Are you present? This means paying attention to what is happening right now. Without judgment. Without overthinking. Most of us aren’t fully experiencing our lives because we’re spending so much time worrying about the future or reflecting on the past. And our busy lives keep us preoccupied and out of touch with ourselves, our surroundings, and other people.
It’s all about staying in the moment. Mindfulness is about focusing only on the here and how, and we accomplish it by slowing down and doing one thing at a time. When we use all five of our senses, we’re more apt to notice the little things that might otherwise go unnoticed or taken for granted. When we stay mindful, we can appreciate the little things that bring us joy, like the warm sunshine on our faces or the crisp, clean sheets on our bed. Mindfulness is an approach to all that we do, whether it’s eating dinner or folding laundry.
Mindfulness helps us understand ourselves. We tend to look outside ourselves for the answers but in reality, what we need is to turn inward. But because we’re often disconnected from ourselves, we don’t even know what we feel or what we need. On the other hand, when we’re mindful we can find solutions to our problems because we can see the whole picture. We are able to expand our thinking to new ideas rather being stuck in old thought patterns.
The path to self-acceptance begins here. Mindfulness can help us accept ourselves because when we’re mindful, we allow all of our thoughts and feelings rather than pushing them away. We tend to turn to distracting, denying, or minimizing in an effort to cope with difficult feelings or overwhelming problems. But when we welcome them in, we affirm our ability to cope and acknowledge that all of these parts of ourselves are acceptable.
I’m OK, you’re OK. When we’re mindful, we accept ourselves, our lives, and everybody else just as they are. Perfectionism goes out the window. We stop trying to be somebody we’re not. We see everything without needing to judge it as good or bad. We can allow our feelings, whatever they are.
Mindfulness is at the core of DBT skills training. Dialectical Behavior Therapy, DBT, is an effective behavioral treatment program. It emphasizes individual psychotherapy and group skills training classes to help people learn and use new skills and strategies to develop a life that they experience as worth living. DBT includes skills for mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness. The client and the therapist work together on ways to decrease destructive behaviors and replace them with effective, life-enhancing behaviors. By improving stress tolerance and mindfulness, clients can find self-acceptance.
When we’re mindful, we slow down, tune in, and really listen to our bodies, thoughts, and feelings. We notice every part of ourselves and we say, “I’m worthy and acceptable just as I am.”