Be present. Live in the moment. Take one day at a time.
Sure, you’ve heard all of these sayings before. You may have even tried to stop dwelling on the past or worrying about the future and focus on what is going on right in front of you. But no matter how hard you try, your mind won’t stop racing and you just can’t concentrate on all of the things presently going on in your life.
Mindfulness is one of the skills learned through Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), a treatment modality developed to treat Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). While the techniques have proven successful in helping to target and manage BPD symptoms, they are also worthwhile to anyone who has difficulty living in the moment.
Learning to be mindful of your surroundings, your feelings, and your emotions can be challenging. It may not come easy to you, but with practice, you can find ways to focus on your present and not get so caught up in your past or future.
Concentrate on your breathing. Paying attention to your breathing can help make you feel centered and focused. To become more mindful at any point during the day, take a moment to yourself to focus on your inhaling and exhaling. While you are breathing, pay attention to the thoughts and feelings that are drifting through your mind. Acknowledge them and let them pass instead of holding onto them.
Do one thing at a time. Instead of thinking about all of the other things you have to do during the day or rehashing last week’s argument with your friend, give your full attention to whatever it is you are currently doing. Focus on driving while you are driving, focus on eating when you are eating, and focus on your current conversation when you are having it.
Let go of wasted emotions. Don’t hold on to anger, resentment, or judgments. Emotions like that can only detract from you fully enjoying your present experiences. That doesn’t mean you have to discount those emotions completely, but instead of letting them persist, acknowledge them when you experience them, and then let them go.
Accept what is in front of you. True mindfulness means accepting that you are who you are and where you are at that moment in time. Consider this as you are talking to people, confronting problems, and making decisions. Don’t get caught up in how things used to be or could have been.
Describe what you’re feeling. Learn to put into words what you are feeling or experiencing. Stick to the facts instead of interpretations or perceptions. The act of doing this will help you to be more aware of your thoughts and feelings and keep you in the present. It may also help you to better appreciate what you’re experiencing.
Increasing your mindfulness skills is just one of many Dialectical Behavior Therapy techniques that can be useful for managing your Borderline Personality Disorder symptoms and living a more productive life. It may not be easy at first, but with enough practice you will find it easier to live in the moment and truly be present.