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Taking A Break From Confrontation


Updated: June 8, 2007

Very often a person who perceives a wrong or has a misunderstanding will believe that the situation must be addressed immediately. This is true for many, but especially for those with borderline personality disorder (BPD). Often this leads to immediate and emotion-charged confrontation where positive communication skills are not used.

BPD can increase the intensity and frequency of conflict, as those with BPD are often more sensitive to rejection and may experience situations as black or white. Relationships of all kinds are often conflict-laden, and a BP may tend to quickly react and confront someone who has hurt him or her.

Taking A Break

Confronting a person who has hurt you when you are acutely feeling the hurt is not always a good thing to do. Waiting until the emotion has cleared a bit can actually facilitate a more positive interaction and lasting change. The break gives you a chance to get some perspective, step away from the negative feelings, think about what the real purpose of the conversation is, and how to proceed. Confronting a person immediately can trigger additional negative thoughts or feelings, including anger, thereby increasing the level of conflict.

Waiting until the emotion clears also gives you a chance to determine what the real or larger issue is. Unless the larger issue is addressed, you will continue to experience smaller symptoms or examples of it. In other words, if you feel taken for granted in general, then each example of being taken for granted can trigger a conflict. It is better to deal with the feeling of being taken for granted on a larger scale than confronting each occasion separately.

Set up a plan to step away from a conflict, cool off a bit, and get some perspective. Try giving yourself a time out of a least 30 minutes, during which time you must not engage with the person who has hurt you. Once the time out or break is over, have a focused and effective conversation about how you feel and what can be done to keep those feelings from being triggered.

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