I'm sure we've all being in the same situation where someone asks us how we are and we reply with that we're fine. But are we really fine? I've found that the majority of the time, whenever someone asks me how I am, I often reply that I'm fine, but I don't really mean it. What I actually mean is that I'm struggling in some way and could do with some help. But why don't I just say that I need help instead of saying that I'm fine? Do you do that too? Today I want to look at why we do this and why we really need to start opening up to people about how we are actually feeling.
I used to be a very honest person and always felt able to tell others how I was really feeling. Luckily during that time, I was pretty happy so whenever someone asked me how I was, I would reply with that I was good and I would truly mean that. However, there was one time when I was fifteen that a 'friend' asked me how I was, so I started opening up to her about how I wasn't really that good and started telling her about some of the things that were going on in my life that were making me feel that way. Normally in that kind of situation, you would expect the other person to really listen and maybe offer some advice or maybe try and help get you some help in some way. Instead, this person was looking everywhere around the room other than at me, started engaging in conversation with other people, and when I just decided to stop talking because I knew she wasn't listening, she then hit me with "no carry on, I'm still listening" and when I finished what I had to say she just said "aw, that's too bad" and walked off. I wasn't expecting her to have all the answers for me, however, it would have been nice to have been shown a bit of compassion from that person as I know she had shown previously to others who were struggling. I think this is where I felt that no-one really cares how I am feeling and from then on whenever anyone asked me how I was, I replied with "I'm fine", when, in actual fact, I was really, really struggling.
So we know why I say I'm fine when I'm not, but why do so many others do the same thing? I can maybe understand it when it's someone who's not a close friend or family member (such as a colleague or an old school friend) asking the question, as it is difficult to open up and be somewhat vulnerable in front of people that we're not fully comfortable with and who we can't necessarily trust to keep whatever we tell them to themselves and not go spreading it all over town. But there are still many people (and I include myself in this) who feel unable to open up to family members and close friends (or essentially whoever they trust) about how they are really feeling. These are the people who we should be able to trust and who we know will try and help us in any way that they can - so why can't we open up to them?
I feel like it's a very British thing to 'keep a stiff upper lip' and hide our emotions. For many years, it was believed that we should be an emotionless society and remain 'prim and proper'. I guess this is part of the reason why many of us still feel like we can't open up to how we are really feeling as we worry that people will tell us to stop being so emotional and will just ignore how we are feeling. The idea of the stiff upper lip is one that has been around for centuries and it has only been in recent times where people have really shown that this is not the right frame of mind to have and that we should in fact start being more open with one another on how we are really feeling. Sadly, there are still many people among us who believe that we should all still remain to have a stiff upper lip. I'm not saying we should start going on a culling spree of all of those that believe this, however, what I am saying is that we need to start being more encouraging towards people in getting them to be more open about how they are feeling. Obviously, we cannot force people to be open and honest with us, however, what we can do is just let them know that we are there for them whenever they feel ready to be open about how they are really feeling.
That, in many cases, is a lot easier said than done. Some people spend so much time worrying about how others are feeling and making sure everyone else is okay that they often don't spend the time to look after themselves. I'm not saying we should make ourselves a priority and put everyone else second because sometimes people need us more. But other times, we need to look after ourselves more. We need to start getting the balance right and recognising when we need to put ourselves first and when we need to start putting other people first.
We also need to recognise that just because someone says they're fine, it doesn't mean that they are actually fine. What we should all start doing is whenever someone tells us that they're fine, we need to start asking them again how they really are and if they still maintain that they're fine, just letting them know that we are there for them should they ever need to talk. That's what any decent human being would do, right? I'm going to start by asking all of you reading this how you are and just to let you know however you are feeling, my DMs are always open on Twitter and Instagram, or email if you prefer.
I hope you're okay. In fact, I hope you're more than okay. I hope you're doing amazing. And if you're not, then please open up to someone about it. Whether that be me or someone you genuinely feel able to open up to about it.
Love Beth xx