You’re feeling sad, and you’re not sure why. Maybe you just woke up this way. Maybe you’re feeling sad about being left out—of a party, a meeting, a decision, a joke. Maybe you’re feeling sad over something that happened last week, or last year. Maybe you’re feeling sad about the smallest, silliest thing.
You’re feeling angry about having yet another fight with your spouse. You’re feeling angry because your kids aren’t helping out around the house, even though you ask them. All. The. Time. You’re feeling angry that you’re not making enough money. You’re feeling angry that you didn’t get the job. You’re feeling angry that someone hurled a cruel comment your way.
You’re feeling anxious about everything. Next week’s presentation. Today’s expanding to-do list. Tomorrow’s test. Or you’re feeling anxious about nothing. You can’t pinpoint the reason for your anxiety. You just feel it.
You’re feeling envious of a friend or someone you follow on social media. You want their career, their clothes or their supposedly carefree life.
And you’re furious with yourself for feeling this way. Because you shouldn’t be feeling this way. Instead, you tell yourself, you should be happy and grateful and satisfied because you’re fortunate. You’re lucky to have everything you have.
Instead, you tell yourself, you should be cool and calm. Because anger is an awful, destructive emotion.
Instead, you tell yourself, this feeling that you’re feeling is ludicrous, even laughable.
Instead, you tell yourself, this feeling that you’re feeling is unwarranted, and unjustified.
Instead, you tell yourself, you should be feeling the opposite of what you’re feeling. And because you’re not, you feel ashamed, and deeply—so deeply—disappointed.
Instead, you tell yourself, you need to get over it, and snap out of it, and stop being a baby, and grow up, and stop whining and wallowing and being an all-around embarrassment.
If you’re telling yourself such things, pause.
Breathe. Slowly. Deeply.
This is a reminder that you’re human, which means you’re complex, which means you are allowed to experience a wide range of emotions, sometimes in one day, sometimes in a single moment.
Yes, it’s important to identify our feelings so we can resolve the underlying issue.
Yes, it’s important to calmly communicate with our loved ones, and make specific requests.
Yes, it’s important to create a realistic to-do list, and delegate tasks that we don’t need to be doing.
Yes, it’s important to manage expectations.
Yes, it’s important to practice gratitude—and be thankful for the tiniest of blessings.
Yes, it’s important to process regrets, and to reframe them.
Yes, it’s important to foster perspectives that empower you and serve you and support you and put you in a solution-focused, anything-is-possible state of mind.
Yes, it’s important to take your feelings and channel them into productive, position actions that better your life, and better your days.
But the first step—for anything—is to acknowledge and accept your feelings, to say, it’s OK. It’s absolutely OK.
Whatever awful, dumb, embarrassing, seemingly disgraceful feeling you’re feeling, it’s OK. I hope you tell yourself that it is OK. And I hope you keep telling yourself because you’ll forget. After all, you’re human.