“Hi, how are you?” seems to have lost its meaning for some, becoming more of a light-hearted comment in passing as we cross on the street but don’t stop to converse in depth. We hide behind these fleeting moments, never quite facing or admitting how we really feel. Obviously, time is at a premium and most people don’t like to deal with deeper issues unless they are closer to someone.
We clearly don’t stop to listen to each other enough these days, let alone ourselves, which is why many individuals end up paying someone else to do just that. There is something very special about watching a person’s eyes light up when you give them the time of day or night to hear how they truly feel.
Talking to a friend this evening sparked a new question though. Even when we do take the time to listen to friends and family answer our probes as to how they are, when was the last time we asked ourselves that question? Truly. Deeply. How are you?
We get so caught up in daily routines, work, outings, relationships of any kind, taking interest in our surroundings, travel, health, environment, worrying about politics and finance… all of these things make up our lives, but they don’t define who we really are or how we feel.
I will confess that I often soldier on through hard times, without necessarily stopping enough to look back over my shoulder and congratulate myself on certain achievements, or even stop to let my ‘self’ breathe. It always seems as though life keeps pushing us onwards that we don’t remember to take that time to reflect. The same happens when we don’t assess how we are feeling on a daily basis.
“Good morning Me, how am I today?”
We’ll ask our partners how their day went, but do we ask ourselves the same and answer honestly?
“Good evening Me, sit down, put your feet up and tell me all about it…”
We all talk to ourselves – whether we keep that internal monologue within our head or allow it to escape in innocent conversation with nobody else around to hear. But a lot of times we indulge in verbal diarrhoea, spewing out wasted words and thoughts about what we have done, what we should do, or what we would like to do. Go shopping, do the laundry, take out the garbage, get up early enough to go to work, charge up the phone, take out money for rent, watch the news, go for drinks with friends, call home, put that letter in the mail, add more salt to the pasta sauce… we talk so much trash to ourselves we ought to put our brains in the garbage sometimes. No doubt, we would realise our foolishness very quickly and want fresh air again.
Fresh air to recognise that we are happy or sad, fulfilled or missing something, motivated to search for that something or heal from past experiences, confront challenges and let hard times wash over us because we know they will come to pass.
We don’t all have to take up yoga, meditation, or any similar focusing techniques… we can find our little soulful nirvanas even knitting a hat or watching rain fall… but we have to make more of an effort not only for our own sakes, but for the sakes of those around us, especially the people we care about. We may never fully understand ourselves, because this is the magic of change and mystery, but we were born to learn, and learning only comes from listening and observing. And in this way we build our strength and relationships with others.
So the next time you ask another person how they are, just make sure you asked yourself that question first… and don’t be afraid to answer.