Why Do People with Borderline PD Procrastinate?

Why Do Folks with Borderline PD Procrastinate?


Andrea Piacquadio/pexels

Supply: Andrea Piacquadio/pexels

A lot of my shoppers with borderline character dysfunction report feeling like failures as a result of they battle with procrastination. Their life is plagued by half-finished initiatives and chores that they delay doing. Their new guitar is gathering mud within the nook. The garments that they meant to take to the dry cleaners have discovered a brand new house on the train bike that they can not encourage themselves to make use of. Maybe the worst a part of the entire state of affairs is that they don’t know why they can not simply go forward and end what they begin.

Of their psychotherapy periods, I hear some model of the next:

Why am I like this? Am I simply lazy? I begin initiatives with nice enthusiasm however sooner or later I run out of steam. I do know I ought to be doing extra, however one thing is stopping me and I don’t know what it’s. Simply fascinated about ending these items makes me too anxious to do something in any respect. As an alternative, I discover myself attempting to distract myself from my emotions by consuming ice cream and binge watching tv reveals. What’s mistaken with me? Why am I such a procrastinator?

The Problems of the Self Triad

James F. Masterson (1926–2010), the well-known character dysfunction theorist, taught his college students a easy means of understanding why many individuals with borderline character dysfunction procrastinate or fail to complete initiatives that they enthusiastically began. He summed it up in a single phrase:

Self-activation results in abandonment despair which then results in protection.

Masterson initially named this the “Borderline Triad” (1976). Later he revised his concept when he seen that it utilized to extra than simply individuals with borderline character dysfunction. He renamed it the “Problems of the Self Triad” (2004). Problems of the self was Masterson’s most well-liked time period for what are generally known as character issues.

Be aware: On this article I’m utilizing the phrases borderline and BPD as shorthand methods to seek advice from somebody who qualifies for a prognosis of borderline character dysfunction.

Self-Activation: Self-activation refers back to the strategy of getting in contact with what you authentically need and changing into motivated to begin shifting ahead in direction of personally significant targets.

Abandonment Melancholy: That is Masterson’s time period for all of the buried extraordinarily painful emotions that begin to floor when somebody with borderline character dysfunction begins to behave on their very own behalf—despair, rage, worry, guilt, helplessness, and vacancy. He known as them “The Six Horsemen of the Apocalypse” (1976, pp. 38-42).

Protection: As these extraordinarily painful emotions begin to floor outdoors of the psychotherapy session, shoppers with BPD really feel overwhelmed and determined. They haven’t but had sufficient psychotherapy to develop applicable coping mechanisms and misery tolerance. They turn into determined and ultimately return to doing no matter harmful issues that they did earlier than to distract and soothe themselves—abusing medication or alcohol, slicing, binge consuming, choosing fights, having intercourse with strangers, and so forth.

Their ahead momentum is misplaced and so they really feel like they’re proper again the place they began.

The place does procrastination enter into it?

Finally, many individuals who’ve borderline character dysfunction turn into afraid of even making an attempt to make constructive adjustments. Shifting ahead in direction of reaching their private targets has turn into unconsciously related to the eruption into consciousness of painful feelings.

The result’s that many initiatives get began in good religion however because the damaging feelings begin to floor, they get dropped earlier than completion. Their unconscious thoughts is attempting to avoid wasting them from the ache by actually stopping them from shifting ahead with their initiatives. My borderline shoppers report feeling paralyzed after they attempt to do one thing for themselves. Right here is how considered one of my shoppers described it:

Procrastination Important Reads

I got here house with a briefcase full of labor that I’ve been laying aside. I advised myself I’d get all caught up this weekend. However, I couldn’t make myself do any of it. I simply lay there on my couch switching channels with the distant. I knew the entire time that I ought to simply do the work. It felt like torture. I might see the time slipping away however I couldn’t make myself get off the sofa. I wasted the entire weekend. What’s mistaken with me?

The above state of affairs contributes to low shallowness as a result of it’s interpreted as a private failure and proof that they’re lazy or inherently incompetent in a roundabout way.

Separation nervousness might also be current.

Masterson famous that some shoppers with borderline character dysfunction are nonetheless very linked to their mom or main caretaker in an unhealthy means. They unconsciously view self-activation and separating from their guardian as harmful. As they begin to turn into their very own particular person in remedy and their damaging emotions floor, they generally report the unusual perception that in the event that they absolutely separate from that guardian, one or each of them will die or go loopy (1976).

In fact there are different attainable causes that folks with borderline character dysfunction procrastinate and fail to complete initiatives that I’m not protecting right here. Nevertheless, the most typical one I see in remedy is that there are underlying unworked by traumatic emotions that begin to floor because the particular person begins to self-activate and these emotions sabotage the particular person’s capacity to proceed to work on the challenge.


Many individuals with borderline character dysfunction procrastinate and have hassle ending initiatives as a result of after they self-activate, they outrun their inside self-support. As an alternative of feeling pleased with themselves, extremely painful feelings related to previous unworked by traumas begin to floor and destroy their peace of thoughts. They then defend in opposition to the ache by delaying or avoiding something that triggers it.

Based mostly on a Quora submit.


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