How many times a day do negative thoughts seem to rain in your mind? Feelings that you aren’t good enough? Comparing yourself to someone else? For me, this happens all the time. After that, the only difference today is I no longer believe these thoughts!
The simple secret to change
In a stressful situation or a challenging emotion, our mind begins to send warning signals to us in an effort to protect us. It seems really unfair however when you understand why our brain works this way it begins to make more sense. You see, our brain is designed to provide examples of possibilities. The result is that we are able to see what could happen, what the outcomes could be. The result often is that we believe what it says to be true. To be the only thing that could happen. The only outcomes that are possible. Leaving us powerless!
There are 2 things that have really helped me change this pattern into something that leaves me with choice and power.
Whose suffering is this?
For me, the first step was to realize that everyone has those thoughts and doubts. I had never really thought about it this way, and let’s be honest in that moment we are rarely thinking outside ourselves. As Tony Robbins would say, don’t go around thinking the thought or situation is your individual suffering! I had been suffering alone! Even though it is true that we all have our own flavor of suffering. A pattern of thought we lean on often. In reality, we all have a similar group of thoughts. I’m not good enough. I am not loveable. I don’t deserve…
As soon as we can let that go as universal suffering, and see it as not ours. We can begin to see it differently.
A method that works
Once I got this I was able to apply a simple acronym to get through what was actually happening. RAIN was first shared about 20 years ago by Michele McDonald. It is an easy-to-remember way to add mindfulness to any situation or feeling. This method can be used when a challenging emotion or situation occurs, and also can be used as a guide for meditation. You can use this RAIN method anytime you are feeling stressed, overwhelmed or out of touch. It’s a powerful way of homecoming in a challenging time.
Four steps of R.A.I.N.
- Recognize what is going on
- Allow the experience to be there, just as it is
- Investigate with kindness
- Natural awareness, which comes from not identifying with the experience.
R: The “R” stands for ‘Recognize.’
This step is an invitation to take a pause and simply recognize what is there for you. At this moment notice the strong emotion that is present. Let yourself be an observer of the emotion, how and where you feel it. Giving yourself the opportunity to just see an open view and non-judgemental clarity.
It can be helpful to name what you feel, for example, I am feeling stressed, or I am feeling disappointment. By giving yourself the recognition of what you are feeling you are holding space for yourself to be present and just see what is there for you.
A: The “A” stands for ‘Allow.’
One of my favorite songs is the Beatles “Let it be” and that is exactly what A means. Allow yourself to acknowledge and accept the present moment or feeling. This doesn’t mean we have to like something or approve of it. It simply is a moment with it with nothing to do. Feeling as though nothing is wrong, and there is no action required.
This step is so important because when we face something difficult our unconscious reaction is to suppress it, push it away or ignore it. And while whatever way we have of doing that we are unknowingly creating more suffering and tension for our mind and body. This leads to us feeling caught in our emotions, in the situation which leads to reactions versus actions.
Giving yourself space to just allow what is so to be so we become more present to the experience and can create a softening around it that allows us to move to the next step.
I: The “I” stands for ‘Investigate.’
Once we have recognized what is so and allowed the emotions to just be we can begin to investigate. You may even find that in those first two steps you already begin to find that they were enough. And at other times you may feel this step is required.
For this step, I always remember my favorite phrase “get curious not furious”. The goal here is to be curious, to inquire with questions like “Why do I feel (insert feeling)?” “How has the event or situation influenced how I feel?” “Are there any other factors contributing to how I feel?” “What do I really need right now?” “Are there any actions I could take to support myself or others at this moment?”
These questions are meant to help you discover yourself in the situation or emotion. Through the curiosity, we are able to see what was clouded from us by the emotion. We become wise observers of our selves and our emotions and thoughts.
With this, we are able to choose a conscious response! While not the goal, you may even find that in this discover step the clarity found will dissipate the emotion or situation.
N: The “N” stands for ‘Non-identification.’
This last step is both the most simple and can also be the most complicated! What is left is to realize that you are NOT your mind or your emotions. You are the awareness that lives at the heart. You are what is always present underneath the thoughts and emotions.
In conclusion, all that is here to do is to realize that who you are is not attached with or defined by your thoughts and emotions. This leaves you with the sense of freedom and ease. Peace of mind that you are you! That no matter what is happening that you are always full, and always safe. In any storm, in other words, no matter how intense or painful can be still and safe just as you are.
Are you looking to build your skill set in curiosity?
Share your experience
What are your thoughts on the RAIN method? Did you try it out and have some feedback or experiences to share? Let me know about it in the comments section below.