Her lips began to wobble and tears started to roll slowly down her cheeks. Ruby (not her real name) was crying which, for her, was a break through. Up until this occasion, Ruby’s reaction when her emotions ran high was to ‘storm’, to ‘kick-off’, to react unreasonably by lashing out. This was because she did not recognise her feelings and therefore could not rationalise the process of cause and effect. This time, however, was different: her crying was a sign that she had begun to recognise the emotions and accept them for what they are. Her next step will be to learn to manage them.
Emotions are so rich. They give us life’s highlights but, sadly, the lowlights too. Therefore, learning to appreciate them and manage them is key to a resilient and successful life.
Research show that emotions have a life-span of 90 seconds so, if we can stand back, witness and name the uncomfortable feelings during that brief period, we can facilitate their passing more easily. Some of us find it more difficult than others to deal with emotional storms, so there are ways we can adopt to help us through them: here is one useful and easy-to-remember acronym.
R – Recognise your thoughts, emotions that are troubling you
A – Acknowledge, allow, accept your present reality
I – Investigate, inquire what was the trigger, has this happened before
N – Neutral, non-attached– step aside, recognise them as emotions and not YOU
S – Support yourself, self compassion – be generous, kind and friendly to yourself
And so if you suffer from negative thinking patterns try out RAINS to get over the storm and Surf the Waves.
Ruby and her teachers use The Window of Tolerance which is an excellent programme explaining where emotions come from and how to learn how to get the better of them.
Finally for those that love TED talks here are a couple of ‘emotions’ ones to check out – Tiffany Watt Smith’s The History of Human Emotions and Lisa Feldman Barret’s You Aren’t at the Mercy of your Emotions your Brian Creates Them.