Here is an important follow-up to my two posts from May 2016. My theme for the Springy month of May was “Feelings,” which is so appropriate because feelings got us springin’ all over the place!
I know this is true for me. Feelings of various types and magnitudes can send me soaring up, crashing down, floating on clouds, or just hovering in a paralyzed stupor.
The first post on this theme, How I Feel… was a collection of challenging feelings that I encounter very often and would like to feel less, such as anxiety, doubt, fear and stress. As noted at the end of this post, my go-to tactics of either ignoring these feelings or putting my head down and barreling through them do not work AT ALL! In fact, they make the whole experience a whole LOT worse for a lot loooooonger.
I am learning that these feelings need some love and attention before they will move along, away from me (thank you very much) and I want to talk about one FANTASTIC strategy I have been practicing to help them on their merry way.
The strategy is RAIN, which stands for:
This brilliant strategy for properly attending to and really engaging with any feeling that surfaces is attributed to Michele McDonald, a longtime meditation teacher and cofounder of Vipassana Hawai’i, a meditation teaching institution.
Let’s go through the four steps:
- Recognize –In this crucial first step, you take a moment to stop and recognize, or “see” the feeling. You identify the feeling(s) by name…taking the time to double-check and verify that the feeling identification feels accurate to you.
I am feeling…scared. Am I scared? Or worried? Is that it? Scared. Scared. Yes. I am feeling scared. Very scared.
- Allow – Next, you allow that feeling to be there with you. This means you don’t try to evade it by thinking of something else, making yourself busy with a task or trying immediately to make yourself feel better. You simply accept the feeling as is and give it some needed attention. Acknowledging the presence of this emotion starts to ease the tension you feel and opens up the possibility of releasing it.
I am feeling scared. I have fear inside of me. I don’t want to feel this way, but it is here, so I am going to let it be here so that I can understand it. Fear is with me, and that is o.k.
- Investigate – This is where you dive a little deeper into the feeling. After labeling the feeling and acknowledging and honoring it’s presence, you contemplate why it has arisen in your mind. After all, feelings don’t come about arbitrarily like rolling a dice…there is always a reason or catalyst for their presence. Sometimes, the reason is obvious. Sometimes you have to be patient and search for the reason.
Why am I scared? Is there a person or situation that seems threatening to me? Threatening to my physical person? My ego? My job? Am I missing something that I need? What events have happened recently that may have triggered this fear?
- Non-Identify – With this last step, you begin to create distance between yourself and the challenging feeling. You do this by reasoning that you are not fear and fear does not define you. Rather, fear is a fluid emotion that can move out of your consciousness just as easily as it moved in. “Scared” is something that you are currently experiencing, not something that makes up who you are.
Fear is with me right now because my boss rejected my idea. I am scared that she doesn’t value my contributions and thus doesn’t value me as an employee. If she doesn’t value me as an employee, she might want to replace me. But this is a made up scenario based on an assumption. She has liked a lot of my past ideas. Not liking one idea doesn’t mean she doesn’t value me in my entirety. The fear I feel because of this is not who I am. Scared is not a permanent part of me. It is simply a temporary, uncomfortable feeling that is with me right now. Scared will pass through and away from me in time.
Now, a subtle, yet important distinction is that non-identify is not the same as disassociate. When I first started using this strategy, I thought of non-identify in terms of disassociating – running away from, almost shunning and cutting off the feeling, which is counter to the first two steps of recognizing and allowing. Non-identifying is more about understanding that the feeling is not a permanent component of who you are as a person; it is not a pillar of your character or being. It is something that your mind is currently interacting with.
Like all new things, implementing the RAIN strategy is not easy and it takes some getting used to. The hardest part for me is just remembering to stop and recognize challenging feelings as they come up. In order to give myself a helping hand when I first started using this strategy, I wrote it out on a small card that I kept in my wallet. I didn’t necessarily pull it out when challenging feelings came up, but every time I went into my wallet and came across it, I was reminded that it was available for me to use, and eventually, I started remembering to use it 🙂
While I primarily use this strategy for working through difficult feelings so that they will leave sooner, this is also a great strategy for remaining in the moment with positive feelings. Going through these steps with feelings I want to feel, like the feelings I wrote about in This is How I Want to Feel... makes them seem to last longer. I can appreciate the positive feelings more when I use RAIN because I experience them more deeply.
Isn’t that amazing?!?! The same strategy helps you to pass through the difficult emotions faster, but hold onto the desirable feelings longer. YES!!!
You try it – Go ahead. It’s pretty cool.