It’s OK not to be OK


Cloudy by Sarah Lacroix 

If I had one message I could deliver to everyone in the world, it would be this: it’s OK to feel whatever you feel.

Most of us have some aspect of ourselves that were not ok with feeling, it might be fear, anxiety, sadness, anger, tiredness, tension in the body, quite possibly all of the above.

We go to great lengths to ignore feelings we don’t like, using alcohol, drugs, coffee, sugar, cigarettes, busyness, porn, social media, email and all manner of other distractions.

When people ask us how we are, we tell them we’re fine for fear of burdening or boring them, being judged, rejected or worrying them.

When we do feel the thing we don’t want to feel, we often judge ourselves for feeling it: I shouldn’t be worried about this, it’s bad to feel angry, I wish that fear would go away, I don’t want to feel sad any more.

Mindfulness doesn’t get rid of any of these difficult emotions. Counter-intuitively, it helps you to feel them more. People have asked me if they’re making their anxiety or tension worse, because the mediation makes them feel it more.

In fact, it’s probably not getting worse, they’re just noticing it more because they’re paying attention. This is a good thing, because it allows you to respond to it skillfully. Ignore physical or emotional pain for long enough and it becomes a major problem.

Once you’re noticing the unpleasant feelings, the next step is to change your relationship with them from resistance to acceptance.

You tell yourself that whatever you feel is ok. Would you tell a friend it was bad to feel sad or wrong to feel anxious? If a friend was fearful would you tell them to go away?!

There is a saying that whatever you resist, persists, so not only is it unfriendly to tell yourself that whatever you’re feeling is not ok, it doesn’t work! It prolongs the feeling, it doesn’t get rid of it.

Emotions are energy in motion through the body. When we don’t want to experience them, we physically tense up and this prevents them from flowing, which means we don’t let go of them.

Once you’ve learned to be ok with all the emotions you experience, what have you got to be afraid of? Nothing! Also, the more you accept yourself as you are, the more you’re able to accept others, so all your relationships improve.

To change your relationship with your feelings takes a lot more than just acknowledging that it would be a good idea. It takes practice, which is where meditation comes in. We’ve been conditioned from a young age to ignore or suppress our feelings, so we need to unlearn that to return to our natural state of being.

Jon Kabbat Zinn, the father of modern mindfulness is quoted as saying: “Here’s a radical notion, you’re actually fine just the way you are.” How ridiculous that it should be a radical notion. What a world it would be if we all believed it.

To practice being OK with whatever you’re feeling, I’ve recorded my first guided meditation. Let me know what you think.

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If you’d like to learn how to be OK with your emotions, get in touch.

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