PostYou Gotta Be” by Des’ree…for DBT Mindfulness What and How Skills

Featured Song for DBT Music Monday: "You Gotta Be" by Des'ree for mindfulness What and How skills

We are beginning a series of blog posts that share examples of using songs for strengthening DBT skills.


Today’s topic is about mindfulness; specifically about using the what and how skills, and features the song “You Gotta Be” by Des’ree.. 

Summertime is here and for some this is their favorite and for others, well, not so much. When the temperatures rise so can self-doubt and anxiety. As some don shorts, tank tops and swim suits without fear, others don’t.

How can we learn to have a “Teflon mind” when these or other negative thoughts try and take over?

One word…Mindfulness.

Mindfulness can help us pay attention on purpose to our thoughts and feelings. When we pay attention on purpose it is easier to catch these thoughts and recognize them for what they are…just thoughts.

“You Gotta Be” by Des’ree came out in 1999 and has a powerful message we can use to explore Mindfulness.

 Here are some examples of how you can use it to practice the what and how skills.

1. Listen to the lyrics

  • The first verse is a gold mine! In this verse we see a direct link to mindfulness with “Listen as your day unfolds”.

Think about this line, and how being fully present in everyday life can be an effective skill to reduce ruminating thoughts.

  • The verse continues with the lines “Go ahead release your fears, stand up and be counted, don’t be afraid to cry”.

Review the WHAT and HOW skills in relation to current thoughts. Observe and describe current thoughts. Describe them non-judgmentally. Thoughts are neither “good” nor “bad”.

Being able to label thoughts as just thoughts and not facts is an effective way to manage thoughts that seem so powerful.

The lyrics of this song continue to provide opportunities to delve into the core skill of mindfulness.

Listen in these ways and write down your thoughts and insights. Feel free to share.  Comment below.


2. Rewrite the lyrics to the chorus as non-judgmental statements.

Coming up with your own mindfulness mantra can be an effective way to manage intrusive thoughts. There are a couple of options on how to use the chorus to achieve this skill.


Use the words as they are in the song and replace with either:

a) positive traits you see in yourself


b) words that describe what it takes to be fully present everyday.

 “You gotta be _______, You gotta be ________, You gotta stay present.”

Rewrite the words to the chorus slightly to focus on non-judgmental statements.

 “I’m going to _______, going to be _________, going to _____.”

Being mindful of current thoughts and labeling them as such can go a long way to feeling more in control and less vulnerable.

By adding a musical element we can provide a safe space for expression and a tangible way to take the skill of mindfulness from theory to practice.

Try this today and let us know how it goes.

Leave your comment below.


**To get access to specific detailed instructions like this on how to use a song for specific skills, along with a library of other songs and activities for DBT,  join one of our memberships.  Depending if you’re a clinician, a school, or a person learning DBT for yourself, we have a membership for you.  Click here for details and join!


 If you want someone to facilitate DBT music experiences at a deeper level,   here is a link to qualified DBT informed Music Therapy practitioners