We often avoid painful feelings because… well because they are unpleasant. We numb them with substances or distract with activities or mindlessly scroll through social media. Distracting can help us get through tough times, but as a long-term problem-solving tactic, it’s pretty useless.
Why Avoiding the Pain Doesn’t Work
Research shows that stuffing and suppressing emotions actually doesn’t work to alleviate them. Instead, it leads to more problems.
Emotions that get locked away end up becoming stronger and more persistent. You know when someone tells you to stop thinking about something, and instead of stopping you’re thinking about it MORE? It’s like that. The more we ignore painful emotions, the more they are going to try and cut in to get your attention.
The 3 Main Reasons Painful Feelings are Valuable
This leads me to the main point of this article: why do my painful emotions keep cutting in when I’m trying to avoid them so much? What’s the benefit of experiencing the pain when I know it is going to hurt so badly?
Unpleasant feelings supply you with important data; vital information that you need to make effective decisions.
When you put your hand on a hot stove, the physical pain lets you know that your body is being damaged and leads you to pull your hand away, never touching the hot stove again. Without that vital information, the body would not respond to avoid further damage. The same goes for emotional pain. It lets you know when something needs attention, and motivates you to take specific action.
Even without intending to, our emotions communicate to others. Painful emotions can affect those around us as well as ourselves.
Emotional responses are so automatic that our facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice can reflect an emotion even without communication in words. For example, defensiveness and insecurity can quickly register on your face and send a message to the people around you to back off. If you are trying to make friends, this can become a nuisance. By building emotions of confidence and openness you can communicate in a way that will draw people TOWARDS you instead of away from you.
Painful emotions are your body’s way of helping you survive.
As human beings, we require human connection, and painful emotions like loneliness can spur us to take action and reach out to loved ones. Sometimes, we are in situations where we need to escape or defend ourselves. Anger and fear can contribute to taking action to protect or seek shelter. Ignoring or avoiding emotional responses can quite literally put us in danger or keep us from human interaction.
Instead of continuing to mindlessly go through life ignoring or actively avoiding painful feelings, take some time each day to pay attention to what they are communicating to you.
The baby face may have fooled you but I actually turned 32 years old today! So to celebrate my birthday, I thought I’d share some of the intentions I’ve set for myself based on who I am and who I am becoming.
As many of you know, I am diagnosed with some severe mental illnesses. I didn’t expect to survive this long; I fully intended to end my own life.
But with recovery, those intentions have changed dramatically. The difference is night and day. I share these intentions with you to give you hope that if your intentions have been to end your life because of your suffering, things can change. Life can be worth living again.
While I am 32 years old, I intend to:
Be authentically myself, with no apologies
Stand up for what I believe in
Speak kind words to myself
Complain about absolutely nothing
Take more time off for fun and games
Be patient with myself when I’m struggling
Smile more, worry less
Strengthen relationships with genuine people
End relationships that threaten my peace
Appreciate what I have more than what I don’t
Practice gratitude on a daily basis
Feed my body and my soul
Be mindful of others and of myself
Stop making excuses for keeping old habits
Dedicate the time and effort needed to make new habits
Challenge myself with new lessons
Forgive myself for the past
Love myself for who I am today
Be gentle to my body
Dance like nobody’s watching
Sing like no one is listening
Carry myself with confidence
Take ownership for my actions
Keep the bigger picture in mind
Strengthen my boundaries and protect my well-being
Spend more time outside in my bare feet
Live out my inner truth
Celebrate and contribute to the success of others
Say no with strength and conviction
Make no excuses for meeting my needs
Prioritize those who truly value me
Continue my growth with grace
No matter your age, no matter your struggles, it is NEVER too late to make new intentions for yourself and your future.
Send us a contact form to learn more about how you can apply intentions like these to your life!
“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child—our own two eyes. All is a miracle.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
Mindfulness can’t be understood through reading self-help books or hearing about it from someone else. Mindfulness must be practiced on a daily basis to learn and receive the benefits from its use.
So how do you practice mindfulness?
Keep reading to learn 3 daily habits to start practicing to increase your daily mindfulness this week..
We are launching our brand new Relationship Coaching Group, a ten week program, beginning this month on October 24. As we reach more women with Borderline Personality Disorder through our coaching programs and advocacy, we have received requests for a focus-specific group on the topic of relationships. This is something I’m familiar with… before I married my husband we had gotten together and broken up and gotten back together about 20 times. My BPD had me all lovey-dovey one moment, and packing my bags the next. Considering my sketchy track record in men previously, this was actually a step up.
As I continued into recovery, my future husband came along for the wild ride. He had no idea what he was getting himself into. There were monumental fights, extreme depressed phases, self-injury, and a whole lot of break-ups. But he knew about my illness, he was willing to stick with me through it all, and he didn’t mistreat me. So eventually I settled down into recovery and gave in to a happy, stable relationship.
My point is, recovery and relationships go hand-in-hand. If you’re on the road to recovery but you’re lonely or heartbroken or just can’t seem to be the person you want to be when you’re with a partner, don’t sweat it. Mental illness and trauma can really interfere with relationships. There are ways to break the bad habits so you can build a relationship that is happy, healthy, and supportive…even if you still argue sometimes!
We are going to cover all this and more in our 10-Week Relationship Coaching Group. Each week we are going to meet on Wednesdays at 8:30 PM Eastern Standard Time. For an hour we are going to talk all about self-identity, what we want and how to get it, how to maintain and improve relationships, how to communicate when something’s bothering us, and much, MUCH more!
