How are you, Really?

Unmasking the Cliché: "How Are You?" as a Pathway to Emotional Health

ByAndrea Horbrook, MA, LCPC, LMHC
Explore the power behind the clichéd question, “How are you?”, as we delve into emotional health, vulnerability, and the impact of societal norms. Find out how creating Courageous Spaces can transform our connections and contribute to healthier mental wellbeing.

Decoding The “How Are You?” Paradox

“How are you?” A simple question you’re asked countless times in a day. But do you ever pause to answer truthfully? Some days you might feel on top of the world, while on others you might feel swamped. In fact, for many of us, our lives have become so demanding that shutting out the world seems appealing.

New Seasons, New Challenges

Imagine this. You’re a new parent, adjusting to life with a two-month-old. You’re exhausted, stretched thin, and yet, paradoxically, you miss the old, freer you. You look at your pre-baby photos with a twinge of envy. A spontaneous run to the store now involves a military-level operation of arranging childcare and preparing enough bottles. You start to compare your current self to the past, and that freedom you took for granted starts to feel like a distant memory.

The Duality of Parenthood

Don’t get this wrong; the love for your newborn is unparalleled, and this new phase of life is an experience you wouldn’t trade for anything. Yet, there’s a sense of being overworked and underpaid. And then, sleep deprivation starts to weigh in – your eyes hurt from nights of less than five hours of sleep.

The Illusion of Perfection

While the world sees your smiling family photos, they’re not privy to the silent cries within. Nobody is living the “perfect” life, no matter how flawless their Instagram feed seems. And yes, you might appear strong, but even the strongest have their vulnerable moments, moments on the brink of a meltdown.

Person saying "I'm okay. Really"

Courageous Spaces: A Sanctuary for the Soul

So, here’s an idea. Let’s start normalizing Courageous Spaces – where we can be seen beyond our titles and accomplishments. A space where it’s safe to be vulnerable, without fear of judgment, ridicule, or shame. As noted by Brené Brown in her work on the power of vulnerability, “Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome.”

Embracing Empathy and Authenticity

Such spaces would allow us to be truly attuned to our own and others’ emotional needs. In these spaces, we could practice empathy without having to feel another’s pain, and understand that empathy is simply acknowledging another’s experience as their truth, as highlighted by Carl Rogers, a prominent figure in humanistic psychology.

S.A.V.E: Seen, Attuned, Vulnerable, Empathetic

These Courageous Spaces help us to S.A.V.E – to be Seen, Attuned, Vulnerable, and Empathetic. You never know how that phone call, text, hug, or even a simple “hello” might be the lifeline someone needs.

S.A.V.E graphic

Reframing “How Are You?”

So, the next time you ask, “How are you?” remember it’s more than just a cliché. It’s an opportunity to offer someone a Courageous Space, to let them know that it’s okay to not be okay, and that they are seen and heard. In a world where everyone is fighting a battle we know nothing about, let “How are you?” serve as a gentle reminder that we’re all in this together.

Contact us Today

Feeling overwhelmed? Remember, it’s okay to ask for help. If you can relate to the struggles mentioned in this post and need professional support, we’re here for you. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation, and let’s start your journey towards better mental wellbeing. Because you’re not alone, and your emotions are more than just a cliché. Click here to schedule a free consultation.

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