DBT Skill Self Soothe

The next skill in the Distress Tolerance module I want to go over is called self soothe. Basically what it is is using your five senses to soothe yourself in times of distress.  Some people like to make what they call a self soothe box which is a box containing items they use that they find particularly helpful in this area.

The five senses:

Touch- Hug someone, wrap yourself in a warm blanket, throw some socks in the dryer and put them on, lay on a comfy bed or pillow, pet an animal, recieve a massage, wear your favorite comfortable clothes, have a bath or shower, etc.

Smell- Light candels/incense, smell a spice, bake/cook something that smells good, use perfume or room spray, etc

Taste- Bite into something sweet/bitter, drink hot chocolate or tea, eat your favorite comfort food, suck on a candy, etc

sound- listen to relaxing music, watch a funny movie/tv show, listen to asmr/relaxation sounds, talk to someone you love, etc

sight- look at pretty pictures, watch tv/movie, read, look at pets, redecorate your room, go to your favorite park and look at nature, go for a walk, etc.


- Ninja

“BPD is a mental illness and personality disorder, it’s sometimes known as emotionally unstable personality disorder. A personality disorder is defined as your attitudes, beliefs, behaviours, everything making up your personality, causing longstanding problems in your life.

It’s caused by a combination of environmental and biological factors. Some people are genetically more prone to it than others and can have it triggered by trauma and/or abuse, some people already display symptoms of bpd and have it triggered further by trauma and/or abuse. You don’t necessarily have to have experienced any trauma to have bpd, but it’s common.

Borderline Personality Disorder is often comorbid with other mental illnesses, meaning that it rarely occurs by itself. This makes it very difficult to diagnose. We often end up getting misdiagnosed a fair few times before we get a diagnosis of borderline. The most common comorbid disorders are major depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, antisocial personality disorder, PTSD, and eating disorders.

Some symptoms of bpd
Lack of self identity: This can involve regular changes of interests, life goals, appearance/ways of dressing, changes in speech pattern, changes in opinions/views, changes in mannerisms, changes in pretty much everything that makes up your individual identity. Even changes in handwriting. We don’t feel like we have a personality of our own and so we’re easily influenced by the people we’re around who have a strong sense of self. Personally I tend to mimic the way people speak and laugh more than anything.

Dissociation: Dissociation can take different forms and we all experience it in different ways. Depersonalization is when you feel cut off from yourself entirely. You’re unable to recognize yourself in the mirror, you feel like you have no control over your senses, over your body. Derealization is where you feel like you’re living in a dream, nothing is real, nothing makes sense, time makes no sense, objects around you have no meaning and don’t seem real, everything lacks depth. Then there’s full on dissociation where you feel disconnected from the world, from yourself, from your brain, from everyone and everything. When I dissociate like this I often lose chunks of my memory. I won’t remember what happened between when I started to dissociate and when I stopped dissociating. It feels like my mind has temporarily been in a bubble and my body has been on autopilot, if that makes sense.
Some borderlines experience psychosis along with dissociation, some experience mild psychosis, some experience severe psychosis. With psychosis you can experience hallucinations of sounds, smells, sights, touch, even tastes. Delusions are a big part of psychosis, delusions are when you have unusual, often paranoid beliefs. Believing that you’re being followed, that someone is trying to hurt you, that you’re not human, things like that. I once had an intense psychotic episode where I believed I was God lol.

Chronic feelings of emptiness: This is self explanatory. We feel empty, hollow, like we’re nothing, there’s no point in anything. Everything is empty and shitty. This feeling is usually accompanied by suicidal thoughts, and self harmful behaviours ranging from but not limited to cutting, burning, drug use, excessive alcohol consumption, reckless behaviour such as unsafe sex, impulsive spending, getting into fights, the works.
This brings me to something called acting out. Acting out is what we call behaviour that is more self-destructive towards others rather than ourselves. Examples of acting out are; Baiting and purposely starting conflict with others, passive aggressive behaviour, projecting one’s negative feelings onto someone else, emotional blackmail, manipulation.
Some borderlines act out, some act in, some do both.

Acting in is basically the opposite of acting out, these are behaviours that are self-destructive rather than destructive to others. Self harmful behaviour, repeatedly telling yourself that you’re ugly, useless, unloved, unintelligent, purposely putting yourself into situations that are harmful to your wellbeing, such as allowing people to treat you badly because you feel you deserve it, withdrawing yourself from social interaction, yea.

