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Author Topic: A script for setting boundaries  (Read 7986 times)
Randi Kreger
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« Reply #20 on: March 19, 2010, 11:02:49 AM »

In my new book, "The Essential Family Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder: New Tips and Tools to Stop Walking on Eggshells,"  actually have two sections on communication: one chapter that is step 3, Communicate to the Heard, and one section on communicating about limits in Step 4, Set Limits with Love.

What is extrremely important is HOW you say something. Your body language, including tone, shouldn't be apologetic or lack confidence. NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION REPRESENTS 93% OF YOUR ATTUTUDES AND BELIEFS ABOUT SOMETHING.

Here are some tips from my chapter on talking about limits. Note the sample phrases. You can find out about the rest of the book at my web site, www.BPDCentral.com. Ignore the numbers, which refer to footnotes.

...


*Be Assertive, Yet Gentle*

Use everything you learned in the last chapter about empathy and validation. Coauthor of Surviving a Borderline Parent, Freda Friedman says, “When the interaction is just focused on limit setting without any validation of the other person’s wishes and needs, then usually neither person feels heard or understood or acknowledged. It might feel like the person with BPD is outrageous or manipulative, but he or she feels misunderstood and invalidated.”

Remember that your tone of voice, facial expressions, and other body language communicates much more about your attitudes and beliefs than what you say. At times, you may want to emphasize the gentle side; at other times, the assertive. Body language is an excellent tool, and you can adjust it moment by moment.


Do’s:

•   Use eye contact; be sincere, but firm and level.

•   If standing, stand straight and feet planted on the ground. Wider stances and bigger
mannerisms show more assertiveness.

•   Use a gentle tone that is calm and soothing. Lower (alto, bass) rather than higher (tenor, soprano).

•   Speak at a normal pace, not too fast.

•   Don’t raise your voice—in fact, you may want to lower it a bit to show you’re not in competition and so your family member needs to keep his low to hear you. Make your voice gentle, calm, and soothing.

•   Stay close, but not too close, which can be threatening.


Don’ts:

•   Finger point or jab

•   Increase the volume of your voice

•   Glare or narrow your eyes

•   Snort

•   Tighten your jaw muscles

•   Press your lips together

•   Look down submissively

•   Thrust out your chin

•   Clench your fingers into a fist with white knuckles

•   Run your fingers through your hair

•   Cross your arms

•   Place your hands on hips

•   Stomp

•   Sit on the edge of your chair

•   Kick the ground

•   Invade the person’s intimate space

•   Bite your nails

•   Pick your cuticles

•   Sigh

•   Strain your voice

•   Wring your hands[14]



*Make Sure Your Family Member Feels Heard*

Acknowledge the other person’s needs and wishes and how important those feel, while at the same time establishing or reiterating the limits that have been set. (See "empathic acknowledgement" from the last chapter.) Use phrases such as

•    “I’m not trying for one of us to be right or wrong, but for the relationship to be the best
it could possibly be. I need XX.”

•    “I’ve given this a lot of thought. I am learning more about myself and what I can and can’t do and what I need. And I need XX.”

•    “I understand you think it means I’m selfish. Still, I need XX.”

•    “I am not trying to be controlling. I am trying to be open and honest about how I feel. I need XX.”

•    “I’m not sure how to answer that. But what I do know is that things can’t go on this way. I need XX.”

•    “It is true that we don’t see things the same way. I wish we did, because this isn’t easy for me either. What I need is XX.”


*Practice, Practice, Practice*

Practice the conversation as much as you can. Pretend your BP is in an empty chair and run through what you’re going to say. Better yet, role-play with a friend, with your friend playing the role of the BP. If you are not usually assertive, try being more assertive in low-stakes situations, for example, telling a server in a restaurant if something is wrong with the food.


*Try Positive Self-Talk*
One way to drown out the roar of the border-lion (impulsive aggression) is to have a steady stream of positive self-talk. Self-talk is the chit-chat within our heads that goes on nearly all the time. Try positive, reassuring thoughts like these:

•    “Setting and observing my limits may feel strange or unfamiliar right now. That’s okay. All things are strange and unfamiliar until you get used to them.”

•    “I’m feeling afraid—but what am I afraid of exactly? Wait—I’ve thought this through. I’ve made it safe for myself. I’m going to be okay.”

•    “I’m working on this because I love my family member so much. She can’t see this, but it’s okay. I will see it for both of us.”

•    “I need to meet my own limits right now so I can meet his needs in the long run.”



