“How are you?”
“Yeah good thanks, you?”
“Not bad thanks!”
Conversation sounding familiar? Unsurprising. It’s a common greeting and unfortunately that is what it has become, merely another way of saying hello. Nobody seems to consider the question that they’ve just been asked.
How are you? Are you actually “good” or “fine”? I can’t count the number of times I’ve answered this question without thinking. I don’t know why I’m not honest.
Maybe it’s fear that they don’t really care,
Fear that they might judge me,
Fear that they don’t have time for my worries as well as their own,
The realisation I don’t actually know how I am so how can I possibly try and explain that to another human being? There are a plethora of excuses we can make for our automatic response to those three words. But I don’t think any of them are good enough.
This routine isn’t really a healthy one. It encourages us to plaster on a smile, to lie (unintentionally) and to bottle up whatever we are feeling. Suppressing emotions can lead to depression, anxiety, panic attacks, or just generally feeling low.
So next time someone asks you how you’re doing, why not try opening up? Maybe don’t overwhelm them with your life story straight off the mark, but answer with something along the lines of, “honestly, I’ve had a rubbish morning, my kettle was broken, I literally got out of bed on the wrong side and banged my head on the wall, missed the bus, and now I’m late for work.”
You might be pleasantly surprised by your companion’s response. Saying it out loud enables you to laugh about it, to lift the weight off your shoulders and maybe help someone else! Confidence is contagious and by sharing your experience, you encourage others to do the same. By talking about how we truly feel, we can work out solutions to problems and grow closer with the people who care about us! It’s a win win situation. People WANT to help you, so let them.