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 of my own past struggle). 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”, and then “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 do not get properly 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 review Step 3 (slide set 2) and Step 3 (slide set 3) before proceeding with the presentation.


As this situation proceeds, I am NOT mindfully observing my thoughts and feelings and so 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, and all of them simply feed into producing more and more of the same or worse. When two or more people are following this pattern of not noticing and managing their stuff internally, it is easy to imagine how interactions can become extremely toxic and regrettable things end up happening. Even when it’s just one person getting lost to this experience and others remaining baffled by what they see, it can result in rejection, isolation, and self-destructive behavior. Both of these possibilities happen very commonly in the lives of many, unfortunately.

Perhaps you can see that I have (or have had) a particular pattern that repeats itself in challenging life situations? As you take a closer/deeper look into yourself, you can see your illness more precisely for what it is and how it sabotages your life. No capacity for working through real emotions was developed throughout my childhood, and so in order to continue “functioning” in a human body with emotions, I ended up forming self-defeating beliefs as a way to “hold myself together”. Many unrealistic demands also come with have self-defeating beliefs, such as “I must never admit to or show real feeling”, “other people can’t be in distress around me”, “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 feels, that anyone who is not properly oriented to his or her emotions throughout childhood will develop some level of dependency on self-defeating beliefs to exist in a human body. The big difference between those who suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and others is that their reactions/reactivity to emotions tends to be “bigger” and more consequential, therefore drawing more attention to them as “being sick” or “out of line”, etc. In reality everyone has emotions, but not exactly the same degree of emotional challenge and necessity to become highly proficient at managing emotion (some brains are genetically more emotional than others).

**If there is any need to review the possible functions and varieties of self-defeating 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 mindfully attend to feelings, it is easier to settle feelings for the purpose of having and continuing constructive conversations with others, and then basically collecting more data and recalling important information (more facts). When this additional information enters into thought formation and conversation, reality unfolds in a different way – that is to say 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 “being with” – as opposed to running from – challenging feelings 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 partner included, as well as accepting reality as it is… ourselves as we are and the children as they are. If it wasn’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 and to utter vocally. The fact is that if you remain busy ignoring or invalidating your emotional experience, then you will remain busy unwisely reacting to your emotional experience. Learning to love your raw emotional experience and likewise practicing EMPATHY (not so much sympathy) for the emotional experience of others will empower you to adjust your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors as you see here.

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 perhaps feel some ongoing frustration and exhaustion as life continues serving up normal challenges and demands in family life, but this is much lighter and easier to bare than the emotions just mentioned above. When a person is suffering with untreated Borderline Personality Disorder, life is much harder than it needs to be because of the additional heavy emotion that could be released with the types of understanding and skill you are receiving here in the 9-Steps.

If you compare the statements in these last two slides with the unhealthy statements listed in the right column of slide one, you will notice several important differences. Extreme and judgmental types of wordings towards self and others are not being used at this point in the last two slides. 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-defeating beliefs because I can FEEL my emotions honestly and lovingly. I am free to think more critically, and likewise to be more patient and flexible in my approach to life events. I can adjust and adapt to life as it comes.