Mirroring is one way people with BPD try to create bonds with interesting people they meet. This involuntary behavior is a result of a sincere desire to be accepted. Individuals that display ‘mirroring’ do so automatically. They are imitating individuals that have shown them desirable qualities. Since the Pw/BPD has a shattered sense of self, they can easily switch from whatever persona they were once displaying & easily switch to a new one. ‘Mirroring’ is a specific aspect of borderline that makes it difficult for a Pw/BPD to tell you what they like or dislike. Borderlines have a hard time making decisions or sticking to specific hairstyles, fashion trends, or genres of music. One reason most people with borderline use ‘mirroring’ to secure a bond with someone is to decrease the chance of being abandoned or rejected. This aspect of borderline is what Sarah refers to as the “Chameleon Effect.” Sarah Myles is a person I chose to interview about the topic of ‘mirroring.’ Sarah is a writer originally from London that now resides in North Yorkshire, England.
A poem I’ve written about ‘mirroring.’
Mirrors can be tricky, don’t you think?
Sipping from a glass of truth but denying the drink.
Magically crafted so that we may truly SEE ourselves.
IMPROVE ourselves, or maybe even REMOVE ourselves?
I may have been crafted to show others who they are.
Most are unable to resist the hypnotizing charm.
Each one of us focused only on the things that we like.
Intertwined with this unintended slight,
I’m mastering the skill of being your type.
Life demands the borderline mirrors those that excite.
A demand they must adhere to for they fear the flight
Noticing all of these desirable traits
Each one of my behaviors begin to assimilate.
How easy it must be for my ‘looker’ to relate.
I submit myself to these effortless transformations.
No longer me, just various & interesting reflections.
Pieces of a broken slate of glass
My ‘self ‘ will always present itself last.
A painful instinctive reaction
I beg of you, do not leave me as just an empty reflection.
As I only believe, I am nothing without you.
I enjoyed my time immensely discussing borderline tendencies with Sarah Myles. You can listen to our conversation here at the provided link.
Thank you, Sarah, for the opportunity to better understand the “Chameleon Effect” I look forward to future chats.
“The sad truth is that you can’t cure BPD with unconditional love. The problem isn’t that people with BPD don’t get enough love. The problem is that they feel such worthlessness and shame that they think they don’t deserve it. So your love encounters Teflon and slips away. But it’s difficult to face the worthlessness and shame and work on it, in therapy or out. All they know is they don’t feel loved, which means you must be doing something wrong.”
In the previous episode, while speaking with our lovely guest, Imi Lo, she had mentioned… and I am paraphrasing here that people with borderline personality disorder & might possibly have an enhanced sensitivity when observing the slightest change in another person’s facial expressions, and that this sensitivity can be especially accurate when observing expressions showing negativity, and that this could mean that people with BPD may possess a higher level of interpersonal sensitivities.
What does that mean, higher interpersonal sensitivities?
I found a great explanation/definition from an article entitled “INTERPERSONAL SENSITIVITY: WHY IT IS SO IMPORTANT” https://vbchange.com/interpersonal-sensitivity/ “Do you know when you can just tell that someone is in a bad mood just by their expression even if they have not said a word to indicate that they are in a bad mood? It’s the little things that give them away like their expression, that you are sensitively capturing. Or even if their expression is not betraying their current state, it could be the way that they are behaving, showing that they’re in survival mode. If it is someone you know well, then you can easily tell by their behavior having been altered from their usual behavior. How can noticing such things be useful and meaningful for us?
There are many non-verbal cues that we as humans can tend to give out to indicate the current emotional or mental state that we are in. Even if it’s a complete stranger, we can tend to pick up on subliminal hints through the way that they are acting, the words that they are speaking, the way that they are speaking, the tone they employ while speaking, the facial expression they have, among other non-verbal cues. In fact, body language accounts for 55% of communication between people.
You are able to tell a lot about a person you’ve just met, given that you are paying attention to all of these cues being presented by that person, whether they are doing it intentionally or unintentionally. The ability to correctly assess and understand information about them without having been directly presented with it is a little concept (it’s actually quite a big concept) known as Interpersonal Sensitivity.”
I feel I do this so much and without even thinking about it… & then I will react to certain facial expressions… the good, the bad, but mostly the ugly. I’m not talking about how you look on the outside, but those menacing expressions that come from deep within… those real feelings that the other person being observed had been unsuccessful at hiding, you even know they were trying to suppress their real feelings in hopes not to upset you. That sentiment doesn’t matter, because their slightest change has already upset you and aggravated your intense sensitivities.
