Often, when clients, readers and listeners share stories with me, there’s an element of emphasising that they’re okay with something. ‘I’m okay with [their partner] being friends with [person who’s bothering them].’; ‘I don’t mind that he has female friends.’; ‘I don’t mind that they [want to do the thing].’

When we’re okay with something, we don’t have to keep reassuring ourselves and others that we are; we just are. The problem is, we often think it’s ‘bad’ to not be okay about something. There’s the fear of looking ‘jealous’, ‘possessive’, ‘crazy’, ‘too sensitive’, ‘controlling’, and the like. Instead, we want to give the impression of cool, calm and confident while anxiety gnaws away at us. We’re the Cool Girl or Nice Guy. Often, we’re so busy trying to be seen as a good something (e.g. Good Partner/Friend/Employee/Child), we silence the very real concerns beneath our protestations of okayness while pretending to be something we’re not. None of this malarkey is good for our emotional, mental, physical or spiritual wellbeing, never mind our relationships.

Here’s what I say when I hear “I’m okay with” statements in these contexts: “No, you’re not. And that’s okay.” And, invariably, the truth tumbles out.

If you’ve told yourself that you’re okay with something that’s actually causing a great deal of anxiety, it’s time to be honest with yourself. Often, you’re technically okay with the thing you said you’re okay about but you’re not okay with other aspects of the situation.

For instance, let’s say you claim you’re okay with your partner being friends with somebody, but, behind the scenes, you’ve lost confidence in your relationship and feel increasingly anxious.

What is it about the situation you’re not okay with? Be specific.

It might be that you’re not okay with your partner being shady and deceptive about the friendship. Acknowledge examples of where this has occurred. Side note: These deceptions aren’t occurring because they’re, you know, ‘trying to protect you.’ Maybe it’s that you feel gaslighted by what your partner attributes your concerns to. E.g. “You’re being too sensitive”. It could quite simply be that something about how they’re approaching this relationship or their friend’s boundaries impacts your relationship. It could be that what you see them doing in this other relationship highlights something you’re not experiencing with your partner.

Be honest with yourself about the actual source of your discomfort. The issue might be their boundaries with the friendship. Or it might be about unmet needs and lack of fulfilment or compatibility.

When you admit that, actually, you’re not okay with the thing you’ve been trying to rationalise, your true feelings surface. You have an opportunity to take better care of yourself and to also proactively address the situation.

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