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DBT - Building Mastery

On the wall of the Facebook Headquarters Building there is a sign that reads: “Done is Better than Perfect.” I like to think about this because I imagine that many individuals working for such a successful company have perfectionistic tendencies. I imagine the employees really having to practice this phrase, having to remind themselves of it as they walk past the sign, having to challenge their thoughts regularly.

The DBT skill of “building mastery” is also related to this idea: that accomplishing a task fully builds confidence and production rather than allowing perfectionism to keep us stuck and overwhelmed.

Building mastery means doing any one thing that makes you feel in control and confident. When in a stress or shame spiral, everything feels overwhelming and chaotic. It’s important to remind yourself of your capability and mindfulness, through small tasks. For instance, imagine the pile of work in front of you is daunting or the to-do list keeps growing. (For most, this is not hard to imagine.) The work will often feel more doable after experiencing the feeling of accomplishing one task and seeing it to completion.

What is one thing you can do to? What is one thing you can take off the list through accomplishment? For example, take your medication or vitamins; Wash your face; Feed the pets. After accomplishing this task, consider the next one that will help you to build mastery. Important: Choose one that you know you can complete fully. The feeling of having accomplished this task will make the next one feel far more doable. This is where the mindfulness skills come into play: do something and do it with your full mind, then shift gears to the next thing with your full mind. Focusing on one task at a time rather than the list itself which creates paralysis.

The AA community refers to this practice with the phrase “just do the next right thing.” Doing one right thing at a time and focusing on that right thing helps to create manageable tasks rather than focusing on the big picture which will often lead to stress and mental exhaustion.

Try this skill today and notice how your perspective changes and your mastery builds!

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