Alright friends I’ve got a very intimate topic to talk about today. Have some grace on my bumbling and possibly awkward words. Today I’m going to give you a glimpse into what my therapy sessions are actually like.
This is one of those concepts that I feel like I have to keep learning over and over again. It’s a pretty simple concept but still hard for me to fully grasp without actively reminding myself. The concept is this:
You are not a product of your emotions.
For so many years I let the way I feel define me. When I was sad, it felt like Mackenzie Elliott was a Sad Person. When I was feeling awkward, I was Mackenzie the Awkward Girl. And when I was happy, it was the only time I felt like myself.
Then one day, while I was talking about my emotions in a session, my therapist asked me, “What kind of meaning are you attaching to that emotion?”
That was a TOTALLY foreign concept to me. I was living my life as if I was a victim of my emotions. As if my emotions happened TO me. But that day, my therapist helped me understand how I can view emotions as if they are happening AROUND me.
She introduced a mechanism for working through emotions that I use almost every day. This is the “R.A.I.N.” technique.
R – Recognize what is happening
Take a second to identify what emotion you are experiencing. There are specific core emotions that, when recognized, help you get to the heart of what’s going on. They are things like anger, joy, sadness, guilt/shame, fear, etc.
A – Allow it
Don’t run away from your emotions. Feel whatever you need to feel. Emotions are hard enough to work through without also adding another level of shame on top of it. If you are ashamed for being sad or angry, you will have to first recognize and process your shame around the emotion before actually processing the emotion itself. Trust me; it takes much less time to process your emotions if you first learn how to just be at peace with the emotions themselves.
I – Investigate
Now that you’ve removed all shame from the emotion, give it intimate attention. Choose to view it the same way you view a wave passing over you when you’re swimming in the ocean. What do you think is really going on? What are you believing about yourself as you experience that emotion? What do you need in order to process the emotion? Do you need to get coffee with a friend? Do you need to call your mom? Do you need to go on a walk around the neighborhood by yourself?
N – Do NOT be identified by it.
You are not a product of your emotions. You are not defined by your emotions either. Even if you go through a season of depression, you are not your depression. You are not your anxiety. You are not your sadness. You are not your happiness. You are defined by anything you would like to be defined by.
Phew! Ok that wasn’t so painful after all. Hopefully this is as helpful to at least one of you as it has been to me. Your emotions (good or bad) don’t have to consume you if you don’t let them. You have control over your emotions. You get to decide what kind of meaning you are attaching to them.
How freaking cool is that?!