Visualizing Connections between Thoughts, Emotions, and Behaviors – Step 6 (slide set 2)

**The ideas contained in this post are the opinions of the writer and communicated without reference to supporting documentation. Any uses of “she” or “he” in the communication of ideas are not intended to covey sexual bias. Breakaway MHE Disclaimer

Author: Peter Miller

Similar to Step-6 (slide set 1), this slide set is again aimed at bringing the learning from previous steps together as a whole, as well as to show you a real Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) struggle in action as it is happening (an example from my past). The different “bubbles” correspond to the teachings from Step 3 (slide set 4), meaning that we are going through, in order, “EVENT”, “INTERPRETATION”, “EMOTION”, “SELF-TALK”, “NEW EVENT” etc., so as to gain a better understanding of how these parts of a BPD experience connect and can make for a “messy situation”.

Again, I have done my best to portray the raw emotions and thoughts that can happen during a BPD struggle, but that does not get adequately handled before a person has developed sufficient self-awareness and skill to self-adjust. I have attempted to identify the common types of unhealthy thoughts (cognitive distortions) that can be part these moments, as indicated by “CD” in the flow-chart.

**If there is a need to review the common types of cognitive distortions that happen during a BPD struggle, please take a moment to scan Step 3 (slide set 2) and Step 3 (slide set 3) before proceeding with the presentation.


As this interaction proceeds, it shows how I am NOT mindfully observing my thoughts and feelings, and how the things I say and do becomes more and more ineffective. There are lots of unhealthy thoughts and intense emotions occurring at the same time – all together producing more and more of the same or worse. When two or more people are following this pattern of NOT noticing or managing “their stuff” internally, it is easy to imagine how interactions could become extraordinarily toxic and how regrettable things could end up happening. Even when it’s just one person getting lost in this experience and others remaining baffled by what they see, it can result in rejection, isolation, and self-destructive behaviour. Both of these possibilities happen very commonly in the lives of people who suffer from BPD, unfortunately.

Perhaps you can see how my pattern of unhealthy thought and emotion that repeats itself in challenging life situations? As you take a closer/ more in-depth look into yourself, you can see also your illness more precisely for what it is and how it sabotages your life. Little-to-no capacity for working through real emotions was developed throughout my childhood, and so to continue functioning in a human body with feelings, I ended up forming self-destructive beliefs as a way to hold myself together. Many unrealistic demands also came with having self-destructive beliefs, such as “I must never admit to or show real feeling,” “other people can’t be in distress around me,” and “people can’t get mad at me, disapprove of me, or disagree with me.”

I am convinced at this point as a therapist and fellow human being who has emotions, that anyone who is not correctly oriented to his or her feelings throughout childhood will develop some level of dependency on self-destructive beliefs to exist in a human body. The big difference between those who suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and those who do not is that the reactions/reactivity to emotions of those with BPD tends to be “bigger” and more consequential, therefore also drawing more attention to them as “being sick” or “out of line”, etc. In reality, everyone has emotions, but not the same degree of emotional challenge and necessity to become highly proficient at managing emotions (some brains are genetically more emotional than others!).

**If there is any need to review the possible functions and varieties of self-destructive beliefs as pertains to Borderline Personality Disorder, please see Step-4 (slide set 1), Step-4 (slide set 2), and Step-4 (slide set 3).

Again as was stated in Step-6 (slide set 1), when a person starts to learn how to attend to feelings mindfully, it becomes easier to settle feelings to have constructive conversations with others, and then also collecting more data and recalling important information (more facts) while conversing. When this additional information enters into thought formation and conversation, reality unfolds differently, meaning that the style of the interaction changes and life problems are handled (rather than mangled) and solutions are found. The decision point here is whether or not a person wants to start practicing working through – as opposed to running away from – challenging emotional states. Are you willing to feel all of your emotions?

Again as can be observed in “the facts slide” below, there is compassion for self and others and increased ability to accept reality as it is (for instance, ourselves as we are and the children as they are) when emotions are honestly faced. If it weren’t in my list of priorities to start attending-to and validating my own emotional experience (as opposed to ignoring or invalidating my emotional experience), then these types of facts would remain very difficult to uncover, to consider, and to utter vocally. The fact of the matter is that if you stay busy ignoring or invalidating your emotional experience, then you will also remain busy unwisely reacting to your emotional experience. Learning to love your raw emotional experience, and likewise, learning to practice EMPATHY for the emotional experience of others will empower you to adjust unhealthy thoughts, emotions, and behaviours.

With the ways things are worded in the new self-talk and interpretation, it becomes possible to let go of unnecessary and toxic emotions such as guilt, shame, worthlessness, and fear. It makes sense to feel some ongoing frustration and exhaustion perhaps as life continues serving up common challenges and demands in family life, but this is much lighter and easier to bear than the other emotions mentioned above. When a person is suffering from untreated Borderline Personality Disorder, life tends to be much harder than it needs to be because of the additional “heavy” emotions that aren’t dealt with effectively, but in fact could be processed and released using the types of understanding and skill you are receiving here in 9-Steps to Mastering Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

If you compare the statements in these last two slides with the unhealthy comments listed in the right column of slide one, you will notice several significant differences. Extreme and judgmental types of wordings towards self and others are not being used at this point. Likewise, assumptions are not being used, mind-reading is not being used, nasty labels are not being used, and predicting the future is not being used. I am not being held captive by my self-destructive beliefs because I can FEEL my emotions honestly and lovingly. I am free to think more critically, and likewise, I am more patient and flexible in my approach to life events. I can adjust and adapt to life as it comes.