What do you Say in Response to “How are you?”

“How are you?”

When the bank teller or the grocery store clerk asks me that, I tell the truth—either in my tone or with my vocabulary. It’s a small rebellion I enjoy as a change from the conventional, “I’m fine.” In most instances, my truth-telling is rather unremarkable. However, on the occasion when I’m fuming or forlorn, I report that, too.

“How are you?”

“I’m tired.”

Or, “I’m pissed.”

Or, “I’m afraid you won’t be able to help me solve the problem on my mind today.”

(Any of these, along with the red hair, gets instant attention.)

It’s only a simple word or two and no detailed explanation is necessary. But this quick exchange does acknowledge a small piece of human contact.

And, yes, sometimes when I’m asked, “How are you?” I simply reply, “I’m fine,” which is also true, but less noteworthy.

It’s easy to overlook taking account of how you answer the question “How are you?” You might go days or weeks simply answering “I’m fine” by rote. And those days or weeks might rock along uneventfully—until one minute, without warning, you find yourself shrieking internally, or directing sharp rejoinders at those you love, or overreacting to the smallest social offense.

To head these unexpected reactions off before they happen, try checking in with yourself throughout the day. Answer the question, “How am I, right now, in this moment?” Allow yourself to notice small discomforts and unmet needs you might be carrying, and start to address them before the volume get so loud you can’t hear yourself think.

Throughout the course of the day, there will be many different people asking, “How are you?” in all kinds of different situations. The question is a big part of social interaction in our world. But the question that comes before that—the question of “How am I?” may be the more important question for you. Noticing and understanding how you are in any given moment is important. It frees you up to answer others’ questions while staying true to your own inner experience of other people and the wider world.

Posted in acceptance, flexibility, inspiration, self-help, Truth telling on 10/03/2017 05:28 am

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