Self-help quick fixes can actually sabotage our personal expansion. We can’t bypass our feelings. Being OK with not being OK paves a path for true growth.
We interrupt this regularly scheduled Best Self journey for an important public service announcement: It’s OK to not be OK.
Yep, all that touchy feely stuff sometimes misses the mark completely. We aren’t meant to zip from A to Z. We aren’t meant to take a magical pill that suddenly transforms our lives, eradicating any bumps in the road.
Look, I’m all about living life full-on — and typically I get excited by anything that sparks me to dig, seek and reach for more. Sometimes I feel like I’m playing catch-up as I spent much of my life ‘sleepwalking’, disconnected to that version of myself and my life — and now I don’t want anything to derail it. I don’t want to feel badly again. I don’t want to hurt. I don’t want to feel deflated. I’d like to stay put in this happy place, please.
However that can elbow out the reality that within this human experience, it’s not always rainbows and unicorns…and sometimes that’s perfectly OK. Actually, it’s necessary.
Yes, the goal is to live a life of authenticity — to find true inner peace and connection to all aspects of ourselves, body, mind & spirit. And as they say, the more we seek, the more we receive. I’m sure if you are anything like me, you likely have unread books piled up somewhere, programs you’ll get to eventually and promises to self that remain unfulfilled.
You know what? It’s ok. It’s ok to get where you are going in your time and to feel what you feel along the way. Clearly, we don’t want to take up permanent residency in our anguish. But it is a necessary part of the ride.
I’m beginning to realize that there is an important component that often gets bypassed in all of this: the truth is that we aren’t always happy and we don’t always want to take in more inspiration or words of wisdom. Sometimes the wise thing is to sit and ‘be with’ exactly where we are.
Be here now, even if ‘now’ is uncomfortable. If we don’t…our true emotions will still manage to emerge (and it’s not always pretty).
When you ‘settle in’ to your feelings, particularly pain or any version of limited thinking, don’t pitstop there for too long. Don’t allow that to become your status quo or for it to perfume your sparkly essence. But remember, you can’t pretend your feelings away. Denying them doesn’t make them not so. And definitely don’t shame yourself. It doesn’t make you an un-enlightened being because you stumble, because you go to dark places, because you feel — it makes you human.
Recently, I woke up deeply disappointed about something. I had been very attached to the outcome of what it ‘should’ have looked like — and when it fell short, it hit me like a ton of emotional bricks. Of course there were a lot of circumstances surrounding it and I was exhausted (never a level playing field). My autopilot, knee-jerk reaction to this kind of situation is to start fixing, look for silver linings and keep on truckin’. That in itself is exhausting. But while those can be useful tools of transition to implement eventually, I couldn’t truly transition from my funk without first feeling it all.
So I did what I typically don’t do — I let it rip.
And I cried and I felt all my ugly feelings of failure. I let it out. I even shared it with my mother. But I didn’t look to anyone to fix it. As a matter of fact, as alluring as that may feel at the moment — it actually only compounds the issue.
Luckily for me, it was a beautiful weekend day, blue skies, sun shining brightly. And though I wasn’t going to try to erase my emotions, I knew a change of scenery would help me. So I dragged my feeling-sorry-for-myself ass out of the house and went to a large outdoor festival where I could walk and breathe and lose myself within a crowd of people. Sometimes simply a change of environment can evoke a change of emotion.
A short while after I arrived, as I was strolling through the event, I noticed I was humming to myself. I’m sure you’ve experienced this as well, but quite often a song I hear will get stuck in my head – and I simply couldn’t place where this one came from. The song playing at that moment was ‘I’m Singing in The Rain’ (yeah, the 1952 Gene Kelly song). Don’t even ask me how that happened, but the irony was not lost upon me. I actually started to laugh. OK, God or the Universe or maybe even my Dad (who I had been really missing that morning) was sending me a sign.
It’s ok to sing in the rain. It’s ok to feel not ok. It’s ok to have a little bit of both. This too shall pass. You are bigger than your pain. And as I told my son just a week later after an agonizing high school football game loss (yes, it comes in many flavors), we are not defined by the things that don’t go our way — we are defined by what we do with those experiences.
It’s always interesting to see how things show up and play out in our lives. How was it that the very message I needed was the one I was also giving my son? What is that phrase: We teach what we need to learn? Message received.
I want to push through the dark clouds and into greener pastures as quickly as anyone else. I’ve worked hard to develop tools that help me, but even with those tools we can’t always push the process.
Our feelings are our feelings. We don’t have to quantify them. We don’t have to rationalize them. They don’t have to make sense to anyone else. We get to be with them. We get to sit with them so we can trace their tentacles to the other parts of ourselves, perhaps the other wounds that remain unhealed or unattended — pieces and parts of ourselves that have been pushed to the side, dismissed, diminished, ignored.
As a Momma, I wanted to take away the pain of my son, just as my Momma wanted to take away mine. The true gift to self and to others, is in allowing ourselves and others to get through it all in our own time. And you know what, while you are at it…go ahead and sing your way through the rain drops. True wisdom is discerning. It allows us to move at our own pace and besides — your best self has got your back when you do.
As always, I love hearing from you. Do you tip-toe through the tulips, trying to bypass the tough stuff? Let me know how this shows up for you in the comments below.