Oops! I did it again... Impulsiveness and Regret in BPD

Today I lacked some judgment. Because things have been going well at work, and I received accolades from my boss publicly in two meetings this past week, I had this brilliant idea that it might be a good time to ask for a raise. It wasn't.

If only I had done due diligence rather than respond to a very intense urge to act impulsively by asking today instead of thinking it through, I would not have been left with the feelings of regret and embarrassment.  I wouldn't have a troubling scenario to now torture myself with over and over again.

Up until today, I had been doing really well with impulse control. For example, for a while there, I would emotionally respond to emails right away, often regretting what I had written just moments later -- but it would be too late. I would cause myself so much unnecessary distress and anxiety because I didn't think things through until after the fact.

I've been practicing mindfulness around emails, including putting a space (time) between my initial reaction and actually responding to the other person. My goal has been to move away from always needing to be seen as right and competent to simply being effective. For me, being effective means I get my point across in a professional manner that I don't end up regretting.

It was difficult at first, as it is with any impulsive behavior. I knew it would take practice, and with time, I have come to the point where I no longer respond immediately and emotionally to emails.  In fact, this practice has extended to other areas of my life when I feel an impulsive urge to do something potentially self-sabotaging or damaging.

That's why I'm not entirely sure why today I decided to ask my boss for a raise. What was I thinking?  I didn't take the time to look at the financial health of the company, and in reality, everyone is working pretty hard to maintain their jobs in this economy. I certainly did not deserve one any more than the next guy.

When I didn't get a "yes" answer, I immediately felt embarrassed, ashamed, and regretful.  My boss reassured me that I did nothing wrong, joked with me, and simply explained that it wasn't a good time for the company and that no one would be getting a raise at this time.

I have no reasonable explanation as to why I asked at this point other than that the desire to ask swelled up in me like an insatiable urge.  I needed an answer. Even though I knew in my gut that I probably shouldn't have asked and anticipated that I would probably regret it (two red flags that have successfully helped me guide myself to my DBT skills on many a recent occasion), I still followed through on the urge.

I have been feeling emotionally vulnerable for the past couple of days - very heightened and emotionally sensitive, as many people with Borderline Personality Disorder can understand.

Perhaps practicing some distress tolerance and mindfulness skills would have helped to intercept my actions, but I cannot continue to beat myself up over it and be consumed with regret. At some point, when we do something counterproductive and we regret it, we must radically accept that it is what it is and hopefully learn our lessons for the next time we are faced with a similar situation.  This is what I have chosen to do.

Do you have a habit of acting impulsively, even when you get a hunch that you might later regret your actions? What coping skills have helped you to avoid such behavior?

Thank you for reading.
More Soon.


  1. I have been trying really hard lately to control the part of me that likes to act impulsively. I am taking the stop and think approach. Or Observe and Describe. I am thinking about my actions and what is the most effective thing to do.
    For example i have a neighbour and i don't know who it is, i am only assuming i know who it is...they have a very large truck, so large that it is blocking my view when turning in and out of my driveway. So much so that it is very dangerous.
    Now normally i would go to the neighbours house and try to get my point accross. If i was met with a welcoming and understanding response i would probably feel ok. However, in my life i usually find it is always the other way around. I usually end up getting very upset and screaming, swearing and then crying.
    Of course afterwards i feel embarassment, regret, shame and obsess over the incident.
    So knowing all of this i decided to ring the local Council and ask if it's something their traffic department could deal with. They told me yes and they sent someone out to make them move it.
    They have continued to park the truck there blocking my view. So everytime it's there i am calling the Council. Last week i made 2 calls in one day, they said the owner would now receive a fine of $300. I am hoping this has gotten through to them now as they haven't parked there since.
    In any event i have avoided all the bad feelings by doing what was best for me and everyone involved.
    Sorry for the long message. I am so glad to know that this is a process. And reading your example made me want to share mine. Thanks Debbie:)

    1. This is progress! And, doesn't it feel so good when you respond in the newly learned way instead of giving into the impulse? Crisis averted! :)

  2. I wish I had the skills to stop impulsive behaviour. I've dabbled with DBT but it doesn't really feel right for me - I hate the language, and I just don't get it. My boss, who I have trusted for 4 years, this week announced that he has been in contact with our HR department to put in place a plan to help manage my unacceptable behaviour. I feel so ashamed, so betrayed - he has shared my diagnosis with several people without my permission. I can't imagine ever going back into the office, it just hurts too much.

    1. No therapy is "one size fits all," so I am glad that you know what doesn't work. Now you can keep on your journey of finding something that does. How awful for you that your boss disclosed your diagnosis without your permission. Have you talked to human resources?

  3. Leeanne I am over 50 and its hard I no longer self harm or dissociate but I think that makes things worse because I now feel the pain and emotions I fine my life much easier to isolate myself so I don't affect or afend friends I have a huge amount of people who love me but I do not believe them when they to say nice things about me I think I would rather just curl up and die I live in australia

    1. I hope you feel better. If you really feel like you might harm yourself, please get professional help right away. ♥



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