Emotional regulation is hard. I feel the struggle in my own day to day doings. Nowadays, I can see the struggle in my son as he grows and develops.
And I try to remind my son often: the emotions we feel are OK, but sometimes the behaviour we use to express them is not.
In cultivating emotional balance, we learn to identify emotions and ‘catch them’ before they catch us. Cultivating emotional balance helps us create a bigger, longer gap between a strong emotion or feeling and the action we take when we feel it.
We are not aiming to get rid of our emotions, sweep them under proverbial carpets, or pretend they don’t exist. Instead, we need strategies that help us respond in helpful, constructive ways.
Imagine if all around the world, we humans became capable of widening the gap between a strong emotion and our response?
“The first step towards emotional awareness is learning to identify and describe how you are feeling and why.” Paul Eckman, Phd
Enter RAIN. Not the stuff falling from the sky, but an acronym to help work with emotions, notice what they are doing to us, and to treat ourselves with kindness.
Teaching our children and ourselves, the RAIN technique can be a wonderful way to calm our emotions and decide how we want to deal with them.
This is a great tool for teachers and parents alike and at the very least, allows us to practise stopping and reflecting in the midst of big feelings. This technique is probably for kids (and adults) aged 12 and above.
RAIN- A mindful look at our feelings.
R- recognise. Recognise the feeling. Label it. Naming the emotion gives it less power of you.
A- allow. Allow the experience to just be there. Don’t resist it. Just sit with it.
I- investigate. Investigate the feeling with kindness. Become a detective within your own body. How does the feeling feel? What types of thoughts does this feeling bring up for you?
N- non-identification. Try not to become deeply involved with this feeling. This feeling/emotion is NOT you. It is something that is happening right now and it will pass. You might be feeling angry but you are not an angry person. Just like the rain clouds in the sky, the feeling will pass.
When difficult emotions arise, the RAIN technique can be handy in that it helps us simply stop and consider. Something we may not do ordinarily. Mindfulness comes in many forms and this is just one technique to create more space between our feelings and our actions.