DBT Skill: Participate

According to Marsha Linehan, mindfulness is related to the quality of awareness and presence that a person brings to everyday living. She says, “It’s a way of living awake, with eyes wide open. As a set of skills, mindfulness practice is the intentional process of observing, describing, and participating in reality, nonjudgmentally, in the moment, and with effectiveness”.

One of the DBT mindfulness skills is Participate. The skill of Participate is more than, say, raising our hand in class or being active in a conversation. It is the practice of throwing ourselves fully into whatever it is we are doing. When we are participating, we are actually not thinking about ourselves and we are not separate from what we are doing. We are completely absorbed solely in our activity. 

We all have the ability to practice participating fully in our lives. We all have moments when we are so caught up in what we are doing that we  ‘become what we are doing’. It may be when we are reading a novel, conversing with friends, painting or playing our favorite sport, to name a few examples.. If we are enjoying a game of soccer with our friends and start thinking about our grocery list, we are likely to miss a shot. When we are participating, we are completely and unselfconsciously focused on the ball, our teammates, and the goal.

Here are some ways to practice the skill of Participate:

  • Immerse yourself in each moment as it arises – When you are reading read, when you are playing tennis, play it fully.
  • Throw yourself fully into your daily activities – When you are at the grocery store, be there fully, smile at the grocery store clerk, notice everything. When you are playing with your children, play with your full attention. 
  • Go with the flow of the activity – Don’t separate yourself from whatever you are doing, engage in it fully in every conversation and every interaction you have to the best of your ability. Enjoy the flow.
  • Don’t separate yourself from your experiences, enter into them completely. If it’s raining, go play in the rain. 


Written By: Keren L Clark, LMFT

Photo Credit: Via Unsplash

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