Learn how to begin dreaming – in Part 3 of 3 in the series ‘Building a life worth living in DBT

How to begin dreaming: Building a life worth living in DBT (Part 3)

Part 1 of this series of building a life worth living focused why it’s so important to get in touch with your dreams.

Part 2 focused on why it’s sometimes hard to dream.

In this post, you’ll learn how to begin dreaming if you’ve lost touch with that part of yourself.

How to begin dreaming

What did you like to do when you were a child?

Remember what gave you pleasure as a child.

Remember if you longed to play an instrument or a sport, or to have quiet time to read and write stories.

Check in with yourself to see if those things still call to you.

We can’t get back lost time, so you may not be able to become a master pianist or an athlete now, but your life worth living can include plenty of time listening to classical music or watching sports you love.

Get creative about your dreams when you connect to what you liked to do as a child.

For example, if you loved finger painting, what about it did you love?

  • Was it the colors? Maybe you’ll want to work towards having a life filled with bright colors.
  • Or maybe it was the tactile sense, and your life worth living will include gardening or working with clay.

A note about trauma

If you were abused or suffered trauma in your early life, it might be hard to connect with your earlier years. Be gentle with yourself. This territory may be best visited with the help of your therapist.

Think about the small things that give you pleasure

Don’t assume that your dreams have to be big – like, “I will write a best-seller” (although you can work towards this).

Rather, think about all the small things that will help you create the life you want.

  • Does your dream life include time to connect with nature?
  • Or time in the kitchen, cooking meals you love?
  • Or a pet to come home to?

Remember, it’s the small things that are the building blocks of your life worth living.

There’s no right or wrong in dreaming

Each person’s dreams look different.

For example, for one person, a life worth living can include:

  • A stable and secure home with regular routines, OR
  • Traveling from place to place, experiencing lots of new things.

There’s no right or wrong, just what YOU want to work towards.

What will motivate you to change long-standing behaviors that create a life you don’t want?
What dreams will keep you going when you want to give up?

To work towards your dreams:


In DBT treatment, in the beginning, you’ll often focus on stopping certain behaviors that interfere with you creating the life you want.

For example, if your life worth living includes a loving, long-term relationship, you’ll experiment with new ways to manage anger, so you don’t direct it in destructive ways towards your partner.

This includes things that you will work on not doing, such as:

  • Yelling
  • Threats
  • Compulsive behavior
  • Self-harm

This will also include working on not avoiding  the things you need to do to create the life you want.

For example, if you want to get a new job but your moods keep you from working on your job search, you’ll need to use DBT skills to help you stop avoiding.

Lean on your support system.

Garner support and encouragement as you build your life worth living – from your therapist, the skills you’re learning in DBT, and supportive friends or family.

Your support system might include faith or prayer, connecting to nature or your creativity.

You need lots of resources to bolster you courageously working towards the life you want.

Ready to build YOUR life worth living?

Call (415) 310-5142 to see how DBT can help you.