Register to join us by sending us a Cont act Form right here on our website. Let us know your name, that you’re interested in the relationship group beginning in October, and let us know if you’d like to pay up front or make weekly payments. The 10-Week group costs $20.00 USD per person, per week, for a total off $200.00 USD. We then send you a weekly invoice to your email address and a link to the video call. When it’s time for our session, you just click the link to call or join through a computer.
If you want to build some new habits, learn how to balance your needs with your partner’s needs, and create a solid foundation for a healthy relationship, please join us. We power through so much information on these sessions, so make sure to bring a notepad with you! See you in October, girls!!!!!
The New Year was originally dedicated to an ancient Roman god of gateways by the name of Janus (think of the word “January”… see the connection?). Janus had two faces, as a gate faces in and out, one looking backwards to the past and one looking forwards to the future. Hence he was also the god of new beginnings!
Greek and Roman mythology are one of my favorite study topics, but as you all know my TRUE passion is discussing mood disorders with my mental health tribe. So, naturally, when I think of Janus and how his two-faced self applies to our journey to recovery, I think about the importance of not just looking towards the future of 2018 but of reflecting on the previous year as well and the weights we are holding onto that could keep us living in 2017 longer than we need to.
Intrusive thoughts and memories of the past, including abuse; trauma; neglect; heartbreak; rejection; and failure.
Guilt over mistakes made, broken promises, and disappointing ourselves or other people.
Regretting decisions that led to upheaval, missed opportunities, and time wasted.
Blame towards ourselves and others, and the anger that comes with it.
These burdens are heavy; so heavy that they can become all we see. We lose sight of the light and the hope of today and tomorrow because we are so weighed down with the hurt and pain of yesterday. Getting control back over our future means looking towards our past first to deal with its demons, not ignoring the past and hoping it goes away eventually. That may work for a while, but it can be exhausting and ultimately lead to a blow-up. Spending some time to reflect on the past, the feelings and thoughts it brings up and the effects it has had on you is the first step, but it can’t be done alone or it will leave you feeling empty and depressed about the future.
You MUST combine your reflections with a soulful search for the meaning behind your life story. What priceless lessons have you learned from past experiences? How have they made YOU a better person? Mistreatment is never condonable, and suffering is never pleasant. But did you become a person who contributes to the world BECAUSE and DESPITE of it? Or has been holding you back from the true person you want to be? For those of us who are being held back by pasts of trauma or abuse, has that been robbing you of any joy for tomorrow? Are you missing something that you want back?
We can’t change the past. We can only accept that it happened, and we arrived through it to THIS moment. We have power over THIS moment. What will we do with it? We can hide from our pasts or we can use them to mold and shape a better future for ourselves and for other people in this world who need and want a better future with us. Just as we can’t shy away from the things of our past, we can’t shy away from the future. Approach today, and each day, with determination. With hope and faith that life throws us both good and bad things, but we persevere to hold the hands of our brothers and sisters and move forward into tomorrow knowing that WE ARE NOT ALONE.
Before addressing the obstacles we may face DURING the treatment process, we must take a hard look at the difficulties of even finding treatment options. Those of you who have been through multiple therapeutic attempts will know firsthand the devastating lack of valid treatment options for Borderline Personality Disorder.
If you are versed in the world of BPD, you know most suggestions include Dialectical Behavior Therapy, antidepressant medications, antipsychotics, talk therapy, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, etc. Often, studies suggest a combination of two or more of these treatments. If you research the treatment choices online, you can usually find an abundance of doctors, therapists, counselors, social workers, and behavioral analysts who can provide you with “answers.” You’ve probably heard most of them. How do we sift through them all?
People with BPD struggle to remain with one therapist or treatment approach for an extended amount of time. Therefore, the importance of finding a doctor/therapist who “clicks” with the patient is going to increase the chances that the patient remains in treatment. The right one will be someone who can accept the client UNCONDITIONALLY, and work with him/her even in situation of distress. The more knowledge of and experience with Borderline clients the better. Just as important is finding someone who supports the theory that BP is a medical, neurological dysfunction of the brain. A combination of medical treatment and therapy will give you the best chances for success. Ideally therapeutic treatment will include group therapy as well as individual sessions.
Your treatment team should be up-to-date on the latest research concerning your mental illness. New studies are coming out all the time with game-changing information on best treatment approaches both medical and therapeutic. Even Dialectical Behavior Therapy is a relatively new treatment that your team should be following as reports come out about it effectiveness.
Keep an eye out for counselors that include keywords in their treatment descriptions, such as mindfulness and emotion regulation. Also search for treatment options under different names for your disorder or other related disorders, e.g. Intermittent Explosive Disorder, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, Emotional Dysregulation Disorder, and others.
The context of acceptance and stability while reinforcing positive behavior changes requires people who can be flexible with their clients, patient in the midst of emotional turmoil, slow progress or even backsliding, and must be willing to approach the many comorbid disorders we find in people with BPD, such as ADHD, Major Depressive Disorder, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
Also, don’t be afraid to try some new approaches like personal and family coaching! Many people don’t realize this is an option when seeking professional help for someone with Borderline, but it can offer the flexibility and extra attention needed to clients who have time constraints or find it difficult to leave home for appointments.
BPD treatment is a long road, but it’s a road that will take you in the right direction, towards health and joy and positive relationships. Once you start to see these positive changes in your life, you won’t regret the hard work it took to find the help that fits your specific needs.