Mariah Carey’s song, “Through the Rain”, has encouraged many during their personal storms. In our fast-paced world, it is very common to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life. It can feel like a chaotic storm, making it difficult to experience a mindful calmness inside. To make matters worse, our hectic experiences can often lead to negative self-talk or other harsh inner critical voices. In such situations, it becomes easy to get caught up in the storm inside.
Instead of giving in to the storm inside, you can learn to equip yourself with the strategy of R.A.I.N. This strategy enables us to apply mindfulness in a self-compassionate way.
When the brain is in survival mode, it is not considering anything other than trying to stay safe and avoid danger. In the same way, when overwhelming emotions take over, the brain’s focus goes into fight, flight, or freeze mode. What our brains choose to do may not be the healthiest long-term response, but the brain is simply choosing a course of action to keep us safe, as quickly as possible. In such circumstances, it is common to be so overwhelmed that the last thing our brain does is think to apply self-kindness. However, this is just what we need.
R.A.I.N. is a 4-step mindfulness tool initially created by Michele McDonald. Tara Brach later established this concept to help with practicing mindfulness with the emphasis on self-compassion.
Here are the 4 steps:
R – Recognize what is happening
In this first step, stop what you are doing. Focus on what the “weather” looks like on the inside. Notice what is affecting, disturbing, or challenging. It could be a thought, action, behavior, or feeling that comes to mind.
A – Allow the experience to be there
The second step in R.A.I.N. is to allow whatever came up in the first step to simply exist. Though you might want to push it away or try to control the thought or feeling, try to simply notice its existence without taking any action toward it. We may not agree with it, but it is just another thought, and we allow it to just be there.
I – Investigate with Kindness (Interest/Care)
In the third step, we can investigate what has come up in the first two steps. Once you are aware of thought or feeling, prioritize what to investigate first. Begin to arrange the thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and sensations in their order of importance. Once you have your list, then apply self-compassion to investigate that notion without any judgment. How we approach the thought must come from a place of safety and compassion. Be curious as to why you may have that thought or feeling. Critical attitudes can sabotage this process. The best way to apply kindness is to be honest in that safe space we have created for ourselves.
N – Nurture with Self-Compassion
This is the fourth and most important step. Intentionally nurture yourself by providing kindness and self-compassion towards the thoughts, emotions, or ideas recognized in the first steps. It may not feel natural and, in fact, can often feel awkward speaking to oneself with such kindness, especially when this is the first time practicing self-compassion. When we apply kindness to our hurt or broken state of being, and are doing so intentionally, there is a sense of connection we are making from mind to body. The method overrides the brain’s natural tendencies (or learned critical practices) in a way that helps us better ride out the storms that come our way.
Make it through the Rain…
Next time you are expecting troubling thoughts, think of Mariah Carey singing “I can make it through the RAIN”. Storms are inevitable, but we can be equipped and prepared to face what comes our way. Let us be more focused on self-compassion and consider letting R.A.I.N. guide us mindfully during future storms.
At Fuller Life Family Therapy, we consider it a privilege to work alongside you on your journey. Please feel free to share this article with anyone who may find it helpful.