Updated: Mar 21
Do you have this pressuring feeling that you could be doing something more productive? And do you often work towards a burn-out? If so, you might be experiencing toxic productivity. This is a common occurrence for people with Borderline Personality Disorder(BPD). They look for a sense of purpose in everything they do, resulting in a lack of motivation when something has no meaning. On the other hand, when something does have meaning, someone with BPD gives it their all, which often leads to a burn-out.
This isn't just for people with BPD. When someone has a genuine passion for being creative and is constantly in a state of pressure, this article might be helpful for you. We'll discuss how one can balance their life by being productive while maintaining themselves mentally.
BPD and productivity
Someone with BPD is often looking for something productive and meaningful at the same time. If something has no meaning for the individual with BPD, he or she will lose motivation quickly. But it also happens the other way around: when a sense of meaning emerges, the person with BPD is keen on giving it everything they've got. They operate at 300% for a few days in a row, ignoring every other daily activity, and soon after they burn out.
This behavior is known as splitting. It's a term used to describe how people with BPD think in black and white. They either go all-in or don't go at all, with no middle road. As a result, people with borderline frequently experience toxic productivity. Instead of working on something for a while with a constant pace and balance in their daily life, it quickly comes to an end until something meaningful is found again. This behavior is very similar to the fast-paced relationships that people with BPD go through. Trying to force relationships to get rid of the empty feeling will leave you more empty afterward. And trying to always be productive is counterintuitive for actual productivity.
Toxic productivity is not just something people with BPD experience, everyone can suffer from it. A frequent thought that arises which can result in toxic productivity:
''I need to work on my future, or I will be screwed''
This may take away the happiness you should be feeling from doing the things you love. We can become so consumed with trying to be more productive and improve our lives that we sometimes forget altogether to live them.
BPD and the pressure to perform
People with BPD are known for having low self-esteem. As a result, they often depend on the opinion of others to feel good. This can make them feel pressured to perform since they want to be validated by others. If not, someone with BPD can feel worthless.
We all experience pressure to perform to some extent since the influence of other ''successful'' people impacts us if we agree with it or not. Everywhere you look, someone is showing what they've accomplished with their hard work. Subconsciously this gives us the pressure to perform. We want to be like them, and we know if we want to accomplish the same thing, we need to be more productive than we are right now.
There is nothing wrong with that thought, but this easily becomes a manifestation of self-doubt, pressure, and other mental difficulties.
Fear for the future
There is no infinite amount of time as to why we can feel pressure to be productive. Most people, unfortunately, don't work out of inspiration, creativity, or admiration. It's mostly fear. Why fear? Because we are human. Fear is a mechanism that developed for our ancestors to be aware of the unknown to be able to survive. In the modern-day, we don't need that mechanism as often.
Fear makes decisions for you. If you don't discipline your emotions, it will control you. Even if fear makes you more productive, it's not sustainable for your mental health.
How to balance productivity and relaxation
It may seem as if there is no time for resting because of the pressure you lay on your shoulders. When you eventually give yourself a break, a feeling of guilt may appear for wasting time. It is especially hard for people with BPD to accept this guilty feeling because of their black and white thinking. They immediately think they are worthless or useless. So to avoid getting these feelings, they push themselves to be productive until they are burned out. As a result, the pressure takes away all of the joy and fulfillment that should come from doing what you love.
''Am I inspired or do I feel the constant pressure to be inspired?''
In different parts of our lives, we can work on accomplishing something. It might be getting a better position in our jobs, to create, build, or make a living out of that one hobby.
But when your hobby turns into your job, you may be starting to feel as if your creativity is becoming disingenuous. The lack of discipline and not having static work hours (due to self-employment) can make you feel as if your brain is constantly in work mode. Trying to be as productive as possible but not feeling fulfilled.
3 steps in how you can be productive while sustaining your mental health.
Balance work, social needs, relaxation, and hobbies in a sustainable amount and control your emotions.
1. Balance and relaxation
Balancing your time is important for being productive. If you experience toxic productivity, it's hard to take time off. Even though taking time off is proven to be more productive in the long run.
It might feel wrong to take time of doing things that don't feel productive. But if you don't, you will get trapped in a downwards spiral. You have to discover for yourself with trial and error where you can take time for relaxation. The hardest part is to relax without pressuring yourself.
When you start a new project or simply start thinking about a creative opportunity, the rush of emotions makes you start working excessively on the project to only exhaust yourself after. This seems like the peak of productivity.
Each person's limits are different. If you exhaust yourself today there is a high chance you lose productivity in the next day or two. Find out for yourself how many hours of work is the limit. Sometimes you have to push yourself past your limits to get back to your optimal productivity and to find out to what extent is sustainable.
Most of us are always looking for improvement. What we should be focusing on is sustainable improvement. Something capable for the long run. If you push yourself too hard, you will lose sustainability over time.
There is a high probability that your productivity is constructed around fear. What does and doesn't get you out of bed? Think about it, are the things that get you out of bed based on fear? If it is, that's normal and helpful. Most of us go to our jobs this way. Because what happens if I don't go? Who is getting the work done? Will I get in trouble?
The important part is the things that don't get you out of bed. If you have a dream, some lifestyle you wish you had, or a project you always wanted to start. Why doesn't that get you out of bed?
It will come down to discipline and courage. Make sure that fear isn't your only reason to be productive. Be in control of your emotions to be in control of your actions.
Why are we so determined to be productive?
Over the years, we as people wanted more and more. It's never enough. Social media enforces these thoughts.
We forget that always being productive has downsides. The worst part about feeling obligated to be productive is that it takes away all of the joy and fulfillment that comes from doing what you love.
"What is my purpose?"