And here we finally are. After 52 weeks worth of DBT self-help, you should now have all the skills you need to make your life a little better by having more control over your emotions and actions. But there is one final part of core DBT teachings you need to practice and that is emotion regulation. When you have BPD this will be the hardest of the DBT skills to master, but it is more than possible thanks to all the skills I have been developing with you. If you can master this skillset, you can official consider yourself new and improved, but it is not going to be easy…
You don’t need me to tell you how hard it is to regulate your emotions when you have BPD. In fact, I would even go so far as to say it is pretty much impossible to get them fully under control all of the time. But if you can learn to just take the edge off those low points and slow down those manic high points you can indeed learn to live with having BPD. OK, so it doesn’t mean you are cured, but it should mean you can start to get on with your life and become a better version of yourself. By now you should already have the core knowledge of this final skillset, so let’s start using it.
The key to regulating your own emotions is to not turn them off, but to understand them better. It is no good trying to rid yourself of uncomfortable emotions because it simply does not work and often has the opposite effect. With you have BPD and every hurtful moment feels like a 3rd-degree burn on your body it is best to learn how to tolerate your emotions rather than confronting them. We do this with 3 steps every time you feel your emotions starting to build over…
Step 1 – Distract – To stop those emotions from controlling you and running away you should try to distract yourself from them. Doing something quick like counting how many blue items you can see in your eyesight, or some focused breathing, or even counting down from ten and doing some breathing, both those things will quickly distract your mind and the other person (if there is one) won’t know you are doing them.
Step 2 – Relax – The key to this step has nothing to do with feeling zen and going for a nice relaxing bath, it is simply about balancing logic with emotion. Using your wise mind you can cognitive restructure the argument or situation you find yourself in and discover if there is a reason to feel this way. Just because your partner hasn’t text back in the last hour doesn’t mean anything, it could just mean they are working or driving. Relaxing the mind is all about understanding if your emotional brain is overriding your rational brain and with BPD that will be the hardest part to master.
Step 3 – Cope -This final part isn’t about pulling your trousers up and getting on with it, it is about learning that you can indeed cope with your intense emotions and there is nothing stopping you from doing so. Yes, you might always have BPD, but that won’t stop you and millions of other people from living a semi-normal life. There will still be times when your emotions get the better of you, but you can learn to accept that is going to happen and not let it hold back that relationship or your own job prospects. You can cope if you practice these skills I have taught you, but it is up to you if you want to put them into practice or not.
Then all you have to do is to put all the skills I have taught you into practice. Using your core mindfulness, when in need practice your distress tolerance and always practise good interpersonal effectiveness. And finally, if you can gain any form of emotion regulation you can consider yourself proficient in DBT teachings, despite having BPD. Just remember to stay strong and stay focused, but above all else, if you need more help do seek it out as no-one should ever suffer in silence. You have the power inside of you to change for the good, but it is up to you to use it.
I hope you have enjoyed reading these DBT self-help pages as much as I have enjoyed writing them. This is the first time I have tried to do anything like this, despite my years of one-on-one therapy and own self-teachings, so I was a little nervous about accepting BPD.org.uk‘s offer to write them. It has not been easy to write a guide that goes out to everyone because a lot of my own teachings are based around targeted help for the individual. But as I read them all back I think I have done a good job at teaching you what you should do if you have BPD (like many of you on this site have). If anyone can offer me any feedback at all do please leave a comment below or drop an email to this site (because they will pass it onto me). Even if you have learned just a little in the last 52 weeks you are still growing as a person and that is all you should ask for.
I want to say a massive THANK YOU to everyone at the BPD.ORG.UK team who have edited these pages day after day, week after week and posted them in a professional style. I appreciate that my Americanised spelling and grammar has not always been easy to translate, but every page looks great and I appreciate being given the opportunity to do this. If you need any more help and advice relating to BPD do get in touch with us via the contact page as we are always happy to help.