Improve Moment Part 2

Part Two: Improving the Moment -- Imagery, Meaning, Prayer and Relaxation

If you can't solve the problem, if you're in a crisis, got to function, you could try improving the moment in your mind. So improving the moment is trying to make the whole thing better in your mind. I'm going to give you seven improve the moment skills. And the way to remember these skills is to remember the word 'Improve': imagery, meaning, prayer, relaxation, one thing in the moment, vacation, and encouragement.

So let's start with imagery. Imagery is when you try to change a situation in imagination. In other words, you're going to try to imagine that the situation is different than the one you're in.

So if you're in the middle of a crisis you could just imagine that you're somewhere else.  You could imagine you're lying on a nice beach.  Or in a forest that's beautiful. You're imagining being somewhere else. Your mind get you out of the crisis.

Now another kind of imagery can be really helpful. Which is you can imagine that everything is going well.  In other words, rather than trying to imagine that you're somewhere else, try to imagine that you're coping well.  Imagine that the crisis is happening but you're doing really well.  Or imagine that it's turning out ok. 

The other thing you can do that can be extremely helpful if you feel threatened by something.  Especially if you feel threatened when you're not really threatened.  Is to imagine a place inside yourself that's safe.  So, for example, you could imagine that inside of yourself there's a room and in that room you're very safe. It has locked doors; everything about it is really wonderful.

Now the trick to using this skill in a crisis is to practice it when you're not in a crisis.  So what you have to do out of the crisis, kind of build the room.  You're going to want to build the room and practice going into it.  Get pretty good at that.  Then when you get in a crisis, you can just use that skill. Go within yourself.  Practice being in the room.

So the next letter's M.  And M stands for meaning. It can be really hard to go through extreme pain or lots of problems if you start thinking it's irrelevant. Look back on your own life. Have you ever had just really painful things happening in your life and you found yourself saying, 'Oh, this doesn't matter.  Surviving this is not going to do me any good. I've got to get out of this.'  If you said yes, ask yourself next, did that help?  My guess is that it didn't. 

Throwing away meaning usually makes crises worse.  So how do you find meaning? Well if you're spiritual, you can try to find a spiritual meaning. You can read spiritual books, you can listen to tapes, listen to radio shows, watch tv shows that are spiritual.  Try to find some spiritual value or meaning in what you're going through. If you're spiritual you might talk to a minister or rabbi, your local priest, spiritual director.  You might ask someone else to help you find a meaning.
If you're not spiritual, you might ask yourself, 'How could I grow? How could I find some purpose or some value?'  So what you're going to do is look for value. Try to figure out what's in this.  Maybe, alright 99% crisis, 99% trauma, so you might want to look at how does this fit into the universe as a whole.  Or how does this fit into the world.  Or how am I connected to other things through this.  You might realize that you're going to understand other people who are in pain, that you'll be able to cope with pain in the future. 

So that's finding meaning. Meaning can help.

Let's go to the next skill.  The next skill is P. P is for prayer. Prayer can be really helpful in a crisis. It's amazing to me how many people pray but they don't pray in a crisis.  Now there are two kinds of prayer that can be helpful in a crisis.

The first kind of prayer is the kind of prayer with words. You just talk either to god or to Buddha or to the spirit or to the universe - it really depends on what you believe in.  But you can talk. Or you can read spiritual things. If you can't think of a prayer, you might be able to find one in a book. 

The other kind of prayer is the prayer of opening up.  And that openness is the openness of acceptance.  Prayer can really help if you're trying to accept.  And you don't have to have words.  Don't worry about finding words. You don't really need words. You need an attitude.  You need a willingness. You need to turn your mind.  But that's it.  That's all you have to do.

I just gave you two ways to pray.  But you may have a way to pray.  What is your way?  Do you have a way?  If you do, and you have a way for prayer that's been helpful to you in the past, you want to remember that in a crisis.  That's all you have to do.  Remember what you've always done.

Prayer isn't for everyone. And I'm the first to admit.  But if it's for you, don't forget it.
The next skill starts with R.  And R is for relaxation.  Ask yourself, are you the kind of person who in a crisis you tense yourself up? Do you get all tight?  If you're a person who does that it can really be helpful to relax. 

Sounds easy, doesn't it? Probably people have said to you, 'Just relax would you.'  And you've thought to yourself, listen if I could relax I would relax. So I'm going to tell you how to relax.

The first thing to know about relaxation is it's not as hard as it seems if you know a few little tricks. So what are the tricks?  The first trick is this, if you tense a muscle and then relax the muscle it will get more relaxed than it was before you tensed it. So to do this one, you want to scan your whole body and ask yourself, 'Where in my body am I tense?' So just look for the parts of your body that are tense.  And when you find those parts, tense them, let them go.  Tense them, let them go.

Try that right now.  Do that with me.  Take your fist, we'll just try with our fists. And tense your fist. Hold it, tight.  Pay attention. Notice it. Let go.  Tense. Let go. 

I'll tell you another one that really works in public - that one's kind of hard to do if there are a lot of people around.  What if you're in a crisis, you're at work or in a meeting or at a funeral, so I'll give you another one. Try tensing your stomach muscles. Just sit there - try to be unobtrusive. But while I'm talking, you do it too. I'm doing it.  I'm pulling my muscles in.  So just sit here and just pull your muscles... I mean tight, just as tight as you can.  Feel them really tight. Pull them in.  Feel it?  Are you doing it? Now let go.  Ok, you might not want to let go all the way but let go. Do that 2 or 3 times.  You'll be amazed.

You could try breathing. You know lots of times when people get in a crisis they start to panic and if you start to panic, you should notice that you're starting to breathe really fast, in and out, in and out, in and out. Listen, in and out, in and out, in and out, that'll create more panic. Not the thing to do. Breathe slowly.  Hold it.  Breathe out.  The idea is to try to breathe a little bit further each time for the first couple of breathes.

You could even try walking and noticing your breathe.  Try walking and breathing in, and breathing out. You could try counting your steps. That can be useful.

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