It’s OK not to be OK!

Overwhelmed.  Stuck.  Scared.  Sad.  Lonely. Guilty. Rejected. Depleted. Exhausted. Lost. Not myself.  These are just some of the feeling words many people use when describing the problems they are grappling with right now. More words?? Unproductive. Not performing. Unhappy. Ugly. Joyless. Angry. Frustrated.

On top of these, a thick layer of mental “should’s” they use to whip and beat themselves up with.  I should be getting to the work I need to do…I should be successful, productive and happy. I should be coming up with creative things to do with my kids on the weekends to entertain them and make their lives fun. I should be the life of the party, joyful, strong, excited about life and always inspired and inspiring. I should be able to move myself forward, dig myself out of this pit of despair and be the person everyone wants me to be, the super mom or dad, awesome partner, daughter or son extraordinaire, helpful colleague, brilliant employee or excellent entrepreneur.  

But this is not the truth! As much as they would like it to be.  It really isn’t.  

The truth is that we are not okay. When we drop all of the “should’s” that keep us in pushing, performing and perfection mode and peel off the mask of pretence and defence that keep us striving to measure up to the unrealistic expectations of who we think the world wants and needs us to be, and even who we would like ourselves to be, when we settle down into the real visceral feelings of the physical sensations that live in our bodies and become truly honest with ourselves, we are really not okay.  And what’s worse is how uncomfortable it makes us feel to admit it. Because in our minds, admitting this truth is shameful. It makes us appear weak, less than, incapable – a failure as a partner, as a mother, as a father, as an employee, a business leader, and as a woman or as a man.   

And so, we would rather be anywhere else than where we are right now…anywhere but here. Because being here is awful and painful and hard feelings live here. Being really here, means that sometimes you are not going to be okay.  

But guess what, it’s okay to not to be okay. Really, it is.  

When I share with others that it is normal and in fact human to sometimes feel weak and vulnerable and powerless and lonely, and that it is necessary and important to pay attention to ourselves, to take time out to rest and relax, to recharge and renew ourselves, the relief is almost palpable. When I debunk unrealistic expectations to recover quickly from a divorce, death of a friend, family member or loved one or to carry on as normal, as if it were no big deal and just a minor blip on the radar of their lives, I can almost hear them starting to breathe a little easier and more deeply.  

The expectation of resilience or bounce back ability as if everything is normal after hearing shocking news for the first time or the expectation that one should be sprightly, chipper, upbeat and smiling all the time as a single mom or dad, who may be holding down a stressful job and studying part-time as they work their way to financial freedom and independence, is just ludicrous, unrealistic and quite frankly unreasonable and inhumane. Ladies and gents, my message to you who resonate with this, is please cut yourself some slack!

Be kind to yourself. Be loving, compassionate and caring. Be honest about what you really need and know that your needs are important and that YOU matter!

What’s the worst that could happen if you admitted you are not okay? Even if only for today. If you dropped your should’s for just a moment? If you spoke honestly to the people in your life about your need for some love, support, kindness, compassion and care? If you asked for help? What’s the worst thing that could happen if you took a pause to nurture and care for yourself? If you slowed down a little and took time off from your busy jam-packed days to watch a movie with your kids.  

If you went for a gentle walk in the park, or lay down on the earth and looked up at the trees painted across the backdrop of the never-ending blue sky, felt the gentle breeze brush against your skin as you listened to the birds singing a sweet symphony just for you? And now that you have considered all of the worst things that may happen if you do this, let me ask you this question. What’s the best thing that may happen if you did? 

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