growth + wellness

To Not Be Good

September 14, 2015


The other day I was watching the Love and Hip Hop Hollywood season 2 premiere. Hollywood is the newest addition to the LHH franchise. And while I find the cast to be a tad washed and boring, I was interested to see how the show would fare with the addition of a Black gay male producer and his closeted, aspiring rapper Black male lover. (Spoiler alert: this gay story line is terribly predictable and over-hyped and will probably end up being the least entertaining thing about this season)

In one scene, Princess (current girlfriend of Ray J) confronts her quazi-nemesis Teairra Marie (former girlfriend of Ray J) at an event they are both invited to. These two women had major beef last season and Princess seemed to want to put their past issues with each other to rest.

At one point, Teairra mentions an incident that happened between Princess and Ray back in February, where Princess was arrested for domestic abuse. Ray reportedly said Princess had attacked him, causing broken ribs and a torn ACL. Princess denied the story that had been made so public, saying Ray had lied about what transpired. I was surprised that the often hot tempered Teairra offered Princess some support and consolation, which led Princess to tears. When Teairra asked if she was good, Princess nodded her head yes. Teairra responded, “No you not. You not baby. And it’s OK. You not good. You don’t need to be good all the time. It’s OK not to be good.” 

It’s OK not to be good.

Whew lawd, if that ain’t a word, Sage Teairra.

I find that phrase to be so perfectly stated – exactly as spoken – and eerily salient. My therapist has pointed out to me on more than one occasion that I don’t give myself permission to feel sadness, anxiety, or anger. She has to remind me that it’s OK to feel the way I feel – because it’s completely natural to feel these emotions when I experience trauma/hurt/frustration – and that I put too much pressure on myself to be OK with whatever negative things I’m dealing with.

I often find myself wanting to just be over whatever unwanted nuisance creeps into my life. I want to be unbothered, unfazed. I want to give no fucks. I want to be good. But I never am. The weight of the nuisance presses heavily on my shoulders and forces me to acknowledge its presence. No matter how fucked up a situation might be, I almost immediately guilt myself into believing it’s wrong to care. It’s wrong to feel. It’s wrong to be affected. I’m supposed to brush it off and keep it moving – ain’t nobody got time to be emo.

I believe this manner of dealing with my feelings has caused prolonged suffering. And provoked anxiety and unrest. It didn’t benefit me to try and be good in the midst of shitty circumstances.

I’ve come to learn that the more I allow myself to just feel (and not assign value to being “in my feelings”), the easier it is to get back to a place of contentment and wellness. It also empowers me to have a sense of control. Yeah that situation sucked, I had my moment to feel [negative emotion] about it, I acknowledged what it was that caused me to feel the way I did, and now I’m going to focus on these other good things in my life. And I’m much healthier and happier as a result.

Look deeply into the nature of suffering to see the causes of suffering and the way out. 


Moreover, I have learned so much about myself (and others) by not being good. Confronting sorrow, depression, and irritation has given me new opportunities to practice being a better person, more mindful of the blessings and goodness in my life. I also appreciate that I don’t need to be without negative emotions to experience joy and happiness. I can have peace and wellness simply by living and being grateful for each moment I have breath.

We should not try to escape from our pain. We should look at it directly. Looking at suffering deeply, we will have deep insight into its nature, and the path of transformation and healing will present itself to us.

-Thich Nhat Hanh

It’s not always easy to do that deep soul searching that leads us to freedom and peace of mind. Sometimes it seems easier to just wallow in our suffering, and to be pitiful – because it requires no work. But the practice of transformation to escape that which brings us down is worth it. Being on the other side of sorrow is…. bliss.

And I, for one, am thankful for the not good pit stops on my unending journey to wellness.



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  • Reply miss t-lee September 14, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    I loved this.
    I’ve also been learning this the last year and some change.
    It’s definitely a process.

    Hang in.

    • Reply Gem September 14, 2015 at 1:48 pm

      thanks sis – you do the same!

  • Reply Wu Young September 14, 2015 at 12:30 pm


    I remember writing a post a long time ago and my basic point was about the term “I’m Good” and how we should be mindful of saying that all of the time and how as a friend/loved one/parole officer we shouldn’t take those words with a grain of salt.

    It’s hard to admit that you’re taking multiple L’s at the time so saying “I’m Good” kind of works but every now and again saying that “I’m getting my a** kicked emotionally and mentally” is what’s needed.

    I feel you on this.

    • Reply Gem September 14, 2015 at 1:51 pm

      yep. and i often wonder, who am i pretending to be good for? who is going to give me “cool points” for being good in the face of bullshit? and even if i had said cool points, what can that buy me? my happy can’t be bought.

  • Reply ethiopianboy September 14, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    This is something I’ve been working on for years, cause the “I’m good” phrase rolls off my tongue way too easily. When I tell you my progress has been slooooow, but it’s progress. My instinct is still to use avoidance coping strategies to get myself away (physically or mentally) from the things causing those negative emotions. But we all know that putting your head in the sand doesn’t solve the problem (unless the problem is a lack of sand on your head).

    • Reply Gem September 14, 2015 at 1:54 pm

      But we all know that putting your head in the sand doesn’t solve the problem (unless the problem is a lack of sand on your head).

      lol boom there it is!

      as my mom so brilliantly put it, burying negative feelings won’t make them go away – they’re still there. buried. waiting to be dealt with, transformed. its a hard, hurtful lesson to learn. and it takes continual practice. keep at it, friend *hugs*

  • Reply Ray Jefferies September 17, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    “I’m Good”… a phrase I think I have used as an acknowledgment that I don’t have time to deconstruct what happened and examine what (if any) damage I may have taken as a result. “I’m Good” basically means… “it didn’t kill me” not “it didn’t hurt me”.

    And so I think I still have use for it in my world… there are those times where, if I’m alive and I am able to keep on pressing forward, that’s all that matters. But I definitely agree with the idea that “I’m Good” can’t be used forever. We are not always in high stakes survival mode.

    And when we are not in that mode, simply surviving what happened isn’t enough. We have to repair what was broken and heal what was damaged. And we can’t do that if we don’t ever acknowledge… “you know what? I need some time. I need help. I’m not good”.

    Great post as always Gem

    • Reply Gem September 17, 2015 at 3:57 pm

      everybody deals with their issues in their own way. whether or not you (or anyone else) has use for saying “im good” in face of whatever youre dealing with isnt the focus. its about knowing when youre *not good* that its ok to be in that space. theres no need to ignore, deflect, or cover that up. its ok to feel negative emotion. you dont have to verbalize it to anyone, but acknowledge to yourself that negative emotions are healthy.

      thanks for reading and sharing.

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