WHAT HELPS ON
A WOBBLY DAY – DAY 2
Yesterday we worked with Recognising (R of the RAIN practice) when we are in distress. Recognising is the capacity to step back and name what we are experiencing as distress, rather than an indicator of danger.
Yet often the immediate reaction to our distress can be an aversion, dislike, self-loathing, or self-hatred. The two seem like conjoined twins that emerge together from deep within us. When we see our distress, we hate ourselves for not yet being over it, or for having it at all. Perhaps for some of us it is evidence of mistakes we made when younger, proof that we are flawed, maybe that we are beyond redemption, and are unlovable.
And very often we think this experience is unique to us. Everyone else is sailing along calmly through life, while we are tangled up in the sails and the ropes, our boat capsizing as we drown. Shall I speak for myself? That’s what I thought until I came up close to the reality of trauma for other people.
So, the next step is to Allow the distress (A of the RAIN practice): to learn (slowly and gently) to see if we can drop the aversion to it and to our self. You may want to explore the 7-day course on befriending: “When the stress is just too big”, which focuses on these skills.
As soon as you recognise (step 1) that you are lost in distress, take step 2: allow it to be here by placing a hand on your tummy or heart, saying “You are allowed here”, “I am with you”, “We are here together, hand and heart, together working through this difficult moment”.
Allowing doesn’t stop us taking informed actions to help ourselves, or to move away from distress. Allowing speaks directly to our internal response to our self – not our external choices and actions. We will start to work with these tomorrow.
Allowing the feelings to be here is not a magic bullet that gets rid of the distress. It’s more that when we are in distress we need a friend. We need to befriend our self. Our distress is crying out for help: can we tenderly extend a kind, friendly helping hand? Replacing the old way of punching ourselves, with this new way of gently caring?
(Above – the dog taking the RAIN steps!)
Wendell Berry: The peace of wild things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
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