Why staying cheerful is not always the solution.
“It’s going to be okay” as a reaction to someone talking about their struggles, was one of the first expressions I ditched from my vocabulary when I first started my coaching training. Why? Because I realized that the reason I used to say that was not that I really believed it. After all, how could I know whether something was going to be okay or not? It was just an empty phrase I was used to saying, something other people used to say in similar situations.
In fact, I don’t believe that everything is always going to be okay, nor that everyone will be fine, or that staying positive and looking on the bright side is always the solution.
It’s going to be okay is how I used to deal with my own discomfort with someone else’s problems, my own discomfort with not being able to offer them a solution, and the “awkwardness” in being with another person’s emotions.
Who wants to hear It’s going to be okay when they feel as if their whole world is falling apart? Who wants to keep smiling when all we feel we can do is to totally freak out? Sometimes, our life is shitty and that sucks, and it’s completely valid to feel angry, sad, exhausted, disconnected, scared, powerless or any other way. It’s okay to question the meaning of life, the fairness of the world or to re-evaluate our beliefs.
But the last thing we want or need to hear is that being with all our messy emotions is pointless because everything is going to be okay and all we have to do is look on the bright side.
What is truly important in these challenging moments, is to fully experience them rather than ignoring our experience for the sake of another’s comfort. We can only truly move forward when we accept and process our emotions as they are.
So if you want to be supportive, next time someone shares their struggles with you, don’t try to make them feel better. Just make them feel. Be quiet and listen. Ask them questions. Resist the urge to mention the advantages of their situation or compare their problems with yours. Their experience is unique; let them process it as such.
Once we learn to accept life’s difficulties for what they are, we will be able to enjoy the good stuff instead of taking it for granted, and the same goes with self-acceptance; feeling bad is not a sign we are broken, it’s a sign we are feeling something. It might not always be comfortable, but you know what they say about being out of your comfort zone: That’s where the growth takes place.
Let’s grow and let grow, and maybe one day, we will not have to compensate our suppressed feelings in other, often harmful ways.
If you enjoyed reading this article, feel free to check out What would change if you were honest with yourself? and What would make your emotions ‘valid’?
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