We know it’s important to deal with our feelings and love ourselves. But how can we do that when we’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed?
Amidst the stress of modern-day life, we often live in a haze. Things happen at work or in relationships that we don’t have time (or take time) to process. Life happens, but we’re often not present for it. We might take better care of ourselves emotionally if we can find a structure or process for being with difficult or uncomfortable feelings as they arise.
R.A.I.N. is an acronym coined by mindfulness teacher Michele McDonald. It has been adapted by many teachers of mindfulness, including best-selling authors Tara Brach and Rick Hanson. I find R.A.I.N. to be very compatible with Eugene Gendlin’s somatic approach of Focusing. A central aspect of this approach is to bring a gentle, caring attitude toward our feelings and uncover whatever meanings they may hold for us
I have here adapted the R.A.I.N. process in a way that dovetails with my understanding of Focusing (so any flaws in my adaptation are my own and not those of its creator, Michelle McDonald).
R = Recognize: Notice what you are experiencing right now in your inner life, such as irritation or anger when someone speaks to you with a cold, critical tone of voice. Or perhaps you recognize sadness when someone doesn’t return your phone call or isn’t available to see you. Or, as you attune to our inner experience, you might notice fear as you consider reaching out to someone you want to date.
Just recognize what you’re feeling. How does it feel in your body? Is your stomach tight or queasy? Is your chest or throat constricted? Be curious about what you’re experiencing without judging yourself.
A = Accepting and Allowing: Acknowledge that your experience is what it is, even if it’s unpleasant. Is it ok to let your feelings be there without trying to change them? Be gentle and friendly with whatever feelings you’re noticing. Have compassion toward yourself instead of self-criticism, or being ashamed of what you’re feeling, or judging yourself as weak, or thinking something is wrong with you. Feelings are simply how life speaks to us. Allow the life inside you to be just how it is right now.
Often the 2 steps above are enough for the feeling to shift, releas
Separation Anxiety occurs, particularly in children, during times of stress or change. It is characterized by symptoms of insecurity and anxiety when a child must separate from a particular caregiver. Symptoms can intensify well after the initial point of separation and can become very disruptive for both child and parent. Symptoms might manifest as sleep disturbances, tantrums, withdrawal, or other behaviors otherwise atypical of the child.
Having worked in the childcare industry myself, I had seen this difficult and emotional scenario play out firsthand. I had watched many a mama linger tearfully in the doorway, wringing her hands together in certain agony, while her child struggled dramatically over the separation, causing a great internal debate between if it would be better to just quit her job and stay home full time or if it was just time to give her baby bird a big shove out of the nest.
Every child and every family dynamic is different, but here are some simple ways to help a child cope with feelings of separation anxiety:
Sometimes when struggling with anxiety, we only need to be heard. Children are no different in this regard. They need to have mirrored back to them that their emotions are normal and important, but also passing. Empathizing with our children instead of trying to convince them everything is okay also removes the potential for argument and power struggle, which is a cycle that only prolongs feelings of anxiety. Instead of saying, “It’s okay,” try making simple observations about what your child may be feeling. Sometimes just giving them the vocabulary to express their feelings is enough to quell their fears. “I understand. I know it feels sad. It’s a lot of new things to take in. Making new friends can be scary.”
The quicker you make the separation, the better. If you hang around, waiting for your child to get used to the idea of your leaving, then it’s likely you’ll never leave. Children respond more to our energy, body language, and nonverbal cues, than any words we could ever muster. If your desire is to convey confidence and trust in where you are leaving your child, then display just that. Give a big, deliberate hug, turn around and leave, and do not look back. It should be said that for a brand new environment and depending on the age of your child, a phase in process may be nece