A Journey towards Integration
When you find yourself in a situation or experiencing a feeling that is uncomfortable, and you think to yourself, “I really can’t deal with anymore shit right now,” but you cannot, at the moment, get out of situation or openly express your feelings, it’s time to IMPROVE the moment. Like any Crisis Survival skill, I.M.P.R.O.V.E. will never change reality to what you want, but at least you can reduce your own suffering and try to grow through the experience.
I use all these skills at one time or another: Imagery and Vacation in my imaginary trips to Cuba (the last socialist paradise, I always tell my Prince, and joke that we should get married there). One thing in the moment and Encouragement quite often when I am distressed or trapped, and only have a minute or two to think. Relaxation quite often before bed (check out the four free relaxation mp3s from McMaster University).
All of them except Prayer. I don’t believe in God, and even if I did, I think I would be angry at him or her. (I feel slightly guilty that I can’t discuss or give an example of a DBT skill, so later on I’ll post some “prayers” and other meaningful stories and anecdotes that we read and discussed in group, and that other people seemed to like. Personally, part of me resists all this self-help bullshit, and I dislike nothing more than meaningful little parables about looking on the bright side of life! Chicken Soup for the Soul ain’t for me, thanks.) (But speaking of the bright side of life cheers me up, because I remember that deliciously ironic last song from Monty Python’s Life of Brian!)
There now, I’ve admitted a dirty little secret, haven’t I? I often dislike all these silly acronyms, and taking responsibility, and honestly looking at my behaviour. Part of me wants to go on blaming everyone else, especially my parents.
But that got me nowhere. I almost lost my Prince and our son. And so, I’ll use I.M.P.R.O.V.E., a DBT skill, to make learning and practicing DBT skills more palatable. I’ll start a blog, called Beauty and the Borderline, in which I’ll write about BPD and DBT, in order to maximize my learning and to build up an online portfolio of my work. I’ll learn a lot about BPD and DBT during this process, through researching and sharing with others, and feel validated that others experience the same crazy rollercoaster of emotion. I’ll want to reach out to other Borderlines, to let them know they’re not alone.
And bam! — I can circle #17 (Improve the moment) on my diary card for bringing Meaning to my DBT practice, by trying to make this whole process more meaningful for myself and others.
Distress Tolerance Exercise Worksheet by Randy Wolbert (for recording use and efficacy of A.C.C.E.P.T.S., Self-soothe, and I.M.P.R.O.V.E. skills)
Improve the Moment@DBTselfhelp.com
Transcript of From Chaos to Freedom: Crisis Survival Skills, Part 2: Improving the Moment and Pros & Cons, a video lesson by Marsha Linehan
DBT Skills Handbook, p. 63
Distress Tolerance, Part 3 (Improve the Moment)@Living with BPD
Improve the Moment@truerecovery.org