“It’s ok not to be ok. Some days are just harder than others”
- Positive Outlooks
It’s ok if every day isn’t a great day, to feel down, sad, upset, anxious, frustrated, panicky. I know it doesn’t feel good or comfortable and, believe me, it’s a whole lot easier for me to say than to actually do myself. But I’ve been working on it for a long time now (12 years since my Generalized Anxiety Disorder and panic kicked in followed not long after by added depression and PTSD) and through trial and error have found that letting myself be ok with how I’m feeling actually works better than trying to fight it so hard. Being such a perfectionist and people pleaser I still have trouble and my instinct is to fight it and put on a happy face. Especially when Im around other people. I want to seem capable, never to have anyone worry about me. Although it’s funny because what often draws me to other people isn’t just their positivity. Sure I want to emulate their happiness and success- surround myself with people who express the qualities I hope to cultivate within myself. But I’ve noticed I’m often drawn to people who are real- who face challenges, fall down, make mistakes. The key is them not being afraid to show that to the world and to pick themselves up afterward and not give up. I’m my own harshest critic and find I have trouble giving myself even a tiny degree of the kindness, forgiveness, and patience I give others. I’m working on that too. I’m definitely quite a work in progress. I’m not giving up though…no matter what.
I’ve also noticed that a lot of the pressure I put on myself to be and especially appear a certain way reflecting what I’ve observed about society being obsessed with happiness and success. For example have you noticed how when most people greet each other they say “hi, how are you?” I use the word “say” instead of “ask” because it’s really more of a polite greeting rather than a genuine question. The expected and appropriate answer is “I’m fine, how are you?” Them you go on with whatever conversation would follow. People also don’t seem to want to know how anyone else is doing. They want you to say “fine” and then talk about themselves or get to their agenda. Not to hear how you are.
Understanding the pressure society, and I, put on myself to be “ok” helped me realize it’s ok sometimes not to be fine. When I first started feeling extreme anxiety I was so uncomfortable and all I could instinctively do was try to counter my panicky racing thoughts- fight them as hard as I could hoping to win and make them go away. It just made things worse. The only time I really got any relief was when I was distracted, especially with something I enjoyed or did well, but even then I would still feel anxious. When I started having panic attacks I realized fighting my anxiety made it worse. Putting on a happy face didn’t help much either. It was all completely draining and exhausting too. Getting away from people when I’m feeling particularly awful so I don’t feel pressure to seem ok and I’m not worried about them (I tend to always be “on alert” around other people. I think it’s a people pleaser, insecure reflex) and just telling myself “you’re having a bad day, it’s ok” or “you don’t feel good, it’s alright. You’re doing the best you can right now” actually helps me more than trying to fight it. Sure I may feel yucky for a while but it’s ok- life isn’t always rainbows, sunshine, and butterflies, and I try to remember that the down moments help me appreciate the good ones. It’s ok to let yourself feel crappy- not forever, but just for a little while.
Until next Friday,