4 Challenges of Personality Disorders (And How to Overcome Them)


Personality disorders are often challenging to overcome; however, it is not impossible! With the right tools, education and support, those who struggle with overcoming their personality disorders can live healthy, happy lives. Here are 4 challenges of personality disorders and how to overcome them:


Challenge #1 Denial/Defense Mechanisms


Denial/defense mechanisms are not necessarily a “bad” thing. Their job is to protect us if we mentally cannot sustain reality and its current stressors. Ultimately, denial/defense mechanisms prevent us from breaking down. This can serve as a challenge to overcoming a personality disorder because change often requires a certain level of discomfort and stress. If one is unwilling or unable to move past this initial discomfort, then change cannot occur.


Solution: Teaching someone with a personality disorder the skills and tools to manage stress, as well as creating a supportive environment, can help set this person up for success because now the person is equipped to handle the stressor in a safe environment. Working with a therapist or trained professional can provide great help in this area.

Challenge #2: Lack of Self-Awareness


Similar to how you and I may believe our thoughts and behaviors are typical for others, those with personality disorders think along those same lines. This is normal, right? Their thoughts and behaviors are a part of their personalities and they don’t see how they maneuver through life as unhealthy and oftentimes damaging to themselves and to others.


Solution: By bringing awareness to how certain thoughts and behaviors are not typical (or healthy), and by teaching alternative, healthier, perspectives, ways of thinking and behaviors, the person with the personality disorder now has a number of options to choose from on how they should look at a situation and how they should react to it. You don’t know what you don’t know, and unless someone is taught a different method or a different way, then they will continue to engage in the same manner they always have.


Challenge #3: Inability to Communicate


Those with a personality disorder are often not able to effectively communicate their boundaries, feelings or emotions with others, nor are they able to hear or understand why their behaviors are harmful. For example, when someone with Borderline Personality Disorder is experiencing high stress, they often “rage” and engage in dangerous behaviors. They are already sensitive to conflict, and when they are actively “volcanoing,” it is not only difficult for them to communicate effectively, but also, their distorted thoughts and high emotions prevent others from reasoning with them.


Solution: Learning and practicing key communication skills with both the individual who has a personality disorder and this person’s support network can be helpful in overcoming this communication barrier. Repetition during times of calmness, in preparation and anticipation of high stress moments, allows the individual with a personality disorder practice for when the “real deal” happens.


Challenge #4: Low Stress Tolerance


Increasing stress tolerance is an imperative step to overcoming a personality disorder. Those with personality disorders often struggle to change their mindsets and behaviors because they are unable to tolerate high levels of stress. This can make change difficult because learning new behaviors, to some degree, requires a certain level of discomfort and exposure to stress.


Solution: The first step to overcoming this obstacle is to help stabilize the person with a personality disorder, meaning, get them to a place where they can begin to tolerate some level of discomfort and stress without breaking down. A reward system can help enable, reinforce and encourage positive, healthier behaviors. Patience, incremental steps and positive reinforcement are key components to building tolerance for stress and for setting the stage for success.


Having a personality disorder does not mean there is something wrong with a person’s personality. Personality disorders are long-term patterns of thoughts and behaviors that cause problems in a person’s day-to-day life. People who have personality disorders often struggle with managing everyday stressors and frequently engage in unhealthy behaviors that cause emotional pain to themselves and others.


With the help of professionals, patience, understanding and a supportive environment, it is possible for those who struggle with their personality disorders to live fulfilled lives.


If you or a loved one is struggling to manage your personality disorder, contact us to tell us a little more about your challenges and goals. Our mental health experts will put together a plan to refrain control and start living your best life, today.


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About GUTS OC:


We combine mental health services and state-of-the-art technology to help our patients obtain long-term results faster. Our specialties include therapy, micro current neurofeedback and life coaching. Our evidence-based approach has helped thousands of individuals, couples and families who have sought our help over the past 22 years. Our trained specialists are committed to educating & empowering our patients with the skills and mindset to live successful, happy lives.


GUTS OC is based in Tustin, CA but provides services to all of Orange County through in-person sessions and/or virtual therapy sessions via phone, chat or video.


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