Coping Skills for Borderline Personality Disorder (7 Helpful Ways)

This helpful blog will introduce readers to eight effective coping skills for managing Borderline Personality Disorder. We will first talk about what this disorder is and how it affects a person. Then, we will elaborate on the eight coping skills.

What are Coping Skills for Borderline Personality Disorder?

Here is a quick list of eight coping skills for people dealing with Borderline Personality Disorder:

  • Feeling the Feels (But Not Acting on Them)
  • Psychoeducation
  • Journaling
  • Practicing Mindfulness
  • Grounding Techniques
  • Keeping Yourself Engaged in Meaningful Activities
  • Building a Support System
  • Serving Others

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Borderline Personality Disorder, or BPD, is a psychological disorder characterised by a distorted self-image, issues in managing one’s emotions and actions, along with a prolonged pattern of unstable relationships.

Typically, the onset of this personality disorder occurs in early adulthood. The symptoms displayed are driven by a constant fear of abandonment. A fear of instability makes it hard for someone with BPD to be alone, and yet, impulsive behaviour, frequent mood swings, and emotional outbursts tend to push people away.

As a result, a person suffering from BPD constantly oscillates between forming new relationships and facing interpersonal conflicts within them.

Some of the other symptoms of BPD include:

  • Idealising someone at one point and then suddenly villifying them
  • Going to extreme measure to avoid real or perceived rejection
  • Impulsive and reckless behaviour
  • Substance abuse
  • Suicidal ideation and behaviour
  • A persistent feeling of emptiness
  • Inappropriate emotional reactions

8 Useful Coping Skills for Borderline Personality Disorder

This section will describe eight effective coping skills that can help anyone with BPD along with their friends and family. If someone you care about is dealing with this personality disorder, you can help them discover these strategies to cope with their illness better.

Feeling the Feels (But Not Acting on Them)

People with BPD tend to have trouble recognising their emotions, processing them, and expressing them in appropriate ways. It’s not uncommon for someone with this condition to project what they are feeling onto others.

For example, if someone with BPD is feeling intense shame, to avoid the discomfort, they might accuse the people around them of doing something shameful and continue to berate them for it.

Often, being unable to deal with their emotions in a healthy way, BPD individuals indulge in impulsive and risky behaviour to feel better. That’s why, an effective coping strategy is to ride the emotion out.

By learning how to recognise, acknowledge, process, and communicate their feelings, these individuals can learn to manage their behaviour. It’s also easier to avoid impulsive decisions if you can teach yourself to feel what you’re feeling without acting on it immediately.

Psychoeducation

Do not try to fight this battle without the power of knowledge. The more you are informed about this personality disorder, the better equipped you are to deal with it. It’s important for anyone with BPD or their caregivers to dive deep into the latest research on the subject.

If you don’t have an affinity for scientific papers, you can always seek books, articles, and personal accounts of BPD and its treatment. The more you know, the less likely are you to be surprised.

Knowing about BPD also helps reduce the shame experienced because of the persistent dysfunction that the disorder brings to one’s life. You’re able to see how the condition distorts thinking and makes you perceive things more negatively than they actually are.

Journaling

Keeping a journal is an excellent tool that everyone with BPD should try for themselves. Even if you’re not able to maintain writing entries every day, one should make it a habit to write at least every other day.

Doing so helps you keep a track of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviour. You can then start identifying the patterns BPD keeps you stuck in, which will further help you chalk out what to change.

When you write something down, you also tend to see it from a third person perspective, making it easier to be rational.

Practicing Mindfulness

There’s a lot of research that shows that practicing mindfulness has a positive impact on the lives of people with Borderline Personality Disorder. That’s because if you’re more aware of your present, which includes bothe external and internal states, you are able to make better decisions.

It’s not only a way of choosing your reactions but also an opportunity to accept reality. Most of the times, someone with BPD has inappropriate emotional reactions or impulsive behaviour because they have trouble accepting truth.

