Emotional Baggage · The Shame Project

Day 3: It’s Okay to Not Be Okay

“I’m not okay, you’re not okay, and that’s okay.”

~Elizabeth Kübler-Ross

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Do you ever notice how everyone is always “okay?”  I find it a little sickening, and irritating, and unhealthy that no one ever admits to being not okay.  Sometimes you can tell that people are struggling or having difficulty with something; yet when you ask them about it, they insist that they are okay.

Why do we do this to ourselves?  Why do we do this to other people?  I feel that by pretending that we are always coping well with our lives and not facing any challenges, we are perpetuating the idea that it is abnormal to struggle with life’s challenges.  We all struggle with life sometimes.  Some people have more struggles and some people have less.  Regardless, when we constantly feel that the people around us are coping well all the time, it only makes us feel bad about ourselves for not coping well.  And you know what’s worse?  When we feel like we are the only people struggling, we become isolated and we don’t reach out for help.  Similarly, when we know people are struggling and they don’t reach out to us for help (even when we offer), we feel isolated from them in just the same way.

I tried working on this for a while – while I was reading Brené Brown’s books on Shame and Vulnerability.  As Dr. Brown alludes to in her books, we don’t admit to being “not okay” because it feels shameful and we are afraid of being vulnerable.  I tried overcoming my own shame and allowing myself to be vulnerable.  However, there is an overwhelming majority of people who are not ready for this.  We have all been hiding our shame and vulnerability for such a long time that when someone reveals it, we are unsure of how to deal with it – so we push it away like we do with everything else that makes us uncomfortable.  Brené Brown is ahead of her time – and trying out her advice can sometimes make life a little more isolating.

You have to pick the right people  with which to be vulnerable.  There aren’t many people I will open up to and admit that I’m not okay.  Unfortunately, I don’t have any of them here with me now.  I need to go back and revisit the world of Shame and Vulnerability, I think.  In the meantime, I just hope that more people will read Brené Brown’s books and realize that there is a whole world of human connection that is waiting for us if we would all just admit that sometimes we are “not okay.”

24 thoughts on “Day 3: It’s Okay to Not Be Okay

    1. Thanks for reading! I completely agree with you: I think we ask “how are you?” because it’s the polite thing to do, not because we actually care. As a result, I think we assume that no one really cares to know how we’re really feeling. How do we make this change???

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    1. It seems that many people feel this way. Itsn’t it funny, then, that it always happens? We are all just little isolated humans and everyone is afraid to reach out.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Great post and author suggestion. I will look into that. I agree with you 100 percent. I have friends who claim to be “okay” all the time. I used to be that way for many years even though I suffered almost every day. I don’t hide my vulnerability anymore, but many people do not know how to “handle me” because of such, lol. Wonderful post.

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    1. Welcome! I hope you do read Brene Brown, she’s great! She has a few Ted talks too. I found that revealing my vulnerability made so many people unsure of how to “handle me” as well. It was an experiment, so to say: Would being “myself” actually make it easier or harder to connect with people. Sadly, I got an answer I didn’t like.

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    1. OMG, My husband is THE WORST person to talk to about this stuff! Mine is beyond the point of glazed eyes and mechanical nods… In fact, I don’t even try talking to him about it because he always has some kind of unsupportive comment. And then he wonders why I am always “on my phone” talking to other people…

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  2. Very relatable.

    “You have to pick the right people to with which to be vulnerable.”

    Agree, agree, agree. It’s easy for me to put everything on here because I’m mostly anonymous but in real life, people who I haven’t met or deal with online? It really is a game of what to tell and when to find those people.

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    1. Exactly! That is the whole reason this blog is in existence. Isn’t is a little sad that the only place we feel completely comfortable being “ourselves” and talking about our vulnerabilities is behind a computer screen? There is that whole argument that the internet and social media isolates us and damages “human connection.” But I argue that maybe it just reveals how isolated we are in general. Kind of a “chicken or the egg” argument…

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  3. Spot on. I think this also speaks to the pain Facebook can cause in that everyone’s lives *seem* so perfect, making you wonder why yours isn’t which in turn makes it difficult to share the not okay moments/parts.

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    1. I completely agree. That is the main reason I’ve pretty much stopped using my facebook. I only keep it active because of the ease of “facebook groups” to communicate with certain people, and for messenger… Other than that, I just avoid looking at the “fake perfect lives” that everyone has.

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  4. This post is spot on, I completely agree with every point you made. In particular, “You have to pick the right people to with which to be vulnerable”.

    I think, also, reasons for not always admitting that you aren’t okay could be that you don’t trust that that person will not share what you confide in them with other people or, even, may ridicule you.

    Furthermore, there’s also the fear of being branded “attention seeking”, or is that just something that happens with the younger generation in which I somewhat sadly belong to?

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    1. Hello, thanks for stopping by! I think the fear of “attention seeking” has been around for a while – it’s not just a problem with the younger generation. It’s unfortunate that asking for help or saying you’re not okay is considered attention seeking, but posting provocative and inappropriate selfies on facebook is totally cool and acceptable. Who’s really looking for the attention – and they get it. Unfortunately, it’s not the attention that they really need.

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  5. One of my biggest disappointments when I grew up, was discovering that people lie…a lot. I don’t think it does anyone any good, and it is possible to be honest and kind, you just have to choose your words wisely.

    Can you just say, ‘you’re struggling’ or something like that when people ask how you are? You can then choose whether you are prepared to say more or not, depending on how you feel about the other person.

    As you say, we all have bad times, but if you allow yourself to show vulnerability, you may just inspire someone else to open up. Sometimes, that’s where friendships begin.

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    1. I think you’re right, Juli! I guess you never know unless you take a risk with opening up. but that’s the problem – it’s a risk! And a scary one at that! Hopefully as time goes by, I’ll get a little more comfortable in my new surroundings and take more risks.

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  6. What a perfectly timed post. I’m currently re-reading my second book by Brene Brown, and she is just the best. I wish I could carry her in my pocket and have constant therapy hahah. She’s wonderful. I was acutally going to post something on this topic in the near future, once I’ve finished the book and compiled my thoughts.

    But yes, I agree with everything you say. Of course. 🙂

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    1. I think Brene Brown would be a wonderful ear mouse! That’s why I sometimes go back and re-listen to her TED talks every once in a while!

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  7. These days “How are you – OK,” has become like “Hi- hello,” just a conditioned response said automatically. What would it be like if the person asking that question really cared? Thanks for this post. Best wishes. David Joel Miller counselorssoapbox.com

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