“How” Skills | Mindfulness
We taught you the “what” skills of mindfulness, now it’s time for the HOW!
How skills are how you should be doing the what skills, or how you should be practicing mindfulness. The goal is to include these 3 skills in everything you do. (It sounds daunting but if you approach it with an open mind, it can be done and eventually becomes second nature.)
This is one I’m working on hardcore. Living life nonjudgmentally means that you are trying not to judge yourself and others. You are letting go of any preconceived notions or expectations. You are taking on an attitude of compassion towards yourself and others. You are letting go.
Living life nonjudgmentally can be extremely liberating. It facilitates compassion and inner peace (hokey, I know). But really, it cultivates a level of chill. If you’re not focused on the people around you, and if you’re not wasting time being harsh to yourself, you’re left with a ton of time and brain space to do more positive things.
Ex: So today I was walking to class and this girl in front of me was wearing super short shorts and her bum was hanging out. For a split second I thought “ew” but then I corrected myself. Maybe she doesn’t know how short her shorts are. Maybe she LOVES those shorts. Maybe she feels comfortable enough with her body to wear whatever. So I quickly switched my “ew” to a “you do you, girl.”
Ex: Imagine you just went out to lunch with a group of friends. Now you’re at home, and you’re starting to review how you acted in your mind. Some thoughts start popping up. “I was too loud.” “I think I talked too much.” “I was obnoxious.” Then things start snowballing: “I’m a bad friend.” “I’m a terrible person.” NOW STOP. Try to think nonjudgmentally. Just notice your thoughts. “I’m feeling insecure about how I acted.” Try to stop judging yourself for the way you acted. Would you judge a loved one like that? Do you really think people noticed how you think you acted? If you did act that way, how much does it matter? Would your friends even remember?
One-mindfully is about keeping your mind in the moment. To do something one-mindfully is to be entirely focused on the task. Try not to think about what you’re doing tomorrow, or even an hour from now. Try not to think about what happened yesterday. It’s all about the NOW, living It’s all very zen.
The point of this skill is to help you experience life. If your head is always stuck in the future or the past, you’re not appreciating what is happening in the moment. This type of mindfulness can greatly improve your quality of life by helping you enjoy the present. It can also improve your memory! Have you ever struggled to remember what you ate for breakfast just hours earlier? It’s probably because you weren’t being mindful. Focusing on the process of eating that breakfast and doing nothing but eating it can help you remember the moment in the future.
Ex: If you’re doing the dishes, just do the dishes. Don’t think about something stupid you said earlier. Don’t think about the 50 pages in Spanish you need to read for tomorrow. Focus on the sensation of the hot water on your hands, the smell of the soap, the squeak of the dishes.
In DBT, they tell you that doing something effectively is not “biting off your nose to spite your face.” That may be a little hard to understand. Doing something effectively is making life the easiest it can be for you. I like to think about it like the opposite of being a toddler. If you’re a toddler, odds are when something doesn’t go your way you’ll throw a temper tantrum. You’ll kick and scream and make a scene because your mom didn’t let you have a second juice box. Throwing a tantrum is not going to get you that second juice box. In fact, it’s probably going to land you in a time-out. Behaving effectively is NOT throwing that tantrum. It’s all about realizing that throwing a tantrum is going to hurt you, not help you. So instead, you accept the situation and do all you can to make it easier on you.
Ex: Your boss gives you a huge, last minute project to do. You’re pissed because you thought you had the night off and wanted to spend it relaxing. You have several options: 1. You could go into a rage and tell your boss that you’re absolutely not going to do this project. In this case, you run the risk of getting fired, which is definitely not something you want. 2. You could say sure you’ll do your best, and go home and work on the project for most of the night, but stop at a reasonable time, watch your favorite tv show, and go to bed. #1 would be throwing that temper tantrum. #2 would be behaving effectively. You’re doing your best and not making the whole situation worse for yourself.