The Mighty Logo

Boundaries You Might Find Helpful If You Have Borderline Personality Disorder

“Boundaries” has become a big buzzword in recent years, yet boundaries are difficult to conceptualize. Once you start using them, though, you will find that they can be a helpful tool in your recovery. In fact, several therapeutic modalities for people with borderline personality disorder (BPD) explore boundary setting and its benefits for emotion regulation and interpersonal relationships.

If you want to set boundaries but aren’t sure where to start, consider some of these helpful boundaries you can set with work, loved ones, and yourself.

Boundaries With Work

Work can be a stressful place for anyone who lives with a mental illness. However, for people with BPD, work can be a source of extreme panic and dysregulation. There are deadlines to meet, people to communicate with, and lots of places to let symptoms creep in. But, if you commit to specific boundaries with work, you can at least somewhat avoid these issues.

Some boundaries you may want to set with your work or coworkers include:

  • Only checking work emails at one or two set times each day.
  • Using “block scheduling” to keep yourself on track and help you know what to expect each day.
  • Holding yourself accountable for working your scheduled hours, not more or less.
  • Establishing smaller milestone deadlines or creating a daily to-do list to make work feel more manageable.
  • Saying “no” to additional commitments if you know they will cause you stress or impact your well-being.
  • Not discussing your mental illness with coworkers candidly.
  • Taking a mental health day when you know you won’t be able to focus on work or you notice an uptick in symptoms.

Boundaries With Loved Ones

Dealing with friends and family members can be very emotional at times. You may even struggle with things like “splitting” or extreme emotional dysregulation as a direct result of things your loved ones do or say. However, setting and maintaining healthy boundaries can really help with this.

Some boundaries that may help you regulate your emotions when interacting with your friends and family include:

  • Maintaining a two-sided conversation where you listen as well as talk.
  • Asking people if they have the emotional bandwidth to talk to you before divulging something serious or telling them you are dysregulated.
  • Not answering phone calls or text messages during your work or sleep hours.
  • Pausing before you respond in conversations when you feel yourself growing dysregulated.
  • Taking certain situations to your therapist for coaching before simply reacting emotionally.
  • Creating a list of “off-limit topics” (i.e. politics or therapy) with family or friends who do not agree with your perspective.
  • Saying “no” to requests that feel uncomfortable or may lead to poor decisions on your part.
  • Asking people to not use your diagnosis as a weapon or excuse to treat you poorly.

Boundaries With Yourself

Unfortunately, some of the hardest boundaries for any of us to maintain are those we try to establish with ourselves. This can be especially true when our emotions quickly envelop our thoughts and push us to break commitments we’ve made to ourselves. This is why personal boundaries are so important.

More importantly, though, setting firm boundaries with ourselves can really help our mental health. Oftentimes these boundaries help us regulate our emotions and care for ourselves the way we deserve, which is a critical part of recovery.

Some boundaries you may want to set with yourself include:

  • Sticking to a budget.
  • Waiting 24 hours before sending more than one text message to a loved one.
  • Not speaking negatively of yourself.
  • Maintaining routines that help you regulate your emotions (i.e. going to bed at a certain time, eating three meals per day).
  • Practicing coping skills when you feel dysregulated.
  • Avoiding or limiting your exposure to known triggers.
  • Not falling back into “old habits” on hard days.

Boundaries don’t have to be extravagant, and they aren’t a proclamation you need to always make out loud. In all actuality, boundaries like the ones mentioned above are simply little lines you draw in the sand to help you stay on track as you create a life worth living.

Getty Images photo via OR Images

Conversations 5