For loved ones…

by benignjamin

If you’re living with someone with BPD, life probably feels like an emotional roller coaster. So what can you do? Certainly, suggesting psychotherapy is a good idea. Don’t be surprised, however, if he or she uses therapy not to seek understanding but to rage about others. So, if therapy for your loved one is not moving forward, try a few suggestions:

Be consistent and predictable.
Whatever you have told your loved one that you will do (or won’t do), keep your word. If you’re the recipient of a violent outburst of accusations or a tearful meltdown, it won’t be easy. However, if you give in to the outrage, the borderline behavior is reinforced. And if you think your problems are bad now, just wait!

Encourage responsibility.
Don’t become your loved one’s rescuer. Don’t be manipulated into taking responsibility for his irresponsible actions. If he smashes up the car, don’t replace it. If she racks up credit card debt, don’t bail her out. If you keep rescuing her from the consequences of her actions, she will have zero incentive to change.

Offer honest feedback.
Don’t reinforce your loved one’s belief that he’s been treated unfairly unless you actually think that’s true. People with BPD tend to be clueless about how their behavior affects others. Hence, offer honest feedback. Say, “I know it feels rotten when you’re fired” but don’t agree with his assessment that it’s all because of those awful, mean people he worked for.

Don’t escalate the argument.
Your loved one may misinterpret what you mean. Offer constructive criticism and you’re met with a tirade of how despicable you are. Offer a compliment and you’re accused of being patronizing. Explain your intentions and the emotions escalate. Don’t get hooked into a fruitless argument. Do your best to keep your cool and your sanity even though you’re feeling frustrated, powerless and defeated by your loved one’s behavior.

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