What are the strengths of BPD?

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a complex mental health condition characterized by difficulties with emotions, relationships, and sense of self. People with BPD often experience intense and rapidly-shifting moods, impulsive and self-destructive behaviors, and unstable interpersonal relationships. However, despite the challenges, BPD is not without its strengths. In fact, some of the traits associated with BPD can be reframed as positive qualities when properly understood and managed. This article will explore some of the key strengths that can come with borderline personality disorder when appropriately harnessed.

Emotional Depth

One of the hallmark characteristics of BPD is what is known as “emotional dysregulation” – strong feelings that spiral out of control. This intensity of emotion can be difficult to manage at times. However, it also lends itself to profound emotional depth. Many people with BPD feel things very deeply and have a capacity for great passion in relationships, creative pursuits, activism, and other areas of life. They care immensely about people and causes. Their sensitivity allows them to experience life vividly. While regulating overwhelming emotions is an important skill to develop, embracing the gift of emotional depth can be incredibly rewarding.


Living with BPD often means coping with unstable relationships, volatile emotions, impulsive behavior, and a shifting sense of self. Simply getting through each day can feel like a major accomplishment. As a result, many people with BPD are extraordinarily resilient. They are survivors who have been through unimaginable pain yet keep persevering. They have developed remarkable inner strength and coping skills to manage their symptoms. This type of resilience can inspire hope in others. With therapy and support, this resilience can also be channeled in positive directions to overcome other life challenges down the road.


The emotional sensitivity associated with BPD may lend itself to unique gifts in the realm of creativity. Many artists, musicians, poets, and other creatives throughout history are speculated to have had BPD. The ability to experience emotions on a grand scale, paired with resilience to transform suffering into art, can be a powerful combination. People with BPD often think in unconventional ways that fuel singular creative visions. Impulsivity and disinhibition can also contribute to a willingness to take risks and push boundaries in art. While mood swings and other BPD symptoms can disrupt the creative process at times, the gifts are undeniable.


The interpersonal struggles that often accompany BPD can foster profound insight into human psychology and relationships. Hyper-attunement to one’s own emotions seems to spill over into hyper-attunement to the emotions of others as well. Many people with BPD are deeply perceptive of subtle dynamics between people that others miss. This insight can nurture empathy and compassion. While their social anxiety may inhibit the full expression of this insight, the capacity is there. With mindfulness and therapy, many folks with BPD become extremely intuitive, helpful counselors because they so intuitively grasp emotions and relationship patterns.


The tumultuous inner world of someone with BPD often translates into great passion and enthusiasm. While emotions can be chaotic, the energy behind them is undeniable. This passion can infuse life with vibrancy, motivation, and meaning. Things that capture the interest of someone with BPD tend to become consuming passions. Relationships are entered into wholeheartedly. Work is executed with enthusiasm when it aligns with values. While passions may change rapidly, each receives full devotion. Living passionately invites adventure and joy.

Hypersensitivity as an Asset

Many symptoms of BPD, like emotional reactivity and hypervigilance, stem from hypersensitivity to stimuli. Sensory information, emotions, and social interactions may be processed with the dial turned up to 11. While overstimulating, this sensitivity is also the root of many strengths like emotional depth, creativity, and insight. The key is channeling it adaptively. Mindfulness training can help folks with BPD stay grounded when the hypersensitivity is overwhelming. Reframing sensitivity as an asset empowers people with BPD to see the beauty in this trait.

Ability to Form Deep Connections

Despite interpersonal struggles, many folks with BPD have an incredible capacity for deep emotional connection. In fact, the longing for closeness is central to the disorder. The passionate, all-or-nothing thinking style of BPD can create intimacy and devotion in relationships. Many people with BPD yearn to feel understood, accepted, and valued — a universal human desire. Working to build trust and manage periods of intense attachment and detachment with loved ones allows this strength to shine through. Connection is healing.

Growth Mindset

Folks with BPD often have what psychologists call a “growth mindset.” This means they believe people can change and grow through effort. A growth mindset is associated with resilience and achievement. When people with BPD enter therapy, they are seeking change. They believe their situation and symptoms can improve, or they wouldn’t undertake the difficult work of treatment. Starting from a growth mindset facilitates therapeutic gains. It also means that life crises and setbacks are viewed as opportunities to grow and turn things around.