This dance gets exhausting, even though it always happens automatically for the borderline. It is a quick & primary go-to defense mechanism that the subconscious has learned to use when others are displeased with us. I’ve been reading facial expressions for a long time now and even though I think I’m good at it. I will never get it right 100% of the time, why? I think being sensitive in this way simply means you are still living life in survival mode instead of living life.
To be completely transparent, I’ve been trusting my feelings more about what I observe in others. Really leaning into this to see what it really is. I’m sure I’m driving my husband crazy with it, because I’m not the type to observe something negative from someone and then just let it go. To top it all off, I’m leaning into this at the same time we are dealing with a highly stressful situation. Remodeling our burnt home back to something better, even though we had just finished remodeling nearly the entire house.
For me personally, from the viewpoint of a 40-year-old, “Textbook” BPD female, it can mean that having high interpersonal sensitivities or abilities mean that you could very well still be living in survival mode. If you are currently more worried about not upsetting your environment, or the people in it, & you find it necessary to please everyone in it… You are living in survival mode. You likely haven’t begun to see that your environment is unsteady because you are still relying on others to be the support for you that you feel you are to them. The reason we (people with BPD) are highly reactive to any displeasure shown by those in our environment, it shows a disapproval of our tireless attempts at maintaining a copesetic environment. We take on that role and feel very hurt if someone is unappreciative of all of the work, we have done behind the scenes to keep others happy. At the very least we hope to keep the peace, this always has a tendency to slap us in the face.
A person w/BPD can be triggered by the slightest negative change in facial expression or tone. We have become excellent at interpreting the unspoken human language. Our mind tells us who we can likely trust, and who is valuable for our survival. The slightest change in another person’s normal reaction, can affect a person with BPD so much, that often times they can automatically go into a defensive mode, either to protect themselves or to fight against their biggest fear, which is being abandoned for one reason and that reason in their BPD mind is that they weren’t “good enough” or that they didn’t “do enough” I am not certain that every person that has BPD deals with the fear of abandonment, but in my life it has created many moments of regret.
Byte of Insight – unscripted, have a listen…
Announcements – Still rebuilding after the fire, bringing a lot of inconveniences and next episode, April 3rd.
Byte of Insight – unscripted, have a listen to the episode.
I realize now that most of the people in my life have had transactional love from me not unconditional love. I was asking them to have the same type of love for me, for myself. show me this feeling you have for me by some tangible transaction. Show me that I am worthy of your time and attention. I know now that unconditional love doesn’t require this of anyone. You are loved for who you are, not for what you aren’t. I have worn myself out entirely being transactional in the past. To my lack of understanding relationships, I can now blame my upbringing and romantic movies. To continue to exist in that way though would be by choice and I don’t choose to love transactionally. I choose to love unconditionally.
Have a wonderful day and don’t forget to choose truth, goodness, and LOVE!
Hello and welcome to “The World in Black and White”My name is Michelle and I’m the narrator and creator of this podcast.
Vision for the podcast:
My vision for this podcast is that it will bring hope to all individuals that may be overwhelmed by the challenges mental illness can create.
Alright… Welcome back everyone, this is episode 7 of the first season of The World in Black & White! I am going to try and knock out 11 episodes total, for Season 1 before the start of 2023, so wish me luck!
This week’s topic is very near and dear to my heart, SELF-AWARENESS!
I don’t know the percentage of Borderlines that deal with this issue, but I am sure it is high.
If I were put on the spot to give 100% honesty on whether or not I liked something I would respond with a neutral type of response, still being unsure of what the appropriate answer might be for the given situation or I’d be worried about the response the person asking me the question is seeking. I’d probably just say “umm sure, it’s good” For starters, I do not like to offend but the closer I steer towards being authentic and honest, the more I realize that there will be times where my wants and needs may not be the same as others, and that my opinions and beliefs may not match their beliefs.I just need to remind myself that this doesn’t make me offensive. (because In my head, offensive people aren’t well liked.) and because well, answering with an agreeable answer is less troublesome.
but I have found that the moments where I have abandoned my opinions, beliefs or values to be agreeable for someone or something are also the initial moments that create conflict in my life. I know now that I must redirect my responses towards honesty and steer clear of always being agreeable.
This amnesia of self may be one of the most destructive behavior patterns for PwBPD.
I have made a lot of progress by bringing my focus on being present, really tuning in, consistently seeking my inner voice, and presenting the truth to others about the thoughts that are awakened or my true feelings when situations needing my input may arise. //
CRISIS HELPLINE: I would also like to let listeners know of help that is available. Call one of these numbers or text them to find help. I pray you always find someone there to pull you up.
You can call or text 988.
