S is for Skills, Coping

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These are lovingly borrowed from Mindfulness for Borderline Personality Disorder, which is a great tool for mindfulness, especially if anxiety, emotional intensity and distortion are things in your life. ❤ These are easy to learn, but hard to consistently apply…but if you work on applying these skills in non-stressful situations, it will become a habit and be easier to use in a crisis.


*Throughout the day, focus on healthy breathing and posture to keep yourself grounded.

  • Multi-tasking is bad for concentration. Focus on the task at hand, and re-direct yourself when your mind wanders. When you learn new tasks, it is easier to recall them if your mind was completely on them at the time.
  • Practice with eating, or another everyday activity. Notice the smells, sounds, and taste, and notice how much you distract yourself during the process. A component of BPD is what is beautifully termed “mental chaos” – the tendency to move into high-speed associations that can be highly emotionally charged and inappropriate associations with the past and projections into the future.
  • List-making. Order your tasks based on their priority, and complete them in order, one at a time. While focused on them. Probably reward yourself for this, maybe.



Observe the world around you, and focus on one thing. Instead of using emotional and non-judgemental language, apply objective terms to the person or thing. “They are wearing orange pants, wearing headphones, and moving slowly.” No projections into what they are doing that is not immediately obvious, why they are doing it, or what kind of person they are.


Allow yourself to observe sensations in your body, focus on an area of pain. Instead of judging the pain, objectively describe the experience, focusing on accepting the current reality, focus on what can be done to improve it in the future.

Emotional Disregulation

  • Check to make sure you’re not picking up on some else’s emotion. A component of BPD is sensitivity to subtle displays of emotion, it’s easy to make mistakes with this, and project too much into this. The mind plays complex tricks with this – you end up reacting to what you assume the person is feeling and why you think they are feeling it.
  • It’s important to recognize that you might be sensitive to other’s emotions and to do so without judgement. Being aware will help you to step back and make sense of what emotions belong to you and what emotions belong to someone else.”



  1. Register your body sensations. When intensely emotional, it sometimes becomes difficult to identify what exactly is going on. If you can identify physical sensations associated with your emotions, it becomes a good short hand in emergencies.
  • Anger: Chest and shoulder tension, a sense of pressure building up, warmth in your face, yelling
  • Fear: Butterflies in your stomach, shakiness, a pit in your stomach, a lump in your throat, urges to run or hide
  • Joy: Lightness in your body, a smile on your face, laughter
  • Love: Feeling warm toward others, a lightness in your step
  • Sadness: Heaviness, emptiness, hollowness, slugishness, stillness, tears
  • Shame: Tightness all over your body, curling into yourself, feeling jittery or numb

Burying your emotions is bad – it can help in the short term, but eventually those little assholes are going to slip out in a weird backwards way if not addressed correctly.


  1. Identify your action urges. What do you want to do? Remember that your immediate impulses are generally influenced by emotions, which are not factual and do not need to be acted upon.
  2. Determine the emotion
  3. Express to yourself nonjudgmentally
  4. Take deep breaths.
  5. Hands and body are open
  6. Establish a grounded position (Yes, physical posture affects mood, this is important.)
  7. Wave: Watch and notice your emotion as if it were a wave.

Ask for time in intense situations, clearly and unemotionally communicate your distress, make statements when calmer.

2 thoughts on “S is for Skills, Coping

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