““One way to eliminate self negating thoughts and behavior is by gaining more understanding through realizing that you cannot force others to see that what you feel is real.” ― Iyanla Vanzant
Of the 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts that we have every day, approximately 70% of them of them are negative. Just the thought of those numbers would be sufficient to make you feel depressed. However, one of the most effective mindfulness techniques that you can use to help manage those negative thoughts is the RAIN method. It’s a 4-step mindful meditation activity that can help soothe distress; reduce the number of negative thoughts; help lift you from a bad mood, and generally reduce the number and frequency of negative thought patterns.
So what does RAIN stand for and how do you use it?
Recognize the thoughts or feelings that are hurting you. You can even give a name to them. Having a name for your thoughts and feelings helps shine a light on them so you have something to work with. Strangely enough, I call my negative thoughts”cow” thoughts. I am reminded that as cows ruminate, so do we on the negative. Hence the name.
Acknowledge that negative thoughts are your present reality. This is a way to put the feelings in the spotlight, instead of letting them quietly fester and potentially worsen. I recognise that something has triggered those negative thoughts. Something from the past that has come to the present moment. Or a thought and fear for the future, where I feel unable to deal with the thought. These “past-future fear thoughts” come to me in the present moment and I have come to say that they do not have any effect on my present moment reality.
Use a childlike curiosity to delve into these thoughts or feelings. Answer the “Who, What, When, Where, Why?” questions. What caused these thoughts? Are these realistic to have? What actions are possible? Try to investigate the whole scope of the feelings involved with the thoughts. For me personally, I sometimes write down the “5 W’s” and try to answer them. Taking the time to do this, actually stops the rumination and escalation of feelings. It makes me step back and reflect.
N= Not Self
The negative thoughts and feelings you have are not who you are. They are simply an experience you are having and will arise and fall away if you let them. This happens naturally. Your thoughts and feelings are impermanent. Knowing this can help you step back from them and move more fluidly within the ebb and flow of the human experience we all share that includes negative and positive thoughts and emotions that endlessly come and go. For me, my thoughts are not a reflection of the real me. The real me is always present. Here. Now. My thoughts are self-actualised memories and fears and hopes for the future. Not what I represent in the present moment. I hope that makes sense to you.
Anyway, the next time you feel a wave of stress, give this a try!
I leave you with the following quote:
“Only in the world of mathematics do two negatives multiply into a positive.” ― Abby Morel