Symptoms & Diagnosis

How to Commit to Change when Coping with Borderline Personality Disorder

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Committing to ChangeIf you are fed up with the negative effect your Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is having on your self-image, your relationships, and your life in general, you may decide it’s time to seek help at a Borderline Personality Disorder treatment center.

So you’ve done your research, you’ve found the right BPD treatment center, and you’re on your way, but you still feel some trepidation? It’s no wonder.

They say every journey begins with one step, but that first step — committing to change — is a doozy.

Committing to Change

In a talk for the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder (NEA BPD) entitled “Being Radical – The Difference between Making 100% Commitment to Something vs. Less than 100%,” BPD expert Dr. Kelly Koerner discussed the different reasons those suffering with symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder seek treatment and gives a few pointers on how you can, once you seek change, stay true to that commitment.

“One of the first ways we as professionals can help our patients is to ask them to analyze, with honesty, why they are truly seeking change,” said Koerner. “Is it for emotional reasons or social reasons? Is it because the patient is distressed by the behavior or because he or she realizes it is distressing loved ones?”

Some seek change when they realize even their hidden behaviors are detrimental.

“I had a patient who kept a noose in the trunk of her car,” said Koerner. “It was a security blanket; she felt that, if it was there, she always had a way out.”

In such a case, the action wasn’t outwardly hurting or affecting anyone in the patient’s life, but was evidence of one of the nine symptoms recognized by the DSM as being characteristic of Borderline Personality Disorder — the symptom of exhibiting suicidal thoughts and actions.

Koerner spoke of another patient who exhibited the BPD symptom of “impulsive and often dangerous behaviors,” or self-harm. This patient’s motivation for seeking change differed from that of the previous.

“I had a patient who didn’t particularly care that she was cutting herself, but she couldn’t stand the thought of her children seeing the resulting scars,” said Koerner.

Informed BPD Treatment

This knowledge of why you are seeking change can inform the BPD treatment process. Discovering and working with information like this is part of the commitment the BPD therapist must make in the long-term treatment of not only those dealing with the symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder, but with the family of those undergoing treatment.

Koerner cited the book Switch, How to Change Things When Change is Hard, written by Chip Heath and Dan Heath.

Said Koerner, “In Switch, getting yourself to change a behavioral pattern is described in a metaphor as a tiny rider atop a huge elephant, trying to maneuver that elephant down a path.”

If you seek treatment from a Borderline Personality Disorder treatment center, your therapists should be able to help you direct your rider, motivate your elephant, and make certain your path — and ultimate destination — is very clear.

“Find a way to argue with your own elephant for change. What is the value of the change you are hoping to make? Why is change better than the status quo? Find your true motivator,” suggested Koerner. “With this information, you’ll be able to shape your path.”

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