If you could ask someone a question, and they had to answer it honestly, what would that question be?
For me, I would ask them – “How are you?”
All to many times, when we are asked this, we simply say, “Fine,” or “I’m, good.” We know that usually when this question is asked, people are just trying to be polite. They do not really want to hear how we are. Sometimes though, people really do care and want to know. When we are with friends or family and they ask, sometimes they really do care and are there, sitting in front of us, wanting to know how we are. But we are so used to hiding it or feeling like we have to be ok, that we lie. We don’t want to be a burden and so we just go with the flow. We say what is expected of us, we are fine.
I am so used to replying, “I’m fine,” that even when my therapist asks me how I am that is my response. Then there is a series of follow up questions, “a good fine, or a bad fine?” – “explain more,” etc. etc. It has just become such a huge normality for me that no one really wants to hear what is really going on with me that I don’t even think my therapist wants to know, at least not from that start. I know we will eventually get into it, but I feel like in the beginning you just say “I’m fine.”
One of the most common lies is actually telling someone that nothing is wrong. Saying that everything is fine. That you are doing well. It is not making up a story when you do something or creating some random lie to get out of something. Although these things happen frequently too. But we are asked frequently, by family, friends, strangers how we are when we are on the phone or out on the streets and the polite thing is to give a quick response so as not to “burden them with our lives.”
I would really like to hear how someone is doing though. If I ask you how you are doing, I really would like to know. To be honest, if I didn’t want to know, I would just simply say hello. Or if you were a stranger I might nod or even try to avoid you — my social anxiety would get the best of me. But if you look down or like something is wrong, I would really like to talk to you, to empathize, and let you tell me about your day or week or month.
Everyone has a story and we just need to take the time to listen to it. We shouldn’t be asking people how they are just to be polite. We should ask it with the intention of really wanting to know, really meaning it. Perhaps this will show to that person that someone cares when they might feel like no one else does.
Of course, this is just my opinion and others might have a different perspective. But, if I could ask someone one question and get a completely honest answer back – I would ask them how they are. I would ask them how they are so that I could hear their story. Understand their story. Get to know them. Be there for them if they needed. Or even laugh and smile with them if nothing is going on at all and they are having a great day, week, month, or even year!