Mastering the Skill of “Being Okay”
Mindfulness teaches us to accept what is, but what happens when we can’t get past the feeling that we’re giving up when we do that?
A little over a year ago I wrote a blog post titled Be Okay With It. In it, I shared some thoughts on how we can move past our cultural resistance to the practice of acceptance.
I mention that because now, a year later, I find myself revisiting the subject quite a bit. The skill of “being okay” has been a popular topic of discussion in the EQ (emotional intelligence) workshops I’ve been teaching, so, maybe it’s time to write about “being okay” again.
To put things into context, a big reason why I practice (and teach) the skill of being okay is because I find that allowing myself to be okay with something is easier than “accepting what is.” Why?
Frankly, there are plenty of times when I don’t want to accept what is.
However, it’s really easy for me “to be okay with something,” because there’s so much flexibility built into being okay.
Being okay is one of my favorite skills, because it means I don’t have to accept anything. Instead, I can be okay with what’s going on right now, have a desire to experience something different, give myself permission to let go of whatever resistance I feel, give myself room to navigate my emotions, and then move on.
All of that is wrapped up into one neat, little package.
I realize I’m talking semantics right now, but words and phrases can have cultural associations with them that trigger strong emotional responses. In western cultures, the phrase “accept what is” is often associated with permanence, giving up, and resignation, so there’s a lot of emotional baggage when we hear it. In eastern cultures, that phrase is emotionally neutral, so it’s easy for people in eastern societies to… ahem… accept it.
I can honestly say that I’ve reached a stage of emotional neutrality when I hear “accept what is.” I understand and accept the context in which it is taught and applied, but I admit that I’ve become rather fond of the skill of being okay—maybe because I continue to experience the power of the emotional equilibrium it creates.
“Being okay” opens a space where we can feel whatever we want and need to feel. We can even be okay with not being okay with how we feel. We can be okay with anything—and when we find that the intensity of whatever emotions we feel in the moment have passed, we can be okay with moving on.
I have yet to find a situation or circumstance to which the skill of being okay cannot be applied.
An easy way to start practicing being okay is to pause, take a deep breath, and on the exhale say to yourself, “It’s okay,”—and if you need to add, “… that I’m not okay with this situation,” then that’s… ahem… okay too.
Repeat that process as many times as necessary until you feel yourself return to a state of emotional neutrality.
Believe it or not, that’s it. That’s all you need to do. I should note that mastering the skill of being okay doesn’t take a lot of effort; it just takes a lot of practice. Once that skill becomes a habit, you’ll find that you’re able to navigate virtually any challenge, and with time you’ll find yourself aligned with everything you want to experience.
I don’t know about you, but that’s something I’m okay with.
About the Author
Appio Hunter is an author, speaker, spiritual guide, and self-described champion for living joyously. He uses his seminars and workshops to facilitate conversations about authenticity, alignment, and the daily experience of community, connection, and joy. Appio is also a weekly columnist with The Good Men Project and co-host of the Real Men Feel Show along with his good friend Andy Grant.