Another helpline available through the National Alliance for Mental Illness is 800-950-6264 or text “HelpLine” to 62640
Are you able to make good decisions in a timely manner, or do you waver a bunch and say “well what do you want to do? Or what do you think we should do?”
I always thought this behavior pattern of mine to be a considerate personality trait. I was offering the decision to be made by someone else, to give them an opportunity to experience any level of joy out of that decision. But in doing so, I have lost the ability to make my own decisions based on what I truly think or believe. However; I think one of the only times we aren’t indecisive is when something causes us to “feel”. I am curious to find out if this need to “feel” happens because so many people with BPD actually function in their own lives in a numb and apathetic way.It appears we have discovered some kind of mental switch for autopilot.
However; this default in my brain to avoid making decisions for myself stems from my inability to see who I really am and what I really want. This also leaves me with the inability to be decisive. I rely on many other people to help me make good decisions. Why should I trust others and their decision-making over my own?
Well, I think that’s a good question!. I think I have stumbled upon something that will help us understand a little bit better why people with BPD have such a hard time with self awareness and understanding who they are, what they think ,and what their beliefs are//
BYTE of Insight: Lately, I have been struggling a ton with not being able to see myself. I don’t mean I need to buy glasses or clean my bathroom mirror. I mean, I’ve noticed that I’m lacking in the area of self awareness and understanding my own identity. I am working at getting a better understanding of all the things that make me, me.
This may sound silly to some listeners but I do believe that this is a big issue for someone battling textbook BPD.
Not having the slightest clue of how others see you may directly berelated to that inability to see/know/or understand myself.
I bet if you have BPD you are bothered by this just as much as I am.
We have already learned that splitting occurs, as well as other unhealthy defense mechanisms when the PwBPD is threatened and that this happens on a subconscious level.
I am now constantly telling myself, there is no threat Michelle. Or reminding my brain that everything is ok, because I don’t want some unhealthy defense mechanism hijacking my mind or my behaviors.//
STUDY OVER SELF: Alright what I’m about to read is an abstract from a study Link:
ABSTRACT: Aberrations of self-experience are considered a core feature of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). While prominent etiologic accounts of BPD, such as the mentalization based approach, appeal to the developmental constitution of self in early infant-caregiver environments, they often rely on a conception of self that is not explicitly articulated. Moreover, self-experience in BPD is often theorized at the level of narrative identity, thus minimizing the role of embodied experience. In this article, we present the hypothesis that disordered self and interpersonal functioning in BPD result, in part, from impairments in “embodied mentalization,” that manifest foundationally as alterations in minimal embodied selfhood, i.e. the first-person experience of being an individuated embodied subject. This account of BPD, which engages early intersubjective experiences has the potential to integrate phenomenological, developmental, and symptomatic findings in BPD, and is consistent with contemporary theories of brain function.
“disturbances in self and other mental representations are fundamental to borderline psychopathology” (p.514). Similarly, Kerr et al. (Kerr et al., 2015) calls for a “reconceptualization” of BPD as “a disorder of self and relationality” (p.346). Interpersonal symptoms can include confusion about self-other boundaries with identity diffusion, projection of difficult affects onto interaction partners. One person with BPD evokes a bodily experience of this confusion (italics added):
(So this is from one person and what they have said but it hit me 100%!)
When I’m around other people, I can feel their energy. I can feel whether they’re happy or unhappy. I can walk into a room and feel whether there’s tension in the air or if everyone is getting along… Having my own identity issues makes it even harder to be around certain people. I feel other people’s emotions so strongly that sometimes, I believe they are my own (Mae, 2017).
PLANS For Next Episode: So I am thinking I will go further into this study and talk about it more on the next episode, one of the last things they talked about in the study is that while bpd “ remains in current classification systems and can be reliably diagnosed. A considerable body of research on self and BPD has accrued, including a recent profusion and confluence of neuroscientific and socio psychological findings. These have generated supporting evidence for a supra-ordinate, functionally constituted entity of the self ranging over multiple, interacting levels from an unconscious, ‘core’ self, through to a reflective, phenotypic, ‘idiographic’ and relational self constituted by interpersonal and sociocultural experience.
I am listening to many people that have been diagnosed with BPD on reddit and other websites that focus on psychology or mental health. I ventured to one site called themighty.com and found an interesting article entitled “25 PEOPLE SHARE THE WORST SYMPTOMS OF BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER”
One of the responses from James said that his worst symptom was this…
“No sense of self. I went through so many majors in college and I am constantly second guessing myself. Do I really want to do this with my life? What about this instead? This looks better let’s do this. It’s tiring for myself and everyone around me. I’ll finally settle on something and then something better will come along and I jump ship.”(quote from Themighty.com)
I believe people that are highly sensitive to their environment look externally for the correct response, because we were the ones to keep environments from becoming too chaotic during important moments of development. We weren’t given appropriate space and time to figure out the things we like/dislike, or what we really feel. We were more than likely always told how to feel, or “to get over it!”