Randi Kreger
Author, "The Essential Family Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder: New Tips and Tools to Stop Walking on Eggshells"
(Available at www.BPDCentral.com)
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Author, The Essential Family Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder, Stop Walking on Eggshells, and the SWOE Workbook. Coauthor, Splitting: Protecting Yourself While Divorcing Someone with Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Randi Kreger
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Author of the 'Essential Family Guide to BPD"


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« Reply #21 on: March 19, 2010, 11:09:22 AM »

I've got a resource I've been working for a year, and I just love it.  It's a group of people and some exercises geared toward developing empathic communication.  In conception very simple, in practice can be very hard.  It's called Nonviolent Communication, developed by Marshall Rosenberg, and there's tons of stuff online about it.  http://www.cnvc.org/  The basic book is titled Nonviolent Communication:  A Language of Life.  He was a psychologist and NVC is used in many venues, including with nutjobs like the ones in our lives.  Some NVC examples which are at odds with some suggestions such as SET in circulation here:  Don't offer sympathy.  Sympathy is about what is going on for you (I'm so sorry).  Empathy is what they probably rather want, and takes a little more doing.  "When I hear you saying that I have stabbed you in the back, I'm wondering if you are feeling sad because you're really wanting some support and understanding?  I'm wondering what's coming up for ya' when you hear me say that?" Even if you're not guessing right, your empathic connection will prompt them to explore what they are feeling.  That's the basic move, and of course it's not a magic button, and it can be very sophisticated and require some back and forth.  But it's only "sophisticated" because we've been culturally trained to judge, compare, compete, self-negate, etc., rather than identify our needs, and express our needs (above, the need was for connection, so we make a connection request, "I'm wondering what's coming up for ya'..."). 


I think that saying somthing like, "I know this may be hard for you because we've been doing things differently for so long" is a fine kind of comment, whether or not it's classified as sympathy. While boundaries are about you, it's about you within a relationship.

Randi Kreger
Author, "The Essential Family Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder: New Tips and Tools to Stop Walking on Eggshells"
(Available at www.BPDCentral.com)
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Author, The Essential Family Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder, Stop Walking on Eggshells, and the SWOE Workbook. Coauthor, Splitting: Protecting Yourself While Divorcing Someone with Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Randi Kreger
DSA Recipient
Professional Member
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Gender: Female
Posts: 995


Author of the 'Essential Family Guide to BPD"


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« Reply #22 on: March 19, 2010, 11:11:57 AM »

Great input, everyone -- thank you so much, and keep those phrases coming!  

The interesting thing about some of the "boundary phrases" is the idea that someone brought up about the BP feeling "managed" -- my uBPD bro can sometimes tell when I am using words from self help books or programs and it just infuriates him.  I have to be careful to paraphrase and make it sound like my own words or he will just go off, sarcastically saying, "Oh, is that what they told you to say in the latest book you're reading?"  This is said in a scathing, derogatory tone.  If he can identify it as coming from an identifiable source, he thinks I am on my "high horse" and thinks I am being condescending.

Thanks you so much for being there, everybody...

"Did you get that out of a self-help book" sounds like a tactic to change the conversation. You might ignore it, or just say "some of the phrases" and then immediately move on before the conversation swerves to whether HE needs the self-help book to deal with YOU. Don't get defensive.

Randi
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Author, The Essential Family Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder, Stop Walking on Eggshells, and the SWOE Workbook. Coauthor, Splitting: Protecting Yourself While Divorcing Someone with Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
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I've reached Step 21.


« Reply #23 on: September 23, 2014, 06:53:05 AM »

I was told, "I don't  care that you have cancer and I don't care that you want to grieve your father."    What do you do with that?   I cut off all contact.    It's a sibling.  I tried to reach out recently ref care for aging mom and she did it again. 
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I've reached Step 21.


« Reply #24 on: September 23, 2014, 06:56:24 AM »

Oh, and the book is awesome.  I literally couldn't stop reading it.   And I refer to it often.   
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« Reply #25 on: September 23, 2014, 08:39:21 PM »

I have had to be very direct... very clear with BPD m.  Other wise she would eat me alive.
On the phone:
If you say one more thing (about what ever)  I will hang up the phone.  ( I give one warning and down goes the phone) 
In person it is:  We are getting no where with this conversation if you continue I will walk out. 

Not very clever but I found if I moved one inch... she would move ten. 
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« Reply #26 on: September 24, 2014, 10:26:31 AM »

This is a great chain.  Yesterday, when I left my T's office, the last thing she said was, "Next week, we need to talk about setting boundaries.  I'm writing it here next to your appt."

I laughed when she said this.  Why?  Well, because my mother has never encountered a boundary that she hasn't plowed her way right through.  But, that doesn't mean I can't keep trying.  So, thanks for the great thread of comments.
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« Reply #27 on: September 24, 2014, 10:35:11 AM »

I just want to expand on my last comment because I had an afterthought.  Randi's advice is really good because I've noticed a pattern where I have become very defensive towards both my parents and this never helps to dissolve a conflict, but rather to escalate it.  It's true that I really need to watch the tone of my voice and my body language.  I definitely have made matters worse by making both my parents feel undervalued and unvalidated in response to their criticisms and, you know what?  Even though my mom is mentally ill, sometimes she is making a good point.  I will work on being less defensive and more validating and see if this can help diffuse these very overwhelming conflicts. 
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