How many times have you said “everything’s fine” when it wasn’t really true? If you’re anything like me you’ve said it too many times to count, and you’ve felt the negative repercussions of this small but powerful statement in your life.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve had the disposition of “everything’s fine.” If someone in my life, especially when I was a child, was struggling with a major difficulty or facing a challenge, my family seemed to disapprove of the person rather than being empathetic about the situation they were in. It was taboo if someone we knew was seeing a “shrink.” (That was what my family called a psychotherapist back then.) Nobody really talked about cancer (which three of my five immediate family members have survived) or any other life-changing illnesses or problems. Everything was always “fine” in our world. Except it wasn’t – at least not with me.
Of course I can see this behavior clearly now as an adult woman who is on a spiritual and healing path, committed to shifting my own consciousness. But as a child I didn’t know a different way of being.
I believe that my parents, given the circumstances of their youth, loved me and my sisters dearly, and truly did an amazing job raising us. There was never abuse, addiction, or any type of destructive behavior in our home. We always had a warm home-cooked meal on the table every night, I never heard complaints about “Mom’s taxi” driving to and from the ice skating rink where I trained, nor did I ever perform or compete without my parents cheering from the audience. They paid for my private college education, planned family vacations every summer to Cape Cod or Florida, and made sure my physical needs were always met. Sure, I was grounded when I misbehaved, and we had our fair share of arguments, but overall I believed everything was fine. So as I began my journey into adulthood, I proceeded in my life as though the “everything’s fine” philosophy was the truth.
Nothing was a big deal.
Doing terrible in college and trying to fit in by drinking way too much and way too often… no big deal. Moving 3,000 miles across the country after graduating from college to escape post-college reality… no big deal. Leaving behind the boyfriend I had for two years to make that move… no big deal. Having my fair share of bad romantic relationships… no big deal. Facing the aftermath of a breakup… no big deal. Taking on a new business that was far beyond my financial capacity… no big deal. Building another business despite an inner niggling that it wasn’t right for me… no big deal. Trying to do everything on my own without asking for help when I needed it… no big deal. Acting as if everything was fine when it wasn’t… no big deal. I’m sure by now you get the picture.
I was so emotionally shut down that I can recall a moment in 2003 when I began to see just how out of touch I was with my own heart. A dear friend of mine was going through a big transformation in her life that was the most difficult thing she’d ever experienced. We were supposed to get together to take a walk on the beach, but she called to tell me she wasn’t up to it because she was having a very difficult time emotionally.
I loved this friend and cared very much for her well-being. Yet I remember when she made the statement about her feelings, I felt in my being that I had no understanding of what it meant to have a difficult day on an emotional level. I honestly didn’t comprehend why she couldn’t just get herself together and join me on the beach. How could her emotions keep her from doing something as simple as taking a walk with a friend?
When I think back to that moment now, it breaks my heart. It was then that I began to realize that everything really wasn’t fine – and that it wasn’t okay for me to continue to deny my own emotional well-being and just keep going, and going, and going. Going where? I didn’t even know where “there” was most of the time. But as long as I was in motion, always busy, with a to-do list longer than Super Woman could conquer, I was “fine.”
Constant activity and busyness kept me on emotional autopilot…. or shall I say “emotionally shut-down” autopilot.
I had friends and a wonderful husband… yet no emotional intimacy. I was missing out on the gift of fully experiencing all of life’s ups (and downs) by not even being aware of the world of emotions that would help me feel more alive and connected than I ever dreamed possible. Life can feel really “flat” when the only thing you know how to feel is “fine.”
So that day when my friend cancelled our walk was when I unconsciously set my foot on a different path. I say unconsciously because ten years later I can see it clearly, but at the time I wasn’t aware enough to make the conscious choice to live my life differently and explore my own emotional landscape. So you may be asking how I know that my foot got set on a different path that day. I can say this for two different reasons. One is because that memory is so vivid to me. It was the first time I saw my inability to comprehend someone having an emotional life. Two, looking back from where I stand today, it’s almost impossible to recognize who I was then. I’ve grown, evolved, and opened my heart in so many ways over the years, especially the past two.
So how did I – and how can you – break the cycle of “everything’s fine?” Let me share a little of my own journey to breaking free of the “fine syndrome” in the hopes of helping you with yours.
First I want to say that I wouldn’t wish my journey on anyone. It was gut-wrenchingly difficult. Granted it was worth every moment of the pain and suffering because I love who I am and where I am in my life today… but wow, it was tough!
I finally began to consciously “wake up” as my life and business came crumbling down around me. Remember I said I’d built a business that didn’t feel quite right? Well, that business slowly crumbled for a few years. It really is impossible to sustain a business (at least a fulfilling and successful one) if, in your heart, you know it’s not totally right and not fully aligned with who you are. The slow crumble came to a crash in June of 2010 when, after years of struggle, my husband and I made the decision to file for bankruptcy. Talk about everything not being fine.
My biggest fear in making this heartbreaking decision was what people would think of me. They would now know (beyond any shadow of a doubt) that things were anything but fine! Of course, I was terrified of not knowing how I’d support my family, but the fear of this failure filled my heart and mind. Who was I if I wasn’t “fine?”
Ahh… that question, and the figurative two-by-four to the head realization that everything wasn’t fine, shocked me out of my emotional haze. For months I worked on sharing more of my journey, talking with people I trusted about what was going on, and healing myself through this time. Then, just as the bankruptcy proceedings were about to be finalized, I received another blow that ended up being the greatest gift!
You see, in 2009 I had established a partnership with a colleague through which I brought her into one aspect of my business. On some level, in our second year of partnership, I knew everything wasn’t fine… but I didn’t say anything about it because that partnership was my only source of income at the time. It was the only sense of security I had, which helped me sustain the difficult choice to file for bankruptcy.
But when she informed me that she wanted to dissolve the partnership, that was truly the “come to my knees” experience that burst my heart open! I felt emotions at a depth I never knew possible. Yes, some of those emotions were anger, hate, and rage, but there were also profound love, bliss, joy, and peace… unlike anything I’d ever felt before. I had no idea my emotions could be so deep and healing.
What I came to discover through this whole experience was that when everything was as “bad” as it had ever been in my life, I was really fine. How could that be? I sobbed for days. I was angry. I felt terrified. Yet I felt profound peace, witnessed countless miracles in my life, and was filled with gratitude.
I was grateful and peaceful because I could finally experience myself as being totally okay and totally “fine” in the midst of the most difficult and profound emotional experience I’d ever been through. Nothing was fine on the outside, but I truly was fine on the inside. I had finally found me! And that’s what matters most.
I know it sounds crazy, but I assure you that when you allow your heart to open, and when you allow yourself to feel your emotions fully, share them with people you trust, and be okay even when everything on the outside is falling apart, your life will blossom in amazing ways. It’s from your own emotional landscape that you’re able to love deeply, be present with others, navigate any challenge that comes your way, and support loved ones when their hearts are hurting. These are the greatest gifts a person can ask for. This is when you can say “everything’s fine” and truly mean it!
I’d love to hear from YOU! Have you ever said everything’s “fine” when it really isn’t?
Please comment below…
If this story inspired you, there are 19 others in Pebbles in the Pond: Transforming the World One Person at a Time (Wave Two) including chapters from Neale Donald Walsch, Bo Eason, Barbara Marx Hubbard and Lisa Nichols! Click the book title to get your copy, and some special reader gifts…