Life is messy sometimes. Things don’t always go according to plan. You didn’t get that promotion you were working for. That person you’re interested in isn’t quite as interested in you. You lost your temper and said some things you didn’t mean. Life’s curveballs happen to all of us, but it’s our responses to them that can detour us from misery and into happiness.
We’re humans, and as human beings, we often react with negative feelings and emotions when we’re confronted with the unexpected. We’re not often given the tools to deal with our struggles. That’s where it gets messy. But, given the right tools, your tests can become your testimony. This is where getting out of your mind and into your heart comes into play.
Let’s Talk About Feelings
We all feel happy, sad, mad, excited, sorrowful, joyful, embarrassment, etc. at various times throughout our day and life. All these feelings are typically associated with a triggering event and our bodies recognize these feelings internally. In that moment, we have two choices: we’re either going to let them out or keep them in. It’s easy to express happiness and joy. But, what about the feelings of sadness, dread, embarrassment, or anger? Those feelings tend to be the ones not as easily expressed because we haven’t been taught how to properly deal with them.
The majority of us have been taught to shove feelings aside, bottle them up and keep them inside. We don’t know how to find the power, purpose or production in those feelings, so we just swallow them down. We associate shame and guilt with those negative feelings and reactions, which leads us to push them down further. Feelings become overwhelming and explode when we are no longer able to swallow our feelings, and that leads to actions or words we are not proud of, further perpetuating an endless cycle.
Using RAIN to Work Through Emotions
Below are some small things to do when feelings of sadness, anger or frustration arise. The acronym “RAIN” which was first used by meditation instructor Michele McDonald, is a very helpful tool to work through intense and difficult emotions.
1. RECOGNIZE the Thought and Emotion
It’s a practiced skill to catch feelings as they emerge, but it is important to recognize and acknowledge them as well. When you recognize and acknowledge your feelings, you are able to find your awareness of self. There is power here.
2. ACCEPT Those Feelings and Emotions
When you accept your feelings, you take the power away from them and place it within yourself. Let your feelings just sit and be for a moment. Treat them softly and with kindness, allowing the acceptance. There is purpose here.
3. INVESTIGATE Those Feelings
Be curious and ask yourself what is the underlying reason for your feelings? What is the root? How is that playing out in your feelings and reactions? Are these feelings serving you? There is production here.
This is a reminder that we are not simply the sum of our actions, emotions, and stories. What we think and feel in the moment does not permanently define who we are. This allows us the opportunity to recalibrate, shift and move forward.
There is no shame and guilt in feeling. We may think that the “ugly” part of our lives and the feelings we have will drive people away, but the reality is these imperfections bring people together. Opening up and sharing the vulnerability found in a difficult situation has the power to create stronger bonds than ever imagined. Because of this, our greatest pain has the potential to be our salvation.