Being neurodivergent in any aspect can make a person feel alone even when surrounded by a million people. One of the most important aspects of humankind is our capacity to be social — it is crucial to our survival. Relationships are essential to our physical and mental health, whether intimate, platonic, business, or even familial. A person deserves to be loved and accepted even if they do not love themselves. Think of it like this, even if a person does not know how to fish, it does not mean they should starve. Feed them, let them know they are worthy of being fed and nourished, and then teach them how to feed themselves.
People who have Borderline Personality Disorder often struggle with self-love. Some days, somebody with this disorder might feel confident, happy, and deserving of all the love in the world, and other days they may feel inadequacy or a distorted image of themselves. Just as with a person who lacks the ability to walk, eat, or speak, self-love and acceptance are taught. Where do we start? How do you teach someone that struggles with loving themselves how to love themselves?
Start with giving value. Think of it as actions speaking louder than words. For example, telling someone they are beautiful or kind or loving is one thing, but it can be challenging for them to believe you if they don’t feel like they are any of those things. Often neurodivergent people have a distorted image of themselves, meaning it will take a little more work to convince them of the positive aspects of themselves and show them how to keep loving themselves and giving themselves self-worth. Remember that telling someone they cannot love others or receive love from others without first loving themselves can often be more damaging for someone who struggles with self-love. Show them what they can do first, not what they cannot do.
Building a Relationship With Yourself
Keep in mind that the goal behind self-love is to make it easier to obtain and maintain all different kinds of relationships necessary for survival in everyday life. Tools for acquiring self-love involve doing things that:
- Promote happiness
- Establish healthy boundaries
- Focus on self-care needs
In a 2020 article on the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation website, President and Ceo Jeffrey Borenstein, M.D. wrote that “You will love yourself more when you take better care of your basic needs. People high in self-love nourish themselves daily through healthy activities, like:
- Sound nutrition
- Proper sleep
- Healthy social interactions
An individual should focus on their own needs, which is essential for well-being as it also helps when maintaining a relationship with another person. Think of oneself as a car; we use them pretty much every day to go everywhere and anywhere, from work to grocery shopping, to seeing friends and loved ones. If we don’t take care of our vehicle and maintain it, then it can’t function for the things we need it for the most.
Those who love someone want them at the best they can be, and we all want to be healthy. Individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder and other neurodivergent disorders often overcompensate emotions and give others more time, effort, and love than they give to themselves. Like a cup with a hole in the bottom, it just loses more liquid in it than it has to provide. It isn’t enough to just tell someone to love themselves; really, others need to show them how. It is a marathon, not a sprint, to build a relationship with oneself.
Having boundaries means that “no” means “no” as well as “yes” meaning “yes” and everything in between. Having boundaries is yet another aspect that those with Borderline Personality Disorder struggle with because the fear of abandonment and loss often leads to an overwhelming sense of anxiety. This fear of abandonment can also lead to disregarding their boundaries and doing or saying things they otherwise might not do for the sake of keeping someone or something in their life.
Such behavior can often be confused for acts of narcissism and cause someone to get accused of being selfish when the truth is so much more complex. If you don’t feel comfortable going into a particular building, or having a drink, or giving someone a hug that makes you uncomfortable, then you have every right to decline those requests and actions. It is easier said than done because the fear of consequences overrides many decisions for someone with this disorder. Boundaries are there for a reason and should be respected by those who genuinely care about another’s wellbeing.
When you struggle with Borderline Personality Disorder, your relationships may be complicated. You may lack self-love, a relationship with yourself, and boundaries. Luckily, those who love and care about you can help you along your journey. If Borderline Personality Disorder affects your everyday life, it may be time to seek professional help. It takes a lot of courage and strength to take that first step and reach out for help. You are not weak for needing to reach out; you are simply human. At So Cal Mental Health, located in Mission Viejo, CA, we provide both holistic treatment modalities and clinical treatment modalities so that you can find what course of action works best for you. We work with various patients and disorders who come seeking help and need that higher level of care to get back to a healthy lifestyle. Sincerity is our motto. Find out more by reaching out to us at (949) 502-2041.