Negative Self Talk – Always living in the past – Always ruining the Future

As I have written before, much of my BPD revolves around my self critic. This critic is aways hitting me from all angles about how I should act, what I should do, and what I should have done differently. This constant barrage of negativity kills my confidence and self esteem levels, not to mention my motivation to improve myself or make my life better.

About 3 out of 4 negative thoughts is an “instant replay” of some negative event from the past. When I am trying to be positive, or want to psyche myself up for an upcoming opportunity that requires some degree of performance, my self critic instantly runs down the list of times I failed miserably.

Usually, the self critical talk is related to whatever I am doing, ie. if I am excercising, the critic points out the over whelming notion that I always “choked” when I ran in races. If I am doing a musical performance, my critic reminds me of the time I completely lost all concentration and stumbled through a trumpet recital in college. I was so lost that I just started making up music to go along with the accompanist, who stormed off stage in anger when the performance concluded. If I am doing something academic, the critic reminds me of the fact that I never seem to reach superior heights, that instead I tend to do “a medium good job”, enough for a B+/A- but just not special enough for that A+. If I am nervous in a new situation, the critic reminds me that during my youth I tended to get so anxious and upset that I felt extremely nauseated; or some cases actually vomitted on the spot.

The old adage that “we learn from our mistakes” is blown out of proportion by my BPD and self critic.

For me, I have to qualify that statement carefully: I generally have two impressions of negative events: 1) Part of me walks away with authentic thoughts of what can be done to improve in the future, 2) but most of me walks away damning myself, putting myself down, criticizing me for failing, and killing my self esteem.

To be perfectly honest, I have never performed in a musical capacity, nor in a running race since college, mostly because of all the pent up negativity that came from the fall-out of a few times when things went wrong, or when I did not meet my own perfectionistic expectations.

I also notice the self critic operates like the “snowball effect”. For example, suppose I have never knitted before. I pick up the knitting needles and begin practicing and creating a garmet. Suppose later, the garmet is disfigured and doesn’t come out right. While I pledge in my mind to start over with a new project, the thought of how I botched up the first time around lingers. Now suppose I goof up again, or, someone makes a negative remark about my work. The critic now has two means of defeating me as a knitter, the first failure coupled with the second negative feedback from another person. This cycle continues and builds until a point where I would come to loathe knitting not because I can’t do it, but because I don’t do it to my own high expectations, or to the adoration of others. In other words, I have a hard time doing anything unless I am going full steam at it and in hopes of gaining superlative achievement.

As a result, I have a hard time “running for fun”, or “playing music for the hell of it”, because my mind is so self critical. Every past negative event is on replay and it completely ruins any semblance of personal enjoyment from whatever the actitivity might be.

On one hand, it is good to have high expectations and a strong desire to do things the best you can.

On the other, if your attempts at doing these things are mired with lasting negative thoughts, self criticisms, unrealized expectations, or disappointing results, you tend to have a bitter taste in your mouth and find that the mere thought of continuing said activity in the future produces sadness, anger, and misery.

My polarized, “all or nothing”, perfectionist, superlative BPD tendancies have ruined things that should be positive aspects of my life. Instead, I resort to simply not doing things that I once thought I would like to do forever simply because my critic and his instant replays get in the way of any positive thinking.

A “mind wipe”, or selective amnesia, would help me greatly – but sadly such things are not possible. I have to find a way to do things in life that results in good feelings and little or absolutely no regret. This process in and of itself is a huge challenge, and will probably be the work of my lifetime.