How do you respond when someone says, “How are you?”
“Oh I’m fine, thanks. How are you?” Or maybe it’s, “I’m good.”
Why do we answer the most common question we get asked every day with a lie? Yes, it is a lie! You aren’t doing fine…you are barely hanging on---just like the rest of us.
Now you may be thinking, “Well, I’m trying to be positive.” Good for you. No, really! That was not meant to be sarcastic. Good! Everyone could use a little more positivity in their lives…am I right? But there comes a point in time where even pretending to be positive is perpetuating the problem. We ALL need help because, let’s face it, life is so DANG hard! But instead of just saying so, we put on a pretty smile (sometimes maybe it is a not so pretty smile), stuff our messy life as far down as we can possibly stuff it, and carry on. Unfortunately, all that stuffing ends up coming back up and exploding at some point and it usually ends up hurting the ones we love the most…not intentionally, of course, but they become collateral damage because we just can’t hold our crap together any longer.
I admit, I do this every day of my life! Not always exploding on my loved ones, but definitely putting on the pretty face and pretending. I don’t want to talk about my problems either.
WHY?! Why do we do this?
Unfortunately the simple answer of being honest is not the easy one. It’s SO MUCH easier to lie…for a long list of reasons.
Because you don’t have time to tell the cashier checking out your groceries about how your life is falling apart because you just found out your husband is cheating on you. Now you have to figure out how to be a single mom and raise your three children on a salary that comes from a job that doesn’t exist.
Because the cashier that asked you the question in the first place really doesn’t have the time or energy to listen either…he was just being “polite” like we are all conditioned to do. He himself is just trying to find the strength to hold it together to finish his shift because he is exhausted from having to take care of his alcoholic father that passed out at the local bar late the night before.
Because you don’t want your new friend that you just met while your kids were playing at the park to know about the severe eating disorder you have been fighting for over 15 years. But that’s an easier battle than addressing the sexual molestation that occurred by your cousin when you were just an innocent little girl that you’ve always blamed yourself for. If your new friend knew all of that she would probably never speak to you again.
Because your exhausted from trying to live up to the extremely unrealistic expectation that the world (especially social media) portrays of all of the “perfect” people out there living their “perfect” lives without any care in the world. You don’t want anyone to know that you are suffering from severe depression coupled with debilitating anxiety and your physical body can’t keep up with all the constant stress. That coupled with severe lack of sleep creates a daily struggle between deciding just to end it or finding something that is worth holding onto.
The REAL reason I believe everyone lies when asked the question, “How are you doing?” is because telling the truth about how we are really doing is ABSOLUTELY TERRIFYING!Most of us out there aren’t even being honest with ourselves.So how are we supposed to be honest with the cashier or a new friend or even our spouses/partners? We are too busy keeping up the charade.If we finally gather enough courage to own how NOT okay we actually are, it’s a very vulnerable place to open your heart up and admit that to someone else.I believe the hardest part of being vulnerable is having the faith in the person you are being honest with to hold the experiences you are having the courage to share.Even though our struggles and heart-wrenching trials hurt more than we can handle sometimes, they really are sacred.They are the moments that make us into who we are.Those moments are what teach us our own strength and give us enormous amounts of empathy and compassion for other’s who are hurting.They also teach us that our capacity to deal is way bigger than we ever thought possible.Sharing the truth is scary---terrifying---because what if the person on the other side of the conversation doesn’t treat those sacred moments with respect, love and understanding? And how heartbreaking that would be to have someone we thought we could trust throw our precious moments in the mud, so to speak.Maybe not intentionally…but it happens because they didn’t recognize the value that those experiences held for you.
This is why I believe all of us lie.We are afraid of having our heart broken in a way that could possibly hurt worse than the pain of what we are actually going through.
That leap of faith however can lead to an enormous reward!
Think for a moment…how amazing it would feel if you took that leap of faith, shared your experiences and heartache with someone, and they genuinely cared and held sacred that space for you while you unloaded some of your heavy burden?Now I am not saying that you should do this with the cashier at the local grocery store.But do it with someone…a loved one, a friend, a therapist, a healer, someone.This is where your heart will begin to heal.Even though we can’t see how much emotional pain and suffering others carry doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.Think of how much you are carrying right now and probably have for years.Don’t you want to put that down?Think of how many others in your life who are doing the exact same thing.
The amazing thing about emotions are that once they are expressed and felt all the way through, they go away.You don’t have to carry the weight around anymore.You won’t have the weight anymore, but you will have the sacred moment and experience that strengthened you and made you a better person.You may not believe that right now, but trust me, the day will come that you will run into a friend, neighbor, maybe a stranger on the street, who has gone through a similar experience as you.But instead of you being the one who must have courage to open up your heart and share really scary and vulnerable truths, you can now be the one who holds sacred space for that person who so desperately needs to be helped and supported.
Life is hard!Life is hard for me and I know it is hard for you.Next time you get asked the question, “How are you doing?” stop and think about what the honest answer would sound like.If you are feeling extra brave, try sharing it.Take a leap of faith on humanity and trust that there are loving kind people out there that want to help you unload some of your burdens.And remember that when you ask that same question to someone else, help them know you really meant it and are willing to hold space for them if they want to share and unload some of theirs.
“Until men and women start having honest conversations about who they truly are, what demons they battle with, where they lack and what they truly want.. love will continue to be a temporary emotion.”-