The challenge that I would like to put out for this week is to use TRUTH as much as possible, rely on yourself to make those decisions, stay present, focus on listening to yourself, make a list if you have too. But the challenge is to be honest about what you want, and what you need. And I think that is a good challenge for this week and I think it will pull you to a better place of SELF AWARENESS.
CLOSING: Thanks so much for tuning in… We have come to the end of the podcast. What did you learn? Who can you share this podcast with? If this resonates with your spirit or makes you think of a certain someone that has experienced similar issues in their life, please share this with them. I believe mental health is something we are overlooking on a massive scale, and in order for people to heal we need to be able to speak about this openly and honestly.
…Until next time… Choose truth, goodness and love Closing:
“The chronic emptiness and lack of identity. I am a ghost, stitched together with fragments of those I’ve known throughout my life. I pick apart their personality, and create this sort of ugly Frankenstein…I, even at the age of 26, still do not know who I am or what I like/dislike. There’s nothing more harrowing or isolating.” —(from themighty.com)PwBPD Yasmin A.
Bless you Yasmin. Thanks for sharing this. It touched my heart in a way I didn’t expect. I hope the following words help those that feel the same way.
I just want to share some positive thoughts about these “BPD things” we do flawlessly & without any real effort to do so.
Yes, we are fragmented in our emotions, we had to resort to this to survive, because we are highly sensitive to the emotions of others. We tend to absorb reactions, all of them (even the ones that haven’t happened yet.) Which means we often pick up the slightest differences in someone’s mood. We feel let down when others can’t do this for us as naturally as we do, and sadly we need it a lot.
Yes, We mirror in order to be received by our POI (person of interest) who was so intriguing, that they were able to awaken our curiosity. They in one way or another offered us a new & different approach to the world. You allow yourself to absorb the parts of their personality that attracted you to them. During this process we may find some parts we don’t approve of or we may even attach too much value to the little bit of attractive personality they offered us. Either way, we tend to discard them because to love someone fully is painful. We understand that they don’t love like we do on a cellular level.
We will sabotage any relationship either to test the durability or to get them to move on.
Yes, we love big & we shower our POI with all the attention and love that we are just wanting to be reciprocated. A matched intensity.
We aren’t the bad monster in this world. We aren’t the “Frankenstein” unless you are consciously choosing to cycle through these emotional hurricanes without taking inventory of what it is you are actually seeking .
We were broken at times in our lives when we should have been protected. Our high sensitivities to people and situations was established on a subconscious level to protect us from further harm.
We are able to survive most any situation and get a long with any type of person.
We wear an emotional blanket that we have “stitched” together to act as an added layer of protection from the world that taught us early on that you need to be many things in order to make it out alive. (So we absorb various personality traits.)
You aren’t the monster. We have been trying to find the most useful personality, because at some point in our lives we received the message that ours wasn’t enough.
We have a lot of emotional sensitivities that allow us to persevere through intense & tough situations, not to mention doing all of this with an intensity and passion that can make other’s heads spin
We are highly perceptive to what the needs of others are, because we were conditioned to take care of the external & surrounding chaos at some point in life.
People that have been involved with a PwBPD would love to paint us as the monster, but maybe we are just mirroring & exposing all of the things they would like to remain hidden. We become what they aren’t pleased with and when that picture settles and the image comes through they “feel” that we have somehow changed them or abused them. No, in most every case we take the intentional beating and intentional abuse in order to protect others. I have learned, the toxicity I dish out happens after I have had my fill of disrespect or complete disregard of my thoughts or opinions. I honestly believe That those suffering from a brain disorder has taken the blame for too long. I’m now no longer fighting the world. I’m fighting my brain for control. I will no longer let my innate and toxic defense mechanisms rule my life. They are kept in check by fiercely and persistently staying present.
Be a monster if you have to, but realize the war for you is internal.
(I’m now seeking me!) I’ve given every person I’ve ever met the opportunity to show me something good.
The better we are at seeking our authentic selves. The more equipped we arrive to the battle.
Life is a struggle, we were trying to live it by seeking comfort in a world that doesn’t understand how uncomfortable we are all making it. Thinking that we should seek comfort is one of the first lies we need to eradicate from our beliefs. Get uncomfortable, we aren’t monsters… We are fighters! Love you Yasmin, and anyone else that is fighting a battle!
You must be logged in to post a comment.