DBT Video Text: Turning the Mind

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These are scripts from videos by Dialectical Behavioral Therapy creator Marsha Linehan describing DBT skills. You can purchase the videos from Behavioral Tech LLC.

The next skill we’re going to talk about is the skill of turning your mind. Now turning your mind is a great skill because radical acceptance is not something you can do once. It’s something you have to do over and over and over. And how do you get yourself to do that? You get yourself to do that by turning the mind.

What you have to practice is turning the mind towards acceptance. It’s a little bit like walking down a road and you keep coming to forks in the road. One direction, accepting.  The other direction, rejecting.

DBT Turning the Mind: A hiker faces a fork in a forest path.

Turning the mind is when you keep turning your mind towards the acceptance road. So in life, you keep coming to forks and you have to keep turning the mind to the accepting road. 

Getting yourself to do it can be really hard. You have to practice over and over and over. The good news is if you practice turning the mind towards acceptance, eventually you’ll practice acceptance more often. And if you do that, what happens? Suffering gets less intense. Suffering goes down to ordinary pain. 

How do you do it? Well, the first step is you have to actually notice that you’re not accepting. The tip off to not accepting generally is going to be anger, bitterness, annoyance. Or you may be falling into the sea of ‘Why Me?’ So you’re going to want to notice that.

Or, you might find that you are always trying to escape reality. You’re trying to block things out all the time. You’re hiding behind other things. Or you’re covering up how you’re really feeling with other things. You find yourself saying all the time, ‘Why? Why is this happening? Why is this happening?’ 

So notice. Notice that you’re not accepting.

The next step is make an inner commitment to accept. The inner commitment is the turning the mind to the road of accepting. This isn’t accepting. Don’t worry, you don’t have to do it right away, just have to make the commitment. 

So go within yourself and make the commitment. In other words, go inside yourself and simply turn your mind towards acceptance. 

The third step – do it again. Sometimes you may have to do it again over and over many times in a minute. Sometimes you have to do it many times in a day.

So that’s how you do it. Step one: notice. Step two: inner commitment. Step three: do it again. 

So let’s take an example. Let’s imagine that you’re on the bus and the bus is taking a really long time. And you want to get where you’re going. So you look at your watch and it’s already 45 minutes and it’s usually only 20. 

You may start noticing that you are having lots of non-acceptance thoughts. ‘I can’t stand this.’ ‘They have to hurry up.’ ‘This shouldn’t be taking so long.’ ‘How much longer! How much longer! Ugh!’

Well, let’s say that you’ve noticed all this, then you want to practice turning the mind. 

First thing you might do is look at all those thoughts and see if you can replace them. How could you do that? Well, you could say, ‘Alright this is a pain. But it’s not a catastrophe.’ You could say, ‘I don’t like it. I’m frustrated. I can stand it.’ You could say, ‘Everything has a cause. There’s a reason the bus driver doesn’t drive better.’

Then, you could notice yourself. See that you’re starting to get annoyed – fidget again. You just repeat it. Over and over and over.

So the key idea here is that if you’re trying to get from non-acceptance to radical acceptance, you first have to turn the mind.

This text is the unofficial transcript of Behavioral Tech, LLC.
Chaos to Freedom Skills Training Video. Posted with permission from Behavioral Tech.
Transcribed by Sylvia James, May 15, 2006