The Five Steps

A cognitive approach to regaining control of our lives

What are they?

This simple coping technique can save lives and has been shown to be a highly effective form of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). Please keep in mind that simply knowing what the Five Steps are doesn't mean that your life will change overnight.

  • Putting the Five Steps to practical use on a daily basis will take time and practice.
  • Don't get upset if you don't or can't master them right away.
  • Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and try again the next time!

One of the most effective ways to learn to incorporate the Five Steps into your list of coping skills is to work the steps in hindsight or retrospectively.

By this, I mean that it's totally understandable that after years - even decades - of learned and practiced Borderline behavior cannot simply be stopped dead in its tracks by sheer desire. There are years of behaviors to undo first.

Working the steps retrospectively means you examine a situation that has already occurred and use the Five Step process as if you were still in the situation.

  1. Stop / HALT
    Just stop and breathe for a moment. Are you Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired? The HALT feelings are physically-based and only temporary. Remember that!
  2. Determine what the problem is
    Sure there can be (and usually ARE) more than just *one* problem but even still, write the problem(s) down on a piece of paper.
  3. Come up with THREE possible courses of action
    Start with one of your problems and come up with three (and only three - not a hundred, not just one) possible things you could do.
  4. Figure out which one is best for now
    You don't have to make a lifelong commitment right now and if things don't work out quite the way you'd hoped they would, you can work the steps again and again and again - just like everyone else does!
  5. DO IT!
    I say that assuming you haven't chosen suicide. Obviously, that's the ultimate final solution (assuming you'd succeed). Nothing will happen to change the situation/problem until you actually DO something, no matter how small. A change in your situation, outlook, etc. requires a change from within yourself. In order for that internal change to have effect on the outside, tangible world, you must take action to implement that change.

A Practical Approach

Instead of trying to implement the steps up-front, pick a recent situation where you recognize that you acted quite Borderline. Then apply the Five Steps. Start at the beginning and check the HALT. Working all the way through the steps shows your conscious and subconscious mind that there are other ways to cope with stressful situations. It is this preparation that gears us up for implementing the Five Steps in real-time scenarios.

A great companion piece in your arsenal of healthy coping techniques is to study the Four Agreements.

To learn more about how the Five Steps can be applied to your journey toward recovery, pick up a copy of "Putting The Pieces Together".