Why Borderline Personality Disorder is About “Learning to Ride the Big Waves”

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**The ideas contained in this post are the opinions of the writer and communicated without reference to supporting documentation. The writer also recognizes that BPD is a disorder that affects both males and females, and uses of “she” or “he” in the communication of ideas are not intended to covey sexual bias. Breakaway MHE Disclaimer

If you are looking to learn more about Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), then you or someone you know is probably having a tough time with the emotional and relational aspects of everyday life. Indeed, not knowing how to skillfully deal with powerful human emotions can transform many stressful and challenging life situations into chaos and drama, and likewise into many unwanted outcomes (losing relationships, losing jobs, losing opportunities, hurting ourselves, hurting others, and turning to false forms of love and satisfaction to cope and function).

One of the hardest realities about BPD – and something that can take some time to accept fully – is that some people experience their emotions with higher intensity and with higher frequency. People are sometimes born with the challenge to master a more difficult emotional experience (like “a genetic hand-me-down”). In many cases, the emotional challenge may also take root through traumatic life experiences. Sometimes both genetics and traumatic experiences play roles in having more difficult emotions to manage.

If you are a person who experiences your emotions “differently,” like this, then you probably know how hard it can be to contain this much emotion, and likewise to express this much emotion without also encountering unhelpful responses from others. It indeed isn’t a crime to be emotionally sensitive and prone to emotional reactions, but it can sure seem that way when emotions seemingly lead to chaos, and when knowledge about how to effectively manage/work through feelings isn’t commonplace.

When I do therapy work with people who struggle with intense emotions (people who I understand very well), I often use the analogy of “learning to ride the big wave.” I like this analogy because it portrays the level of learning challenge a person with intense emotions must face if he is going to have a better life experience.

In other words, I compare the experience of big emotions to being adrift on big waves in the ocean, and that learning to surf (ride) these waves has become an absolute MUST. If the waves aren’t skillfully surfed, then it means the person – in the ocean of his experience – will crash and burn over and over again. What’s more, nobody can do the riding of these big waves for the person who must learn how to surf them – he must learn how to do it for himself.

Is it a “bad thing” that a person is required by nature to become more masterful/skilled/aware of his emotions? Similarly, is a person a “bad person” if he is required by nature to become more masterful/skilled/aware of his emotions? On both counts and for both questions I answer with an emphatic “NO!”

However, at the same time, it is perfectly understandable that a person could feel ashamed of himself after living in a set of circumstances where an adequate instruction to master difficult emotions may not be available when it is needed (such as in childhood). And then when he doesn’t manage his emotions well throughout life and makes errors in behaviour, he is judged by others as “proving” he does not care to function in ways that typical morals and values can be upheld, and likewise where things can run smoothly in relationships.

In my experience as a male who has suffered from intense emotions and the various traits and symptoms that define BPD, I want you to know you can learn for yourself how to live in your body, and therefore to “ride the big waves.” The learning you needed may not have been available when you needed it most, and as a result, life may have been tough at times. Perhaps life is tough right now, and maybe it seems like things could never change or improve.

If you are feeling hopeless or worthless at this point, that is perfectly understandable as well. When life continues to go poorly, or when things continue breaking apart, you are bound to wonder if things will only get worse, or if everything all along has been all your fault. Things don’t have to get worse, and the struggle hasn’t been all your fault, that is unless you can be guilty of not knowing what you didn’t know you needed to know in the first place. You can’t be!

If you are in need of help, then now is the time to put on your warrior paint and find your surfboard! Remember, no one can make you an expert and master of your emotions (and all related issues) except and unless you become relentless in your attempts to figure it out. No one can care as much as you can, and nobody probably will.

You can start building your repertoire of BPD knowledge and skills through your browsing breakawaymhe.com. You probably won’t find everything you need to heal from BPD here. However it could be an excellent place for you to begin your healing journey, or otherwise, add to the knowledge you have already started building!

If you haven’t started your learning yet, now would be an excellent time to start building an understanding of fundamental concepts for healing BPD, such as mindfulness, validation, assertiveness, self-worth, expectations, and becoming dialectical. With every area of mental health knowledge you acquire, you will build more capacity for riding the waves of emotion that will no doubt be experienced anyways as you live out your life. You may need the assistance of a therapist (or another trained mentor) to put your knowledge into practice, but rest assured that gaining this knowledge will at least point you in the right direction to a better life.







photo credit: Anthony Quintano Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational Surf Contest Waimea Bay Hawaii Febrary 2016 via photopin (license)

photo credit: Anthony Quintano Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational Surf Contest Waimea Bay Hawaii Febrary 2016 via photopin (license)

photo credit: Anthony Quintano Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational Surf Contest Waimea Bay Hawaii Febrary 2016 via photopin (license)

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