Last week, I wrote about hurt feelings turning to anger while I sat in a paradise. I walked through the R.A.I.N process and stopped when I got to I[nvestigate]. In order to investigate, I had to ask myself: What am I believing about myself? How is this situation feeding my story? That sounds easy but is in fact quite painful.
The caveat, however, is that I’m supposed to ask those questions “with kindness.” I’m not supposed to beat myself up or get on a negativity train. Hmmm, now that’s more challenging.
Allow me to quote Tara Brach from Working With Difficulties: The Blessings of RAIN (https://www.tarabrach.com/articles-interviews/rain-workingwithdifficulties/)
“We need to offer a gentle welcome to whatever surfaces. This is why I use the phrase “Investigate with kindness.” Without this heart energy, investigation cannot penetrate; there is not enough safety and openness for real contact.
Imagine that your child comes home in tears after being bullied at school. In order to find out what happened and how your child is feeling, you have to offer a kind, receptive, gentle attention. Bringing that same kindness to your inner life makes inquiry, and ultimately healing, possible.”
Let’s give this a try:
Immediately, when I asked myself “what I’m believing”, my brain/heart/soul shot these exact words (these were rapid fire thoughts):
Brutal. Can you tell me how to handle those comments with “kindness”? I’ve not yet mastered that aspect of R.A.I.N.
I took several sips of coffee, woofed down an ooey-gooey roll. I swallowed past lumps in my throat and forced myself to pretend my child had come to me with this scenario and these horrible thoughts. What would I say?
First, I acknowledged that emotions are just that – emotions. They are not right or wrong, good or bad. Negative emotions are the soul’s way of alerting us to investigate, step back and open up. I asked my “child” if it was hurt feelings or true anger. It was easy to realize the problem was simply hurt feelings. I also admitted to jealousy – the rest of my family is athletic and likes paddle-boarding or rock climbing or white water rafting. I don’t enjoy these so I often feel left out. My emotional brain labels this as “ostracized.”
I asked my child-self: “What is the best way for you to handle this? Can you label what you need and then ask for it?”
Surprisingly, that was simple too. I needed my husband to spend more time with me on this trip. I wanted my desires to be a priority every now and then. (Note: I had brought games to play at the beach and four days later we had not opened them.) I wanted my family to do something I liked even if for just a little while.
Uh oh – my emotional brain was triggered and spouted this: “If you have to force them to play games with you, then they are doing it out of obligation and not because they want to. That will be worse. You’ll know they don’t want to be with you and that you forced them. Maybe it’s better to just be ignored.” ---- A blog for another day ---
Anyway, I shut that down to deal with later. I resolved that when Dave finally came to breakfast, I’d tell him how I felt.
He arrived and unfortunately I was still in turmoil (although RAIN was helping) … he saw my distress and asked what was wrong. I wanted to be calm, to just tell him what I needed. I think I started out all right but then emotions welled and I was harsh and teary. UGH.
You will not believe what he said to me … that will be next week’s topic … but let me just say that it’s been six weeks and we, as a couple, are still not quite back to normal.
Let’s move on to N in RAIN. “N” is ‘non-identification’. Again, let me quote Ms. Brach because she’s much more concise than me:
Non-identification means that your sense of who you are is not fused with or defined by any limited set of emotions, sensations or stories….there’s nothing to do for this last part of RAIN—realization arises spontaneously, on its own. We simply rest in natural awareness.
What did I realize? Did R.A.I.N work for me in this scenario?
I realized that I can relax simply by anchoring myself in exactly what is. Right now, I am sitting on a hard chair, my shoulder muscles are screaming, it’s raining and the cat is taking a bath on the table (which I hate). These are truths. There is no emotion associated with what is. Emotion only arises when I seek to judge what is. I do believe that RAIN helped me calm and reflect.
I also think that if I’d had a few more minutes to ruminate and handle myself more gently, I would have been able to talk to my husband with a calm request for what I needed in that moment. Instead, he arrived, said the wrong thing and I went backwards.
I’ve used RAIN many times – as a matter of fact, I use “R[ecognize] Reality” and “A[llow] Reality” as my go-to calming strategies. It works every time. When I move to investigate, I struggle to be gentle. I often end up beating myself to death, validating my “crazy” and scheduling a therapy session.
In the next post, I’ll tell you what my well-meaning husband said that negated all the R.A.I.N. but did not bring the sunshine!
Tara Brach has many excellent resources. Use this link for an excellent article specifically on RAIN: https://www.tarabrach.com/articles-interviews/rain-workingwithdifficulties/
She also has several YouTube videos on this topic. Simply search: Tara Brach Rain
I am not a therapist. I have no relevant diploma. I have no fancy letters behind my name. I am a sufferer with years of therapy. I am an expert only in the sense that I am enrolled in the School of Hard Knocks. But hard knocks are an excellent teacher. If you suffer, I highly recommend you find a professional to help you and develop a personalized treatment plan. This blog is MY experience and while I pray it’s helpful, I am not qualified to diagnose or treat anyone for anything. (Well, I am a great math teacher—especially fractions! J).
In April 2012 I had a mental breakdown. The real thing. I have about 36 hours that I don’t remember....