Whether we’re in therapy or not, we can all benefit from simple tools to support our mental health and manage the challenges we encounter in our daily lives. “From the Therapy Room” is a new video series from Two Chairs therapists bringing you the latest research-backed mental health techniques in a digestible format so you can apply them right away.
So often, we’re told now to show negative emotions. So we navigate the world rejecting authentic parts of ourselves and suppressing emotions that we fear will be judged as “socially unacceptable.” But healthy emotional regulation is not about avoiding our emotions—it’s about learning to process them.
The RAIN technique, introduced by Tara Brach, is a helpful technique for processing your emotions with curiosity instead of judgment. Here’s how you do it.
RAIN is an acronym for: Recognize, Allow, Investigate, and Nourish.
Let’s start with Recognize:
The first step in emotional regulation is identifying what you are feeling. A common saying in the field is, “you have to name it to tame it.” It’s very difficult to heal if we don’t recognize what’s hurting.
Next step is Allow:
Allow the experience to be there, just as it is. Don’t try to fix it, avoid it, or reject it. If it helps, you can imagine your emotions as children who are hurt. You wouldn't tell a hurt child to go away or reject them, you would embrace them and listen.
This is where we want to practice replacing judgment with curiosity. We learn a lot by asking questions. So you might want to ask yourself: How am I experiencing this emotion in my body? What is this sensation protecting me from or exposing me to? What does it want me to pay attention to? What does it need most?
The final step is Nourish:
Nourish yourself with self-compassion. You may find that you don’t need to do anything in this final step and feel liberation in just accepting your experience as it is without judgment. If you find yourself struggling and need more structure or direction, one place to start is to connect with your needs and identify them.
Like any new skill, it takes practice to learn. Just like learning to ride a bike for the first time, it may feel awkward or uneasy. That’s a great sign that you are venturing outside of your comfort zone, and this is where growth happens. So keep up the good work.
If you feel like the support of a therapist could help you work through boundaries you need to set, schedule a call with a Two Chairs Care Advisor to learn how we can help you, or book a matching appointment if you’re ready to get started.