Emotionally Charged, Impulsive Emails, Texts, and Social Media Posts

emotional impulsive emails BPD

Part of having Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) or being an emotionally sensitive person is the experience of having difficulty regulating your emotions.   Our nervous systems can become activated and launch us into an upward spiral in what seems like an instance, and it can take something that seems so little or minor to other people.   A recurring example of this in my life when I was in the thick of my experience with BPD symptoms was impulsive emails.   Even today, if I am emotionally vulnerable due to feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or under the weather, I must work harder than the average person when it comes to impulsive email prevention.

In fact, the tool I’m about to share with you was born out of my own need as well as that of many of the students in my online DBT class.   For me, my emotional vulnerability increases during PMS time when I experience PMDD, a severe form of premenstrual syndrome.  When you are super emotional, it is NOT the time to reply to an email that has upset you in any way. I’ve learned the hard way, and it took a number of times before it really sunk in and I learned my lesson.  It is just all too easy to type up something and hit send, but once it’s gone, it’s gone, and if you have regrets, the consequences can be irreparable. So, there must be a willingness to step away from the computer and distract the mind with another activity until the urge comes down, which it inevitably will.

So, what can you reasonably do if you receive an email (or even a text message or social media post for that matter), notice that you’ve become emotionally activated, and you do NOT want to self-sabotage or do something you might regret?  For these situations, I’ve created something called the Emotionally Charged Email Prevention, or ECEP.  While not an actual clinical or therapeutic tool, it is something I’m finding helpful, and as a peer in recovery, I thought many of you out there who have this issue may like it as well.

Here’s the idea behind it: In Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), there is a worksheet in the Emotion Regulation module called Emotion Regulation 1a (4a in the newer manual), and it is used when you notice an intense emotion.  You put some time and space between the triggering or activating event and any action you take. In the past, I have gone from having an intense emotion to the knee-jerk reaction of acting on the urge or impulse that came with it. I wanted to feel better NOW in THIS moment, and I dealt with the consequences afterward – and there often were consequence that made things so much worse.  I had to go into damage control mode and often felt so exhausted that I didn’t want to try, which left relationships damaged (sometimes beyond repair), jobs and educational opportunities wasted, and more.

The knee-jerk reaction with upsetting emails and texts is often to respond in a way that expresses your upset and possibly that is an “attack” on the other person.  To slow down this process, when necessary, I use this worksheet. It allows me to SLOW down, step away from the computer, and truly THINK THROUGH the situation using my Wise Mind.  But, boy, does it take willingness!  It’s just TOO easy to sit there and start typing like a ninja and send off that message, but I know all too well that I don’t want to go there – especially with the progress I’ve made under my belt.

Here’s a copy for you:

impulsive email text social media prevention DBT Path

So, do you struggle with impulsively responding to emails, texts, social media posts, and the like?   Do you think you could realistically have one of these forms handy and give it a try to prevent an impulsive response?  If you give it a try, let me know how it goes. If you have other methods that help you stay effective and skillful, I would love to hear about them as well.

 

Thank you for reading.

More Soon.

In kindness,
Debbie Corso Blog

 

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19 replies
    • Debbie Corso
      Debbie Corso says:

      Hi Yanna,

      Thanks for your comment. I think you might have meant to say that you’re very interested in learning DBT. I’d love to have you in one of my online classes! Click the CLASSES link at the top of the site for more information. 🙂

      In kindness,
      Debbie

      Reply
  1. Karla
    Karla says:

    I really like this! I have made mistakes with social media and am learning how to be more careful. Thank you for this tool!

    Reply
    • Debbie Corso
      Debbie Corso says:

      Hi Karla,

      Thank you for your kind words. It is all to easy to make mistakes in this area. I’m so glad you found this tool and hope it helps — let me know! 🙂

      Hugs,
      Debbie

      Reply
  2. burak
    burak says:

    it is a good text here and it is so connected to dbt emotion regulation love the site keep up the good work debbie

    Reply
  3. michelle
    michelle says:

    wow! debbie, you have no idea how helpful this will be! if only i had it in my back pocket 12 years ago. I’ve lost so many really good jobs b’c i’ve shot off a reactive email when i felt attacked. i will definitely be using this form! thank you so much, this is so awesome!

    Reply
  4. Tessa
    Tessa says:

    Before my BPD diagnosis I learned not to jump without looking so to speak. I would become furious over something and I had to train myself to no long jump on the bandwagon until or if I am sure I want to say something. I have saved myself a lot of agony that way. I rarely just jump on and start screaming. I leaned this through my bad moments with my Bipolar Disorder which I am also blessed with.

    Reply
  5. amy
    amy says:

    i have bpd and have the horrible habbit of saying things in anger.. mean things.. i lost my bf because of it… we were together for a yr. i thought he understood me, but i guess i was wrong. im trying to work on me and fix things but it doesnt seem to matter.. how do you get someone to understand what we live with and sometimes we just cant help it?

    Reply
    • Debbie Corso
      Debbie Corso says:

      Hi Amy – such a difficult situation. I’ve tried explaining how emotion dysregulation works and emphasized that I was studying skills to help me manage it better. I’m so sorry for the loss of your relationship. I know how painful that can be. ♥

      Reply
  6. dee
    dee says:

    This worksheet will be perfect to use when I get urges to respond in anger to my bf’s texts, or to send a hurtful text if I feel as if he got off the phone too quickly, or some such innocent thing that I blow all out of proportion…

    Just this morning an incident like this happened, and it made gor a crappy day for both of us.

    Thanks Debbie – your recovery is inspiring!

    Reply
  7. Lisa M. Smolich
    Lisa M. Smolich says:

    Oh, could I have used this. As a college professor, I would get emails, or “challenged” in class, and in each case I would try and be thorough with my response. Some were straight forward. But some challenged me (in email, rather than in the classroom, or were accusatory, or bitched about something, they all have that silver spoon/entitlement syndrome). Instead of short and sweet and that’s it, this is my class, my BPD would fly off the handle, and in the classroom I would engage/argue with students rather than tell them we can discuss after class. The professional thing to do. So my BPD prevents me from maintaining my professionalism — no doubt.
    And emails, oh boy, would I engage in those. This incredible need to explain myself and why I am right and why you will do it this way. WAAAAY too much engaging instead of a simple few sentence response because, I am the teacher. Why engage in the arguing? I couldn’t stop myself. I’d write a horribly lengthy email, that after editing and proofing always took over an hour, and would be such a time drainer. Sometimes, lots of anger would simmer in them. Sometimes I pressed send right away. Sometimes I slept on it, but when I re-read it the next day, I’d get so mad, I’d send it anyway. Very few times did I re-write to “this is how it is” sweet and simple. I still have similar issues with adults today in emails.
    My other problem? In case you couldn’t tell here… obsessively long text messages, and too many of them, especially with voice dictation. Annoys my family, and certainly scares off new potential suitors.

    Reply
    • Debbie Corso
      Debbie Corso says:

      Hi Lisa, I’m sorry to hear that this is something you struggle with. I hope things get better with time and your dedication to choose skillfully when presented with this challenge in the future. It can be really difficult, I know! ♥

      Reply

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