DBT Skill: One-Mindfully

The advent of the New Year offers an ideal opportunity to share my favorite DBT skill, One-Mindfully. The use of this skill is instrumental in assisting those individuals who make New Year’s resolutions actually succeed in reaching their goals, finishing tasks, or completing larger projects. It is also helpful for anyone who desires to decrease personal stress or suffering, find greater joy in life, and increase productivity. If you enjoy getting things done or checking things off your list, or if your motto is carpe diem (meaning “seize the day”), or perhaps more appropriately carpe momento (meaning “seize the moment”), then this skill is for you!

I like to think of the One-Mindfully skill as being “single-minded”, in a positive way, which requires determination, steadfastness, and resolve to focusing your mind on one purpose, task, activity, or goal. One-Mindfully involves being fully present in this particular moment in time and paying attention to one—and only one—thing that you are intentionally focused on doing or experiencing, as you are doing or experiencing it, with complete awareness.

One-mindfully does not involve multitasking. There is a common misconception that multi-tasking helps you to get more things done and faster; it does not! Multi-tasking is very inefficient! Research shows that those who engage in multi-tasking actually take longer to complete the same task or tasks than if they had only focused on completing one task at a time. Furthermore, their accuracy and efficacy go down significantly because they are not giving full attention to each individual task they are doing when they are dividing their attention between completing multiple tasks simultaneously. Multi-tasking promotes a sense of “scatter-brain,” absent-mindedness, distractedness, and that feeling of being “all over the place” or fragmented, all of which tend to coincide with stress. 

Remaining focused on the one activity in which you are engaging in the present moment means you are not dwelling on or even reliving the past—which is over—nor worrying about or anticipating the future—which does not yet exist. Instead, you are living this one moment for all that it is worth, getting the most out of your experience and savoring this moment. Think about this concept logically. If you are ruminating on pain and suffering from your past, or dreading potential pain and suffering from your future, then you are adding unnecessary pain and suffering to the actual pain and suffering you may already be experiencing in the present moment!

Have you ever eaten a snack while sitting in front of the TV, only to reach into the bag and discover that all of your chips have suddenly disappeared? Or have you ever taken your vitamins or medications and found yourself wondering if you already swallowed a pill from that bottle, and should you risk taking it again, or just skip it altogether to be on the safe side? Or have you ever driven down the road and looked over at the driver of the car next to you only to find that he or she is not paying attention to driving but is instead looking down at his or her cell phone? What if they were to swerve over into your lane? Or rear-end the car in front of them during stop-and-go rush-hour traffic? Or worse, they run a red light and cause a car accident or hit a pedestrian or cyclist along the side of the road, all because they weren’t paying attention to what they were doing.

I believe that One-Mindfully applies to every aspect of our lives—to every task, great or small. To every activity worth doing, and worth doing well. What can you accomplish if you employ the One-Mindfully skill in your life? How much of each moment of your life do you want to live? One-Mindfully may just be a skill worth practicing in your life! Can you come up with one or two situations in your life in which it would be beneficial for you to practice being One-Mindfully focused on what you are doing or experiencing? I’ve listed some examples below. Can you try to practice the One-Mindfully skill during one of these activities within the next few days?

-Washing dishes

-Eating a meal or snack

-Having a conversation with a family member or friend

-Going for a walk

-Playing with your children

-Taking a shower

-Folding laundry

-Brushing your teeth

-Driving to work or school

Written by Shannon Pugh

LAPC

January 24, 2020

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