Yes, sometimes it's ok not to be ok!
We live in a culture of well-being. We’re constantly bombarded with barely realistic messages that only serve to increase the already high pressure we subject ourselves to. These messages often reinforce the notion that we must always remain optimistic and happy, regardless of what happens to us. They’re messages that also overestimate the control we have on our own lives, so we end up judging ourselves for feeling pain, sadness, fear, which later turns into shame and guilt. In other words, we end up feeling bad because we feel bad.
It’s important to learn to listen to ourselves when we have problems and are experiencing negative emotions. Emotions as common as sadness, fear, or insecurity must be identified, normalized, and validated. It’s completely normal in life to go through moments of sadness, failure, and disappointment, and this is part of an adaptive effect that is crucial for the individual. Pretending that there are no highs and lows in daily life, and that everything’s peachy, is a sure way, on the long run, to end up feeling depressed, because denying negative emotions impedes the healthy resolution of the problems being experienced.
We’re in the midst of a global pandemic and it’s normal to experience doubt, uncertainty, fear, and sadness. We, parents, sometimes become over-demanding in our wish to give the best to our children, but it is also true that we sometimes are entitled not to be well. It’s acceptable not to be perfect. It’s healthy to show ourselves as real humans and stop pretending that everything’s under control.
Children always pay more attention to what we do than to what we say, and to show our emotions when we’re not well will show them that we are adaptable, resilient, and not infallible, and this will teach them far more than if we simply tell them about these things. In a nutshell, our message is that often, as parents, in order to achieve a state of well-being, we must first take pause and recognize where and how we are regarding our own emotions and look inside to identify what’s good and what’s bad for us, what steps we must take, and make adjustments accordingly in order to move forward.
It is crucial to pick our battles and move slowly, to recognize what is unnecessary, and put aside anything that weighs on our shoulder in order to truly try to be well. And as children learn so much from what they see and often imitate us, it is important to be an example of honesty rather than one of perfection.