When people ask “how are you” it’s easy to say “I’m fine”. It’s the easiest answer at the time, and it’s okay if you are just trying to move on, but there comes a time when that’s not the best answer. We are not always “fine”, even if we say we are. There is a trick to being able admit you are not fine, but there is also a time to challenge someone you love when they say they are fine, and you know they are not. If we get better at telling the people we trust how we really are, and knowing when the people we love are not really fine, it can help us one the road to being happy.
I’m good at saying I’m fine, when I’m really not. I’m lucky in my life to have people who call my bluff, and know when I’m not fine. When people come in for therapy, they even say they are fine, because it’s so conditioned for the response. When I ask them how they really are, they will tell me, but only because it’s why they are there. Once people get beyond the basic greeting, some people can share how they really are, but there is also a time and place to share detailed information.
For instance, when the checkout person at Target asks how you are today, it’s probably not appropriate to share you medical conditions and the fact that you think you spouse might be cheating on you. Sometimes it’s hard to understand relationships, but it’s important to understand the difference between people on the street, acquaintances, friends and people you can trust. Share how you are really feeling with people you trust. Sharing how you feel with people on the street is not as appropriate. People you trust can help you, share your pain, provide support, and help you through tough times. It’s harsh to say, but people on the street don’t want to help and can’t provide a level of support you might need to get through a really hard time.
I think about some of my patients, over the years, and I think about people trying to get support from the wrong people. When the people didn’t seem to care, it supported their belief that they were unloved. In treatment, we worked on understanding the difference in relationships, from the mailman to sharing your life with a spouse. I also work with people who don’t talk to their spouse, because they don’t want to worry their spouse. Instead, they just simmer, not talking to anyone. Then they come to therapy because now they have anger problems, and are yelling at their spouse.
We also have to pay attention to the people we love. Watch facial expressions, and behavior. If someone appears sad, or if someone appears distant or withdrawn, reach out and ask them what’s happening. If they give you the “I’m fine” answer, let them know what you see and ask them how they are a different way. Don’t give
up if you feel that they are sad or depressed. They may need you to keep asking, and stay close. When they are ready, they will come to you. Let them know you are there and ready to listen.
Being able to really talk about how you feel is important to your happiness. Finding the right person, who can help you feel better, is one of the lessons related to finding peace and happiness. Whether it’s a spouse, or trusted friend, or a therapist to work on skills, having someone to really talk to
about how you are feeling is important. When you have someone to trust, and they ask “how are you feeling?”, tell them. Let them help you feel better. It’s important when it comes to being happy for life.