When asked, your go-to response might be "Good", "fine", "okay, thanks" and then you turn it: "And how are you?" This is our automatic (and automated) response. If you're like most people, you will rarely admit to when you are not doing well, even if it is true and evident. We don't want to complain, we don't want to push the boundaries of "normal exchanges". We want people to see a strong image of who we want to project.
How are you? Oh, I'm fine, thanks. And you?
Read: I'm uncomfortable telling you how I really am, so I'm not going to give anything up and, instead, I’ll deflect.
You know what? Here's my response: I'm not fine. I'm not ok. It's been a tough stretch.
I broke my tradition of my public gratitudes through November because I couldn't get my head and heart around it. The last several months have been startlingly challenging, with people and relationships I thought I understood exploding with new and uncomfortable insights. Shockingly, startlingly, people and relationships I thought were solid were not; my lack of awareness highlighting the harsh reality that perhaps I have not been investing as much thought, care and effort as I thought I was, and that even the most solid of foundations need loving attention. Investing time with focus and attention in (read: self care) is important, sure, but that time and attention away from out.
I am grateful. I am. There is so much good, in life, in the world. I am also deeply aware of what is different this year, and cavernously missing. I am putting in the considerable effort to accept, embrace and move forward. Not "move on" but forward into this new.
Life is full of ups and downs. We have to feel and immerse ourselves in each part to full appreciate what is on offer. Know and share what is important with those you hold dear. Life will go on, but don't let it just slide by. Busyiness is an excuse. Tune in to what is important, to who is important, to when is important.
I am most grateful.
If I've learned anything this past year, it is that acknowledging and accepting discomfort is -- ultimately -- what helps one overcome it The harder one fights the pain or frustration they are feeling, the more likely it will hang around. The more one resists, the more the negative feelings will persist.
Embracing discomfort is part of the growth process. But be aware of what your definition of discomfort it, and don't push past your legitimate human boundaries. Pushing too fast, pushing to where you aren't feeling safe, that creates fear that delays growth. Perfect example of the adage: if you can't swim, don't jump in the deep end. Learn first in the shallow water and then progress to more and more difficult challenges until, one day, you'll be floating in any depth without any issues.
By owning my discomfort, by owning my not being ok, I am not saying I am never happy. I am grateful. I AM grateful. I am not going to fake it, or lie about it, or wish it away. I am learning while I face this challenge and I am focusing on what I can control, and that too grows bit by bit.
Embrace the hard bits, embrace the moments that challenge you. Admit that you are not ok, when that is the case. Know that owning and feeling the bad will help you own and feel the good and it will be even that much more amazing.