Why You Should Take a Break From Confrontation

How taking a timeout can help those with borderline personality disorder relax

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When you have borderline personality disorder (BPD), you can be more sensitive to conflicts and be hurt more often than other people. When someone has wronged you or there is a misunderstanding, you will feel the effects intensely and your first inclination is to go confront that person immediately to handle it. While this is a very normal reaction, taking a step back and taking a break from confrontation can help you see the situation more clearly and use your positive communication skills more effectively.

By learning this skill, you can manage relationships with others more functionally and healthily.

If you have BPD, life is very black and white; it's hard to see the middle ground in conflicts. All relationships can be tumultuous and have their ups and downs, but when you have BPD, those issues can cause hurtful conversations and outbursts that can be difficult to heal or recover from. It is common for relationships to be damaged severely during these episodes.

It's important to rethink how you handle serious situations in order to preserve both your relationships and your reputation. Here are some ideas to help you change how you handle confrontation when something has happened to you:

  • Wait for the emotions to pass: While you may want to go talk to your friend or coworker who hurt you right away, talking to them while you're upset or angry isn't a good idea. It could cause you to speak too harshly or say things you don't mean. The situation will just end up worse with hurt feelings on both sides. Instead, step away from the situation and give yourself some time to think about it away from the other person. That will help you put things in perspective and you'll be a calmer mindset when you are ready to chat.
  • Identify bigger issues: If you find yourself outraged over something that is fairly trivial, use a timeout to determine what the real issue is. Did something happen months ago that was never addressed? Or has someone else hurt you and you're lashing out? Establishing what is really triggering your emotions will steer you into handling the situation in an appropriate way, without bringing in your own history to the situation.
  • Come up with a plan: Before storming into the room to talk to the other person, take a few minutes to write down your feelings and the key thoughts that you want to express. Try to imagine the other person's point of view and their side of the story. That will help you focus the conversation on the real issues at hand and enable you to have a productive dialogue rather than a heated battle.

Confrontations are never fun, but when you have borderline personality disorder, the sense of pain or rejection can feel heightened, making it seem necessary to take action right away. But by taking just 30 minutes to be alone with your thoughts, you will feel calmed and empowered, ready to address the issues with poise instead of anger.

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