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How to Practice Self-Love in Borderline Personality Disorder Recovery

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Most people really struggle with the idea of engaging in self-love. They think, “I don’t want to be conceited!” It feels awkward to even talk about the concept, let alone start to think about doing it. Most people are not taught that self-love is something to which they should aspire. They are not taught to value it as a behavior. But the philosophy, “You can’t pour from an empty cup,” is never truer than when it comes to self-love. In fact, I like to take it one step further and say, “You can’t love from an empty heart.” Practicing self-love is one of the best ways to nurture and reinforce your self-esteem, and self-esteem building is the name of the game when it comes borderline personality disorder (BPD) recovery.

How do you do it?

Loving yourself entails many different choices. It means stopping the critical voice that plays in your head every time you put those blue jeans on that are just a little bit too tight. It means giving yourself a pep talk whenever you need one and reminding yourself just how awesome you really are. It means taking care of yourself every day, not because your partner wants you to look good but because you value yourself enough to look your best. Practicing self-love means allowing yourself to engage in masturbation so you can pleasure yourself and become a good teacher for your partner. Self-love means saying no to taking care of others if that happens at the exclusion of taking care of yourself. This does not mean practicing a lifestyle of “every man for himself.” Far from it. It just means valuing yourself enough to want to look after your own best interests. It means sitting down and taking an honest inventory of the kinds of things you do which make you feel your best and then figuring out a way to get more of that into your life. If that means scheduling it into your Google calendar, then do that.

Should you sacrifice yourself to save another person?

When I think about this, I frame it by thinking of the little talk the flight attendants give at the beginning of each flight. They say, “If the oxygen masks drop down, place your oxygen mask on your own face before attempting to assist another person.” This means, do not sacrifice your own self in order to help another person. I think about this whenever I think about whether or not I would stop by the side of the road at the scene of an accident. I would. Would I immediately begin CPR on someone who was not breathing? That depends on a few things. It would first and foremost depend on my blood sugar levels because I am an insulin-dependent diabetic. So, I would take the five seconds needed to test my blood sugar. Why? Because if my blood sugar is low and I expend the tremendous amount of energy which would be required to perform CPR on someone else, I run the risk of my blood sugar falling to a dangerously low level. If that happens, I could end up passing out and then I would be no good to the accident victim or myself. Yes, I know that sounds selfish, but practicing self-love means knowing when to put yourself first.

You start to do this by learning how to silence the inner critic that plays in your head day and night. You know what I’m talking about — the little voice in your head that tells you you’re fat or you’re stupid or you’re useless. I say all the time, “If you wouldn’t say it to your best friend, please don’t say it to yourself!” So when your negative inner voice starts to give you its opinion, challenge it and ask it what evidence it is basing that opinion on. “How do you know this? What evidence do you have?” In almost every case, you will not be able to come up with a good argument.

Next, figure out what things help you feel good about yourself and then do them! Make time in a very hectic schedule and do them. Practicing self-love is all about looking after yourself. If you don’t, I’m here to tell you no one else will, baby!

Follow this journey on the author’s blog.

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Photo by Zhang Mickey on Unsplash

Originally published: October 29, 2017
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