Many people with BPD reject typical social scripts and norms. This nonconformity stems from the BPD tendency to act spontaneously and express emotions authentically, even when it defies expectations. They live uncensored lives that are uniquely their own. While impulse control is an ongoing process, when balanced, authenticity is a great strength. Owning one’s quirks and being committed to living genuinely builds self-esteem. It also forges connections between people drawn to that realness.

Ability to Advocate

People with BPD often have a history of invalidation and misdiagnosis in the mental health care system. As a result, many become empowered to advocate for themselves and others. They understand firsthand the important role of education and advocacy in improving care. Speaking out requires resilience and authenticity in the face of stigma. Many folks with BPD translate their insights into helpful platforms, blogs, nonprofits, peer support programs, and books to enact change. Their passion for advocacy makes the community stronger.

Hypervigilance Translated into Attentiveness

Hypervigilance is a state of being on constant alert for threats or changes in the environment. With BPD, this can stem from the emotional sensitivity. However, when not overwhelming, hypervigilance has its usefulness too. It can translate into attentiveness to the nuances in conversations, situations, and relationships. Noticing slight changes in facial expressions, tones of voice, body language, and patterns over time deepens understanding. This attentiveness and care for detail is an asset.


The capacity for empathy is higher in people with BPD than the average population. In fact, studies using fMRI scans found that when people with BPD witnessed others experiencing pain, their brains lit up in exactly the same way as if they were feeling the pain themselves. The heightened emotional sensitivity at the root of BPD seems to create immense empathy. While this empathy may originally arise from hypervigilance regarding interpersonal dynamics, it remains a gift. Genuine empathy is a cornerstone of compassion.

Crisis Management Skills

Coping with the ups and downs of BPD equips people with remarkable crisis management skills. Living with daily emotional storms teaches you to think on your feet, seek help when needed, self-soothe in the moment, and draw on supports and coping strategies. These abilities lend themselves well to dealing effectively with life crises and emergencies when they arise. While hopefully less intense, the skills generalize. With therapy, people with BPD can learn to use these crisis abilities intentionally.

Meaning and Purpose Through Helping Others

Studies show that those living with mental illnesses tend to find great purpose and meaning in helping others. For people recovering from BPD, assisting other people with mental health issues can be profoundly fulfilling. It creates meaning from the suffering and cultivates a positive self-image. Many people with BPD and similar mental health conditions feel marginalized and stigmatized by society. Helping others like themselves restores a sense of belonging and being valued for their gifts. It’s a powerful act of self-compassion.

Mindfulness and Radical Acceptance Skills

Core DBT skills like mindfulness and radical acceptance help people with BPD find peace. They allow emotions and situations to simply “be,” without judgment or reactivity. Over time, mindfulness increases the ability to tolerate distress and acknowledge yet rise above limiting beliefs. Radical acceptance of the self and life circumstances, even during setbacks, fosters resilience. These skills have mental and even physical health benefits that extend far beyond BPD. Practicing them creates presence, openness, gratitude, humility, and adaptability.

Table Summarizing Main Strengths of BPD

Strength Description
Emotional depth Capacity for profound feeling and passion
Resilience Ability to cope with stress and bounce back
Creativity Unique perspective fuels art and vision
Insight Gifted understanding of human nature
Passion Enthusiasm and zeal for interests
Hypersensitivity Deep awareness of emotions and details
Connection Longing and capacity for intimacy
Growth mindset Belief that change and growth are possible
Authenticity Comfort with self-expression
Advocacy Champion for self and others
Attentiveness Careful notice of nuance
Empathy Ability to feel what others feel
Crisis management Skills to handle distress and change
Purpose Meaning from helping others
Mindfulness & Acceptance Presence and openness

Harnessing Strengths Through Therapy

The key to leveraging these strengths is participating in effective therapy for BPD. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is considered the gold-standard approach. It provides tools to:

  • Regulate overwhelming emotions
  • Distress tolerance and mindfulness skills
  • Interpersonal effectiveness training
  • Change problematic behavioral patterns

With treatment, the chaotic aspects of BPD come under greater control. This allows the many strengths of the disorder to shine through more consistently. A therapist can help identify and nurture strengths while also establishing healthy boundaries and strategies. Peer support groups also empower those with BPD to share their gifts while healing.


BPD is undoubtedly a challenging mental health condition. However, reframing traits like emotional sensitivity as strengths provides hope and encouragement. With therapy, self-compassion, and support systems, those with BPD can harness remarkable resilience, creativity, insight, passion, and character depth. Their capacity for joy and meaningful connection enriches our communities. Everyone has gifts – it’s a matter of bringing them to light.

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