The RAIN of Self Compassion
By Kathryn Boland, Flow and Grow Kids Yoga Training Graduate and Blog Manager
For people at any age, hurt and disappointment sometimes happen; it's a part of life. Many people make those feelings worse by beating themselves up -- multiplying the difficulty of what’s happening with thoughts of inadequacy, self-blame, and being sure that things could never change for the better for them. Self-compassion, or having compassion for ourselves, is an antidote to that tendency to beat ourselves up. That’s nice, some may say, but how?
The RAIN Method is a concrete set of steps to cultivate self-compassion: Recognize what you are feeling for what it is, and just sit with it for a moment; Allow the feeling, not resisting it or pushing it away; Investigate the hurt with compassion in order to understand your pain; Nurture yourself in the hurt state you’re in, such as with a mantra like “I am whole, I am beautiful, I am perfect just as I am right now.”
Hmmm, what does that look like in a specific situation, you ask? Great question! Let’s look at how this method could work in practice.
A hardworking woman, Allison, gets a tough performance evaluation at work. There are many growth areas her boss wants her to address. She feels confused because she thought everything was going well, and upset that her boss didn’t alert her to these growth areas sooner. She’s concerned that she won’t be able to address these areas, and her job -- and therein livelihood -- could be at risk. That frightens her.
With the RAIN Method, Allison first recognizes those feelings for what they are, and simply feels them for a moment. Rather than push them away, as might be her first instinct, she allows herself to feel those feelings, and sit with them for a moment. This feels a little uncomfortable, but she sticks with it because she knows that within mild discomfort is often growth.
Allison then investigates how she feels to better understand it. With that, she realizes how she’s feeling is totally natural! In fact, it’d be strange if she didn’t feel that way in this situation! Allison then nurtures herself in this place of hurt, reminding herself “I am whole, I am beautiful, I am perfect the way I am.” She says that to herself over and over for a minute or so.
After that, Allison feels better. She can think more clearly, and feels more mindful -- of her breath, of the thoughts running through her mind, of the sensations in her body. She thinks about the phrase “growth areas”, and suddenly even feels a little grateful that her boss put it that way -- because it signals that there is possibility for her to grow. In fact, she suddenly remembers her boss smiling a little and saying “I know you can do it,” as they wrapped the meeting.
Earlier in the meeting, the boss had given her some suggestions for addressing these growth areas, and also said “...but I think you’re smart and capable enough to figure it out yourself.” With all of the growth apparently needed, her boss still believes in her! She breathes deeply and almost laughs at herself for getting so upset. “Now don’t be hard on yourself for being hard on yourself!,” she thinks, and then really does laugh at the irony of it all.
Could this process work for kids, tweens, and teens? Yes! All of the above can translate to young people, or at least can be reshaped to be developmentally appropriate and accessible. There might be necessary steps back to instill certain ideas -- for example, to explain how within mild discomfort is often growth. Young people might have questions while learning this method -- just take them as they come, following your intuition and your heart as you do.
Fundamentally, this method can work for everyone who deserves self-compassion and tools for handling life’s difficulties. At Flow and Grow Kids Yoga, we unequivocally believe that is everyone. We also believe that the essence of how we make a difference in other’s lives is nurturing our own practices of holistic wellness and personal growth. True compassion has to start with compassion for ourselves. From there, we can bring true change to -- and greater connection within -- the communities that matter the most to us.
Interested in learning more about yoga and mindfulness tools for social/emotional learning? We have a course for that! In our Yoga Philosophy for Kids course, trainees also learn tools for their own yoga practice -- as ways to grow as teachers and as people, and through that truly show up for their students. Take these courses individually or within the full 95-hour Kids Yoga Teacher Training! Our next training starts on June 20th. Questions, comments, et cetera? Book a call with Flow Grow Kids Yoga Teacher Trainer (and Founder/Owner) here!
Lara sharing her wisdom, on self-compassion and more,
with Flow and Grow Kids Yoga trainees