DBT Golden Nugget: Build Mastery Skill


According to Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), doing activities that make us feel confident and accomplished, even small tasks, fall under a category of skills called "Build Mastery."

I decided that even though I felt like lying in bed all day, I'd get some tasks accomplished.  I know from the past that practicing this skill does help me to feel better than does giving into the temptation to be a bed dweller.

  • This morning I completed a writing assignment that was difficult, and I honestly expressed my limitations around the assignment.
  • I went to the auto supply store, picked up some windshield wiper fluid, and added it to my car.  This may not sound like a big thing, but I had the option to go to the car repair shop and have them do it for me, and I instead took a moment to figure out where the fluid went and did it on my own.

    wiper fluid
    When I got home, I prepared a yummy dinner for my significant other and I.  He is a carnivore, and I am a vegetarian, so I had to make some parts separately. I got to engage my Rational Mind in this process.  Taking the time to make the meat and meat-free portions was also an act of self-care for me and an act of contributing toward my boyfriend.
cooking to build mastery DBT

  • I washed the dishes
  • I continued my organization project in the laundry room.
  • I started a spreadsheet project that is very detailed and which again required me to engage my Rational Mind
All in all, although I didn’t save the world or cure any diseases, I accomplished the tasks I set out to do, and I feel good about that.  Tonight I can enjoy my TV programs without pestering guilt about sitting or lying around all day doing nothing.  I chose to Build Mastery (while also practicing Opposite Action).

What simple way(s) can you build mastery today?  What activities are on your to-do list that, although you may not feel like it, you can go ahead and do to feel a sense of accomplishment?

Thanks for reading.
More Soon.



  1. I have surprised myself lately, and since receiving daily mailings on DBT thought I'd put in some extra effort - staying out of bed too! In the last two days I have begun my project of cleaning and reorganising my downstairs room, (I have my daughters furniture since she moved back home, and my dad recently passed away, so I have his belongings - it was bedlam in that room!). I'm very happy with my progress so far. Last night I went out with our local food & friendship van to help the homeless, tomorrow I'm making an effort to go back to church, and I'm having lunch with two friends during the week. I'm getting very tired, so I will probably have a slow day tomorrow, but I'm determined to keep being progressive from Monday onwards. Love your postings Debbie!

    1. Hi Barbara. Thank you so much for sharing this positive news! Did you subscribe to Amanda Smith's My Dialectical Life (MDL)?? Sounds like you're getting a lot done and that you're mindful of your need to rest. Glad to hear this. Thank you again for commenting. :)



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