How to Control Impulsive Behavior with Borderline PD

April 12, 2021 Kate Beveridge

Reckless decisions are common with people who live with borderline personality disorder (BPD). However, these decisions can harm your mental and physical health, as well as your relationships. Learning how to control impulsive behavior with BPD can be a helpful skill if you want to progress in your recovery. 

Struggling with Impulsive Behavior and BPD

Many people with BPD struggle with impulsive behavior, and I am no different. I struggled with it mostly through my late teens and early 20s. Sometimes the things I chose to do were fully destructive, like binge-drinking or taking drugs. Other times, I would impulse-buy plane tickets or decide to stop activities like going to university. In all of these cases, I made the decisions on the spur of the moment, fueled entirely by emotion. 

In some cases, I engaged in these impulsive behaviors because I was feeling self-destructive. I had chronically low self-worth and therefore didn't care what happened to me. I would do the things because I could. Sometimes I would tell myself that I was bored and it was exciting, but I feel that it came from a place of not caring for myself.

Other times, I would do impulsive things because I didn't feel like I could stop myself. I would be in such an elevated state, with my heart and brain racing at a million miles an hour. My emotions were so in control of my body that my rational voice was no longer audible inside my brain.

Controlling Impulsive Behavior with BPD

There were many negative consequences to engaging in impulsive behavior. When I chose to drink alcohol or take drugs, I would have to deal with the physical and mental side effects for days afterward. Sometimes my actions also damaged my relationships because of things I did while under the influence. Because of impulse buying things, I would usually go through all of my savings and have to start again from scratch.

Over time, I developed skills for how to control impulsive behavior. These are the strategies that I use.

  • I keep my mind as clear as possible. I quit drinking alcohol more than a year ago, and I haven't touched drugs in even longer. When I'm not messing around with my brain chemistry, my moods are more stable and easier to manage when I start to feel emotional. I also try not to make serious decisions when I am tired or upset. 
  • I talk about my potential decisions. Before, I would simply make a decision, act on it, and then discuss it with my friends later. Because I'm married now, I run through decisions with my husband and seek advice for any potential changes.
  • I give myself time. Unless a decision is particularly time-sensitive, I try to sit on my feelings for longer. This might mean waiting a day or two to act on an impulse, making sure that it aligns with my emotional and rational sides.
  • I look for alternatives. When I become fixated on an idea, I find it very difficult to see other options. I force myself to consider other options or ask my husband for his perspective on how I could act slightly differently. For example, I might communicate with one of my writing clients to ask for a higher rate rather than dropping them completely because I feel underpaid. 

I still struggle with impulsive behavior, but I have much better control over my decisions and emotional state. During this recovery process, I have to monitor my thought patterns and continually remind myself not to act on impulses. 

Do you struggle with impulsive behavior? What do you do to avoid impulsive decisions and minimize damage to your health and relationships?

APA Reference
Beveridge, K. (2021, April 12). How to Control Impulsive Behavior with Borderline PD, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Author: Kate Beveridge

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Jen stafford
April, 9 2024 at 5:51 pm

I admire your determination. when i get upset, I just cannot regulate my impulses, this can happen in seconds. I have tried. I have a great job, house, children, animals.
When I'm hurt, I just go to a stupid decision to feel different and then punish myself for not controlling the impulse. this is not all the time which makes it worse because sometimes i can regulate.
I can feel elated and great and 10 seconds or if I'm lucky minute's later I'm a different person. I am medicated which helps, but i just cant control my hurt feelings and need to try anything to supress that in a selfish, selfless way.
I care extremely about others, but I just cant care about myself when I feel im letting someone down or are disappointed to be around me. I can be two people, smile, bubbly me, then a totally dark self destructive me.
This is hard to explain but I an control it, but then I can. It is like there is two of me, they are both the genuine me but good and bad. I have had every therapy but I cannot break the jackal and Hyde cycle.

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