The Gift of Okay-ness
I f we are to eventually accept that we can, in fact, be change makers, with both ourselves and the world, how do we even begin that journey? We can pick any place on any map, selecting our destination, and yet have only the vaguest idea to get where we want to be.
We have to first determine where we are right now in order to get to where we want to be.
Of course, GPS doesn’t really make this allegory as relevant as it once was, but meh. Wouldn’t it be fabulous, though, to have some sort of internal GPS that tracked location in terms of goals and not of physical location? Especially if that GPS came with less of a grating (and judgmental, I might add) tone of voice when it repeated “Recalculating route, recalculating route…”
I may need to think more about that. I’m pretty sure that my internal GPS would have never shut up. “Recalculating route….recalculating route…” It may have even stuttered on the “Recalculating” part, sounding like the Macarena song on meth and stuck in a permanent loop.
So…maybe not as helpful as I originally thought.
It’s still true, GPS or not, that we need to know where we are to know how to get to where we want to be. And that sort of self-location system requires both ruthlessness and compassion.
Our honesty with ourselves must be ruthless.
Where are we right now? Not tomorrow, not yesterday, but right now? Are we sad or grieving or joyous and celebrating? Is our emotional state somewhere near the middle? Are we in spiritual chaos or do we find ourselves surrounded by peace? Do our inclinations lean more toward those of an Olympic athlete or a Netflix-ing couch potato? Do we have a solid social circle, or do we tend to isolate? Are we bored with our life, our job, our classes, or are we intentionally trying to learn something nearly every day?
What are our habits that keep us from where we want to be? What beliefs, attitudes, and habits shape our current circumstances? To what level have we taken responsibility for our circumstances?
We must be ruthless in our assessment, but compassionate in our acceptance.
Because it doesn’t matter where we are now.
It really, really doesn’t. Where we are now is just a starting point, a point A to our on our journey to Point B and beyond. It doesn’t even matter how far we have come already; today is a brand-spanking-new Point A.
A bit of clarification:
When I say that “It doesn’t even matter how far we have come already,” I do not mean that progress is insignificant or unimportant or something unworthy of celebration. Our progress—how far we’ve come so far—is every bit significant and important and so very, very worthy of celebration. Instead, I mean that today is a brand new starting point. Tomorrow will be another new starting point. Maybe, whatever our goals, we’ll end the day far ahead of where we started; perhaps we’ll end it having taken a few steps back.
It is okay.
It is okay because there are so very few completely straight
trips from where we start to where we end.
One of my most favorite Facebook memes ever is the one that shows
that success so rarely resembles anything
near to what we’ve imagined.
It is okay because wherever we end the day, we have the opportunity to have a brand new beginning after resting. (Note to self: Resting is also very, very okay). Where we are doesn’t matter, not nearly as much as the fact that we know where we’re at.
Being okay is something a lot of us have trouble coming to terms with. We’re okay. This is okay. Where we’re at is okay. We may have felt too sore-thumbish, too odd or too weird or too different or too lonely or too fat or skinny, and we aren’t used to seeing ourselves as okay.
So sit down and lemme tell you a secret:
We are okay.
Not only are we okay; but we’ll be okay tomorrow regardless of whether
we’ve gained or lost
momentum in moving toward our goals.
We are okay.
This idea, this okay-ness is something so incredibly important to get—not just to know logically—but to feel down deep in our bones. It is the starting points of starting points. This is why we must foster compassion toward ourselves. If we’re too busy judging ourselves as guilty or as having too much of this or not enough of that,
we won’t be able to get past the noise of judgment to get to the silence of acceptance.
And this is where we really, really start: acceptance.
If we can accept that basic premise—that wherever we are, we are okay—then we can look at ourselves and our lives with a sense of objectivity that we simply can’t have if we are emotionally tied to the results. That’s the same with anything, I think, but especially when it concerns ourselves.
This is the gift of knowing we’re okay: it’s both acceptance and distancing. We accept that this is where we are, but we also know that we are not our circumstances. Yes, our lives have been shaped by the decisions we have made up to this point, but we are not our choices. We are the ones who make the choices, and no matter how we chose yesterday, we can choose differently today.
Too fat or too skinny? Take a breath. We’re okay. This is what we can do to move toward better health.
Trapped in a job we hate that’s slowly (or not so slowly) killing us? Take a breath. We are okay. Here’s what we can do to find something better.
Feeling like a bad parent or bad husband or wife and carrying around the guilt of that? Take a breath. We are okay. Here’s what we can do to be more loving toward our spouse or our children.
If we’re so afraid of what we’ll find when we begin really, really looking at our habits and beliefs, we can find it so very easy to lose sight of why we’re examining ourselves and instead focus on the feeling of judgment—and all the emotions that are tied to it—of our not being enough or of our being too much.
Our only judgment should be that we’re okay; our only assessment should be of our circumstances and location along the path to “Where we want to be.” It’s hard to be dispassionate and non-judgmental when we’re looking at where we are. It may require lots and lots (and lots and lots) of practice.
That’s okay, too.
As we become better at ruthless honesty with ourselves, we can begin shifting from shame to solution, from hurt to possibility.
Because being okay and assessing where we are are JUST a starting point.
Where we go from here is up to us.