It is OK to feel good. Sounds so obvious and self-explanatory that one doesn’t need to be reminded of it. Of course, it is OK to feel good, who doubts that? Who doesn’t know that? Well, at times some of us forget about it. I know it from experience.
It happens when I notice the following inner conflict – I feel good but at the same time I feel like I have not deserved to feel good, I haven’t earned it. Why, I ask myself? Because, I tell myself, I haven’t done anything for it, I haven’t worked for it, suffered for it, fought for it, given my everything, striven for it, persevered in the face of any sort of adversity for its sake, and so on. The list goes on as far as your imagination can reach.
In short, it is the backward logic of the ‘no pain, no gain’ saying. If you want to gain something, you must suffer for it. Therefore, if feeling good is gain, then I cannot simply have it. This logic says that I must experience pain in order to allow myself to enjoy that gain – the good feeling. It is this deep assumption that I have to earn a good feeling. That it cannot simply be there for me, I cannot just feel good without any preconditions or subjectivities. What does this mean?
If I applied the same way of thinking as my approach to another person, it would mean that my acceptance of that person as being ‘good enough’ is conditional on whether they have done something to deserve being viewed as ‘good enough’. For example, if that person was someone very close to me, I would have to admit that, regretfully, my love for them is not unconditional.
While this approach may have its reasonable place in some relationships, is it in my best interest to adopt such an attitude towards myself? Shouldn’t I, at least, be the one who has unconditional love for and acceptance of myself? Because, if even I cannot offer something like that to my very own self – the closest person to me there ever will be – then who else can be expected to fill that gap for me? The way I see it, nobody.
While there are areas of life where you might indeed be expected to earn the beneficial outcome you wish to have, feeling good about yourself no matter what doesn’t seem like something you can gain by meeting any sort of preconditions. The effect will most likely be short-lived before you develop new requirements to fulfil before you can, once again, love and accept yourself as good enough. It is the attitude itself, this fundamental assumption that I have to earn the good feeling, that I have to do something before allowing myself to feel good – that is where my attention should be directed if I wish to break the vicious circle of self-destruction.
It is difficult, no doubt about it. Mental habitual patterns, just like any habits, are stubborn little (or not so little) things. But, thankfully, it is often the journey that matters most in these cases, not the destination. A more conscious journey of exploring and accepting yourself with all the cracks and dents, and, slowly, creating the strongest possible foundation for any sustainable self-development – unconditional love for yourself.