It’s ok to not feel ok. In fact, it’s more than ok. It’s part of the human experience – it’s part of the wide range of emotional that we get the privilege to feel. It is – dare I say – normal to not feel ok sometimes.
But somewhere along the way, we were taught that when we don’t feel good inside, we can make ourselves feel better with food, sex, work, alcohol, risky behavior, being entertained, or something else we do just to avoid feeling pain. We try to crowd out that icky feeling with something…anything else.
The tricky thing about that is that then the pain never really goes away. It stays, and gets layered on with other things. “I just ate way more cake than I should have and now I feel guilty for eating that much cake, sick to my stomach, AND I am STILL upset at my boss.” And then the pain resurfaces again at inconvenient times like when you haven’t had a good night’s sleep or your kids are driving you nuts. It jumps out and surprises you and then you react in ways that are outside of how you usually want to deal with stressful situations. You lash out at the person who happens to be closest to you or something else scary, because you’re trying desperately to maintain equilibrium amongst all the not-ok feelings that are whipping into a cyclone around you.
We’ve all been there at one time or another. Let’s rewind.
If you’re having a not-ok moment. First, stop and let yourself feel it. Give yourself a “time out” and go in you room. Excuse yourself from the table and go to the bathroom. Leave the office and go for a walk around the block. Then do what your body really wants to do: cry, yell (into a pillow or out loud), stare at the ceiling, do something cathartic like a crazy dance or punching the air. But let yourself be WITH that emotion and allow it to wash over you for a few minutes or maybe a few hours, depending on how intense it is.
Then, do something to honor it. Write in your journal. Sing a sad song. Talk to a friend or a counselor about it. Paint a picture. Move your body in some way that expresses your pain.
DO NOT flip through your favorite social media account to find evidence that you are a horrible person for feeling this way – or even to get validation from online “friends” or people who “follow” your feed. This is not the time for that
Don’t worry, the pain will start to subside with time. It may take seconds, or minutes, or hours, or maybe days. But eventually – if you allow yourself to truly feel and express the pain – it will start to release its grip on you. And you won’t feel like you need to eat the cake or have the mixed drink or say things you don’t mean to people you love.
And slowly, you’ll start to recognize how to deal with the pain of feeling not-ok in a way that’s constructive and honors your body, mind, and soul in ways that support your well-being.