“It’s okay not to be okay, but it’s never okay to stay that way.”
I first read those words in an essay written by an 18 year old Ethiopian refugee girl. Knowing a little of her story (and she’d experienced a lot of pain in her life), they struck me as being very wise words. It doesn’t matter who we are, we will all experience pain at sometime[s] in our lives. We will feel grief, sadness, anger, loss, confusion and/or other emotions. It’s important not to try and deny those feelings, or escape from them. Instead, when we are hurt and distressed, we need to allow ourselves the privilege of feeling those emotions.
God has given us emotions and they’re not bad. They may not be pleasant (after all who likes pain), but they are good for our mental and emotional health. We need to allow our children to express their feelings – maybe even encourage them to express them. In my own personal life, I’ve found that allowing myself to experience my emotions (rather than trying to escape from them) enables me to move through difficulties a little more smoothly, and probably a little faster. Evidence from numerous studies supports that too. If we try and bury our emotions, they may resurface with a vengeance at a later time.
Allowing ourselves to experience our feelings in our own way and time doesn’t mean they’ll disappear, we’ll move in and out of feeling that emotion, but it is far less likely to become a permanent state for us.