Your Personality Traits – What’s Behind Them

Borderline Personality Disorder / Personality Disorders / Seeking a Purpose

Your Personality Traits – What’s Behind Them

It is not just that nothing you perceive means anything; it is also that you’re the one assigning meaning to things. It is not just that you don’t understand what you perceive; it is also that all you perceive is the past. It is not just that you are never upset for the reasons you think you are; it is also that you are upset because you perceive something that is not there.

All this is because all you see is the past [1]. But that is not just it. Rather, it is also that all your mind is preoccupied with is past thoughts. As a result, you perceive nothing as it is now; all you think you’re perceiving is your meaning, and all that is clouded by the past [2].

Now, you do all this through your thoughts. And, your thought is the Operant Factor. Because you perceive, you give meaning, and you experience emotions; all through your thoughts, and because your thoughts are all based on the past; you can see why your thoughts do not mean anything. As such, your thoughts can only show you things that are meaningless. So, all the things you think that are meaningful are rather useless. Of course, this is hard medicine to swallow, and one of the reasons for that is because your protective personality will not allow you to see it. Your protective personality [3] is there to protect you, and this is why it is called, as such, a “protective” personality. But to protect you from what? From your past meaning assigned to things, which are meaningless, to start with. They are meaningless because they are your meanings, which, in turn, are based on the past. Your mind is always preoccupied with the past, and this will always be until you decide otherwise. After all, our “protective” personality is actually “protecting” us from nothing. For there is absolutely nothing there for it to really protect us from, other than our own self-made illusion.

Until you’re able to swallow this hard medicine, you will continue to be upset, and, upset about nothing. Of course, you will continue to make it into something, but you will still be upset about nothing. For illusions can only be illusions and cannot become Reality. You will then continue to give meaning to something and you will say that thing (which, you, yourself, have given meaning to) is making you upset. But, once you take one step back, you will be able to see the fallacy in all this. How could something, which you are giving meaning to, be able to get you upset? Who’s giving meaning to it, after all? And if you’re the one assigning meaning to it, why are you assigning a meaning that makes you upset and then complaining about it instead of just changing the meaning you, yourself, have been assigning? This, you think, would be the logical thing to do. But then there is a catch because while you might train yourself to assign a different meaning that might make you less upset or even “happy,” and while this might help; it takes much energy; much time, and it would require so much work, that your “willpower,” which weakens throughout the day, will not always be optimal to sustain you consistently.

Yet, it would be a  start; not the best; but a start. And you can decrease some suffering this way-just by understanding you are the one giving meaning to anything that you may think is “driving you crazy.” If you just remember that, and simply ask yourself, “what is a different meaning I could give to this to help me feel better?,” you would indeed start to feel better, be less upset, have smoother relationships, and yes, you would start to have a healthier life.

Are you a clinician who would like your patients to access these tools to help them with their symptom formation through their condition of personality disorder?

Then, please join us on Friday, February 12th, 9am-5pm for a 6 CEU full day webinar on personality disorders.  Click here to register. And

See you then,

Karen and Mardoche

[1] Musser, George. Time on the Brain: How You Are Always Living In the Past, and Other Quirks of Perception. 15 Sept. 2011.

[2] Boundless. Boundless Psychology.

[3] “Don’t Take It Personally: The Protective Personality.Dr. Sue Morter, 23 Dec. 2020.

About the Authors

Karen Dubin-McKnight, PhD, LCSW, is a Columbia-trained Social Worker with wide clinical, teaching, and supervision experience. She also has a background in management, mentorship, and leadership that spans almost 20 years. Her added passion is in advocacy, coaching, public relations, and mediation. Her goal is to ensure that social workers and women feel empowered and have a voice “at the table.” She has previously held Executive level positions, and two other directorships in different organizations. She is currently Adjunct Faculty at Columbia University School of Social Work and Adelphi University School of Social Work. She also maintains a private practice, working with individuals who have experienced loss and trauma, and also provides clinical and management supervision.

Mardoche Sidor, MD is a Harvard-trained Quadruple Board Certified Psychiatrist, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University, School of Physicians and Surgeons. He is trained in and taught all the major psychotherapeutic modalities, including and not limiting to CBT, DBT, Family Systems,  and Psychodynamic Psychotherapy. He is also the author of 3 books including Journey to Empowerment; Discovering Your Worth; and The Power of Faith. Dr. Sidor has worked both as a primary care physician and as Medical director in three different settings, including as Chief Medical Officer of Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services (CASES). He is the Founder and CEO of the SWEET Institute.