It's Okay If You're Not Okay


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Lately I have been reminding myself of a piece of wisdom I learned from my therapist many moons ago: it’s okay not to be okay. If you’re feeling sad or anxious or unproductive or just flat, that’s okay. You don't need to justify it or have great reasons or be able to explain it. Go ahead and just feel that way. To be clear: I’m not saying that feeling badly is just something you have to deal with or that you should get over it or ignore it or power through it. What I’m saying is that you're allowed to feel poorly no matter your circumstances. It's not your fault that you feel that way. You don’t need to feel bad about it. Maybe things are really crappy right now and you’re upset about that. Or maybe things are really great right now and everything is going fine, and yet you’re still feeling terrible, and that’s really confusing. You might feel like you have a lot to be grateful for, and loads of people who love you and support you, but you still feel like your head is full of cat hair and wadded up papers and loose Cheeto dust. That happens to me frequently, and it makes me feel weird and guilty and like I have a broken brain. How dare my brain not acknowledge that I'm thriving? And how can I explain feeling gross while good things are happening for me without coming off as ungrateful? But my therapist told me this with a lot of conviction, so I'm going to tell it to you just as earnestly: whatever's going on in your head and your heart, you are entitled to feel it.

I was listening to an episode of the "Dear Prudence" podcast recently with Jaclyn Friedman as the guest host, and Jaclyn said something about how you can’t always control your feelings, but frequently you can control the feelings you have about your feelings. So if you’re feeling upset, that is what it is and it's not fun, but you don’t need to feel guilty or mad at yourself for feeling upset. That's just a whole other unnecessary feeling to deal with, and you don't need it. You are allowed to just simply be upset and not waste extra headspace on judging yourself for being upset. You don’t need to police or punish yourself. You can spend that energy on different, more important things, like wrapping yourself in soft blankets, or looking up pictures of puppies on the Internet, or talking to someone who makes you smile, or watching "Brooklyn Nine-Nine."

I personally am feeling a little bit poorly right now! I have reasons, but they don't feel like very good reasons. And you know what, that’s fine! I will feel the way I feel for the reasons that I have, and I am going to try really hard not to judge myself for them. Experience tells me that eventually my feelings will probably change or go away so I'm going to be gentle with myself until things calm down in my heart. I hope that you will treat yourself with generosity too.