Can You Be OK, Even When "Things" Aren't?

Life happens.  And, let’s face it, life’s happenings aren’t always pleasant, fun, or even comfortable. Sometimes, life’s happenings are painful, unpleasant, or un-fun.  If we’re honest, they are always uncertain.  

I was asked recently, “How are things?” and I found myself pausing and answering another question.  My reply: “I’m doing really well.”  Because “things” right now are very uncertain, sad, scary, and bordering on crisis.  I didn’t want to focus there.  

Instead, I wanted to focus on the strength, calm, clarity, and courage I have cultivated and drawn on, even in the midst of such troubling times and “things.”  

How often do we find ourselves swept away by the story of the chaos, the confusion, the drama, and other people’s stuff, unable to find our own footing and ground in the middle of all of that?  It happens quickly and easily, often without any warning or time for us to notice. It happens to all of us, and it can take us down quickly and deeply.  

Or, we can catch our breath, take a look around and remember that we are not victims of our circumstances.  We can notice what’s real for us, feel what we feel, let that be OK, and still choose whether WE are OK or not.  And if we’re not ok right now, can we let that be OK for now?  If we’re not OK, how long will we stay in that space?  Maybe we have no idea, and we simply choose to take things one moment, one breath at a time.  

We will choose whether this instance will empower us, emboldening us to reclaim our stand, set boundaries to honor ourselves, or not.  We will choose whether to be caught up in someone else’s net or to find a way to stand beside them or far away from them so that we can stand our own ground. 

Sometimes it doesn’t seem possible or even right to be OK when someone we love is suffering or struggling.  We have a preconceived notion that a “good mother” or a “good friend” or “good partner, community member daughter, son”… (fill in the blank) should not feel OK if someone else does not. 

But, when you think about it, the best thing you can do for everyone is build up your own reserves, take really good care of yourself, find the truth and integrity that comes from knowing your own needs and honoring them the best way you can.  Only then can you possibly show up to love or support another.  Only by being there for yourself first, by finding a way to be “OK” (whatever that looks or feels like in that moment – for it will surely change) can you have anything available to give to another.  

As they say, “Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others.”  And, choose to be OK, even when things aren’t.  They often aren’t and we often miss out on life we don’t need to miss out on wishing and hoping and waiting for “things” to change, rather than changing ourselves and how we show up.  

-- Barb Klein

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