There’s so much sad and scary stuff happening in the news right now. Often when we read something tragic, our first reaction is to feel anger at the perpetrator, then helplessness that we are unable to do anything.
It’s healthy to feel anger—it’s a normal human reaction to tragedies. But it’s not healthy for us to carry the anger around. Recently in the news I heard of the former rugby league star who burned and killed his wife and children. I noticed my own reaction of horror and anger. I felt my shoulders and jaw tense and I was incredibly saddened for all the families and other people who have been affected by this senseless and hideous violence.
American clinical psychologist Tara Brach has a powerful tool using the acronym RAIN to help us manage these strong emotions.
First with the ‘R’ she tells us to simply Recognise or notice these powerful emotions. So, using RAIN, I said to myself: “I’m noticing I’m feeling angry, disgusted and sad.” Actually, just recognising it really helped.
She then tells us to Allow our emotions just to be there, acknowledging: “This is how it is for me right now. I’m allowed to feel like this.”
After acknowledging that this experience was very real for me, Tara says we can then Investigate what feels most difficult about this. She also suggests to investigate where we’re feeling it in our bodies. We can ask the angry part of us: “What am I believing? Am I believing that there’s nothing I can do here?” She suggests that we can then ask ourselves: “What do I most need right now?” And the answer could be as simple as talking about it with someone you trust such as a kind therapist.
The third step naturally flows into the ‘N’ of RAIN—Nurture. We can then nurture ourselves with kindness and compassion, saying: “This is really hard right now.” Nurture can also remind us to hug a family member or light a candle for the mother and children. It might also encourage us to give a donation to an organisation that helps women in domestic violence situations, so we can make these places even more accessible to vulnerable women.