28 Sep 2022

It's okay to not be okay


"It's okay to not be okay" is a phrase that is being used more and more, mainly linked to mental health. But what if we translated it across the whole of our lives?

I was watching a TED Talk with Brené Brown earlier this month about the power of vulnerability, whether it brings us shame and fear or joy, creativity and belonging. It struck me how much energy many of us put into hiding our vulnerabilities:

  • We find ways to numb our feelings with exercise or food or alcohol or drugs.
  • We make everything that is uncertain, certain, by limiting discussions to "I'm right and you are wrong!"
  • We strive for perfect - perfect relationships, perfect bodies, and perfect jobs.
  • And we pretend that what we do has no impact on those around us

The research Brené has done shows how those who believe wholeheartedly in their "imperfections" making them who they are, are the people who experience the most joy, creativity and belonging in their lives.

These people, as well as showing their vulnerabilities with no shame or fear of consequence, have the courage to tell the story of who they are, have compassion for themselves first and then others, and are willing to let go of who they think they should be, in order to be who they are.

Imagine a workplace where your leaders express all their emotions. It's impossible to numb only some of our emotion - if we want to numb the negative emotions, we must numb the positive ones as well and that makes us miserable overall. If we expressed them all, what joy and creativity might we create?

Imagine a workplace where we all knew perfect wasn't an option and making mistakes was okay? Or one where we recognised that our language, our behaviours, and our actions do have an impact on everyone around us?

Imagine a workplace where we can believe we are enough and worthy and are kinder and gentler to ourselves and those around us?

Brené believes sharing our vulnerabilities is the foundation of great leadership - being willing to relinquish our need to control and direct everything and invest in doing things where there are no guarantees.

So, it is okay not to be okay, and to share it. The workplace would certainly be a better place for sure.