I am a big believer that it’s okay to not be okay, and here’s why. A few years ago, I was at a low, a real low. I was burned out, depressed, lost, insecure, and the list goes on. My anxiety was worse than ever, and my blood pressure was through the roof. I was on a downward spiral with not one ounce of optimism. And to top it all off, I felt guilty for feeling so bad.
Guilty?! Can you believe it? I felt guilty for being so unhappy. I felt guilty for not waking up excited about my life. I felt guilty for having zero energy. Guilty, guilty, guilty. And what did that guilt do for me? It only made me feel worse.
How? Well, it made me push and push myself to keep going as if everything was okay. It made me pretend that everything was hunky-dory in public, while I cried myself to sleep at night. It forced me to ignore my feelings, thoughts, and pain.
Why? Because we are taught that it’s NOT okay to feel shitty. But, I’m here to tell you, allowing myself to feel bad is what changed my life for the better. Accepting my pain led me to push through it. Learning to love me, ALL of me, even the dark and painful parts of me, gave me the strength I needed to keep fighting.
DISCLAIMER: The information provided on this blog is written from personal and lived experience. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional mental health services, medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health or mental health, you should always consult with a healthcare professional.
I learned a few things about why it’s okay to not be okay and I wanted to share them with you:
# 1- Not feeling okay is a sign that things need to change, and most times for the better
If I continued to ignore how I was feeling, I would have never made a change in my life. I needed to accept my pain to start understanding where it was coming from and to start to heal. This understanding taught me to take better care of myself and to live life on my terms.
If I continued to deny my emotions, I would still be that girl who was incredibly unhappy and in so much pain. Today, I’m so grateful for what my not feeling okay has done for me and my life. I’m happier and more fulfilled than I’ve ever been.
# 2 – Suppressing your emotions makes you ill
The longer I ignored my negative emotions, the sicker I got, both mentally and physically. I often wonder what my life would have been like had I allowed myself to feel these emotions early on. I may have avoided reaching such a dark place. I may have started to love myself and my life sooner. But then again, I am grateful for my journey.
The truth is suppressing your emotions will make you ill. Studies have even shown it may be linked to earlier death.
Negative emotions are a normal, healthy, and helpful part of life. You are not weak if you feel them. And trying to hide from them will only lead to more emotional pain.
You are feeling a particular emotion for a reason. It is teaching you how to better manage your life situations. Feeling emotions, all of them, is a powerfully helpful thing. Let me repeat, it’s okay to not be okay.
# 3 – Not feeling okay motivates you to take action
Feeling my negative emotions forced me to see that something was just not right. My mind, body, and soul were miserable, and they were crying out for help, and I was choosing to ignore them. But, when I finally decided to listen, it motivated the heck out of me!
Not feeling okay helped me build a relationship with myself. I learned what my limits were and eventually, what I would allow myself to tolerate any longer. This process, as slow as it was, helped me learn to love myself and my life. It helped me see that I deserved to be happy and healthy and kind to myself. None of this was selfish. Rather, it was vital to keeping me alive.
Harnessing my negative emotions in a healthy and helpful way motivated me to become a fighter. I started to take action, and make real-life decisions – some more creative than others, voila this blog! – that completely transformed my life, and all for the better.
# 4 – Not feeling okay helps you grow and learn so much about yourself
Today, I am an entirely different person than I was in the midst of my burnout. I have learned so much about who I am, what my likes and dislikes are, and, most importantly, about my worth. I am no longer living my life for others or letting the opinions of others dictate my choices.
I have grown, and continue to grow, into a healthier, more fulfilled version of myself, and I have being okay with not feeling okay to thank for that. It has taught me that negative emotions are nothing to be ashamed of. Rather, they are tools to help us along this journey we call life. Showing up for ourselves, in difficult and uncomfortable moments, empowers us and helps us build trust within ourselves.
# 5 – Sometimes blessings are disguised as scary and painful
Who knew, that sitting here today, I would have survived one of the most emotionally dark places of my life. And not only survive, but have thrived from and have reached a place of confidence and joy I had never experienced before.
I have learned to embrace negative emotions because they are there for a reason, and sometimes that reason is to lead me to something greater. I have learned that blessings arise from negative situations, and this lesson brings me comfort, helps me trust myself and my abilities to get through challenging situations, and makes me stronger than ever.
# 6 – You learn about the importance of self-care and self-compassion
Coming from a place of self-love will help you work through, and more clearly understand your negative emotions. Acknowledging that emotional pain is a universal experience, and you are doing your very best to cope and get through it, is so important.
A final note: There’s a difference between feeling negative emotions and ruminating
Although permitting ourselves to feel negative emotions is healthy, rumination is not. Ruminating is repetitively going over a thought, usually a dark and negative one, or a problem. If ruminating becomes a habit, it can be harmful to your mental health because it can make it difficult to think and process emotions.
When caught in this repetitive cycle, it can feel challenging to break out of. Building your self-esteem, understanding your triggers, and talking to someone are some ways to help stop ruminating thoughts.