Living through, or even observing these moral, economic and health crises continue to unfold is taking an emotional toll. We have three choices in response to a crisis. We can fight, flight, or freeze. We can move in with high energy and take control; we can move away, going about our business in denial, or we can stop.
People have moved through heroism and adaptation at this point in the pandemic crisis and are finding themselves depleted. We recognize our lost certainty, command, and control. Apathy, anxiety, fear, anger, and grief are consuming and disrupting us.
It’s time to become incredibly self-aware, to listen inwardly to your feelings. Simply start with intentional breathing. Deep breathing restores the body to a calmer state. Use deep breathing when you start to feel stressed and before making an important decision. Practicing intentional breathing can help you feel your emotions.
People are good at suppressing emotions. We may have mistakenly learned suppressing is equal to controlling our emotions. When we connect with our emotional self, we can make grounded choices and bring back our full presence to tasks and relationships. When we give ourselves the space to recognize our emotions, we can effectively regulate them. Name it to tame it.
Here is how to follow the RAIN method to understand your emotion. Recognize your emotion. Give it a name. Even whisper the name to yourself. Allow the emotion to stay with you. Don’t judge the emotion. Tell yourself it’s part of you. Investigate what your thoughts are surrounding this emotion. How does it physically feel? Stay with it. Nurture yourself to really feel it. Comfort yourself from your most caring self. If your heart is pounding, put your hand on your heart and breathe. Then after the RAIN, give yourself permission to act.
Tara Brach, Psychologist wrote a book about the RAIN method titled Radical Compassion. Using the RAIN method helps us face the emotion rather than fear or fight it. We can then use the emotion to act with an increased presence and balance.
RAIN is one method. Simply pausing to take intentional breaths or naming the emotion can ease tension. Sharing feelings with those you trust can help process your reactions. Understanding yourself will improve your ability to listen to others.
We must listen. People need to be heard more than ever before. To be in the moment and listen deeply, we must remove distractions including the fight to suppress our own emotions. Take a moment to get intentionally calm before a conversation. Ask clarifying questions instead of responding. Listen only to understand. Truly being heard is a gift.