This year I am focusing more on Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). There is so much negative discussion around BPD, and I think it’s important that there is more balanced conversation. It’s for the sake of the diagnosed, the newly diagnosed and their loved ones.
Over the next few weeks I’m going to be talking more in depth about the diagnostic criteria for BPD. I’ll also be relating it back to my own personal experiences because I think it’s important to have real stories alongside the information. The first symptom of BPD that I am going to be talking about is Black and White Thinking.
A few months ago I wrote a post outlining the 9 diagnostic criteria for BPD and what they mean. To save you clicking over (although it’s a good post that I recommend reading if you want to know more about BPD) Black and White Thinking is an all or nothing approach to life. The thinking is based more on judgement and less on fact.
People who struggle with Black and White Thinking don’t see grey areas in the world around them. They tend to think that life is all horrible or all wonderful. There is no room in their thinking for anything else. It’s believed that the initial all or nothing thought pattern is what is responsible for setting off our fight or flight response.
The fight or flight response actually aids us to be able to survive situations which we may find distressful. However Black and White Thinking keeps people in that survival mode for longer than is healthy or necessary. It also has the added effect of alienating those around us with our rigid thinking.
Social media is an absolute minefield for someone, like myself, who has to work hard to keep the Black and White Thinking under control. At my fingertips are people who may not agree with the way that I think. I then struggle to reconcile that different thinking with the person that I know. I often lose friendships this way, although of course sometimes that is for the best anyway.
I have steps in place now that help me to determine if what I am feeling and thinking is an all or nothing response. I am still struggling with working on the fly, and sometimes my emotions getting the better of me, especially if I haven’t been taking steps to take care of my own mental health. However I have a step away from the technology rule for particularly emotive topics.
Black and White Thinking isn’t the issue that it used to be for me. I once believed that I was a completely horrible person, rotten to the core. I couldn’t provide evidence for this, not evidence that stood up against the test of logic anyway. I believed it so much that I was afraid to tell people because I *knew* that if I did, that they would simply confirm my own beliefs.
I no longer hold that rigid belief. I know that I am made up of different parts, that those parts are both good and not so good. I also know that I am not everyone’s cup of tea, and that, that is ok. I know that I am OK, that I’m not rotten to the core.
It has taken a lot of work to get to this point and of course I still have those initial fleeting all or nothing thoughts. The difference is now I can recognise them for what they are, and I can put stops in place before I get myself too far into the rigid thinking.
Have you struggled with Black and White Thinking?
What steps do you take to make sure you don’t fall into the all or nothing trap?
Linking up with Kirsty for I must confess!
I find listening to others stories very helpful in understanding both them and also similar situations in life. Although facts and research are very important especially from a medical stand point, I find that being able to have insight into an actual situation or person much more helpful. I personally am a grey thinking person and find it hard to see the black and the white passionately.
This is really interesting – I need to think about it a little more before I comment. I think most of us have a tendency to do this (if only in our own opinions). I get very unsettled when I don’t know what I think about something, when actually that tends to mean I am really thinking about the issue, rather than taking a pre-existing stance…
I’ve struggled with this a bit the last few months, bought about my weight and and the struggles I’ve had with it. It’s so easy to get caught up in all the negative self-talk and think that because I’ve “failed” in one area of my life then I must be a failure in all of them.
I’m looking forward to reading more, Tegan.
I’m glad to hear you no longer think of yourself as such a person. Going through a bit of stage myself right now with some ‘friend’ issues, they seem to be never ending for me!
Thanks for helping us to understand BPD just a little bit more x
I think everyone has experienced a form of Black or White thinking at some stage. Good on you for not only recognising that it is one of your main unhelpful thinking styles, but trying to challenge it as well! My main step to combat this is to think ‘what would I tell a friend if this thought was hers?’ We are never as mean to our friends as we are to ourselves! xx
This is a fascinating post, particularly as I’m still sadly ignorant of many of the aspects of BPD. I look forward to reading more about the other symptoms in your future posts Tegan.