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The Healing Power of “Stepping Back” From Intense Emotional Situations

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Adobe Stock Photo By Irr

Learning to “step away” from emotionally charged feelings, situations and interactions can reduce reactivity and restore emotional health.

As the pandemic recedes, returning to the normal hustle and bustle of life such as returning to the office, socializing in person and navigating relationships can be a highly charged and emotional experience. Life IS complicated. It’s a continuous cycle of things and events happening around us and to us as well as our response to them.

Stepping away from intense situations, thoughts, behaviors and emotions means approaching them in a mindful way. Instead of impulsively reacting, fighting or running away from our feelings research shows that mindfully being able to recognize, allow, investigate and nurture our emotions actually helps to regulate them. In a nut shell, mindful awareness calms and soothes our emotions, our bodies and our senses.

Tara Brach, a well- known psychologist and meditation teacher, developed the technique RAIN for regulating intense emotions and for ultimately stepping away from them. RAIN, an acronym is an easy to remember tool that brings mindfulness and compassion to emotional difficulty. Below are the steps for implementing RAIN into your life and for learning the skill of “stepping away” that you can implement on your own as you ease back into the hustle and bustle of life.

1. R-recognize what is going on. Recognizing involves consciously acknowledging your thoughts, feelings and behaviors.

2. A-allow the experience to be there. Just as it is. Allowing means simply letting your thoughts, emotions, feelings and behaviors to be, resisting the urge to fix or avoid them.
3. I-investigate with interest and care. Investigate means deepening your natural curiosity and desire to know the truth by directing focused attention to your present experience and bodily sensations. For example, you can ask yourself “What am I believing?” and “What do I need most?”
4. N-nurture with self-compassion. Self-compassion develops when we fully acknowledge we are suffering. Nurturing our inner lives with self-care and patience is the essence of self-compassion.

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