In a world where mental health is gaining more and more attention, you may have heard a thing or two about mindfulness. In dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), this is the first and most important skill that is taught. Without mindfulness, it would not be possible to change patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving. Whether we want to change thoughts that are colored by judgment or to be more effective in our personal endeavors, DBT mindfulness “how” skills are important to learn. Here’s how you can use these skills to avoid judgment, be mindful, and be more effective.
Understanding Mindfulness “How” Skill
All of dialectical behavior therapy skills training is built on the foundation of mindfulness skills. Knowing what these skills are is important for you to learn more about who you are, your direction in life, and how to control your thoughts and emotions. On the other hand, DBT mindfulness “how” is all about learning the ways that you can practice the DBT skills you’ve learned.
The first way that we should practice our DBT skills is through a non-judgmental lens. All of us are conditioned to place judgments on our observations. By doing so, we are able to evaluate and assess things and situations. However, this can also be detrimental. We may end up judging others more than we should, and we can also start judging ourselves. Judgment can encourage a negative environment and lead to sadness, shame, and guilt.
When we take a non-judgmental stance, it means that we do not judge things are right or wrong and good or bad. We can instead focus on the consequence of behaviors or situations rather than judging ourselves and others. This helps us focus on the facts without judging those people who are involved.
Tips for Practicing Non-Judgmental
To practice taking a non-judgmental approach to your DBT skills, try paying attention to the next time you do a mundane or regular task. One DBT mindfulness exercise you can take advantage of in this context is practicing observing your task and environment and describing the task as you complete it. Take note of when your mind starts to form a judgment, and make an effort not to get caught up in it. Simply notice that your mind is judging and then let the judgment go. Try this not only in regular situations but also circumstances where things might be more emotionally charged. By practicing, you may be able to let go of more volatile reactions as you get better at withholding judgments.
The one-mindful DBT “how” skill is your ability to focus your mind and awareness in the present moment. When practicing this skill, try not to let your mind be distracted by thoughts and images of the past or worries about the future. Focus on the present task or activity at hand and engage with it with your eyes and mind wide open.
Tips for Practicing One-Mindful
To practice one-mindful, start by paying attention to situations in your life where you may be doing more than one thing at the same time. Use this technique to focus and concentrate on just one thing at a time. Aim for just a few minutes of focus at first, and pay attention to how you feel when you do this. You may find that you feel less flustered and more present.
The be effective skill is all about doing what works for you and not worrying so much about being right. Effectiveness is often closely tied with radical acceptance, which is one of the distress tolerance skills. In order to be effective, it is best to radically accept a situation, even if that may mean letting go of being right and another person being wrong. It does not necessarily mean that you approve of the way things are, but more of accepting that you won’t make things harder for yourself by going against what you can’t change.
Tips for Practicing Effectiveness
Be observant of some things that you may be holding grudges on in your life, even if they are small. Is it doing you any good hanging onto these grudges? Try reassessing the situation to consider what a more effective solution would be.
The Bottom Line
The principles and practices of mindfulness can benefit practically everyone. It is especially useful for those who are experiencing problems such as intense emotions, substance abuse, eating disorders, or other mental health conditions. Treatment becomes more effective when mindfulness is practiced. To learn more about DBT skills, try out a few DBT worksheets so that you can avoid judgment, be more mindful, and be more effective.