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BPD & Why It's So Hard to Change – Default Patterns

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Default patterns for those with BPD, or BPD traits, are negative response patterns that you’ve developed overtime through experiences, thoughts, feelings, or memories that cause beliefs, which drive behaviors. Because they tend to be automatic, you may not be aware that you’re engaging in a pattern until you’re dealing with short-term and long-term consequences.

Not all default patterns are negative, some may be positive and you can tell by the consequence. Negative patterns have a higher likelihood of negative outcome, and positive patterns have a higher likelihood of positive outcome. Cocaine when your anxious or sad leads to addiction, negative consequence – to name one; mindfulness and deep breathing when your anxious and sad leads to increased behavioral control, clearer thinking, and better reasoning, positive consequence.

Many default patterns tend to be problematic in those with BPD when they’re trying to change. Your body and brain operates on homeostasis, this is the relatively stable state of usual functioning. In other words, it’s what your body and brain have become used to. When you try to do something different, learn a new skill, say an adaptive skill like deep breathing or mindfulness, your brain and body pushes back due to the dissonance, or unstable impact to disrupting its usual functioning. This is often why BPD behaviors and patterns are so hard to unlearn and replace. I said hard, not impossible.

So how do you change your Default patterns? First, you need to know what they are, identify them. When your core content gets activated what is your go to thought or behavior? There’s sometimes more than one. This sequence is your default pattern.
Second, recognize that there is a payoff for these default patterns or you wouldn’t have developed them as defaults. Problem is that there are short-term rewards with long-term payoff. Such as using drugs to cope, may feel great in the moment but the stressor always wins out creating greater problems for you in the long-run.
Lastly, find an adaptive strategy to replace your earliest behavior once your core content is triggered. Practice this behavior as often as possible, so it can become a default response and then when you get triggered use it and use it often.

If you’re interested in learning more about your BPD default patterns you can check out my BPD workbook. I hope you found this video helpful.

Daniel J. Fox, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist in Texas, international speaker, and award winning author. He has been specializing in the treatment and assessment of individuals with personality disorders for over 15 years in the state and federal prison system, universities, and in private practice. His specialty areas include personality disorders, ethics, burnout prevention, and emotional intelligence.

He has published several articles in these areas and is the author of:

The Borderline Personality Disorder Workbook: An Integrative Program to Understand and Manage Your BPD. Now Available, you can order it now at:

Antisocial, Borderline, Narcissistic and Histrionic Workbook: Treatment Strategies for Cluster B Personality Disorders (IPBA Benjamin Franklin Gold Award Winner):

Narcissistic Personality Disorder Toolbox: 55 Practical Treatment Techniques for Clients, Their Parents & Their Children:
The Clinician’s Guide to Diagnosis and Treatment of Personality Disorders:

Dr. Fox has given numerous workshops and seminars on ethics and personality disorders, personality disorders and crime, treatment solutions for treating clients along the antisocial, borderline, narcissistic, and histrionic personality spectrum, emotional intelligence, managing mental health within the prison system, and others. Dr. Fox maintains a website of various treatment interventions focused on working with and attenuating the symptomatology related to individuals along the antisocial, borderline, narcissistic, and histrionic personality spectrum (

Dr. Fox’s website:
Amazon Author’s Page:

Thank you for your attention and I hope you enjoy my videos and find them helpful and subscribe. I always welcome topic suggestions and comments.



  • ScrabyXD

    my psiquiatrist never talks about this, he mostly do psycoanalisis helping me a lot with my core content (as you say, ha!), but nothing of behavioral therapy. I'm scared of looking for another one, because he understand me and make me feel safe. I'll keep watching your videos meanwhile! sorry for the mistakes, I'm from Argentina. xoxo

  • Tasha Hocking

    I have a terrible habit of interrupting people or my tone comes across the wrong way to others. I'm not angry many times when I unknowingly do this. I'm often more-so excited and engaged. Next thing you know, I'm being perceived way differently than I ever intended. I'm off-putting when I'm just trying to connect.

  • snowpaletehdog

    I was recently diagnosed with bpd and these videos have helped me so much. I don't think my boyfriend would even be with me if it wasn't for the information he's gotten from these videos to understand why I am the way I am. Thank you so much Dr fox 🦊

  • dreamdust38

    So many therapist say that the B cluster just do not change but is that true. Perhaps they have more resistance to change until they find themselves at the bottom. If they cannot change then there is truly no hope with these people or the people who live with them or try to live with them. It hurts everyone. Cluster B is like a bomb going off for everyone.

  • Leah S

    This is exactly what I was working on in the workbook yesterday. I thought I had it down when I was doing the workbook but it seemed impossible to change when my core content was triggered again last night :/ like when I’m doing the workbook It all makes sense and I believe I can do it but it seems much harder when I’m actually going through it

  • Windave

    Hello Dr. I would really like to collaborate and subtitle some of your videos to spanish (so my girlfriend who suffers from bpd can understand you) this is because I really like what you say in your videos. How can we do it? I could not find the option to submit subtitles. Thanks!

