I am not OK
As San Francisco therapists specializing in DBT and couples therapy, we work with a lot of people who worry that at their core, they are not OK.
The feeling of not being ok can sound like:
- I am a mess.
- I am f***ed up.
- I am not enough.
- I am unlikable.
- I am unlovable.
- If people really knew me, they wouldn’t like me.
If you can relate to any of the above, you’re not alone.
The feeling of being fundamentally flawed or messed up and therefore, unlovable, is more common than you may think. So many people walk around feeling that they are not ok at some deep and fundamental level.
But no one talks about it.
The feeling is so painful; you probably find ways to distract yourself from it.
Two common coping strategies
When you feel as though you’re not OK, there are two common coping strategies for managing that bad feeling. You can push yourself to do more, or withdraw.
Let’s look at each of these two coping strategies in more depth.
Doing more to prove you are ok:
Constantly doing – working, consuming, striving for more – is one way to try to manage the negative feelings.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with any of these things.
Hard work builds mastery, which in turn bolsters our sense of self.
But hard work and striving can be fueled by fear. Fear of slowing down, because if you slow down, you’ll get in touch with feeling bad about yourself.
If you’re continually pushing yourself to work harder (at your job, your workouts or even with self-improvement projects), you also keep fueling the dream that you’ll finally be ok when you achieve that thing. When you get that promotion, or make more money, or run a marathon, or finally get your closet super organized, you will feel ok.
The problem is, it’s a moving target. Reaching that goal post provides temporary satisfaction but doesn’t address the core, much deeper feeling.
You need to know you are ok as you are, not for what you achieve.
Withdrawing, so you don’t think about not feeling ok:
Another common way of coping with feeling defective is to withdraw emotionally from full engagement in life.
This kind of coping strategy is more subtle than overwork, and can often manifest itself as lethargy, cynicism, lack of motivation, hopelessness, and depression.
Withdrawing and numbing out from life protects you from being in touch with the painful, core experience of not being ok. You just know that you feel bad, but you aren’t too sure why.
It’s like you’re living in a fog and all you can see is gray haze, but you can’t make out the details of what lies beneath.
Admitting “I am not OK”
Are you carrying around this heavy burden?
This feeling of not being ok?
Of being broken and messed up at your core?
You don’t have to suffer alone. And you don’t have to believe this untruth anymore.
What is true is that everyone struggles in one way or another, and that doesn’t mean that who they are is fundamentally flawed, or that they are unlovable.
Do you want help with feeling not ok?
Call us for a phone consultation at (415) 310-5142 to see how the therapists at the Bay Area DBT and Couples Counseling Center can help you.