Ok, Thank You..
Not Bad Thank You..
Pretty Good Thanks..
The social curtesy of asking the question ‘how are you’ or…….’are you ok’? Often has me cringing, as even on a tough day, I hear myself say ‘good thanks’.
Why?!?! Why don’t I just say ‘having a rough day today’….
I find myself asking….what does conforming to this habitual way of responding teach my babes? What message does this send to myself? How does this ‘polite’ way of responding feed into the social understanding that tricky feelings, are not to be shared, but to be kept private….and in turn, how does this fuel the expectation that struggle is outside of the norm?!?!
I don’t know about you…but often on a day of tiredness, crankiness, sickness and all the rest…a trip to the local coffee shop for a breather has me floating outside of my body as the kind and polite cafe chicky asks the question ‘hi how are you today’…on these days…i actually want to cry out aloud and say ‘I am soooooooo tired and sooooooo cranky, would you mind playing with my kiddies whilst I drink a hot cup of coffee, and take a few deep silent breaths……..pleeeeeeeeease’!!!!!!!! But instead what I hear come out of my mouth is ‘good thanks, how are you?’ and what I (looking at myself like I’m watching a bad reality show) see is a fake, try hard, stiff smile appear on my face as I mutter the words that have no meaning.
My partner is honest. He is a ‘call a spade a spade’ type of guy. I love this about him. This is also something that challenges me. If he is stressed or tired, and asked how he is, he calls it. I ask myself once again questioning, why does this feel uncomfortable. Why do I silently will him to put on a fake smile, and say ‘good thank’s!!!
Im a Psychologist. Teaching people how to accept and express emotions is embedded in the core layer of what I do. Encouraging people to express truth, in an attempt to receive validation and support…..is what I do. Dismissing my own feelings, in moments like above, has me feeling like a fraud..
Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to encourage a giant verbal and emotional spill of personal stories to the local cafe employees…..but what I am trying to redirect is the social expectation that ‘good thanks’ is the norm. That saying ‘having a touch day today’ is inappropriate or outside of the norm.
Not long ago, I was in session with a young girl, primary school age. She said to me that sometimes when asked how things are going at the end of a day, she says ‘good’ just because she doesn’t want to talk about how she is really feeling. When we spoke about why that is…she shared with me, something that struck a cord which echoes silently through me. She expressed….that she rather keep her feelings to herself than cause worry to others.
I ask….in what world is it ok for anyone, let alone our children to feel that sharing their honest feelings is burdensome on others.
So here is what I think….Mama Being Frank….
Expressing how we feel opens opportunity for support and validation.
Expressing how we feel, helps us connect, accept and repair from the emotional state that we are in.
Expressing how we feel shows others that when we have experience periods of toughness, emotions that feel heavy….this is normal. Normal in the sense that…difficult feelings are ok, and not something to be covered up or hidden, linked with shame or fear of judgement.
Expressing emotions in an honest way, can give permission for others to also share in a real and honest way.
Recently, whilst reflecting on this topic, I came across a fellow mama blogger who shared this;
“Hey there mumma..how are you doing? I know you’d usually answer that you’re good, or you’re fine, but how are you really going? Are you really good? Are you really fine? Or are you hiding behind a mask today?” (Laura Muzza – Mum On The Run)
So I ask you..for the community of mamas…be true, be real. Struggle over daily hardships and Gratitude over the humbling moments can exist. To say you are having a hard day, does not say that you are failing. To say you are tired and need a break, does not mean you are giving up. To say that being a mama is hard work, does not mean that you wouldn’t give the world to your babies.
Being honest, being real tells our society, that being a mama is the most wonderfully, challenging job, and possibly one of the most important things you will ever do in your life time. To do this well, we must take care of us. To take care of us, we need to practice being honest with ourselves and honest with others. Celebrate the wanders, share the struggle.
Emotional well being is not a matter of ‘fake it till you make it’!!!!! Sure some days, heading out into the sunshine for a breath of fresh air can help shift a mood….but talking and connecting is where the real change can happen. Its through others, we have our deepest needs met, and the right help offered.
Let’s empower each other, our children, by first empowering ourselves.
Ask someone….ARE YOU OK?
And when you answer this question in return…speak with honesty, speak with openness, speak from the heart.