I rarely say that I am fine when asked how I am. I say things like: I’m still here, still living, doing well, or one of those days. Pretty much anything. But I don’t say I’m fine if I’m not. I stopped lying about myself a while ago.
It all started off with a book I read about people who were critically ill. In the book the author said that saying you are fine when you are not is basically sending die messages to yourself. It is telling yourself that the truth of how you are is not important. I spent a long time thinking about that and what it meant to me.
What I came up with was that for years someone had been telling me that I was unimportant, not as important, or any other way of saying it. And that if I believed that I would never move forward. I did believe that for years and years. But in the last ten years I have begun to feel important. And saying that I am fine when I am not does not say to myself that I am important in any way.
So now I have a pithy remark to make if I am not really fine. Or I just redirect to the weather and avoid the question. There are people who do get the truth to that question. But those people are the ones that have earned the right to know those truths. They are the people who give me the sacred space of truth and understanding. I hope that I give that in return.
When someone asks if you are fine, think before you answer. Are you?
9 thoughts on “Why I rarely say I am fine”
I have come to the same place, though I never read anything suggesting that it was a bad idea to answer “I’m fine”. Nor do I ever recall being told that our traditional salutations had any negative side.
What I do have it a conscious, and at one point such a low and painful time that I couldn’t answer anything but the truth. Since those life has been generally easier but I learned that being honest with myself and others actually was freeing on all sides.
And since then I have come to the habit of phrases like:
“I’m working on something right now” or
“I’m in a quiet place” unless I am indeed “fine” or even “awesome”
That’s my 2 cents. 🙂
Being honest with ourselves is so very important. And those are great answers.
I hold a weekly ESL course here in Italy and just last Thursday we were talking about the famous : How do you do. I created a verbal image of a Englishman, who’d just had a bicycle accident, broken leg and possible internal fractures. When the paramedic leans over him asking: “How are you mate.” he replies, “Fine thanks!”. An eye opening post you’ve written here…thanks for sharing it!
You are welcome. I had not heard that story. But it does seem fairly typical of the insulating factor of “fine”.
Well, actually I made the story up because it’s something all my students over the years have noticed … that is the proforma response.
Appreciate it for helping out, great information. feeededdfead
Wow that was odd. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyway, just wanted to say superb blog! aekabedgbafk
Leslie – Have you done a new blog since 5/9…I thought I saw one but now I can’t find it –
Yes, If you go to the blogs home page it should show you the rest of the ones posted since then.