I’ve probably said the ‘F’ word a million times: Fine.
You’ve probably said it a million times yourself.
“How are you?”
Unhappy. Scared. Hurt. Mad. Excited. Anxious. Happy. Confused. Heartbroken. Sick. Terrible. Alive. Coping. Lonely. Sad. Lost. Meh.
It’s often one of the biggest lies we can tell ourselves and other people.
It happens everywhere…a stranger smiles at you in the elevator, you bump into your neighbour at the supermarket…and unless you happen to have sticks or a wheelchair – in which case that opens up a whole new level of conversation – social protocol calls for this inevitable exchange to take place:
You say “Hi, how are you?” and the standard response back will be, “I’m fine thanks, how are you?”
Both parties have an understanding that “I’m fine” is a secondary code for saying “Hello,” and there is no real substance or depth behind it.
So why do we keep saying “I’m fine”? Particularly when we’re not?
“I’m fine,” is a conditioned, automatic social protocol response that has been drilled into us from our early childhood years.
The words flow from our lips without thought, without pause.
Even when things are very clearly not fine, it’s unlikely that you are going to have the audacity to startle the Average Joe with your brutal honesty:
“I’m having a bit of a flare up. My right leg has been numb from thigh to ankle for the past three weeks; my hands are tingling and short circuiting like a failing strobe light; I’m getting backed up (constipated); I have zero appetite; fatigue has knocked the wind out of my sails; pain is having a party at my expense; my skin has broken out; the nerve burn is kicking into overdrive in my arms, which is making the application of makeup extremely difficult; my hormones are up sh!t creek without a paddle; I have an itchy-as-hell eye that is driving me nuts and I’m pretty sure I yanked out a grey hair this morning…you want me to keep going?!”
– Bree Hogan
”Should you give an answer other than “I am fine,” you will be met with an awkward silence as the other person tries to assimilate the break in protocol.”
– Penny Rorrer, The Mighty,
“I’m fine,” may be a truly accurate description for you in that moment. You may really mean it.
However, we are all complex, multi-faceted human beings with a myriad of emotions, many of which are far more descriptive than the rather bland “I’m fine,” could ever hope to convey.
So odds are, nine times out of ten when we say “I’m fine,” we are telling a wee little white lie.
There are a lot of Pinocchio’s out there!
“I’m fine,” diverts conversation to safer waters.
People have their own problems and (most of the time) they really don’t want to hear about yours.
“I’m fine,” is a way of shielding others from life’s unpleasantries.
Whilst my health challenges are a major feature in my life, I don’t want to be the person who always talks about my medical problems when asked, “How are you?”
I want to share my life with family and friends but I feel that it’s got to be censored to a certain degree.
Not a day goes by without me having to think about my medical challenges; not a day goes by without them impacting me in some way.
But it doesn’t always have to be that way for my family and friends.
They may ride the ‘Bree-train’ right along with me but sometimes they need to have a little rest stop.
Sometimes they need to hear something other than another diagnosis, another problem, another “I’m f%$#! Moment.”
So I’m fine. *Smiling*
“I’m fine,” is a fall back position for when you don’t have the either the energy or the words to adequately describe how you are feeling.
Imagine what would happen if we unlocked our creative self:
“Ok, you got me, my life is in the crapper! Like literally. I haven’t moved from the toilet seat all morning!” – Bree Hogan
“My chakras are chronically challenged and there are times when I feel like I’m up sh!t creek without a paddle. Again, quite literally! Now put that in your pipe and smoke it!” – Bree Hogan
A tad aggressive? Hmmm, undoubtedly yes!
A true expression of Bree-ish self? Booyeah!
“I’m fine,” is a defence mechanism for the times when you’d rather push whatever it is to the back of your mind and not talk about it.
“I’m fine,” can be a forced personal status because, quite frankly, there is often no time to not be fine.
Many of us have to be fine or at least attempt to convince ourselves that we are.
It’s like I talked about in my article last week, “Chronic Pain: I’m Gonna Hurt No Matter What I Do.”
When you’re constantly treading water and trying to hold your head up, you do what you need to do to survive.
You make a choice and you run with it as best as you know how; as best as you are able.
So you’re fine. I’m fine. Really.
“Behind every “fine” is a story, a past, a strong heart and a soul who has seen more and experienced more than most people will ever realise.”
– Erin Polk, The Mighty, “What We Really Mean When We Say ‘I’m Fine.’”
Your turn! Do you overuse the phrase “I’m fine”? How are you feeling right now? Comment below.
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Photo Credit: Pixabay
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