We all know that life is a journey and that it’s important to have focus and objectives. This can become difficult if the person "traveling" with us has Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Because of the associated impulsiveness, hypersensitivity, and dysfunctional coping, people with this disorder often "wander off the path". And we often feel compelled to chase after and cater to them, which, in turn, diverts our focus and often results in anxiety, abuse, and dysfunction for everyone.
According to BPDFamily.com, extinguishing this pattern isn’t easy, yet it is an essential first step in having a healthy relationship. Taking care of ourselves may feel like a selfish focus - but as the emotionally healthier one, it’s important that we not get bogged down in BPD induced dramas. And it's important that we understand that our BPD loved ones aren’t mentally fit to be leading the relationship.
So what do we do? When the person with Borderline Personality Disorder becomes dysregulated or depressed. BPDFamily.com recommends that you give them the space to self sooth - not try to do it for them. Take a deep breath and politely and non-aggressively disengage. It’s not easy to block out the distraction and emotional pleas for our attention, yet it is only with a critical pause that we can really stay on a constructive and healthy pathway.
This act is called extinction. We essentially remove our reinforcement in an attempt to stop the behavior. We simply stop rewarding the behavior.
When our partner doesn’t get the expected response (reinforcement by us) it may scare or anger them and they may try harder to engage us using threats, violence, destruction, intimidation, name calling, belittling, promises of withholding necessary things, retaliation, or any other painful thing they can think of to get us to engage. This escalation is know as an extinction burst.
|Extinction Burst - The term extinction burst describes the phenomena of behavior temporarily getting worse, not better, when the reinforcement stops. |
Spontaneous Recovery - Behavior affected by extinction is apt to recur in the future when the trigger is presented again. This is known as spontaneous recovery or the transient increase in behavior. Be aware of this eventuality. It is a part of the extinction process. Don't be discouraged.
This is OK, as long as we anticipate it, understand it, and are prepared for it. The same is true for spontaneous recovery.
They won’t like this, but it is a necessary for them to experience and to learn to self sooth their own frustrations in life. It is what will bring on the opportunity for change. When we do it, we block this opportunity for change and we subvert our own emotional health.
We can not allow others to lead us astray on our journey. In time, if we stay committed to our path our partners will adjust. And we won’t be subjecting ourselves to as much pain.
Authors: United for Now, Skip
Authors: United for Now, Skip
BPDFamily.com provides support, education, tools, and perspective to individuals with a loved one affected by Borderline Personality Disorder. BPFamily is a non-profit, co-op of over 55,000 volunteer members and alumni formed in 1998. We welcome you to join our free 24 hour on-line support community and grow with us as we learn to live better lives in the shadow of this disorder. For more information or to register, please click here. www.bpdfamily.com