Every time I walked into the kitchen, my blood would boil.
The stains from years of cooking irritated the hell out of me. This wasn’t part of the deal.
When my girlfriend and I rented this house, we were super excited. It’s closer to our families, closer to work, and there’s a backyard for the dogs to play.
But all that excitement came to a halt once we moved in and saw the place was a mess. The carpets were stained, the kitchen was filthy, and the owners had left behind a bunch of stuff they no longer wanted.
After weeks of going back and forth with the leasing company, we still ended up with the short end of the stick, so for the first few months of living here, I was carrying a lot of resentment. I felt like the place was gross, the owners were bogus, and I was dumb for signing the lease.
It took me months to finally let go for my own sake. I needed a break.
Then I remembered a talk I heard a year ago about using the R.A.I.N. method to work with difficult emotions. I remembered how useful it was when I was going through my bout of panic attacks.
R.A.I.N. stands for: Recognize what’s happening, Accept life as it is, Investigate how the situation feels (without judgment), and Non-Identification.
I decided to reevaluate the entire situation. I was already doing the recognize part, but the problem was I would get trapped in this line of thinking, continue to add to the story, and end up feeling worse.
Eventually, I was able to recognize my circumstances and leave it at that. To my surprise, it helped relieve a lot of pressure.
When we recognize, we’re simply noticing our emotions and thoughts and seeing how they feel. We watch things bubble up, and we get in touch with the sensations that are happening in the moment. We don’t have to get wrapped up in them or explain, we just have to notice.
After recognizing how I was feeling, I knew that I would have to accept this whole situation. I was opposed to it at first because it felt like I was giving up or giving in, but I finally realized that acceptance was what I needed to do if I wanted any peace of mind.
Accepting is when we allow ourselves to live with the moment, exactly as it is. Even if we feel opposition or resistance, we choose to instead accept the situation so we can face it directly.
When I accepted this whole fiasco, the amount of relief I felt was unexplainable. It didn’t happen overnight, but after a week or two of working at it and letting go of my resistance, I finally starting feeling better. I actually felt a bit of gratitude.
The hardest part was getting past my own stubbornness.
Once I was willing to accept the situation and my emotions, I continued to Investigate how I was feeling. I noticed that when I felt irritated, the underlying story was “nothing is ever right.” I have a tendency to want things to be perfect and that habit was rearing its ugly head again.
When we learn to investigate ourselves and our situation, it’s like being a deep-sea diver. We start to see the driving force that’s below all the surface chatter. Investigation takes patience because we actually have to spend a bit of time with our challenging thoughts and emotions and get to know them.
It’s also important not to get too caught up with this step because it can set us on a path of overthinking and overanalyzing. I like to double check and triple check, so it took me a bit of practice not to go overboard with the investigating. I kept getting into the habit of blaming myself and overthinking it, but the point here is to keep it simple.
The final step is non-identification. It sounds a bit complicated, but it isn’t. Basically, it means that we shouldn’t take this stuff too personally. What I did was remind myself that causes and conditions have lead me to this point. I wasn’t a bad person and neither we’re the people that were involved. Life is complicated sometimes and it’s nobody’s fault.
Our emotions, feelings, and challenges do not make up the whole of who we are. They are just a portion of our ever-changing lives. We don’t have to let them limit us.
A lot of the stress we put ourselves through is optional, and the R.A.I.N. method is a wonderful tool for working with life rather than against it. It’s been a tremendous help to me.
It turns out that this place isn’t so bad after all. It’s helped me become more free from myself. What more could I ask for?
Author: Nick G. Mason
Image: Hartwing HKD/Flickr
Editor: Catherine Monkman
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