At work today a woman who was struggling watching her mother in pain told me not to worry about her because she said: “I’m fine.” I replied “yeah, strong women always say that even when they’re not — I’m still here, though… if you need to not be fine.” And I think more people need to hear that.
Strong men and women feel they have to respond with “I’m fine” when asked how they are even if they aren’t. As if people genuinely don’t care how they’re doing. Granted, asking how a person is could be just done out of routine or politeness, however I’ve found that a lot of times if a person asks someone how they are and that person isn’t okay, they want to hear about it. They want to talk through it and see if they can offer up some support.
In the case with the woman at work, I believe her “I’m fine” response came from a place of not wanting any attention taken away from her mother. So in her mind, by not talking about her feelings, no one could miss a moment of caring for her mother. The truth is, human beings are capable of multi-tasking. We do it all the time. I could have done all I did for this woman’s mom today AND offered up my support to her (which she did open up and allow me to do as the day went on — thankfully).
There are genuinely good people walking around on this planet who do want to help. There are more people on this planet who FEEL alone than actually ARE alone and I think that’s because we are too afraid to ask for help. We get this “I’m fine” response programmed in our heads and forget that it’s okay to admit when we aren’t.
The only way to stop this is by reminding everyone that it is perfectly okay to not be okay, and there is nothing wrong with admitting it. When someone asks us how we are, there is nothing wrong with saying “today is a little tough” or “today is really tough.” It’s okay to be scared or angry or sad. Just as happy is an excepted emotion, all others are too.
I encourage everyone to check up on their friends and family. Really check up on them. To look past the “I’m fine’s” and let your loved ones know that when they aren’t okay, you care enough to listen.
I’m glad I reminded the woman at work today that it’s okay to not be okay. If I hadn’t she would have spent hours struggling alone but instead I got to hug her, cry with her, take some stress off of her and even laugh and smile with her.
Imagine what could happen if we all did that for at least one person. I bet the outcome would be beautiful.