Validation and Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline personality disorder often comes with low self image and even crappier self esteem. So what do we do? Usually, we seek validation elsewhere. Some of the more common ways we do that is by:
- Having lots of meaningless sex with random people.
- “Testing” our favorite person or significant other to see if they really care about us.
- Throwing out self deprecating comments in order to fish for compliments.
Let’s face it… everyone, borderline or not, needs validation. Everyone likes to hear, “Good job,” or “Your new haircut looks beautiful!” For the borderline, who sees the world in black and white, a lack of validation means worthlessness. Someone else being praised means that we are undeserving or lesser.
Then we go to extremes to feel any sort of validation.
So we sleep around, because sex is validation that someone finds you beautiful or worth 30 seconds of their time.
We post selfies… the more likes you get, the better you feel. But then you realize you’re not getting as many likes as someone else, and it makes you feel worse.
Your significant other compliments someone on their new hair color. You dye your hair the same color in hopes that you, too, will be complimented.
Seeking validation is an endless cycle for borderlines. We feel “high” for a few minutes, and then it wears off. Then we need another dose. But a higher dose. We need more and more validation, until it’s so insatiable we conclude that we’re just pieces of shit that no one could ever love.
This destroys relationships and puts us at risk for self harm.
HOW TO GET VALIDATION IN A HEALTHIER MANNER
Seeking validation is human, and not unique to us with borderline personality disorder. So, how do we go about getting validation without destroying our relationships?
DO THINGS FOR YOURSELF AND VALIDATE YOURSELF.
This one has helped me overcome much of my personal needs for validation.
You’re reading a blog that I’ve written. I used to think that the worth of my blog posts depend on how many people read it or share it. It’s worth however many “likes” or “comments” that I get.
But the truth is, the validation is that I did it. I started the blog and write consistent blog posts to it and that alone validates that I am not worthless. I was able to create something out of pain.
So, create that work of art. Write your poetry. Exercise. Do something for you and not for other peoples’ applause. The truth is, most people are too caught up in their own insecurities and worries to give you the validation you need.
The first thing you need to do is validate yourself.
GET TO THE CORE ROOT OF WHY YOU NEED VALIDATION.
I’m going to bring the sex-for-validation back up.
Long story short, I’m the child of two beauticians. My parents lived in a world of beauty and glamour. Meanwhile, I was the emo kid wearing too much eyeliner and black nail polish. My parents often told me how undesirable I was.
And I believed them.
So in my adolescence and adulthood, I compensated by losing weight and dressing provocatively to attract men. The more men I slept with, the more validated I felt about how I looked. It proved my parents wrong. I am desirable.
But it was an endless cycle of faceless men and validation that never lasted.
I needed to get to a point in my life where I could look at myself in the mirror and say, “I am physically desirable.”
Mentally, I carved an image of what it meant for me to be “desirable.”
And it looked something like that:
- Having showered daily
- Done my eyebrows and eyeliner
- Weigh less than 140 lbs
- Dressing in clothes that made me feel comfortable
Those were my standards of being a desirable person. I’m a little heavy now but I’m still working towards my ideal weight.
The idea is that I am doing these things for me because it makes ME happy, not to validate some bullshit from my parents.
Find your goals and standards for what makes YOU desirable and wanted. Set them and go after them.
If you had a bad ex who said some crap about you, fuck them. Rewrite your own standards. When you can make yourself feel badass, validation from others mean less and your own approval is longer lasting.
BE UPFRONT WITH YOUR LOVED ONES ABOUT HOW YOU NEED VALIDATION AND NEED IT OFTEN.
Tell your significant other that you frequently need to be told you’re beautiful, kind, smart, etc. That you’re the type of person that needs to hear it over and over again.
There is no shame in verbally expressing your needs to your loved ones. Don’t assume that if they love you they’ll do it without being asked. If they make fun of you or push you away because of it, it says much more about your loved one than it does about you. People who care about you and want to see you recover will be open minded with helping you get to where you need to be.
Sometimes, you need to specifically tell others what you want to hear. It doesn’t make it less meaningful. In fact, it proves that they care enough about you to try it your way.
REMOVE FORMS OF “VALIDATION” THAT MAKE YOU FEEL WORSE
This has helped me a lot. If your boyfriend has a hot ex girlfriend, do yourself a favor and stop following her on social media. In fact, delete your social media altogether. I went on a one-year-long Facebook detox and I strangely started to feel better about myself.
Deactivating social media can also help you stop subconsciously comparing yourself to other people’s highlights and comments. You won’t feel bad about not getting enough likes on a photo because you won’t be posting photos anymore. Not having social media actually made me create fewer, but much deeper friendships.
If there is a person in your life that you constantly seek validation from, but they persistently put you down or never give you what you need, it’s time to reevaluate your friendship. For me, I had a father figure that I wanted to make “proud” (yes, I have daddy issues) and he rarely spoke highly of me. Turned out he was just like my biological father who absolutely refused to be kind to me, though I didn’t realize this until I severed the relationship.
Other forms of validation could be the number on the scale, being texted first, or being complimented without being prompted. These things are all little “tests” our borderline minds create for others, to see if they actually give a crap about us. Don’t do it.
Instead, surround yourself with people who make you feel good and try to give you the validation you need. Be around things that genuinely make you feel happy.
And remember, these are things you need to practice daily. When you catch yourself seeking validation from Instagram likes, do yourself the favor and uninstall the app. When you’re waiting for a text from a friend to prove they care about you, stop playing games and text them first.
Validation isn’t a terrible thing to want, as long as you keep it healthy.
This post was originally written for The Fractured Light.