Taking Hold of Your Mind: “What” Skills
Observe

Notice your body sensations (coming through your eyes, ears, nose, skin, and tongue).
Pay attention on purpose, to the present moment.
Control your attention, but not what you see. Push away nothing. Cling to nothing.
Practice wordless watching: Watch thoughts come into your mind and let them slip right by
like clouds in the sky. Notice each feeling, rising and falling, like waves in the ocean.
Observe both inside and outside yourself.

Describe
Put words on the experience. When a feeling or thought arises, or you do something,
acknowledge it. For example, say in your mind, “Sadness has just enveloped me,” or “Stomach
muscles tightening,“ or “A thought ‘I can’t do this’ has come into my mind.”
Label what you observe. Put a name on your feelings. Label a thought as just a thought, a
feeling as just a feeling, an action as just an action.
Unglue your interpretations and opinions from the facts. Describe the “who, what, when,
and where” that you observe. Just the facts.
Remember, If you can’t observe it through your senses, you can’t describe it.
Participate
Throw yourself completely into activities of the current moment. Do not separate yourself
from what is going on in the moment (dancing, cleaning, talking to a friend, feeling happy or
feeling sad).
Become one with whatever you are doing, completely forgetting yourself. Throw your
attention to the moment.
Act intuitively from Wise Mind. Do just what is needed in each situation—a skillful dancer on
the dance floor, one with the music and your partner, neither willful nor sitting on your hands.
Go with the flow. Respond with spontaneity.

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DBT – WHAT Skills

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