I love this worksheet! It is one of the most powerful, profound ways to build emotional regulation and take control of your state that I have seen. It starts with the modality of Mindfulness and the R.A.I.N. process then I add in TimeLineTherapy Learnings and NLP presuppositions and action.
Dismiss that Unnecessary Anxiety, Anger, Guilt
I have seen this take a client from a 9 out of 10 on their self scored anxiety scale to a zero in under two minutes. I never get tired of the look of surprise as people realize that emotions are not strictly “real”. Feeling guilty does not mean you are guilty. Feeling anxious does not mean that there is a Sabertooth Tiger lurking behind the cabinet. Feeling angry does not mean you are an angry person.
(Note, if anger or anxiety is causing problems in your relationships or wellbeing, there are rapid results tools that we can employ to help you erase the issue in two to three weeks! Do reach out to me. These are such great problems to toss out of your life! The transformation in your sense of self-worth is magnificent.)
Let’s dive into R.A.I.N. + L + A: The mindfulness practice of R.A.I.N. augmented with 2 key steps to rewire that triggered emotion.
R.A.I.N. is an acronym for a step-by-step technique that allows you to pay attention to the pain of a strong emotion and thus diffuse it.
Pain means pay attention.
If you do not pay attention – pain gets louder. This is true whether it is physical or emotional pain. Left unchecked, emotional pain can result in an anxiety disorder, depression, anger management problems, fatigue and more.
MEASURABLY BETTER AFTER STEP ONE: The very first step of the R.A.I.N. process allows you to take back control of your emotions. Look at what is happening and label it. Specifically. Then get more specific and Rate it. This puts a boundary around an emotion that may otherwise spiral bigger and bigger. Just as the old say “work expands to fill the time available” holds true, so too does an emotion that you do not take control of expand to fill your mind and sometimes overwhelm you.
The R.A.I.N. process should be followed in order each time you feel a strong emotion that you would like to get control over, to modulate, and get back on an even keel, to remove. Repetition over the course of the coming week will create a noticeable change in how you manage those unneccessary, unwarranted, or overwhelming emotions.
Sometimes when we find we are hijacked by our emotions we feel weak and get upset with ourselves (which only make things worse). It is valuable to know that powerful, stuck negative emotions are a physiological issue not a personality issue. A stuck emotion is like a deeply trodden path, or a swift current, that pulls us into this easy path without thinking about it. An actual physiological path in the structure of your brain that needs to be resourced in order to reduce its pull and build options and flexibility.
(TimeLine Therapy can be an amazing jumpstart for this – if you are having any difficulties let’s book a session!).
The R.A.I.N. process allows you to easily add two resources that dissipate the emotion: mindfulness and logic
R- Recognize. The moment you start to feel a strong emotion. Stop. Name the emotion. Rate the strength of the emotion on a scale from 1 – 10
A- Acknowledge or Allow. It is what it is. Acknowledge that what you are experiencing is in fact so. You don’t need to like it, embrace it, or accept it. Just face it head on. Remember that pain ignored will intensify (even if we suppress it, you know it is really not gone). This is turning into the experience instead of our habit of turning away from something intense or unpleasant. Write out the full statement of what you are telling yourself to be able to feel this way. This is a sneaky step because you need to write out the full statement so you can clearly see the lie in it.
I- Interest or Investigate. Become curious in a non-judgemental fashion. Explore where the emotion is in your body right now. How big is it? How dense? Is it still or moving? Ask these questions with kindness and curiosity as you explore the physiological feeling of the emotion. If it was a colour, what colour would it be? Does the feeling have edges? a shape? Create a full metaphor of what this emotion is.
N- Non-identify. You are not your emotions. Often the experience of the emotion is not the real problem – it is the meaning we assign to the emotion that is the problem – or our over-identification with that emotion. For instance “I’m anxious, therefore I am an anxious person.” If we see the emotion instead as a temporary, passing experience, we don’t have to take it personally. Let it pass like a rain storm.
Instead of saying: “I am angry” or “I’m very angry” – try on the phrase: “There is a lot of anger here right now.”
Now rate the strength of that emotion you had been experiencing from 1 – 10.
Here is the NLP Part – that installs two more resources onto that old triggered emotion.
L- Learning. What is this emotion trying to tell me? What is the learning I can take from this situation that means I do not have to hold onto this emotion to keep me safe? Sometimes the learning is that it is not totally safe – there is a calculated risk.
A- Action. What action IF ANY would be of most value right now? Sometimes it is “shake it off” or “laugh it off”, sometimes it is “make that phone call right now” or “just stand your ground and say no”, sometimes it is “phone a friend” or “do some more preparation” or “get a mentor” or “take a course”. You get the idea.
The key here is that when you ask yourself this question, it presupposed that action will make it better.
If in doubt, just go back to that metaphor you built in the Investigate step and ask – what is the opposite? that thing that would clear this away. Eg – to clear away green sludge? Use a shovel or a hose. Imagine doing that with great gusto and detail. Make it a vivid picture that has visual, auditory and kinesthetic aspects – do the actions. (laughter is fine!)
Next ask yourself these exact words: “Now, how is it different?”
Now rate the strength of that emotion you had been experiencing from 1 – 10.
Look at that Score: You = 4, Triggered Emotion = Zero
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“I don’t get it.” Good, you don’t need to “get it” you just need to do it. I know that sounds a bit dismissive but it is true. The very act of working through this worksheet will present to you what is needed.
“I keep forgetting to do it!” That is okay. As soon as you remember that you forgot :p just remember the incident. As you remember the incident, do you have a picture? Good. Step into it and feel what you felt, see what you saw, hear what you heard. Now open your eyes and work through the process. Each time you do the process to manage your emotions, you are schooling your unconscious mind to understand that emotions will no longer control you and you want to use this tool. Next time you will remember sooner, and before you know it – the very moment you feel an emotion, instead of triggering that overwhelm, it will trigger you to use your tools.
“I left my worksheet at home.” This is why the acronym is so valuable. Pull out a scrap of paper and write down just the initials in a single column. Put a ranking at the top and bottom before you begin.
“This is making me feel worse.” You have to write it down – get your thinking, emotions, physiology and visual all involved at the same time. Writing it down takes the emotion outside of your body so you can dissociate it and view it from a new perspective. Actually doing the naming and ranking with pen and paper has you already taking action and back in control.
“This is still making me feel worse when it comes to _____________ (emotion)” Sounds like you have a stuck emotion that may also have some trauma wrapped around it. Consider a mini-breakthrough to clean it away.