We bury our pain and say, “I’m fine.” We think others are happier and we’re alone – we’re not!
How often does someone say to us, “How are you?” And we reply, “I’m fine.” We each then go our separate ways, having played an all too familiar game.
We’re not so fine all the time but we fear showing weakness or even fear.
Rather than say that we’re not fine we cover it up, thinking that it’s only ourselves who feel we’re lying and that the other is fine and happy. Fearing we’re alone we put on our mask of belonging, of having it together like we think others do.
Here’s what I think (and I don’t have this figured out, either): we need to find some way to say or show that things aren’t fine, that we need someone to listen to something else that’s going on right now.
I think we’re afraid to show that we’re vulnerable and hurting. We’re afraid of “not conforming” and maybe even not being accepted if we expose our pain. But how do we do that when it’s something we need to do? We don’t want to fall apart in front of someone at an inopportune time, especially at work.
But can we be brave enough to tell the other person, and it needs to be someone you trust, that you want to talk to them later? That things aren’t going so great and you need a listening ear. And then, in a private area, open up and let them know why you couldn’t say, “I’m fine” earlier.
And here’s the thing: when we open up with our “not fines” others are more likely to do the same. We think everyone else is doing fine and are happy and know what it is they need to do. But I think that’s not true. I think everyone has doubts and bad days. Maybe when we open up, they will, too.
The next time someone says, or you say, “How are you?” and “Fine” isn’t true, take the opportunity to say something true. Take the time to at least let the other person know that you’re human (as are they) and that some days are not good days.
This simple acknowledgment can be the healthiest response we can make