I’m a programmer. And I never feel like I’m good enough for my job. So every time my work is criticized (and everyone’s work is at some point), it feels like a personal attack. The dialogue running through my head screams at me, “They hate you, they hate you, they hate you, they hate you…” and for most of the day I am sitting uncomfortable on eggshells, afraid that my every move is being watched and criticized and rejected. But this feeling doesn’t just occur when my performance is being judged, sometimes its just the way a person looks at me, the way they talk to me, the way they move if they’re in my way. The slightest potential of judgment triggers, “They hate me, they hate me, they hate me!”
But it’s not just work. Sometimes my boyfriend will text back just a one word text. My instant thought? He’s angry. He hates me. Why is my mind so quick to jump to hate?
Borderline personality disorder distinguishes one big symptom to the disorder as “black and white thinking.” I used to think I didn’t have this. I didn’t do all or nothing; I never really loved then hated. But jumping to the conclusion that someone hates me, over some small thing that does not warrant that feeling, is an example of black or white thinking. A logical step might be, they are slightly annoyed by something, that might not even be me. Black and white thinking is rarely logical. It’s emotional. Our fear of rejection or abandonment sends a spike of emotion that make us so self concious we can’t help but feel hated by the other person. I catch myself saying I’m hated a lot. When I’m stressed out, almost everybody might “hate me.”
When I’ve spiralled into a terrible depression, I assume that everyone hates me. They don’t like me; they’re pretending. They don’t want me; they pity me. So on and so forth until I feel the deep, dark, and painful pit of worthlessness. In these moments of almost unbearable emotion I would turn to self injury. I’ll dedicate another post on that, but self injury for me was the fastest way to take my attention off of the emotional pain because I had a wound to care for; I had physical pain to focus on…
I am still getting over the assumption that I am hated. One thing that I think borderlines are really good at are conciously not focussing on a good thought in place of the bad because, let’s just be honest with ourselves; the bad thought is true and nothing will change it. This is incredibly flawed thinking but also incredibly difficult to get rid of. I am still working on it. When I catch myself thinking, “This person hates me; they hate me.” I try to tell myself, “No, that’s not true. Maybe they’re just giving helpful criticism to make me a better programmer, not to point out my flaws. Maybe he gave you a one word answer because his hands were busy but he still wanted to text you an answer.” This is a skill you learn in DBT (dialectical behavior therapy; a group based therapy that works on emotional dysregulation).It’s all about stopping the stories you tell yourself (“this person hates me”) and replacing it with something constructive and more plausible. It’s a hard skill to achieve, but a valuable one. No one should feel hated. No one should feel that isolation and anxiety and rejection. Because chances are, no one actually hates you, and it’s all in your head.
Here is an article on this subject that I related to in nearly every way: