I is for I’m fine

This post is originally from The Pandora Box Gift Company blog.  

  I was recently talking to a friend, and she told me that she had given up lying for lent. When asked how difficult it was, she mentioned that most of the time it was fine, the only time that caused an issue was when someone asked her how she was. When she deviated from the usual answer of “I’m fine”, people seemed to get quite uncomfortable. The longer and more descriptive her answers were, the more uncomfortable they seemed to get until eventually she was told that maybe, she should just keep it at home. 

  It got me thinking about the answer we give when someone asks us how we are. People are very content with “I’m fine” but seem to get annoyed when anyone starts to deviate. The thing is, when is anyone really feeling just fine? We all know that most of the time we can feel a mixed bag of emotions, yet we all too easily accept it.

   The problem with this blasé approach to “I’m fine” is that we end up in a situation where nobody shares how they really feel. It leads to everyone thinking that what they’re going through is unique to them and doesn’t seem to be happening to anyone else. It can increase the feeling of loneliness and isolation that poor mental health can bring. We forget how powerful sharing feelings and experiences can be. One of the biggest reasons we think is responsible for the high rates of suicide among men is that they don’t talk openly about how they’re feeling.

   “I’m fine” is the easy option. It’s the answer we give when we try and avoid what’s really going on. It can lead to suppression of thoughts and feelings which uses up an enormous amount of energy that could be used to keep yourself mentally healthy. Going with the old cliché, a problem shared really is a problem halved. Sure, every now and again you’re allowed an “I’m fine” response, but let’s just be more aware of the amount of times someone uses it as an answer. You yourself probably use it all the time without realising. It’s so engrained in us that most of the time we don’t stop and think about how this simple answer can cause issues for us all. Here’s to honest answers and the reduction of the “I’m fine” response.