Marsha Linehan on BPD
“… Validation is all BPD really wants. Invalidation is what we learned.
Love your BPD, take advantage of your gifts. You can be healed from BPD by ceasing the patterns that cause it to be a problem and taking advantage of the gifts it has to offer…”
I found this somewhere on the internet a while back, but I can’t find this again, so I don’t know who to give credit this writing to.
I found this today and thought I would share.
Did you know that you’re a superhero?
Feel like I’m mocking you? That might be the BPD talking.
Nobody focuses on the positive aspects of BPD.
You might feel like absolute garbage right now, or like there is simply no point, it’s too hard. It’s already won and eaten my soul.
Guess what? You are capable of SO MUCH!!!
Really, you are doing A LOT right now, you just might not be aware of it. That deserves respect. And it hasn’t eaten your soul, it just has you in blinders. And you can unbuckle them and cast them aside.
People living with BPD are generally very intense and have a lot of energy. Other people are often intimidated by this. My therapist once said that there sometimes is an odd energy to BPD like you can feel that something is ‘off’ with this person. Maybe like static in a room. I think it’s because we are ungrounded/uncentered and we kind of give off sparks.
But! You can learn to put this to good use! Unused energy gets taken advantage of by unhealthy internal aspects of us by default, its the unhealthy ones who are grabby and greedy and like to act out. They want alllll the cake. But we know what happens when we eat too much cake. Healthy momentum is important, and if you set yourself up right you can get swept away in it. Being idle or stagnant and not getting exercise can make us feel like a train wreck, and then we become one! And then we get upset when we find that we’re back HERE again. What a mess, right?
Learning to manage and discipline ourselves and taking responsibility for every aspect of our life is the most empowering thing you can do.
And you CAN do it.
Life has no manual. (yet)
The way we are raised and the environment we grow up in pretty much determine our future patterns if we allow it. Our parents were never taught how to raise us. They did the best they could with the patterns they were taught and the environment they experienced. Often they are the war or post war generation. A lot of pain and old tradition and outdated ways of thinking and relating get passed down, without question. And if we questioned them as children we probably were treated like an impudent child and punished, which is not helpful. We can stay blind to anything outside of our patterns forever and not even realize there is any other option. Some are able to see that something is amiss and can work on it. Some see it but simply feel trapped and bounce around in the cycle of chaos forever.
No matter where you are or how you feel, remember that it will change. We have a cyclical nature to many of our patterns. Up and down, good and bad, happy and sad, forever. We are also not taught to relate to our thoughts and emotions in a healthy or effective manner and tend to waste energy and develop unhealthy patterns in response to what’s going on on the inside. We are often taught that negative or distressing emotions are BAD, and judge ourselves when we feel we are being BAD.
Externally we tend our actions the same way, obsessing and quantifying what we do and then freaking out over what a mess we are. But we are human. We encompass the whole range and cycle of emotions and actions embodied and expressed by every human. We have the potential to be and do anything and everything. In this instance resistance to ourselves is futile and only creates further pain. You can’t avoid being human, and the pain won’t hurt any less until you stop hurting yourself.
Some things I’ve learned about BPD:
You’re probably incredibly intelligent, but you get frustrated easily. That is normal here on planet earth where people simply don’t seem to make sense. The frustration can be overwhelming and disconnecting, but it can be worked on. Our internal patterns are tricky, BPD is extra tricky! Finding a good therapist helps a lot. The best type of therapy for BPD is DBT.
You also are likely a huge control freak. You think you could run the world better. But you watch it go and it doesn’t make sense and just makes you want to play godzilla on the planet. Why don’t people make any sense? You can see how they’re doing it wrong but they just won’t listen. That makes it really hard to connect with people sometimes. And then you get upset with yourself for being so firey and feel like a huge muppet for having all those stupid opinions, and then you beat yourself up a little on the inside, binge eat, get embarrassed, isolate, and stay in bed for three days living off of only pastries and coffee. You can learn to slow down a bit and be compassionate towards others, and be a HUGE benefit to the world. That control freak can be an incredibly effective tool, and one you can get paid for! You would likely (with some work) make an excellent Manager, Assistant, Cleaner, Life Coach, Trainer, Accountant, etc… By taking advantage of the skills you already have, and using it in a positive way you validate yourself in a way you never thought possible and heal the toxic perceptions associated with that part of yourself. Remember that your BPD is human too. You just need to learn to be fair and compassionate. And when you get good at it, you get to step back some day and think “Wow! I made that go! Look at it go!”
