Sometimes we lead our thinking with negative emotions like sadness, anxiety, hurt, boredom, confusion, loneliness, etc. These emotions break our concentration on daily activities and hamper to make positive relationships with family and peers.
It’s no secret that negative emotions can majorly impact our lives. Left unchecked, they can lead to problems at work, our relationships, and our health. But what can we do about them?
There are several effective ways to manage negative emotions. One way is to acknowledge them and allow ourselves to feel them simply. This may seem counterintuitive, but it’s been shown to be an effective way to deal with negative emotions.
Another way to manage negative emotions is to reframe them in a more positive light. For instance, instead of thinking of a difficult situation as a failure, think of it as a learning opportunity.
Finally, it’s important to remember that negative emotions are a normal part of life. They’re not something to be avoided at all costs. Trying to suppress them can make them worse.
Remember that you’re not alone if you’re struggling to deal with negative emotions. There are a
Do you think about your negative emotions?
I am taken with mindfulness, as you may have gathered if you’ve read my previous ramblings.
Over the years, I have attempted Vipassana retreats and mini-meditation days. More recently, I have attended a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course and have been listening to some fantastic talks by people who have studied and practiced this way of life for many years.
And this handy acronym for engaging with my experiences more healthily keeps popping up: RAIN. So want to share it with you.
RAIN is not just a valuable tool for managing negative emotions. I am focusing on emotion here; however, you could apply it to your thoughts or physical pain. You may even like to use it with a pleasant feeling!
I have briefly outlined the steps that make up the RAIN acronym below. At the same time, I haven’t been able to identify a source or practitioners.
Associate Professor Dr. Farjana Ahmed and Jack Kornfield provide an account of how to utilize each step to deal with negative emotions.
Recognizing what’s happening:
So the first part sounds simple. Recognize what’s happening? I know what’s happening. I’m so mad I could hit something.
You might be surprised to learn that many people find identifying the beginning stages of fear, jealousy, or rage challenging. Imagine if you were more in tune with those early stirrings of emotion, and you could extinguish the flames before the raging inferno?
Some of us even find it challenging to identify precisely what we feel.
So this first step involves an awareness that, yes, I am feeling something right now. And this is the quality it takes: it’s hot, sharp, dull, aching, wrenching, gut-turning, and shivery, and it’s sitting right in my gut, my neck, and shoulders, or my jaw.
And this is the story my mind is starting to tell me about these sensations.
Allowing this moment to be:
One of the most significant discoveries I made during the recent MBSR I attended was that I had a strong desire for my impatience to go away during the meditation!
I wanted to be quiet and calm with focused attention every evening I attended the course to reduce negative emotions.
Allowing is about accepting each moment as it is, whatever you are feeling, whatever activity your mind engages in, and whatever sensations are happening within your body.
This is not the same as liking the experiences or even just putting up with them; it means being able to open up and accept what is happening right now.
I learned that if I could notice sensations and stay with them, rather than trying to fix them or reacting, I began to feel a sense of calm and manage my negative emotions.
Investigating the experience:
This part is all about inquiring into what is happening right now at this moment. Many of my clients soon become pretty comfortable with questioning their minds; they understand the helpfulness of being able to create some distance between their values and their thoughts.
However, most of us think that while our thoughts are not always trustworthy, our emotions are entirely accurate and honest.
I often explain that thoughts and negative emotions are not necessarily true to the current situation. Imagine someone who has experienced a severe car accident and then feels engulfed by fear and dread when at a later date, they must drive past the scene where the accident occurred.
Are the negative emotions true to their current situation of driving along in another car on another day?
Or has your protective brain/body tricked you by triggering some messed-up fear signal belonging to the past to protect you from a mistaken possibility of further danger?
Has someone done something big enough to justify your feelings of rage?
Or is your mind feeding a sense of righteous indignation that stems from experience with other individuals?
Perhaps you are identifying with the anger, yet if you stay with it rather than reacting, you start to notice a little sadness there as well. Or maybe even some hurt from negative emotions.
So investigating means just taking some time to tune in completely to what’s happening: what negative emotions do you feel throughout your entire body, what stories is your mind engaged in, and are there any other emotions hiding out beneath that powerful anger?
Investigating an experience helps you to begin to identify and understand patterns and habitual ways of reacting and to be able to choose to respond rather than react.
This step is said to be the easiest in the literature I’ve read and the talks that I’ve heard.
You don’t have to do anything; it just happens. I disagree; I believe that being able to separate that sense of who you are from the feelings, sensations, or thoughts you are experiencing is incredibly difficult for human beings.
Our brain is too fond of making associations and clutching at a sense of identity. This step is about letting go and relaxing into that space created by recognizing, allowing, and investigating. And it requires a lot of practice. None of this stuff will work for you just because you’ve read about it!
Remember: you are not your thoughts. You are not your emotions. You are not your sensations. I believe you are much more than that. And to me, this final step is all about recognizing that the more significant part of you involves your values combined with your experience right now, at this moment.
I hope you find this acronym for engaging with your experience as helpful as I have. If you feel you might need a little more support to apply this in your life, you may consider booking an appointment with a psychologist.
Please feel free to send me an email, write me a text message, or even give me a call.