Updated: Apr 21, 2020
How do you respond when someone asks how you're feeling right now?
"I'm fine" seems to be the most popular response, but is it accurate or even healthy to throw this answer out there without consideration..... and why do we do it?
Visit to the doctors when you're ill - "I'm fine"
Problems at work - "I'm fine"
Broken relationship - "I'm fine"
Kids are driving you nuts - "I'm fine"
And now, coping with the coronavirus pandemic - "I'm fine"!
What do we really mean when we reply with this reliable, staple answer? It can mask a number of true thoughts and feelings, such as
"things are so awful, I don't even know where to start"
"you seem to be coping ok so I really don't want to admit I'm struggling"
"I'm so embarrassed, you'll think I'm crazy, it seems menial"
"you're just being polite, I doubt you really want to know"
Resilience is a key term used to reflect strength these days, so we can mistakenly consider having anxious thoughts or feelings as a sign of weakness. In truth, being emotionally aware, able to articulate your concerns and seeking solutions is far more liberating, healing and positive than ignoring your feelings. Resilience is 'the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties', much more likely when we're in touch with our emotional wellbeing.
Anxiety is part of the human condition; as part of the survival instinct we're designed to think of the worst thing that could possibly happen in any situation. It's normal to feel stress.
However, we can choose what we do with that emotion -
1. Suppress it.... for now. Our subconscious however, will keep looking for a solution until one is found, hence the reason a problem or anxious thought goes round and round in our heads if unaddressed.
2. Acknowledge it, share it, change it. We really can change how we feel with a single thought. The most effective question to ask when you recognise a spiralling thought is "what do I really want to happen?", immediately setting your mind on a positive path.
More than ever, people really mean it when they ask how we are, so maybe we should tell them. I'm all for a positive mindset, but let's be kind to ourselves and one another, especially now.
When you ask "how are you?", listen closely to the response.
When someone asks you, maybe just pause before you answer.
Take care, stay safe and be kind.