and really feel your feet against the ground, feel the difference in your breath as you speed up or slow down. If you run, try leaving your headphones at home and listen to how your footfalls sound. Yoga is an excellent way to marry mind and body. Having an awareness of your physical self and its relationship to your mind is an excellent tool for improving your self-image.
4. Set some goals. Give yourself some realistic goals that you know you can accomplish. Pay a bill that’s been sitting on your desk for too long. Congratulate yourself for doing your laundry. This may sound silly and like a hollow exercise, but really think about all the things you accomplish every day that you take for granted. Baby steps like this will help prime your confidence and give you a stronger foundation for bigger hurdles.
5. Don’t let yourself give up. When you work your way up to those bigger hurdles, say, learning a language or starting a training program in a career in which you are interested, know that things that are challenging are still possible. Envision yourself in a state of success and add it to your daily meditation. Set out with the attitude that you will follow through and stick with it, even when it becomes a challenge.
What tips have you used to better your self-image? Share them in the comments below.