Life Traps | Pt. 13: Insufficient Self-control

Posted by Maria

One of the hallmarks of Borderline Personality Disorder is our impulsivity. Today’s topic of Insufficient Self-control, or lack of self-discipline, touches this trait on the surface as I ponder how it affects my life as I live it.

A brief summary based on what the book, Tunne Lukkosi by Kimmo Takanen, tells us of the Life Trap of Insufficient Self-Control:

I tend to be impulsive and let momentary thoughts and feelings steer my life. It is hard for me to tolerate unpleasantness, and it is difficult to control my desires and overflowing emotions. This leads me into giving in to temptations quite easily, and usually, if I want something, I want it then and there. This kind of behavior can lead to regrets and more, as I may have flared up out of the blue.

Without proper boundaries and limits, my anger comes out in bad ways, such as rage and improper behavior. The lack of discipline can easily lead to addictions and obsessions, in my case binge eating, being online, and gaming for days on end. Routines are a challenge for me to create and keep to, and this makes it so my eating and sleeping patterns are out of shape. Life as I know it is chaos.

It’s hard for me to focus on anything for too long as all the triggers in the world are going through my mind and telling me to do anything but the thing I am doing. I start projects and end them halfway as something else comes up, and it is hard for me to stick to schedules, even if I manage to make them. I have issues remembering things and paying attention, and my impulsivity may lead to failures in my work-life.

When I compensate for this Trap, I may try to overly gain control of my life and might try to deny all the negative aspects of myself. This kind of ultimate restriction can lead to losing control completely, should it go on for long periods of time. 

So. The Borderline Trait #1.

As I mentioned before, impulsivity is something very heavily represented in the BPD community. It may be shopping, substances, gaming, whatever makes us feel better at any given time. And in my case, if I don’t get what I feel I need IMMEDIATELY, I get veeery angsty.

Because the impulsivity in me revolves around food and sweeties, it has been necessary to put a little bit of leash on it, in the form of my husband being in charge of snacks and sweeties, and making sure I keep making food home 80% of the time. There have been some weird moments in the store when I’ve been feeling down and we pass the chocolate shelves, and I kid you not, I literally get angry. Like, furious almost. And as per any 5-year old who hasn’t been properly raised, I feel like throwing myself on the ground, kicking and screaming because I WANT CHOCOLATE! 

If I get it into my head that I need something, because typically that’s how I feel, that I NEED it, I will try to sway people into giving me whatever it is I desire, even if it makes me seem improper. You can imagine that this lead to some moments in my life that were even foolishly dangerous, as I would get into situations with people I only met a day ago online.

My Anger still knows no bounds.

As a part of this lack of self-control, I struggle with my bursts of anger. It may be directed towards me, or my husband, as these days I don’t interact with the outside world much.

Should I get hateful towards you, you can expect to have all the curses on the planet and a little bit out of it tossed at you. You will be the worst person that ever lived, or will live, and I will tell you how I hate you to the core. Usually in a very dramatic and loud way that is accompanied by tons of tears.

If the hate is directed at me, I get twice as bad. I’m the scum of the planet, I always fail, and because of that, I will always be abandoned in the end. Nobody cares about me, why should they? I hate myself, I hate what I became, I hate that I’m such a failure and that I can’t ever be enough. I should not have been born, yet I’m too much of a coward to die. So here I am, just taking space and resources from all the other people who deserve to be alive. 

Whoa. Self-hatred comes too easy for me. 

Another thing I’ve noticed is that anything that gets me going, be it music, anime, story, news… Anything at all that stirs up an emotional response in me, is hard for me to stop. The reaction is like a tsunami of sorrow, just washing over me. This Is why I sometimes feel the need to try to numb myself.

My go-to for ages now has been to farm in a game (for those less educated in the gaming section, this means that I run around in circles for hours, virtually hacking at the same rocks or trees, or killing the same enemies) while putting on some mundane YouTube video on the background. The noise cancels out my own inside voices, and the game makes me braindead. 

Fortunately, since my husband introduced an entirely new law when he popped into my life, I have not turned to blades to try to soothe my erratic feelings. Once we got our own place, there is a strict no razor-blades policy in place, and that has ensured that even if the ghost of my past comes to haunt me, I will have no way of acting upon that impulse. 

I love projects, I really do.

And I am extremely good at making plans and scheduling things. The thing is, I struggle with following the regime. And when I fall off the wagon that I created for myself, I start beating myself up for it. 

I have so many unfinished writing projects that I want to finish, I love them all dearly and I think they deserve to be seen and heard. Yet I keep swaying towards mind-numbing because life is overwhelming to me. The daily things people do? They cause me intense anxiety at times. My adopted duties as a housewife make me want to not wake up, even if I love cooking and a clean house makes me feel immensely better inside. Everything can be overwhelming. 

Emotional triggers follow me everywhere, and once I have been triggered it’s hard for me to get out of that emotion. If I smelled alcohol or heard a motorcycle, I may need hours to come off of the fear response and paranoia. If I had a meltdown, it may take days for me to normalize from all the guilt and shame. If I did not manage to get to a goal, I beat myself up for it for a long while. 

My impulse control has improved since meditation.

I’ve started to meditate more, to try and calm myself. I go into my darkroom and start counting my breaths. Just one and two. No need for anything more. I feel the cool floor underneath and I hear the sounds of my husband working. And I hear my inner voices. But all that matters is that I’m breathing. One…Two. Now, because of the work I’ve put in, I can catch most outbursts before they come to be, and we have a chance at preventing the devastation. 

The book is encouraging me as I read it, telling me that my impulsivity can calm down and I can gain more control when making decisions. The emotions and sudden bursts of want will be there, but they will not control me anymore. I will be able to bring forth my emotions by discussing them, gradually letting go of the harmful behaviors. There can be structure and routine in my life.

Thankfully I can say that due to some discussions with my husband, we have set up some ground rules of how our world works. He has his responsibilities, and I have mine. This brings the structure I haven’t had in the past, and some clarity inside the chaos. The days will go on in their own rails, no matter what happens. The same things need to be accomplished, even if there is a storm inside me. Life goes on. 

How about you? How is your self-discipline? Let us know in the comment section!

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