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DBT - Mindfulness Skills (part 2)

Before reading this post, you should probably take a look at Part 1 of the Mindfulness Skills which you can find here. In Part 2, we look at the second set of DBT Mindfulness skills - the How Skills. As I mentioned in Part 1 of this post, the What Skills are like the verb (what are you doing)? and the How Skills are the adverb (how are you doing it?).

Another starring role for the little blob person in an additional cute video that explains the three skills: non-judgmentally, one-mindfully and effectively. All three of these are great conflict resolution skills. 


This means accepting the moment exactly as it is. Don’t evaluate it as good or bad, just focus on the facts. It doesn’t mean that you have to approve or agree with everything and it doesn’t mean that you can’t express preferences - just express your preferences descriptively rather than evaluatively. For example, rather than saying, “Those bananas are bad, I’m not buying them,” a non-judgmental way to express that would be to say, “Those bananas have lots of brown marks on them. I think this means they’re overripe and if I buy them, no one at home will want to eat them.” 

Being descriptive rather than evaluative gives you much more information about a situation and can give you more confidence in your decision making. If you are in a conflict, expressing yourself in this way is likely to be more convincing, as you will be able to explain how you've reached your position and the other person is probably less likely to react defensively.

If you do notice judgments creeping in, try not to judge them! As with all the mindfulness skills, just notice them and think about how you could refocus to act non-judgmentally. 


This skill is about focussing on just one thing in the present. If you are a neurodivergent person who finds this challenging, remember that the key to all DBT skills is to act effectively. If you can focus more easily when you are also performing an unrelated physical task, then you might prefer to think of this skill as "attentively" rather than one-mindfully.

If you are someone who is always trying to multi-task, it might feel counter-intuitive to know that research suggests that for most neurotypical people, it’s usually more efficient to focus on one thing at a time. For lots of people, this can also be a way to feel calmer - if your mind is busy with worries about the future, gently try to bring it back to the present. 

Some people can find it useful to set aside 15 minutes in their day for worrying. That way, if they find themselves worrying outside of this time, they can reassure themselves that those thoughts will get their undivided attention once a day, so they don’t need to shout quite so loudly the rest of the time.


Being effective is about doing what is needed in this moment to achieve your goals- make sure that you can see the wood for the trees. Don't get bogged down in minutiae about what's fair or unfair, right or wrong if these distract you from being able to achieve the things that are really important to you.

Of course this means that the foundational skill here is being able to identify what really matters to you. You'll need to discern know what you want to get out of a situation and respond to the actual facts rather than how you think it should be. If you're in a conflict, this means keeping a sense of proportion and a flexible attitude as well as being open to different solutions.


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