Taking advantage of this aspect in a way that helps others I what find to be the most fulfilling, as your work will ripple through the world and the positive things you have done to help those people will effect the people in their reality in a positive way. You wanted to save the world, right? Well you just nipped a chunk out of the boulder that needs saving.
You can also take advantage of this by learning to self educate. I use google. Pick a topic and look through a few legit looking sites, poke around to different pages and read as much as you can. A good starting point is to learn about BPD. We tend to be obsessed with what is RIGHT, and how what people do is just NOT RIGHT. So teach yourself the RIGHT (healthy, healing) way to deal with yourself, and you’ll trick yourself into getting better. If you still get angry or frustrated see it as an indicator that you could have done it better, but anger and frustration is totally normal! You may even be less angry or frustrated than you used to be, generally speaking, so respect that, instead of getting upset with yourself for repeating the old pattern. Look up what you can do differently next time or talk to people and try to be open and connect and relate. Instead of wasting energy over what you didn’t do right, use it to figure out what you can do in the future. Its a process, its not supposed to be easy, and it will strengthen you.
You are likely highly aware of what’s going on around you. It probably makes you feel overwhelmed and overstimulated, like your head is spinning. People can be so draining or annoying! The things they do don’t make any sense, and you just can’t deal with all the bs at times. Because of this we can become avoidant of people and places, especially if they are associated with a traumatic experience. Revisiting these can seem to bring up the original pain of the trauma and trigger you into unhealthy or traumatic mental spaces. Which is no fun. Nor good for you. You can use this skill to your advantage by learning to be grounded and not assign value or judgement to what’s going on, or to what people do and say, but to see these for what they are. Try not to take anything personally. Humans don’t make sense. They’re not actually supposed to, that’s something we made up. Remember the inside of your head? How frustrating it can be? How it doesn’t make sense and how you do things that confuse you even though you don’t really want to? Other people have these issues too. Everyone has some sort of set of ‘issues’ to contend with and are coming from their own confusing background. This grounded awareness allows you to make stronger healthier choices in relation to your environment and relationships and develop boundaries that protect you and help to propel you forward instead of holding you back. Fwoosh!
YOU CAN SAVE THE WORLD.
Not saying you have to, but your ‘crazy’ thoughts that you could do it better aren’t crazy at all. You have ~100 years on this planet if you are careful
and lucky and make it count, and the only thing crazy about you is the amount of potential and energy you possess!
Think of it this way…. BPD probably feels HUGE and POWERFUL and COMPLICATED and that can really get you down. But all of that intelligence and energy that goes into sustaining the system can be redirected. You can develop a system that is equally powerful and complicated that nourishes and supports you and heals your BPD.
You can trick the BPD the same way it tricks you. You can build in proactive rules and patterns and safety nets equal in power to the rubbishy assumptions, toxic projections, and booby traps previously setup by the BPD. By doing this you acknowledge and accept yourself and your system for what it is/you are.
Validation is all BPD really wants. Invalidation is what we learned.
Love your BPD, take advantage of your gifts. You can be healed from BPD by ceasing the patterns that cause it to be a problem and taking advantage of the gifts it has to offer.
Lastly, eat lots of vegetables. Optimum nutrition for optimum performance. Use that obsessive nature to learn to fuel yourself in the best way so you can take advantage of how awesome you are.
Because you are.
The DBT distress tolerance acronym ACCEPTS is a group of skills to help you tolerate a negative emotion until you are able to address and eventually resolve the situation. In an early season of the 90’s sitcomFriends, Monica is dating Pete Becker. He calls her from out of town and says, “We need to talk.” Monica wonders if it is a good talk, or a bad talk? She is in psychological distress waiting for his return. The skill set she would use while waiting for Pete to come home is ACCEPTS.
This DBT skill stands for Activities, Contributing, Comparisons, Emotions, Push away, Thoughts, and Sensation. These techniques are designed to keep your emotions manageable until you can resolve the problem.
