How do you find space to manage your feelings?
Some of my regular work involves spending time with young people who haven’t had the best start in life. Using the medium of horses, the youngsters work hard to learn many things such as social skills, taking responsibility and teamwork. It’s often a chaotic environment as they often find it difficult to manage their emotions appropriately as they’ve never had good role models to help them find their way.
I came across an article recently by Chris Bergstrom from Blissful Kids in which he identifies a four stage process to help youngsters pause for a moment before responding to a feeling. The four steps are designed to help children to become savvy at acknowledging their feelings and responding appropriately, rather than simply reacting.
It got me to thinking that this process actually forms the cornerstone to many coaching activities, as the heart of good coaching is to give people choices about what they do. So, I thought I’d share it with you here. RAINS
R; Recognise the feeling you’re experiencing. Many people have become used to simply pushing a feeling away when it’s a bit uncomfortable. This might be because it was expected in your household, or you fulfil a role, such as parent, where it feels as if there is no space for your own feelings to exist. Bergstrom encourages us to give the feeling a name and I think this is important as it helps separate it out from other, possibly similar feelings.
A; Allow the feeling to just be there. This is, possibly, the hardest step as it’s usually here where the discomfort is at its peak and we’re desperate to invoke those strategies we’ve learned in order to feel good again. I think it’s true that it is only a feeling, but they can be very powerful. If this part is too hard today, try again with something tomorrow.
I; Investigate the feeling. This is almost a part B to the second point, however, there’s an element of detachment which we can do here as we simply notice how our body responds to the feeling. This can really remove the power of the feeling.
N; Non-identification. Bergstrom explains this step as where we acknowledge that this is simply a feeling; too often we can become so hooked into the feeling that we believe that we are the feeling and it has become us. Again, that sense of detachment can really help us to control our response.
I’m going to add another step to this process as Bergstrom doesn’t really describe what to do next.
S; Step forward into your choice of response. Now that you have more control over how you view the feeling, you have a choice as to what to do next. This isn’t about discounting what’s happened, and certainly not about ignoring the feeling, but gives you that essential time to make a helpful, constructive choice about how you respond.
Imagine having this much control over your responses? When you’ve practised, and it has become easier each time, you’ll notice that you’re no longer left with trying to pick up the pieces in a situation that you never meant to create, nor will you be left with the residue of regret that you’ve spoken unintentionally.
I’ll end with a glorious quote from Victor Frankl;
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom”