This skill helps us to temporarily take away the emotional reaction or attachment to the situation at hand so we can shift into Wise Mind and respond from a more rational place.
Here's an example of ordinary describing of a situation:
"He hasn't called me yet because he doesn't care. He's going to end up leaving me, and I'll be all alone. I can't handle this. He's such a jerk for making me wait."
And, here is how we practice the DBT skill of Describing, removing judgment and just stating the facts as best as we understand them. In this case:
- Fact: He hasn't called me yet.
- Fact: I don't know what the circumstances are that are involved in him not calling me back or what it means in terms of his intentions.
- I had the thought: "He doesn't care." It's just a thought. Just because I think it doesn't mean it's true or accurate.
- I had the thought: "He's going to end up leaving me, and I'll be all alone." This, again, is just a thought. Just because I think it doesn't mean it's true or accurate.
- I had the thought: "I can't handle this," but a more accurate assessment is "This is incredibly painful. I am emotional. Not all of the facts are in. I can handle this, even though it feels VERY difficult right now."
- I had the thought: "He's such a jerk for making me wait." This is a judgment. He may be a jerk, but he may not be. Just because I had this thought doesn't make it so. He could be stuck in traffic, his cell phone battery could have died. It could be a number of things.
Do you see the difference? How might you apply the DBT Describing skill to a situation that you are stressing about in your life right now? How might it help you?
Tonight I will mark the Describing and Wise Mind skills on my DBT Diary Card.
Thanks for reading.