Our Comfort Zone is filled with whatever feels FAMILIAR to us.

If you’re any kind of ‘helping’ professional, you’ve encountered patients or clients who seem steadfastly resistant to making progress or getting well. They might sense that following your guidance or suggestions can help ‘em climb outta the hole in the road they’re stuck in, yet they’ll do just the opposite. This behavior is typical of the average passive-aggressive individual~ but issues that impede one’s success in life, love AND therapy, run much deeper.

People who’ve grown up lacking nurturance, concern and care from their parental units, cannot develop a sense of feeling worthy or deserving of these emotional supplies. They adopt the attitude very early on, that life and love have to be hard, for they have no template or blueprint for having experienced anything different. One’s attraction to chaos spawns addiction to it.

*Do you get nervous or anxious when things are feeling a little too good?
*Have all your prior romances felt emotionally difficult, conflictual or chaotic?
*How long have you stayed entwined with another, when no 
pain was present?

When life feels calm, copasetic, serene or tranquil for any real length of time, people with BPD features feel restless, claustrophobic, anxious and scared “the other shoe’s gonna drop.” These uncomfortable, inner sensations have become automatic and reflexive since they were very young. They adopted a superstition during childhood that BAD always follows GOOD, because the rug got yanked out from under ‘em too damned many times, and they painfully landed on their head.

People with Borderline Personality traits feel compelled to throw a monkey wrench into their personal and/or professional domains, when the quality of their life seems “too good.” They do this to feel a sense of control about impending doom, because if we can assign a face and form to the menacing monster that’s just around the corner waiting to steal our glee, it doesn’t feel nearly as scary to us as not knowing how and when it’s gonna strike!

Kids are smart. They figure out pretty fast, how to avert shock and surprise that attend setbacks and disappointments by envisioning the very worst that could happen, and emotionally bracing themselves for it. Hence, “when I feel really GOOD, something terrible will follow!” becomes their daily mantra. There’s never a time these folks aren’t actively anticipating disaster of one type or other. Seems exhausting to me, but I get it.

*Does the Devil you KNOW, feel less scary or threatening than the one ya don’t?
*When life’s going 
really well, are you mentally scanning to discover what isn’t?
*Does an unfinished project or task keep nagging at you, yet 
remain incomplete?

Emotionally whole, healthy individuals strive to make tiny, incremental improvements and enhancements to their daily life. Self-defeating choices play no part in their day to day existence. They are cautious and vigilant in their efforts to retain, protect and grow their finances, efficiently organize and beautify their domicile, and nourish their closest relationships. In short, they constantly strive for happiness and contentment, even in miniscule ways that could seem trivial or incidental to the average human.

*Can the smallest accomplishments make you feel exceedingly joyful?
*Do you get excited over finding a bargain and saving a buck?
*Are you as thrilled for a friend’s good fortune, as you’d be for your own?

Misery is comfortable for many people, because it matches feelings they grew up with. Change is scary, because it feels destabilizing. If we understand we’ll have to surrender a bit of stability for a little while until we adapt to something new, we can usually muster the courage we need to launch ourselves toward it.

I happened on a book (by the grace of God) many years ago, which helped me muddle thru my confounding mid-life transit at 39. FEEL THE FEAR, AND DO IT ANYWAY, by Dr. Susan Jeffers was a lifesaver during that existential crisis. If you’re headed toward your next plateau but have no fucking idea what ya want or where you’ll eventually land, I strongly recommend this book for getting unstuck.

Change is inevitable, because aging and death are inevitable. A client who fights against change typically feels such terror around it, they’ll refuse to follow logical, practical suggestions and guidance that can help them readily achieve their aims.

In truth, if these people knew how to orchestrate their life in ways that could yield productive and positive results, they’d never need therapeutic help in the first place! It’s crucial to remember that clients with BPD traits are underdeveloped emotionally. Working with them often feels like doing child psychology, because they can’t retain whatever they get from you week to week, any more than a 3 year-old can.

At times, you’ll find yourself wondering why they keep showing up for sessions, when they clearly won’t utilize any helpful direction you impart. Perhaps this is their latent adolescent rebellion, or an old leftover from “the terrible two’s,” but it’s usually that they’re more comfortable with chaos and crisis, than they are with light, good feelings lasting more than a few minutes. [This is the primary reason someone maintains their relationship with a Borderline Personality Disordered lover. It’s a roller-coaster ride, with many ups and downs.]

One’s well-worn anxiety reflex always senses that something unimaginably worse than whatever (or whomever) they’re currently struggling with, is waiting just around the corner to grab and consume ‘em. Why risk changing, if what awaits on the other side of a healthier choice is even less ‘manageable’ than what they’ve got?

Compared to THIS undefined terror, hanging with the Devil they know ain’t so bad, after all. Alas, childhood superstitions die hard, and history has shown that humans can adapt to just about anything.

If you struggle (at all) with anxiety, please know that with the right kind of assistance, you can banish it quickly and completely. No more panic attacks, no waking in the morning feeling anxious, no more needing it to ‘motivate’ ya.

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