I just listened to an episode of Tara Brach's podcast where she mentions the wonderful acronym R.A.I.N as a safe and self-compassionate way of dealing with difficult emotions.
This simple four-step practice resonated with me so much, and even has a watery #bluemind link too!
It's ironic that if I'm having a hard time and feeling overwhelmed by negativity, often all I want to do is just stand in the pouring rain and let myself be battered and beaten by it... the R.A.I.N acronym is a much better idea, and a much healthier way of managing the varied and complex feelings we all have from time to time.
Next time you notice negative thoughts taking over, try this:
Take time to recognise and label whatever you are feeling. This might be sadness, frustration, longing, fear, anger, guilt, grief, uncertainty... these emotions are all valid and happen to everyone in recurring or unexpected waves. Noticing when you are feeling them is the valuable first step, cultivating self-awareness.
It might help to preface a sentence with 'I am currently feeling ... ' rather than 'I am ... ' as your emotion is likely to be temporary and situational, even if that situation seems long when you're in the middle of it.
Let these feelings happen. Make space and sit with them, without trying to fight them off or panic that you are having them. This has been groundbreaking for me because I often used to get upset, and then panic about the fact that I was sad (which made me more sad). Just let yourself be sad for a moment - that's okay.
If you want to, you can start to explore the emotion from a place of stability. Where is it coming from? What does it mean for you to feel like this? Can you feel it physically in your body? Start asking curious questions, the way you would with a puzzle you're trying to work out. This takes you out of the feeling, 'zooming out' to be able to look at it with perspective from the outside.
Offer yourself some compassion and love. You're having a bad feeling and you deserve to be looked after. This might be giving yourself a physical hug, taking some deep breaths, talking kindly to yourself, eating or drinking something nice, listening to music, or whatever kindness is available to you at that moment.
Usually there is nothing to be gained by being hard on yourself, and tough love in this situation doesn't serve anybody. Be gentle.
Working through this process can be so much easier said than done when you're in a state of negative overwhelm, and I'm hoping that having the simple R.A.I.N reminder will help me. Normally I don't like 'handy acronyms' and 'catchy phrases', but I can see in this circumstance that it might be really really useful to sort out a brain that's in a muddle. I'm going to try it next time negativity creeps in.
If anyone already uses this technique, I'd love to hear from you, or if you try it after reading this post then please let me know if it helped you,
lots of love,