Meeting her friend after a long gap, a young petit woman asked after her welfare. Her friend smiled, hesitated and her not- so-well state of affairs became obvious to her even before she could utter something- her body language gave her away. Quick to observe her discomfiture the petit young lady promptly said, ‘don’t worry my friend- it is okay not to be okay’. Then they both laughed and I was impressed at her philosophical reassuring response which came so aptly and promptly. It was not a novel magical insight that she was giving and nor was it a wisecrack, it was so many things rolled into one and her sincerity of tone made the impact so very positive- it stuck in my head for ever so to say.
What a great understanding of life and the process of life!
No one’s life follows a perfect plan or path however much you desire to do so. We can see people struggling to be happy, in spite of their handicaps, miseries, losses and setbacks. People have their own set of desires and aspirations for defining their sense of happiness in this world and at most times lots may be left to be desired. The first thing to do is to be aware of yourself and your life as much as possible. The ‘awareness’ gives us an objective assessment of what is going right and what is not going right and the objectivity gives us a sense of balance that ‘it is okay to not be perfectly okay’. If life is not generally fine it is best to accept it as a phase that will go away maybe not by its own but by taking cognisance about it and acting on it. But if life is generally fine and reasonably okay and no major upheaval has happened we should be okay about life anyway. This does not mean that we should not have high ambitions, this means that in the process of achievement we should maintain a harmonious mind by enjoying the process whether good or bad.
This brings us to the second principle of ‘acceptance’ of what is. Most times we forget what we have in hand and run after what we want in hand. If we observe we can see senseless running after material and social rewards. Our wants and desires seem endless –we have just achieved one and begin hankering after the next one. If we care to observe people are blessed by God in many different ways, we have been bestowed a wealth of resources within us, but many times we forget to look inside our own treasure house and look for it outside or in others houses! Acceptance of what we have and what we can do with it is the trick. Counting our blessings and acceptance of reality keeps us grounded and happy.
A depressed man wailed that “life was terrible, horrible, all was lost and hence not worth living”. Such can be the nature of clouding of the mind when we put on dark glasses and observe the world- everything appears dark and cloudy with no silver lining. It takes an enormous amount of effort to lift the veil of darkness and show them the silver lining in the sky. A balanced attitude with the right perspective will help us accept life in all its colours- whether bright or dark and to know that it is a bad time that will pass, as good times do too. The storm clouds will not remain endlessly but will sweep away one day. But people do lose patience, lose hope, lose perspective and consequently lose their minds.
The fundamental principle of maintaining a balanced mind comes from a realistic as well as a positive sense of self image. When we perceive our strengths and weaknesses in a framework of reality and yet maintain a positive approach towards it we develop a good strong healthy self image. This is turn leads to a good sense of self esteem which is of utmost importance in facing life’s cruel challenges. The person’s sense of self respect and dignity empowers her to accept whatever comes by way of life’s offerings. It is accepted as a gift from the heavens meant for a specific person. No experience goes waste, for it teaches us lessons which no book can teach. The experiences of life are the best teachers in the world and we could accept them with a happy and healthy attitude of ‘it is okay- let it come’. Drowning yourself in pity and sorrow will multiply your woes and make you more miserable. Awareness and acceptance will help you take a detached look and decrease your miseries.
In counselling when people come crying, they tend to apologise and feel bad about their uninhibited behaviour. At that moment to tell them that ‘it is okay to cry and it is okay to feel bad’ is very reassuring for the other, for it validates the emotions of the other. It also reflects ‘acceptance’ by the counsellor and a non-judgemental response to the situation of being ‘not okay’. The task of being in a ‘state of perfection’ at all times is daunting and terrifying. It acts as a stressor that can lead to negativity. It is okay to be just okay and not so okay!