Being OK With Not Being OK
2016 has left many people ‘not being ok’
If you’re like me, you may be thinking that 2016 has been one of the more difficult years we’ve experienced in a while.
It seems like every day, as I check into my social media and see what is happening in the lives of my friends, this year has been riddled with challenging situations, difficult decisions and most painful of all, loss.
Noticing challenging emotions is ok
Even as therapists and counsellors, we are not immune to these difficult experiences.
I’ve personally had a very challenging past month and have recently noticed my own feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, anger and even rage coming to the surface.
When they do appear, they come often come as a surprise. We can practice acceptance and still find moments when these feelings appear.
The challenge of rage and giving up control
The feeling of rage is especially challenging.
It seems to be fuelled by a combination of hopelessness and self-anger for being unable to control what life is throwing at us.
It bubbles under the surface and then we find something small and insignificant can trigger it off.
When you find that a car taking too long to turn a corner or people taking too long to cross a street can cause an eruption of fury within you, it is a clear sign that perhaps what is happening in your life is beginning to take some toll.
So what do we do when these difficult thoughts, feelings and emotions begin to surface for us?
We don’t have to ‘suck it up’ all the time.
We’ve grown up in a society which has told us repeatedly to ‘be strong’.
Be strong for ourselves. Be strong for others.
Unfortunately, what can often happen with being strong is that we can push these difficult and uncomfortable emotions down, burying them, pretending that they don’t exist. You don’t need to be a genius to know that this isn’t healthy for us in the longer term though as these feelings can linger, feeling unresolved.
Uncomfortable feelings could create unhelpful behaviours
The problem is that uncomfortable feelings can potentially go on to create unhelpful behaviours.
When we experience feelings that are uncomfortable, our unconscious mind will aim to find a way to change that state.
The prime purpose of our unconscious mind is to keep us safe and to provide pleasure. Being able to change our state is vital to ensure we can escape feelings that are uncomfortable and distressing.
Some may turn to a means of escape such as eating, drinking, drugs, gambling, sex, smart phones, or television.
Again, you can recognise that this ‘experiential avoidance’ has potentially damaging longer term effects, such as addiction and being unable to have the psychological flexibility to handle these difficult emotions in a healthy way.
Taking action to be ok with not being ok
Firstly, we need to recognise that life has never promised us a string of happy days.
We need to acknowledge that life is going to throw at us as much pain as it does joy and that this is simply a part of life.
This pain and heartbreak helps to define who we are as much as joy and success. It helps to make us human, to be able to connect with others and to be able to experience empathy.
Using acceptance to be ok with not being ok
Ultimately, it comes down to that old saying, ‘it is what it is.’
It doesn’t mean that we have to like it.
In fact, I hate the grief that I have to experience and go through.
I can’t change it though. I can only go through it and as I get to the other side, I can feel that those emotions have been acknowledged, explored, felt and dealt with in a way that made the experience meaningful and real for me.
No two people are going to experience something in the same way; we all need to experience it through whatever emotions we feel to get to the other side.
It’s ok to not be strong today
What this all means is that sometimes we need to let go of the notion of ‘being strong’ and to give ourselves permission to sometimes not be ok.
There is nothing wrong with that; in fact, it takes an enormous amount of courage and strength to be vulnerable and open and aware of what you’re feeling.
It takes strength to be able to create the space and to sit with these painful feelings and to understand why they hurt so much.
And in all honesty, when we love someone so much and we experience loss, we want to be able to know that the relationship that you had has meant something to you and has helped to shape you and make you a better person in some way. Only sitting with the emotion and feeling it will help to bring that meaning to you.
Feel your emotions and be in the moment
So this is my invitation to all those who are experiencing difficult emotions right now; it’s ok to not be ok.
It’s ok to get upset and mad and angry and call this period of your life every obscenity under the sun.
It’s ok to let those emotions be release and to be able to just breathe deeply, being present to just this very moment, knowing that you’re doing all that you can and finding acceptance for all the things that you can do nothing about.
It may not be as easy as it sounds and that is ok too.
You don’t have to do this alone
Lastly, know that you’re not alone.
That there are others out there right now sitting in this very moment and feeling pain or grief or shame.
Know that your friends will listen if you feel comfortable enough to open up.
Know that this moment will eventually pass and another moment of joy will come along but only when you’re ready.
This isn’t a race. It isn’t a competition. It’s about knowing that we’re only human, we’re not perfect and we’re doing all we can right now.
You may also like to read:
How To Stop The Negative Thoughts From Taking Control
The Mindfulness Toolkit
What’s the Difference Between Habit and Addiction?
Unlock The Power Of Your Mind With a Hypnosis Audio Recording