This episode explores how to apply mindfulness skills to help you manage distressing thoughts using the DBT skill called Mindfulness of Current Thoughts. Thoughts can cause a lot of suffering. Often, thoughts about events are based on assumptions, judgments, or interpretations rather than on facts.
The core of this skill is to notice thoughts as just thoughts, or sensations of the brain, rather than as fact or truth. This can help lower emotional distress and reactivity. Mindfulness of Current Thoughts helps you change your relationship with your thoughts rather than changing the thoughts themselves.
- The origin of many of our painful emotions are stories we tell ourselves
- Negative or judgmental thoughts may be nearly constant in the background of one’s mind
- Activating the part of the brain that is a witness to what your brain is doing
- Using Observe and Describe with your thoughts
- Mindfulness of Current Thoughts is not about analyzing or changing our thoughts
- If you are stuck in negative thinking, it is nearly impossible to argue yourself out of a thought
- Some people try to suppress thoughts which doesn’t work, or can backfire, and the painful thought can come back stronger
- Not being attached to thoughts and not pushing them away
- Observing your thoughts coming and going without judging, pushing away, or keeping thoughts around
- Imagery can be helpful: watching thoughts like clouds going by, waves crashing on the sand, or leaves floating by on a stream
- Remembering we are not our thoughts, and we don’t have to act on our thoughts
- Trying to remember times when you had different thoughts
- Noticing when your thoughts are coming from Emotion Mind, rather than Wise Mind
- Try singing your thoughts or saying them in a funny voice, accent, or in the voice of a cartoon character
DBT Skills Discussed
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Please note that questions, and this podcast in general, are not a substitute for individual mental health treatment.