We’ve all said it, probably more times than we can count. It’s the default answer that usually rears its ugly head at moments when it’s the furthest thing from the truth: “I’m fine”.
When we think about the moments that we use this response the most, we’d probably find that it’s when we’re not open (or willing) to say what we really mean – which can be difficult, especially when things are far from fine. It’s funny how the words just roll off the tongue without hesitation. “I’m fine.” But really, we’re not.
I’m sure it is. Because, it’s actually very common and even more so with women.
Well, we often minimize how we’re feeling and instead mask what we really want to say in phrases that we deem appropriate: “I’m fine”, “Everything’s good”, “I’m great and you?”
It’s learned behavior. It’s social etiquette, right? And to some degree, I agree that this behavior is acceptable. Nobody wants to break down in tears the moment their boss casually says ‘How’s your day?’; and I don’t know one person that wants to complete lose it while having a disagreement in public. But hiding emotions is only a symptom of a bigger issue. The root of it all stems from the desire to not be seen as emotional, or not having it all together.
Women that we perceive to have it all together are generally laid back, calm and collected. They show just enough emotion to be seen as empathetic and happy, but they rarely lose their cool and they don’t have emotional outbursts.
Women that we perceive as emotional (or maybe even a bit erratic) are a bit of the opposite. They openly express how they feel, don’t have a problem with verbalizing their current state of mind and they usually encourage others to embrace their feelings.
The problem with perception is that it’s objective and it can lead to standards that aren’t necessarily healthy… it can lead to people being labeled.
You’re assertive, you’re potentially labeled as aggressive.
You like nice things, you’re called materialistic.
You’re full of energy, people think you’re hyper.
You get the point…
But here’s the thing:
Being emotional should NEVER be a label!
Having and feeling your emotions does not make you a crazy, unstable or even different.
You are entitled to your life experience, your feelings and your emotions. You should feel confident in expressing how you’re feeling and comfortable talking about what matters to you, in the moment. This applies to ALL emotions… yes, even joy and excitement. So, the next time something amazing happens to you, don’t minimize the event, or the details, to keep from hurting someone else’s feelings or stepping on their toes – Feel it all!
Disclaimer: I’m NOT at all saying that you should go to work tomorrow and completely unload all of your personal problems on your co-worker who casually asks how you’re doing in the morning; or that you should let your boss know how you really feel about the extra project she dumped on you last week – let’s not confuse being comfortable with actually experiencing your feelings with being unprofessional or bringing your personal life to work. What I am saying is that you have to learn to stop suppressing your emotions and beating yourself up about them… or even seeing yourself as weak because of them. How you ‘feel’ is valid.
The next time a close friend asks how you’re doing, TELL HER. Because hiding your emotions may temporarily make you appear to have it all together, but why suffer in silence or negate your happiness. Sometimes you need a fresh perspective, a little advice or even just a glass of wine and that friend that makes you laugh through the tears.
Even though being vulnerable is not always easy to do, when you open yourself up to the complete experience of life, you enrich your story and you learn more about who you are. Some of the best works of art are rooted in ‘feeling your feelings’. There’s no inspiration in suppression… there’s no inspiration in always being calm and collected. Think about it… some of the best songs are written in times of heartbreak and the most poignant stories are a based in real life.
The next time you’re ‘in your feelings’ think twice about how you answer ‘how are you?’. Stop and consider how you’re really feeling and how you want to express that in your response. Don’t lie by default because you think that’s what people want to hear.
Feel everything. Be confident in your experience and don’t be afraid to express yourself, and if others think you’re a bit crazy, emotional or erratic… oh well!