If someone you are close to has Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), you may be on the receiving end of some very unpleasant outbursts. Chances are you’ve had your feelings hurt, become angry with that person, and experienced extreme frustration in your attempts to communicate effectively with them.
Relationships with a person who has Borderline Personality Disorder are generally characterized by drama and conflict. It can be difficult to know how to navigate the emotional ups and downs if you don’t have the proper communication tools and Borderline Personality Disorder support at your disposal to deal with the problems.
Here are some of the ways you can cope with your own feelings and learn to react to a person with BPD that don’t add fuel to the fire, but helps to diffuse some of the tension and emotional upheaval.
Don’t Take It Personally
First and foremost, recognize that the person suffering with Borderline Personality Disorder cannot help their behavior if they haven’t yet entered a treatment center for Borderline Personality Disorder. As Randi Kreger and Paul T. Mason explain in their book “Stop Walking on Eggshells,” you may inadvertently trigger a BPD emotional outburst but your behavior didn’t cause it.
Many people in close relationships with a person who has Borderline Personality Disorder take on all of the responsibility for solving the other person’s problems. Their own moods and feelings of self-worth may be entirely based on the person with BPD’s current emotional state.
If you find yourself engaging in a co-dependent relationship and taking on too much responsibility for another person’s emotions and problems, you do both yourself and them a disservice. Neither of you will develop healthy boundaries or go on to be fully realized individuals.
Learn to take a look at how your own reactions and enabling may be complicating things, and seek individual therapy or attend a Borderline Personality Disorder support group to help you sort things out.
Communicating More Effectively
You may never reach a point of consistent and harmonious interactions with your loved one who has Borderline Personality Disorder, but you can certainly reduce the amount of unnecessary conflict by learning some key skills in communicating with someone who has BPD.
When addressing troubling behaviors with someone who has Borderline Personality Disorder, it is very helpful to avoid “you” statements and instead use “I” statements. For example, rather than saying, “You call me all the time when I’m working and you’re making it impossible for me to get anything done,” you can say, “It’s been difficult for me to handle my workload lately. I’m spending too much time on the phone with you and not enough time getting my work done. Can we talk about this later?”
By avoiding “you” statements, you may reduce the defensiveness or anger someone with BPD might react with, as the problem has been presented as your problem and not theirs.
Even clearly using “I” statements may not work immediately as the person with Borderline Personality Disorder may still hear “you” statements. Give it time, and they may eventually adjust and react accordingly. Being consistent matters, so don’t give up.
People with Borderline Personality Disorder frequently feel attacked or misunderstood by others. They are highly sensitive individuals and can react with rage when they feel they aren’t being heard or acknowledged. Often the concerns, criticisms, and complaints of a person with Borderline Personality Disorder may seem petty, unreasonable, or unfounded to those close to them. It can be difficult to be calm and listen effectively if you are accustomed to lose-lose situations and react with anger yourself, or if you have learned that it’s pointless to try to argue your point or defend yourself.
The authors of “Stop Walking on Eggshells” suggest that rather than “sponging” up BPD emotions, you “mirror” them. For example, the person with BPD accuses you of ignoring them when you go out with your friends. Perhaps normally you would respond with something like, “That’s ridiculous, I spend practically every night at home with you, so you’re completely overreacting, as usual.” Try reflecting their feelings: “It sounds like you’re feeling neglected because I went out with my friends.” As the conversation progresses, stick with statements that reflect only facts or demonstrate that you are listening and understand (if not agree with) their feelings.
In this brief article, we’ve only begun to touch on some of the important communication skills you will need to improve your interactions with your loved one with Borderline Personality Disorder. “Stop Walking on Eggshells” is an essential book for anyone beginning to familiarize themselves with Borderline Personality Disorder and hoping to improve their relationship with the person in their life who has BPD.
Take the time to read this book and you will find the information you need to move forward in a positive direction by learning a whole new set of coping techniques and skills that can greatly improve your understanding of BPD and your ability to communicate effectively.
Randi Kreger to Talk in Venice Beach
Randi Kreger, the author of “Stop Walking on Eggshells,” will be holding a free lecture hosted by Clearview Treatment Programs in Venice Beach, Calif. Clearview Women’s Center provides Borderline Personality Disorder treatment centers for women. Click here for more information on Randi’s talk, and to register.