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Those diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) often struggle to understand the concept and practice of taking personal responsibility. Personal responsibility must be realized and accepted by those with BPD if they are to recover. Personal responsibility is central to recovery from BPD. Personal responsibility is the way to learn from the triggers in BPD that are the gateways to recovery.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), impacts the lives of those diagnosed with and those who care about them and/or love them, (non borderlines) have to work with them, or share any time and space with them. When personal responsibility is absent those with BPD perpetuate pain and suffering for themselves and for their loved ones and family members as well.

The traits that define what BPD actually is are found in the general population. That is to say, they are traits found in all of us. So, you might wonder, how come one person is diagnosed with BPD and the next isn’t? It is a matter of the duration, frequency, and intensity of these traits and not just the mere presence of them that means the difference between a healthier personality or someone with a borderline personality.

Having a disordered personality is seriously impacting upon the life of those affected and all who they know and/or relate to.

Those with Borderline Personality Disorder, when in the active throes of BPD, and/or who haven’t yet undergone treatment (therapy) for BPD, more often than not, are adults without many of the necessary skills to cope with and to function in life in ways that are deemed healthy and appropriate.


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A common and shared reality among those with BPD is that they have experienced an interruption in their emotional maturation process. It is this very interruption or inability to continue to develop emotionally, psychologically, for whatever reasons that those with BPD are unable to relate in ways that healthy and actually expected for whatever stage of life they are in and/or age they are at.

The results of this interrupted emotional maturation are the very self-destructive and (to others) crazy-making behaviour and attitudes seen and experienced from those with BPD.

Until one is treated the borderline may have little to no idea just how they are behaving or how they are impacting others. Much of their behaviour is driven by a lack of known self, a lot of pain which causes most with BPD to be very defensive at all costs. This coupled with an inability to honestly open up and be vulnerable and age-appropriate usually builds way more brick walls than it does bridges.

At the very same time those with BPD are in tremendous pain and need they act and speak in ways that drive others away more often than not. Many do not understand, that for example, their very profound fear of abandonment and/or loss will actually drive them act in ways that cause others to have to leave which they then experience as abandonment and loss.

The reasons why others do what they do in reaction to “borderline behaviour” is not clearly understood, if understood at all, by many with BPD. This causes those with BPD to, in effect, perceive the results of others reactions to their own behaviour as being imposed upon them as if they are being attacked, abandoned, put down, abused and so forth.

The actual actions and self-defeating behaviour of those with BPD are projected out onto others who are, for all intents and purposes, experienced by those with BPD as merely extensions of themselves (until they get into therapy).

It is this lack of conscious understanding and awareness as to the individuation of Self and other due to the emotional fog that is the lost self and the search for identity that leaves each person with BPD acting and reacting out of the borderline false self and treating others truly as poorly as one usually treats  him or herself.

During the course of growing up borderline one does a lot of damage to self and to others. A lot of the pain that one is in causes a lot of pain in the lives of those who love and care about someone with BPD.

There comes a point in beginning to recover where what one held out and twisted upon others comes into a clear and very painful light – a light of realization that must then be transformed into the recognition of responsibility.

As important as learning to act, communicate, and behave in constructive and healthy ways that do not harm oneself or others is, there is nothing more important to actual recovery than learning to take personal responsibility for all choices made in one’s life, conscious and/or subconscious choices that have hurt self and/or others.


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In order to be able to recover one must develop a maturing sense of personal responsibility. It is not enough to just stop acting a certain way, or stop treating self and/or others a certain way.

You cannot have taken personal responsibility far enough if you haven’t included:

  1. stopping negative self-destructive and/or abusive acting in or acting out behaviour
  2. choosing healthier more mature ways of relating and thinking and acting
  3. apologizing for any and all hurtful things you brought to bear in the life of anyone else making amends to those you hurt wherever possible
  4. forgiving yourself for what you may have done to yourself (self-harm scars, lost opportunities and relationships etc)
  5. being humble enough to ask for the forgiveness of those that you treated poorly, hurt, and/or abused
  6. telling the truth – being true to yourself and admitting how you treated those you hurt most who are or were in your life.

Taking personal responsibility for the pain that you have caused others is important. It is necessary to truly recover from BPD. It is all that can be offered to those you have hurt if and when they are open to hearing what you have to say.

If you have BPD, and you have come to realize the grief you feel for actions and words you’ve hurled at others genuine remorse must then be expressed to others in a heartfelt apology. It must be offered without any expectation, again, only if others are willing to be contacted and to listen. If a boundary has been set wherein someone you have hurt does not want to hear from  you anymore than the best you can do is move forward and do better because you know better, accept personal responsibility for the harm you have caused someone else and be sure to stop the cycle of unhealthy relating in your life.

Most with BPD as they recover will see in the wake of their borderline years a path of destruction and devastation amid the populated reality of broken and lost relationships.

Apologizing, making amends, and taking personal responsibility for any and all pain you’ve caused others as the result of “borderline behaviour” must be genuine and offered freely. It is not something to offer anyone with any expectation of re-connecting.

If re-connection happens to be a possibility, it is best if it follows a period of congruent responsible behaviour after an apology is made.

If it is not even a remote possibility recovery rests on a much firmer foundation if you can still offer your apologies for what you regret having done to someone else.

This taking of personal responsibility also means that you do not stay stuck with old perceptions or focus on what may or may not have been done to you. You must truly let things go and grieve them and then take personal responsibility and apologize for any wrongs that you caused.

Taking personal responsibility for what you think, how you feel, what you need and meeting your own needs are all central to the process of recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder. Anything short of this means that you may well likely be still living, at least maritally, from the polarized victim mentality fuelled by the shame of your unresolved abandonment issues.

Accepting personal responsibility and not blaming anyone else for what has gone wrong in your life or for your relational difficulties is a gift to give oneself as well as any and all that one has hurt in the course of living a very difficult and painful way of life in the active throes of BPD.

© Ms. A.J. Mahari, August 31, 2005 with additions September 23, 2009 – All rights reserved.


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Personal Responsibility Central To Recovery From Borderline Personality Disorder