  • fader

    Thank you Dr. Fox, homeostasis is what everyone wants…understanding that maladaptive behaviors are based on core beliefs that worked at one time…it is possible to conqeur a lot of difficult situation….you are offering so much value. Thank you

  • Kim Verber

    I just want to thank you for putting out these videos. I use them in helping with my aftercare as my 2 yrs of DPT & CBT weekly in home therapy was completed. Between my counseling handbook & the videos you put out are like my refresher course and guiding light. For the first time in my 57 yrs I finally like person that I've come to be which is "A Creative Work in Progress" like the art pieces I'm creating. You are an added benefit to those that are fortunate enough to have clicked on your videos and subscribe as I did. Thx again🤗

  • julie henrn

    Your insight, sincere understanding, and useful tips are so helpful in my recovery. Especially during months when I can't afford to see my therapist, your videos help keep me grounded and moving forward. I cannot thank you enough for the work that you do – you are helping so many people to feel understood and rise out of the darkness. Your sincerity and help is SO appreciated. This video reminded me that I will not let BPD define me. All the best!

  • Maria

    Would you please do a video on what recovery looks like? It's toigh when every video is about how bad it is. You say it's possible to change but all the videos just describe the bad over and over.

  • Alex Boyce

    I just wanted to say, I really, really appreciate how much of this content that you provide for free, Dr. Fox. I've purchased your workbook but it makes me so happy to know that even if I couldn't have afforded that, I could still come to your channel to help me work on my disorder.

  • Phương Tạ

    My mother never let me have privacy, so I become overreact whenever she does something in my place without my permission. This morning she cleaned my house although I told her not to do so, and then I felt so angry and negative that I wanted to killed myself to release myself from my negative emotion.

  • Aliya Menesheva

    because ex dutch bf promised a lot and he knows i can not go europeon junde for my rights so he does whatever he wants and no one to stand up for my rights thats why its so hard to get what i deserve as ex wife, never mind my skin color

  • Feminem Nerd

    I love your channel! You’ve helped me grow and self reflect as well as learn to be more empathetic to myself.

    However I would really love to see a video on BPD and their attraction to toxic or abusive people. How do you learn to sift through what’s your disorder and what’s actual abuse. I’m struggling to deal with leaving a very toxic and at times abusive relationship.

  • Faith Walker

    It does get better with help. I have found if you move to another state and you don't have the same resources that you can fall back into the negative patterns very quickly. I believe if we could have a good therapist, have access to the treatment that fits us best, possibly a dietitian and most of all a life coach, we would be able to get better and stay better. I have researched every possible thing I can about BPD. I have read every book. I have watched every video and I have researched all of the clinical trials and the results. I follow all the people that specialize in researching this disorder. In a matter of almost 18 years it was only a behavioral disease developed into your personality by the way you were raised. Now there's a lot of evidence that it is hereditary and huge differences in the way our brains reacts. Yet. I still suffer. I try on my own but it doesn't always work out so well. I've been disabled for 10 years and recently I've recovered from drugs and alcohol. I am on Medicare insurance and am just looking for the right person who I can trust so that I can start healing again. I found out when I was 28 I had BPD and in between then and now managed to have several failed relationships, failed career and college choices, several shoplifting charges and last but not least the drug charge. I feel like I am unable to motivate myself to get help and that sometimes leverage is the only thing that works and I hate that. I hate having to lose the few things I love in this world so that I can get better. You would think with all of the researching and reading I have done "self-help" I be well on my way to being better. After so many years of pain and suffering and trying to numb the way I felt with drugs and alcohol, I just don't even know who I am anymore. I feel like I just need somebody to grab my hand and take me to where I need to go. I don't know how to get there. All I want is to be better. It's like you know what is supposed to happen but your brain doesn't work the way it should. It's feels like you're drowning underwater, as the current takes you under and swimming like hell to catch a breath of air. After you finally breathe your sucked back down again and it just repeats itself over again. You're so exhausted from constantly fighting and it becomes a constant circle of frightening emotions. Eventually you get tired enough that your body shuts down. Now you are numb and really don't have any idea who you are as a person. I love having the opportunity to see stuff online but something needs to change in the communities where we can actually have interaction with one another one on one. I think that's one of the hardest things is not feeling like you know you have people around you who understand. I believe that we could really help each other out a lot and benefit from that. Don't get me wrong I've learned a lot over the years I'm just still waiting for the AHA. I know that what I'm going through eventually well hopefully lead to me to share my experience, strength, and hope to help others. I've just been waiting for so many years. I still haven't given up. At least I have hope.

  • Tanya Christiansen

    I've been living in Trauma with BPD for 44 year's. Very horrific life of suffering. Cutting, severe Hair pulling, dangerous sex with stranger's, alcoholism, 40 year pornography addiction and so many other self harm activities. I've only this month have I possibly gotten connected to some treatment support. Long road ahead for me but I'm determined before any more time passes.
    Thank you for your Channel Dr. Fox

  • Rebecca Jimenez

    So grateful for every video. And I agree with our dissonance takes over when trying to change those maladaptive patterns. I liked how you used overwhelming because I feel as though as I myself gets overwhelmed easy and I just give up and fall into my old habits. Reading the and working on the book now! I appreciate you Dr. Fox💖✨

  • Leah S

    Can you please please do one on bpd and feeling misunderstood? This really triggers my bpd and I’m not really sure what’s going on here. I had a 6 hour bpd “episode” today because of it

  • Pretzel Jack

    I have never in my life heard anyone, repeat my own behaviour back to me the way you have. I’m crying because I feel like I finally understand what’s wrong with me because I’m finally hearing it all explained properly.
    Thank you so much for uploading these videos on bpd.

  • Hope Rising

    Can you please consider making a video on how to deal with toxic people when you have bpd, and not let them derail your progress, especially when you live with them (eg, family) or otherwise can’t avoid them?

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