Come to Your Senses! (And Stop Freaking Out By Using DBT)

This past week has been quite challenging for me. A number of stressful events built up to where I was having anxiety and panic attacks. As someone who is diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, my experience of emotions tends to be much more intense than the average person’s.  Without intervention, in the form of DBT for example, I can create and experience excessive (and truly unnecessary) suffering…as can those around me. If you’d like to read about what happened and see how I used a DBT Emotion Regulation Handout 1a to capture the information, click here for that blog post.

This past week in DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy), we returned to the module on Mindfulness.  Here are some points on the subject from notes I took as we listened to an audio recording by Dr. Marsha Linehan:
  • When being mindful, you direct your attention to only one thing. Just this moment.
  • The strength to bear the suffering of your life is in this moment. (Direct quote from ML.)
  • If a moment becomes too difficult, look at it, and let it go.
  • The urge to quit doesn’t mean I have to quit.
  • You have the choice to not think about something right now, as opposed to denying it.
  • You’re the one noticing your experience. You are not your experience.
  • Deep, slow breathing calms the nervous system.

A mindfulness exercise that I enjoy and find helpful whenever I feel like I need grounding (i.e., in the midst of freaking out during an anxiety or panic attack or when I’ve noticed I’m dissociating) is to quite literally come to my senses.

You just run through each of your senses like this:
  • Sight: What do I see around me right now? (Examples: office chairs, a clock on the wall, a blue sky, birds)
  • Sound: What do I hear right now? (Examples: traffic, the wind, a television in the next room, a cat purring)
  • Taste: What do I taste right now? (Examples: a piece of hard candy, gum, a bit of what I’ve recently eaten or drank, nothing noticeable)
  • Touch: What can I feel right now? (Examples: my soft sweater, the hard texture of my jeans, this cold table, a teddy bear)
  • Smell: What can I smell right now? (Examples: flowers, something baking, a pizza cooking, salty ocean air)
The next time you are feeling overwhelmed with emotion, you might try this as well. I run through each sense and, usually out loud, tell myself what I am experiencing. This exercise really brings me back into the present moment.

Thanks for reading. 
More Soon.



  1. Hi Debbie
    Thanks for this really helpful post. As someone who has recently been diagnosed with BPD, it's an intense and scary experience and your suggestions provide some much needed solace. I also find coupling description and facts (as you've previously mentioned) really helpful.
    Thanks for making me feel that I'm not alone.

    1. Hello there. Thank you so much for taking the time to share with your comment here. I am so glad you are finding some calmness and peace through my blog. You are DEFINITELY not alone. Welcome. ♥



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