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Using Your Wise Mind To Understand Your Fear Of Abandonment

wise mindWe’re continuing our discussion about borderline personality traits with author Debbie Corso of DBT Path. In these posts, Debbie will give us insight into self-sabotaging behaviors as well as practical skills that can help us move forward.

Debbie was once diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. Now, she’s created an online program which teaches people with Borderline Personality Disorder or Borderline Traits, the same life-changing DBT skills that helped her. In this post she discusses the DBT skill called Wise Mind.

Helping people develop the DBT skill “Wise Mind” can really help people overcome the fear of abandonment and rejection. Can you explain more about the Wise Mind?

Wise Mind is the intersection of our Reasonable (rational) Mind and our Emotional Mind. We use our reasonable mind to do things like math problems, measuring recipes, and other analytical tasks which rely on logic. Our emotional mind is where we experience feelings, which is equally important. It’s not healthy to be entirely in either state, and Wise Mind is where these two states meet.

A goal of DBT is to spend most of our time in Wise Mind. We work towards getting ourselves into Wise Mind whenever we are feeling emotionally unstable or dysregulated. With our Wise Mind, we learn to challenge our thoughts and remember that they are not always representing facts. We also remind ourselves that our emotions are not always accurate indicators of what’s truly going on in the here and now.

People with the fear of abandonment and rejection can learn to use DBT skills to remind themselves that sometimes the emotions they are experiencing are being activated by painful memories from the past, even though they appear to be activated by present events. In other words, uncomfortable emotions might seem to be about something occurring today, might not be.

DBT skills do offer effective help, but mastering these skills is going to take some practice, right?

Yes, it takes time and practice to begin to sort through all of this. It takes time, too, for behavior to change. It must be allowed to unfold at the student’s pace. Alicia Paz (the DBT Path therapist) and I, and our students, must practice a lot of patience.

At DBT Path, we recommend starting out with a strong foundation in Mindfulness and then moving into a module such as Distress Tolerance or Emotion Regulation. These help us learn to discern, distinguish, and sort through our thoughts, feelings, emotions, and facts. Once we feel confident in these areas, we recommend exploring the Interpersonal Effectiveness module, where we begin to apply DBT skills to our relationships with others.

We can practice these skills with a variety of people—from the clerk at the grocery store to our teachers, workmates, families and friends, as well as in our  intimate relationships. Through activities such as role playing, we practice scenarios that allow us to experience empathy and to see things from another’s perspective.

As we begin to feel empowered we start to practice assertiveness in a way that is respectful to others and keeps our own self-respect intact.  We learn ways to say ‘no’ when doing so is in the best interest of our well-being.

Through all of this, our ability to manage the fears around abandonment and rejection becomes stronger, and we finally have a fighting chance to further create a life worth living – a life that includes meaningful, on-going relationships, which may have not been previously possible.

More with Debbie Corso on Borerline Traits, DBT, Emotional Instability, and Anger, coming soon.

Debbie Corso, is a pioneering mental-health blogger, author, and teacher who has blogged about living with borderline personality disorder. Using Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) she has overcome the symptoms of BPD. Together with therapist Alicia Paz, she helps others with BPD and BPD traits in her online program, DBT Path. She’s the author of two books about BPD. Today, Debbie no longer meets the criteria for a BPD diagnosis.

Using Your Wise Mind To Understand Your Fear Of Abandonment

Richard Zwolinski, LMHC, CASAC & C.R. Zwolinski

Richard Zwolinski, LMHC, CASAC is the author of Therapy Revolution: Find Help, Get Better, and Move On Without Wasting Time or Money and is licensed in addiction and psychotherapy with over 25 years experience as well as a consultant to organizations and companies in the fields of mental health and addiction. He is the executive director of an outpatient behavioral health program. Learn more about Richard here.

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APA Reference
& C.R. Zwolinski, R. (2019). Using Your Wise Mind To Understand Your Fear Of Abandonment. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 3, 2020, from


Last updated: 30 Mar 2019
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