Instead, they let their perceived notions of themselves or the world around them dictate their behaviour. In such situations, being mindful can be the key to living a peaceful life.

Grounding Techniques

It’s very likely for someone with Borderline Personality Disorder to be a survivor of attachment trauma. Attachment trauma occurs when something disrupts the development of a healthy bond between a child and its caregiver.

This disruption can be because of the parent’s personality, health, or life circumstances. As a result, a deep fear of abandonment is created in the child which carries forward into adulthood. One can learn to cope with this using grounding techniques.

Grounding techniques are a fast and effective way to calm someone down when their trauma is triggered. Most of these strategies engage a person’s sense organs to ground them into the present moment. If you’re paying attention to what you see, smell, hear, touch, or feel, you cannot be overwhelmed by thoughts or emotions for too long.

Keeping Yourself Engaged in Meaningful Activities

When you keep yourself busy doing things of interest, you can help cope with Borderline Personality Disorder in three ways. The first involves having something to look forward to every day. Hobbies and interests that you’re passionate about are a great way to cheer yourself up.

Secondly, these activities can serve as just the right amount of distraction you need to stall impulsive decisions. Whenever you start feeling like you’re about to do something on an impulse, take a pause and do an interesting activity. It might change your mind about the impulsive decision entirely.

Finally, when you engage in such activities, you give your life purpose. This can help significantly with the distorted self image that comes with BPD.

Building a Support System

Yes, Borderline Personality Disorder does tend to involve repeated interpersonal conflicts. Nevertheless, it’s always easier to deal with them if you have built a reliable support system. Finding the right people for you is difficult with or without BPD.

Nevertheless, it’s imperative to know when being around someone is good for you and when you’re doing it just to avoid being lonely. If you stick to the former as your yardstick for finding friends, they’ll stick around (pardon the pun) despite your breakdowns.

Moreover, when you can truly trust someone, it’s easier to be vulnerable ad communicate your insecurities rather than reacting emotionally without much of a conversation.

Serving Others

Last on our list is the humble act of service. When you serve someone other than yourself, be it family, a close friend, a colleague, an acquaintance, or absolute strangers, you always end up feeling good about yourself.

Such positive evaluations of yourself can help quell the intense shame or anxiety people with BPD often experience. Moreover, being a good samaritan heavily increases the chances that someone will do good for you too. 

However, it can get a bit tricky if you start doing this solely to avoid abandonment or to earn acceptance. That can make you susceptible to unrealistic expectations leading to disappointment. Do it simply because of how nice it feels to help someone else.

Conclusion

This helpful blog introduced readers to eight effective coping skills for managing Borderline Personality Disorder. We first talked about what this disorder is and how it affects a person. Then, we elaborated on the eight coping skills.

The coping skills mentioned in this blog were Feeling the Feels (But Not Acting on Them), Psychoeducation, Journaling, Practicing Mindfulness, Grounding Techniques, Keeping Yourself Engaged in Meaningful Activities, Building a Support System, and Serving Others.

FAQs (Coping Skills for Borderline Personality Disorder)

What triggers a person with borderline personality disorder?

Typically, due to their fear of rejection or abandonment, people with BPD get triggered when they face conflict, separation, jealousy, or any threat to their close relationships. They strongly fear being replaced or left alone so, sometimes, they end up getting triggered just because they feel insecure. Regardless of whether its a rational thought or not.

What is the most successful treatment approach for borderline personality disorder?

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, or DBT, is considered one of the most successful evidence-based treatment strategies for people struggling with Borderline Personality Disorder. It is a type of cognitive behavioural therapy that combines strategies like acceptance, distress tolerance, and mindfulness.

Who famous has BPD?

Here is a quick list of some celebrities with Borderline Personality Disorder:

  • Brandon Marshall
  • Pete Davidson
  • Van Gogh
  • Doug Ferrari
  • Jim Carrey
  • Amy Winehouse
  • Britney Spears
  • Robbie Williams

References