It’s OK to not be OK…
Sometimes it can feel like there is pressure to be happy all of the time. To hold in your sadness, or anxiety or frustration, as if showing it were a sign of weakness. This is actually unhealthy. I know this because this has been my experience.
In Buddhist philosophy the teachings highlight that this human life, experienced through this changing body in relationship with others, has the full range of emotion and experience. Pleasure & pain, joy and sorrow, praise and blame, loss & gain… We experience them all, constantly riding the waves, up and down. Sometimes and for some people there are larger peaks and troughs but we all feel them simply by being human. We are getting better, but we still don’t always acknowledge them, as a society and individually.
Sometimes I feel like I add to this pressure – both on myself and others. I smile… A LOT! But I want to be clear. I don’t feel joy and contentment all the time. And that’s OK.
I’ve practiced so hard over the years to be the ‘peace-keeper’ – the mother, the teacher, the one who holds space for others – and I am learning to find space to be held myself.
Before that, I was often the one that hid away from conflict rather than mediate it. As an only child I found solace in isolation and creating a bubble of music and words to support me. I journaled, I reflected and processed but hardly ever vocalised.
In both those roles, the isolating and the holding space, I think I felt that it was never really OK for me to not be OK. I just found ways to cope on my own so I could show up for others.
The irony is that I am totally OK right now, I’m happy, supported and grateful that I live my life with purpose but maybe I need things to be that way to start to uncover the habits that I fall into when it’s not ok. So I can notice when I get caught up in the story that I need to be OK for everyone else. When what is really needed is for me to be open, vulnerable and willing to accept the support that I offer.
When the dark clouds fall over me, when the stresses of mothering and ‘solo businessing’ and of giving up security to live the dream, becomes stress inducing. When the self-doubt hits hard, as it does often, and I need to climb back out of that hole. When I just don’t have all of the answers… I can feel the closing off that happens within to protect myself.
I once had a counselling session at work, in a situation when one of my team had been putting me in a difficult situation. A branch of support was offered and uncharacteristically I took it. The counsellor listened and the flood gates opened and all I could say was “I’m Sorry”. Advice was received and it felt sooo good. It helped immensely and … I never went back!! Interesting huh?
There is a fear within that if I allow the vulnerability to show, if I allow the support to be received fully, the tears won’t stop.
But I’m also completely OK. And it’s ok to live in both of those worlds. To be OK but to also not be OK – to know that deep down something needs to shift.
It’s also so important to get all of this into the open. I’ve found journalling to be such a powerful support but it can’t compare to the non-judgmental listening of a close friend, a partner, family, teacher, counsellor or a circle of amazing humans. And if the not OK times become overwhelming and there is no sign of an up-turn professional mental health support is really important.
I’m always blown away by the healing power of simply sharing with a group of relative strangers on retreat and the clarity and space that is created. To vocalise and to normalise and to be held just through the simple act of those around you listening and caring cannot be underestimated.
I’m slowly, curiously learning to open. To allow. To be supported by the most amazing people and teachers and family. And to journey to healing whatever that healing looks like.
I know that I have the strength and I know it is important and powerful and that I can hold space more effectively for others when I can allow it to be held for myself.
So in this space, on this page, which you are sacredly holding by reading, I’m acknowledging that sometimes I’m not OK too. And that is perfectly OK.