It’s Okay to Not Be Okay – The Power of Being Real
Posted Sep 01 2010 4:00pm
I got coached last weekend by a brilliant coach. (Master Coach Bev Barnes .) It’s funny – I forget how amazing coaching is sometimes, and then am reminded when I experience it. There is nothing like it, really, because it’s a place where you get to be exactly as you are, still be loved, and yet find your authentic self beneath the thoughts that are pulling you off-center.
The thought that was pulling me out of alignment with my authentic self was an oldie but goody. Meaning I’ve had this belief as long as I can remember, and when I believe it, it wreaks havoc. The thought is, “It’s not okay to not be okay.” (It’s a little confusing – my mind likes complicated limiting beliefs.) As in, it’s not okay to have weaknesses, turbulent emotions, mess-ups, days in my life when I just don’t feel happy, etc. It’s that old perfection standard sneaking back in, saying I can’t just be exactly as I am in the moment, whatever that may be.
When I hold that belief, I try desperately to be okay. I work harder, do more, learn more, self-coach more, and put what feels like a million pounds of pressure on myself. When that doesn’t work, I avoid. I run from my own mind, eat chocolate, and try really, really hard to stop thinking about not being okay. As you can imagine, that works really well. I end up with a string of shoulds that take over my mind, and it’s not long after that I become barking mad.
I knew I’d gotten there last week when my husband, ever so politely and kindly, asked, “How long has it been since you were last coached?”
He had a point. No matter how much self-coaching a person does, it’s immensely valuable to have that soft place to rest, that loving coach embrace that allows you to relax and let it all out. Then it becomes crystal clear where your own mind is driving you loony-toony.
I have had much experience with the thought that “it’s not okay to not be okay.” In fact, I would say this belief was one of the major culprits that led to vulvodynia, interstitial cystitis, and irritable bowel syndrome (and not to mention, adrenal fatigue!) It created such a storm of self-pressure that I spent most of my time fighting myself, trying to be what I was not. That creates mountains of stress, and my body, thank goodness, let me know. Because it feels a hundred times better to allow myself to be exactly as I am.
The homework Bev gave me feels so valuable I want to share it with all of you. I have a hunch that many of you do the same thing and put a lot of pressure on yourself to be okay, whatever that might mean to you. (For me, okay is often synonymous with perfect; 100% put together, happy, responsible, knowledgeable, mistake-free, creative, and on and on and on.)
The homework makes a perfect partner with last week’s Love List assignment. Put together, these two make a true self-love package.
Here it is:
Each day, list the times that you were not okay. This can mean times you felt negative emotion, times you messed up, times you didn’t give it your all, or whatever you need to list. (I like to keep this list in its own notebook and keep it nearby, actually.) Write these things on the list with the intention to love yourself exactly as you are. Notice, after you’ve finished your list, that the world is still revolving, the sun and moon are still doing their thing, and by and large, everything really is okay. Remind yourself that it IS okay to be not okay. Revel in the relief of that for a few moments. Eventually, you’ll begin loving yourself FOR these “mistakes” and “imperfections” instead of in spite of them. I’ve only done this assignment for four days, and already I feel a soft, loving sweetness toward myself when I list my not okay moments…because in reality, they are totally okay. How’s that for a brain teaser?
I’ve taken to having two journals: the It’s Okay to Not Be Okay journal and the Love List journal. It’s the yin and yang, dark and light, sun and moon, and for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. It’s being human. It’s saying – I am loved, no matter what, by me. I allow myself to be exactly as I am, and I adore all parts of myself. It feels complete to acknowledge the whole of who I am, lovingly.
Here’s an excerpt from my weekend entries in my It’s Okay to Not Be Okay journal:
I felt really exhausted and sad on Friday, because I overworked myself last week.
I spent the entire day on Friday lying on the couch.
I cried a lot on Friday, but not before I ate several mini-Snickers in a futile attempt to avoid the feeling. (Yes, I ate them lying down, on the couch.)
I baked a loaf of Amish Cinnamon bread on Saturday and ate half of it. Then I watched three movies.
I got coached on Sunday, during which I cried some more. And then I finally said to myself, “It’s okay to not be okay.” Ahhh, sweet relief.
I’m sharing this with you not just because it might help you find sweet relief. I’m also sharing it because it helps me to say it out loud. There are lots of times when I am not okay. When I don’t have it all together. When I am not taking my own advice. When I have limiting beliefs I don’t see. When I feel small, vulnerable, and confused.
I think it’s a disservice to both of us if I only tell you about the good times. Yes, there are lots of good times (far more than there used to be), but the irony is that acknowledging the not-so-good times is what brings more beauty, more peace, more happiness, and more joy into our lives. And ultimately – health. When I share this with you, I let not-okay just happen, instead of fighting to remain poised, calm, pulled-together, and perfect. I certainly do not want to teach and share the concept that we all must be okay, all the time. (That would be like offering how to stay in pain coaching – no thanks!) If I’m going to be the teacher, coach, and supporter that I want to be, I must be absolutely authentic and walk my talk. That is why I’m sharing this with you today, because I want you to know that it’s okay to not be okay. And that I am not perfect, do not have it all figured out, and fully give myself permission to be exactly as I am. Except, of course, when I don’t do that perfectly, either.