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I follow some really great people on social media. Most of them are health and wellness gurus and some are general all-round legends of life. I follow them all for different reasons and I can definitely attribute a lot of my learning to them.

There are also some who I have un-followed if I’ve found that their message or ‘tone’ hasn’t resonated with me. There’s a fine line between enriching people’s lives by aiding them to be more mindful, positive or productive and making them feel inferior or inadequate when they don’t manage to approach life with these attitudes, methods or disposition all of the time.

I hear what you’re thinking – no one can ‘make’ you feel anything – it’s how you choose to interpret their words or how you let their tone affect you. And I agree. In fact this one of the great and unexpected lessons I have learned on the course of my wellness journey. And one I am still trying to nail.

But having said that, I believe a person in a position of influence, particularly in the health and wellness industry, has a responsibility to present their message in such a way that their audience can relate to it without the underlying inference that they are wrong if they can’t manage to apply it to their circumstances 24/7, 365. I find of the individuals I follow, those most valuable and relatable are the ones who deliver their message as a fellow student of their chosen field of knowledge and expertise. The best mentors are those who are still very much soaking up all that they can learn themselves, and sometimes still making mistakes, but who are simultaneously passionate about helping others by imparting their knowledge in a caring and uplifting way. They are realistic in their approach and acknowledge the day-to-day slog that life can sometimes be. They recognize that while striving for the positive and desirable, that there will be hardships and frustration. And that it’s ok, that it’s alright to feel like that.

This method of delivery is important to me because of my own message. As you are probably aware, I wholeheartedly believe that self care is a major part of being healthy and well. And an element of self care which I think is too often overlooked is letting ourselves feel unhappy. Feeling unhappy is, paradoxically, part of being happy.  Or rather, allowing ourselves to be unhappy when the feeling is there, is part of overall happiness. Learning that to let ourselves feel any type of negative emotion is part of self awareness and self love, both of which are integral to our wellness and happiness.

No one gets it right every time. No one is perfect. No one can be mindful, positive, loving, assertive, brave, compassionate, bold, organised, understanding and patient all of the time. It’s simply not reality. But in the midst of the glitzy and contrived online world, it’s easy to believe that those you look up to don’t encounter these internal difficulties and that if you are to be successful, you won’t either. This can affect how your see yourself when you do feel down or angry or any of the other perceivable negative emotions.

Paraphrasing a quote by the amazing Carren Smith, a woman from whom I have learnt uncountable lessons, sums it up well. When talkig about mindset and our innermost thoughts and emotions, Carren said, “It’s absolutely ok to feel down or depressed, just don’t unpack your bags and live there.” This statement really resonated with me as it relates the notion that it’s ok and even normal to feel down or depressed, but we owe it to ourselves to move on from those feelings also. Prior to being exposed to Carren’s teachings and those of a few other mentors I’m privileged to have found, I had never allowed myself to believe that feeling negative emotions was ok. I’d never given myself permission to have those feelings, to sit with them, feel them, acknowledge them and then subsequently, move on from them.

I think that today’s society and the way we’re brought up makes us consider negative sensations as wrong or indeed, negative, when in fact, they are part of being a functioning, feeling human being. Becoming accustomed to our downbeat emotions and understanding where they’ve come from and where they can take us is a massive part of understanding ourselves and feeling content. In other words, freely experiencing unhappiness is essential to being happy.

So going forward, try to be aware of those you take advice from, spend your time with and invest your energy in. Do they allow room for falling off the wagon, for stumbling or hitting that metaphoric brick wall? And are they there with kind, non-judgemental words of encouragement when you do? And also, as I am trying to remember to do, ask yourself if you allow that of them?

Because if we can do that for each other, while the unhappiness will undoubtedly still come, its accepted presence will benefit us with our resultant happiness.

x

Leah