Mindfulness keeps me from quitting therapy.


In my last post, Jocelyn made a comment about quitting therapy, and this reminded me of something important that’s kept me going: mindfulness.

People in therapy, especially people who have cluster B disorders and have problems either regulating or accessing emotion, often quit when the going gets rough.  Narcissists are notorious for quitting therapy (if they ever enter it at all) because of all the Cluster B disorders, NPDs have the most problems allowing themselves to become vulnerable (well, maybe ASPD is even worse that way), but for therapy to work, this cannot be avoided.   This is why people with NPD so rarely get better.  For most, as soon as they start to feel too much, they’re outta there.

For borderlines, it’s a little easier.  We’re not running away from emotions all the time the way narcissists do (although I do to some degree and probably have narcissistic tendencies–I also have comorbid Avoidant PD which also explains my reticence).  For BPDs, our main problem is the regulation of emotions that are too intense.  But the core issues–abandonment trauma–is the same.   When you finally reach the stage of diving into the maelstrom of pain and emptiness, it’s incredibly painful.   You feel like you’re dying or going insane.  You think about quitting because who wants to live with all that pain?

That’s where mindfulness comes in.   Without mindfulness, I probably would have quit therapy after today.   But with mindfulness, I can actually let myself fall into the pit of pain and trauma and allow myself to feel those unpleasant emotions.  At the same time the mindful part of me is observing myself feeling them as they arise, and thinking logically and trying to make connections and give them meaning.   This kind of distance–while at the same time being fully submerged in the feelings–makes the experience more bearable and also makes it more likely you’ll learn something valuable from it.   Mindfulness also means you acknowledge that the emotions are not YOU; you have emotions but you aren’t your emotions.  You are you, and the emotions are just trapped energy moving out of you.

Without mindfulness, you just feel like you’ve somehow fallen into the 9th circle of hell and will never escape.   You can’t separate yourself from the overwhelming feelings and feel consumed by them.  No wonder so many people quit when they get to this point.   I’m so glad I took DBT classes (even though I blew them off back in he ’90s when I took them) and had the presence of mind to keep the DBT book I was given.  It’s been so helpful to me throughout this whole process.

I think mindfulness training should actually be a prerequisite for intensive psychodynamic therapy, especially for trauma survivors (whether they are personality disordered or not), because there is nothing to prepare you for the intensity of the ride you’ll be taking (which seems so gentle and tame at first).


4 thoughts on “Mindfulness keeps me from quitting therapy.

  1. Agree he looks like crying and I also know of some other people who have lived a fake life and when they want to leave it in the past and be themselves they go through huge depressions and lots lots lots of crying..
    I read two interviews of two famous people in my country.. In spanish unfortunately..
    But they left all behind. Had to forgive themselves because in their quest of fakeness had hurt lots of people.. But they made it at the end to tell their story and about new life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You know what, I didn’t realize it but now I know why this song affects me so deeply. It’s the sad melody and arrangement, but the lyrics seem to be about narcissism (fake people doing fake things) and living in a fake, narcissistic world.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Just yesterday I was driving into the city and on the longish drive I was wondering why I was so panicky with fear that my narc sister was going to fly into town and stay with my parents the next day, so much so it was making my mind feel electric and clouded. I looked normal on the outside but I was an exploding, blinding amount of anxiety trapped and kept in its proper place inside. My observing it enough to note it and have questions about it was a low-level mindfulness, but it was so strong that I forgot to observe it at a distance or to release that energy out of my feet (like a counselor once suggested, although I picked the feet).

    I’m willing to look into places that I wouldn’t before with my decision to change my life and the blogging. This post of yours is a reminder to me to look further into mindfulness techniques and to remember to use them even when my feelings start to panic.


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