Before you can learn to stay away from dead-end motives you first must be able to identify why you choose to seek them. Some of the most common motives are pleasing others, seeking out sympathy, and defeating others. Dead-end behavior, as the name implies, keeps you trapped in the Borderline Zone. On the surface, such behavior may seem quite appropriate, but over time it becomes apparent that it is not. In this article, we will break down four common dead-end behaviors for prevention purposes.
Dead-End Behaviors include self-blame, somatic distractions, fabricating stories about your life, pretend dissociation, merging with your environment, becoming a “rebel without a clue,” and playing mind games with professionals. It is rare for someone to be trapped in all of these behaviors, but it can happen.
Typically, people trapped in the Borderline Zone subconsciously use these behaviors to get their needs met or to avoid facing their pain. We bring these up so you can evaluate them for yourself and judge their role, if any, in your life.
Blaming yourself is a tricky behavior. Sometimes people in the Borderline Zone blame themselves for the failures of their lives by calling themselves losers. It is common for them to do this so that they can “enjoy” feeling sorry for themselves or to get others (which is even better) to feel sorry for them. If reading this makes you angry, then you may very well be someone who does this.
At other times, people in the Borderline Zone fall into depression, often after being rejected by someone close. While in this depression they often blame themselves for everything and don’t care about the sympathy or pity from others. They become totally absorbed with their own badness. They believe they are unloved by their parents and other significant people in their lives because they do not deserve to be loved. They use self-blame to deepen their depression and prevent change. If the depression becomes deep enough, they may even attempt suicide.
Somatic distractions, physical symptoms that distract one from the ability to cope with a more fundamental emotional issue, and operate in two ways. One of the best times to receive sympathy and positive attention from others is when we feel sick. Even psychotraumatizing caregivers respond favorably when their child has an illness; the child quickly learns that being sick or injured brings attention. Once this connection is made in the child’s mind, the adult, now trapped in the Borderline Zone, often misinterprets bodily feelings as signs of an illness that isn’t there to get a “safe” form of attention when he or she feels emotionally needy. Alternatively, the person may ignore bodily sensations when, in fact, they are signs of an illness that requires attention. For example, a passive form of self-injury when the individual feels bad about him or herself. In either case, the real emotional needs remain hidden from view by somatic distractions.
Fabrication is driven by the distorted self-image of the people trapped in the Borderline Zone. The Tendency to fabricate stories is driven by low self-esteem and need for special attention. When one’s self-esteem is damaged, they tend to become very eager to please or impress others. They want to be liked and often, resort to making up stories about their lives. Sometimes the stories brag of accomplishments and achievements that never happened. For example, you might tell people that you have a job that is more important and pays better than it really does. In other cases, the person creates stories about a false illness to gain attention and sympathy. For Instance, a nine-teen-year-old girl in a treatment program tells everyone in her group therapy session that she tested positive for HIV. As a result she was evaluated and retested only to find she was actually negative. Later on she admits that she fabricated the entire story. Despite the negative implications of being HIV positive, this young girl fabricated this story to get attention and to distract her therapist from her real problem: living in the Borderline Zone.
To learn more about ways you can avoid dead-end motives speak with a BlueSky Behavioral expert today. Take advantage of the new year and challenge yourself to be in a better place one year from now.