We’re culturally pre-programmed to respond this way, because the truth is, when people say, “Hey, how are you doing?” what they mean is something like, “Hey, I see you, I’m acknowledging your existence and letting you know that I want you to think that I’m a friendly person, but don’t get too close, and definitely don’t answer my question honestly, because I really don’t want to know, unless everything’s rosy in your world.”
Cynical? Perhaps? But imagine answering that question honestly and picture the look you’d expect to see on most people’s faces.
Which is why we protect ourselves by telling everyone we’re fine.
Recently, Wendy added a comment to a post I wrote, and shared something she had once posted on her Facebook page. She wrote:
“Sometimes when I say, “I’m okay,” I want someone to look me in the eyes, hug me tight and say, ‘I know you’re not.’”
Wendy said she got a lot of hugs after that post.
It’s incredible what a difference one understanding person can make. I’ve met several surprise ones over the years—a friend of my mother’s who caught me off guard with an understanding word; a stranger at a cocktail reception, who told me she and her husband didn’t have children either, and who became my BFF for the evening.
So, today I’m sending out a thank you to all the understanding people out there to let them know how much their simple word or hug made a difference to me.
Who’s been your surprise understanding person?