Unstable relationships, platonic and otherwise. Our views of people change quickly and dramatically. This is what we call “splitting”. We can’t view anything in grey, everything is black and white. We don’t “sort of” like someone, we either love and worship the ground they walk on or we fucking despise them. It’s all or nothing. We use splitting as a defense mechanism to avoid getting hurt by people we love, by purposely sabotaging friendships and relationships out of fear of abandonment and/or mistreatment.

An irrational fear of abandonment: We crave structure and predictability, in relationships and friendships alike. If your behaviour differs even slightly from what we expect of you, for example if you always respond to my texts and all of a sudden you stop responding to me as quickly as you normally do, I’m convinced that you hate me and want to leave me. This feeling can be compared to the feeling of finding out that your best friend has died. It’s that heartwrenching. It really hurts to feel like you’re being abandoned, it doesn’t matter how irrational or how imagined this feeling of abandonment is, to us it’s very real and our emotional response is very real. It fucking hurts.

Splitting: Remember we talked about black and white thinking? When someone says that they have “split” on someone, this means that their perception of whether they are all good or all bad has changed. We can split on ourselves as well as other people. Black and white thinking applies to how we view ourselves as well as others. The smallest thing can cause us to split on people. If you do or say something that we don’t like, this can trigger a split.
Imprinting/Idealization: I get questions about what I mean by favourite person/fp all the time. Let me break it down for you, We tend to idolize one or two individuals at a time. We imprint, like baby ducks. This person being imprinted on is a borderlines “favourite person.” We feel dependant on our fp, we rely on them for validation and happiness, we put them on a pedestal and see them as these perfect beings who can’t ever do wrong, we will do anything in the world to please our fp and gain their approval, we put their needs before our own, we love them, they’re perfect. We crave their attention to the point that it hurts to not talk to or be around them. In our minds, they are everything good in the world personified, and no one else matters. Our fp’s are usually our boyfriends/girlfriends, best friends, and sometimes even just someone we’ve just met who happens to be kind to us. I feel like this is a combination of a result of many borderlines being victims of abuse, and our black and white thinking. We cling to anyone who is kind to us.

Devaluation: This is the opposite of idealization, in short it’s an extreme hatred and dislike for someone. Everything they do is bad, everything they say and think is bad, they’re all bad. This happens when we split on people.
Unstable and intense emotions: We feel emotions with much more intensity than your average joe. Every emotion is dramatically heightened in borderlines. I once inappropriately described this to somebody using an analogy of an uncut dick vs a cut dick, we (borderlines) are the uncut dicks whose senses are heightened, and everyone else is a cut dick (I wouldn’t advise using this analogy at family parties, trust me, it’s a bad move, it gets awkward really fast) These extreme moods are a response to how we perceive interactions and what’s going on around us. They often change from one extreme to another without warnng.

It’s worth noting that not all borderlines are alike. Like I said, we experience symptoms in different ways.

A high functioning borderline is one who is able to conceal their dysfunctional behavior in certain public settings, they have the ability to maintain a positive image when it comes to work colleagues for example and only show their symptoms to close friends and family.

A low functioning borderline is one who is unable to conceal their dysfunctional behavior from public view or maintain a positive public image, usually they’re more unstable, have more hospital stays, have more difficulty maintaining a job/school life.

Views on the whole high/low functioning thing differ in the bpd community. Some people think it’s a load of shite.
There are more symptoms but I can’t be arsed to type any more, you can manage from here.” Original post by @finrir

I couldn’t get the original response to reblog but I LOVE what you said, Had to copy and paste it into a new one.

The hardest part for me about having BPD is the fact that it’s chronic. No matter how much I do to get better and ~recover~, I will always be seen as defective and I don’t know if I want to live a life where this suffering never leaves.
It terrifies me that my brain is wired to react like this, that it could affect my possible marriage; future children’s lives, and a long term career. So when I say I want to kill myself, I am doing it for everyone’s sake- the least selfish thing I can do.

  • Fp:I am sad and experiencing a problem.
  • Me:*jealous bc i should be the sad one*
  • Me:*annoyed bc I should be Center Of Attention*
  • Me:*Guilty bc oh my god im such a bad person for being so self-centred and not helping my fp*
  • Me:*panicked bc MY FP IS SAD, THEYRE SAD WHAT DO I DO HOW DO I HELP OH NO*
  • Me:*dissociates*
Oh I have BPD!
  • Me:If you need to say something, please just be honest with me about it! I'd prefer that a lot and it would really validate me and make me feel better.
  • Person:*Is Honest*
  • Me:OH REALLY!? THAT'S HOW YOU FUCKING FEEL! YOU *obscenities* DON'T EVER TALK TO ME AGAIN I HATE YOU!!!! *raging dragon BPD monster*