As of late, my life has been jam packed. I wrote 30k words for my book just to decide that it was not the direction I wanted to go, so I scrapped it and started over. Carlie and I have continued our progressions in our mentorship courses and have learned an incredible amount. Something that we are learning, that I wish I learned earlier in my life, is that it is okay not to be okay.
This morning, walking through the shops, Carlie and I noticed how unhappy everyone is. They are visibly miserable and without "life." Carlie and I talked about how difficult the past year has been for everyone, and how life has changed for a lot of people.
During this pandemic, we decided to take it as an opportunity to grow as people, really identifying our own internal issues and addressing them. I am not saying those who took time during the pandemic to relax are wrong, we all need different things at different times in our lives, but mental health is a huge issue in the world right now, and addressing that, is something that has never been more important than now.
The process of growth is never pretty, but the steps are necessary to finding our happiness and fulfilment in life. The first step, is always admitting there is a problem. But here's the thing, the problem is never understood to be acceptable. We are all going to go through mental health struggles at some point in our life, so why do we not accept that?
As an athlete, and a male, we are told to never show weakness. We cannot have weak emotions, such as sadness. We become very good at suppressing the negative emotions because we "have to be okay." Society has taken the same approach to these issues as well. But what does suppressing and resisting emotions really do to us?
For starters, when we suppress and resist emotions, they only become stronger within us. Anger for instance, if we do not allow ourselves to honour the anger within ourselves, it comes out more often and more aggressively, I am a perfect example of that. Unaddressed and unacknowledged sadness goes from feeling a little down, to full blown depression. And if depression is not checked, then we find ourselves battling suicidal thoughts and attempts. Again, I am the perfect example of this.
Society tells us to "be strong" and "stay positive" because "it will all work out eventually." While it does work out in the end, why do we not allow ourselves the time to feel sadness? The faster we can accept our emotions, the faster we can embrace them and move past them and heal ourselves.
Lately, I have worked heavily on my past issues surrounding anger. While there is still a lot of work for me left to do around its complexities, my understanding and awareness have gone a long way for me. I find myself getting less frustrated, and find myself much more even-keel, even during stressful times.
But the real emotion I want to focus on here is sadness, because I see so much of it in the world. There is so much to be grateful for, but because of what has happened to us, we find it hard to move past the emotion of sadness simply because we refuse to acknowledge it and allow it to be there. We tell ourselves to "stay strong" and "it'll be okay."
When my mother first passed, her best friend told me that she felt I was struggling with depression. I remember in that moment how angry I got about hearing that. I was a professional athlete, chasing my dream and finding success. Sure I missed my mother, but I got myself out of bed every day to train and do what I needed to. So how could I be depressed?
When I began to struggle with suicide, it became clear- my mental health was about as bad as it could get. Now that I look back at that time in my life, I could have helped myself simply by allowing myself to admit I was sad. I could have cried about my mother when I felt like I needed to. I could have found someone to express my emotions and thoughts to so I would not have to bear the load. Internally I was killing myself simply because I was doing what I had been taught from a very young age- bottle up how you feel because you cannot show weakness.
If you are willing to admit you have mental health issues, let me be the first to say if you haven't been told already- I am proud as hell of you. You are brave and you are showing yourself you are worth it.
But how do you address your feelings? The first thing you need to do is find your own true vulnerability. It amazes me how few people can tap into that internally- well before they voice those thoughts to another person. If you can do that, then you are genuinely acknowledging your internal issues. By doing so, you have taken your first step to freeing yourself.
Once you have a genuine truth of your internal emotions, you have to find the person, or people, who will listen to your emotions. Simply by acknowledging and voicing these thoughts will bring relief within yourself. Studies are finding that emotions leave an imprint in our cells. As our cells regenerate, those memories are written. By releasing and accepting those emotions, they are no longer rewritten in our cells.
As an example, when someone is thriving in life, often people will comment on how happy and healthy they look. What does happiness look like? If someone is not constantly smiling 24/7 (because no one is) then how do we understand someone to be happy? Subconsciously we pick up on their energy. They have a "glow" about them that is undeniable. It is because of their happiness which has produced their "glow" that they look healthy. They have healthy skin, their eyes are clear and it is easy to tell their health is good. Their energy and presence is infectious and rubs off on us.
On the flip side of that, people who are suffering from sadness and/or depression, have a noticeable appearance and aura about them. We often use the term of someone "having a black cloud over them." Unlike the person who is glowing and has an infectious presence about them, the person struggling with depression brings down the room. They are usually unhealthy, with splotchy or pale skin paired with dark circles under their eyes. You can often see the sadness in their eyes and hear it in their voice.
We work greatly on subconscious levels, even when we do not realise. I know more than a few people will realise that from the last couple of paragraphs. Our subconscious is where the emotions lie, and to be clear subconsciously and healthy both internally and externally, we must address our emotional issues and traumas. To do so, we must accept that it is okay, not to be okay.
Do yourself a favour, write each emotion you think you are feeling down after reading this post. Be brutally honest with yourself about yourself and what has happened in your life. I can guarantee you will find some interesting things come up. After you have done that, if you are comfortable, share it with someone you know and trust. If you have no one to do that with, you can always send them my way.
We are all better when working together. The term "Ubuntu" essentially means humanity. The concept behind ubuntu is for me to be the best version of myself, you must push me to that by being the best version of yourself.
(Side note: it is actually an incredibly interesting topic and on NETFLIX there is a series called "The Playbook." Doc Rivers discusses this in an easy to understand format and how the Boston Celtics used this in 2008 to win the NBA championship.)
Do yourself a favour and explore your emotions. Allow yourself to heal so you can move ahead with your best foot forward. There is a lot more support out there for you, even if you do not feel it. I am always available if there is no one else for you.
I want to see everyone be the best version of themselves. Reflecting on my own transformation, although not nearly finished, it has been one of the most liberating and empowering feelings I have ever experienced.
Remember, it is okay not to feel okay. Much love to you.
Writers Note: there are no negative emotions. We only perceive our emotions as negative because society teaches us to do so. Every emotion has an enormous benefit to it, that when used the correct way, will allow yourself to move forward. The wealth of knowledge I am gaining from the mentorship course is incredible and has made sense of a lot of things in my life.