“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 actually 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 actually 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 actually 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, “actually 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 also help someone else! Confidence is contagious and by sharing your experience, you encourage others to do the same. By talking about how we actually 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.
Glamour have launched their own Hey It’s OK campaign – championed by the gorgeous Frankie Bridge (formally Sandford) – which aims to get people talking about how they feel. Turns out 57% of us feel like we must be “all things, to all people, all the time”. The campaign is mainly targeted at tackling depression and other mental illnesses, but I think the more we talk, the more likely we are to avoid them being an issue in the first place. Prevention is better than cure right?
Frankie’s honesty in that issue of Glamour was so refreshing
Next time I’m faced with the question, “how are you?”, I am going to do my best to answer truthfully. And I hope you will too.