Engage in an activity, and this can be just about any healthy activity. Read a book, make strawberry jam, go for a walk, call your friend, wash the dishes. Anything that keeps you busy and keeps your mind off the negative emotion will help. If you finish, move on to a new activity. (You could potentially have a very productive day while awaiting that dreaded situation!)
Do something kind for another person. Giving service can help you relieve emotional distress in a couple ways. An act of service is also an activity that, as mentioned above, will help get your mind off of the problem at hand. Additionally, we feel good about ourselves when we help someone else, and that in itself can help you deal with stress. Help cook dinner, mow the neighbor’s lawn, or bake cookies for a friend or relative. Each of these contributing ideas will distract you from your current situation.
Put your life in perspective. Is there a time when you’ve faced more difficult challenges than you’re facing today? Maybe not—maybe this is the most intense situation and most intense emotion you’ve ever experienced. (If so, you may need to jump back up to the TIPP section.) If that’s the case, is there another person who has suffered more than you? Are you in your safe home, while in another part of the world someone else is searching for food and shelter after a natural disaster? The goal of this exercise is not to add more distress and emotional pain to your current situation. Instead, use this skill to add a different perspective to what you’re experiencing right now.
You have the power to invoke the opposite emotion of your current distressed feeling. If you are feeling anxious, practice meditation for 15 minutes. If you’re feeling depressed, go ahead and Google Image search “adorable puppies”. (If you’re in need of a real laugh, search “ugly puppies”.) Adding a dose of the opposite emotion helps reduce the intensity of the negative emotion.
When you can’t deal with something just yet, it’s okay to push the problem out of your mind temporarily. You can push away by distracting yourself with other activities, thoughts, or mindfulness. You can even set a time to come back to the issue. You know that it will be addressed, and you can relax in the interim.
Replace negative, anxious thoughts with activities that busy your mind, such as saying the alphabet backwards or doing a Sudoku puzzle. These distractions can help you avoid self-destructive behavior until you’re able to achieve emotion regulation.
Use your five senses to self-soothe during times of distress. A self-soothing behavior could be taking a warm bath with a lavender bath bomb and relaxing music, eating a comforting snack, or watching your favorite show. Anything that appeals to your senses can help you cope with the present situation.
The dialectical behavior therapy skills in ACCEPTS help you tolerate your distress until the appropriate time to resolve the situation. Once you’re ready and able to address the problem head on, other skills, such as DBTinterpersonal effectiveness, can help you get your needs met.
You’re at your emotional breaking point. Maybe the worst has happened, or maybe it was just the “last straw”. The DBT distress tolerance skill you need is TIPP. This skill is designed to bring you down from the metaphorical (hopefully not literal) ledge.
TIPP stands for Temperature, Intense exercise, Paced breathing, and Paired muscle relaxation.
When we’re upset, our bodies often feel hot. To counter this, splash your face with cold water, hold an ice cube, or let the car’s AC blow on your face. Changing your body temperature will help you cool down—both physically and emotionally.
Do intense exercise to match your intense emotion. You’re not a marathon runner? That’s okay, you don’t need to be. Sprint down to the end of the street, jump in the pool for a few laps, or do jumping jacks until you’ve tired yourself out. Increasing oxygen flow helps decrease stress levels. Plus, it’s hard to stay dangerously upset when you’re exhausted.
Even something as simple as controlling your breath can have a profound impact on reducing emotional pain. There are many different types of breathing exercises. If you have a favorite, breathe it out. If you don’t, try a technique called “box breathing”. Each breath interval will be four seconds long. Take in air four seconds, hold it in four seconds, breathe out four, and hold four. And then start again. Continue to focus on this breathing pattern until you feel more calm. Steady breathing reduces your body’s fight or flight response.
PAIRED MUSCLE RELAXATION
The science of paired muscle relaxation is fascinating. When you tighten a voluntary muscle, relax it, and allow it to rest, the muscle will become more relaxed than it was before it was tightened. Relaxed muscles require less oxygen, so your breathing and heart rate will slow down.
Try this technique by focusing on a group of muscles, such as the muscles in your arms. Tighten the muscles as much as you can for five seconds. Then let go of the tension. Let the muscles relax, and you’ll begin to relax, as well.
Paired Muscle Relaxation
The distress tolerance skills in TIPP will bring you a step closer to wise mind, where you will be able to make a constructive choice and cope productively.