The Pain of a Pleasantry
How are you? It seems easy enough, but it’s a farce. I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t answer honestly. My automatic response is, “good, how about you?” Lies, all lies.
Over the years, I’ve learned that this can be a loaded question, especially sitting at the front desk at a doctor’s office. The elder community can be real comedians when they’re hit with this question; responding with “well, I’m vertical” or “how much time do you have?” without missing a beat always made me laugh, so I guess it has some good qualities. Take your show on the road, folks.
It comes down to the fact that this question is nothing more than a pleasantry. If we all answered it honestly, nothing would ever get done. The world would be one extensive therapy session after another. There aren’t enough sofas to handle that.
I take this question to another level, especially from someone I genuinely care about. The world’s weight could be on my shoulders, but I’ll never burden them with the truth. “I’m fine” is my go-to response because it’s easier than reality. Child trauma in the house.
I’ve learned that this is a conditioned reaction, and I’ve been trying to unlearn it over the years, but some situations arise where clamming up is more comforting than spilling my guts. Ironically, those closest to me know when I’m a clam, so I’m not even good at it; I just think I am. I’m such a Pisces.
Breaking these dysfunctional habits is a process and a long, complicated one at that. As always, recognizing the problem is the first step. Next is the unlearning process.
One of my favorite quotes on this subject comes from the book “The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and The Horse” by Charles Mackesy.
I wonder if there is a school of unlearning?
Recently, I took an accelerated course in unlearning. Have you heard of it? Oh, it’s crazy, and the class comes to you at the most inappropriate time. I was driving on a busy highway to see my granddaughter. My sister called, and I suddenly thought I was dying while we talked via Bluetooth. Oh, yeah, it’s called accelerated for a reason.
I pulled over and listened to my sister recite breathing instructions, prayers, and pearls of wisdom for almost 2 hours before my son arrived.
So, back to our original programming. The reason I hate to be asked, “How are you?” It’s a trigger. Yep, three little words sure know how to pack a punch. While I get back to doing my best to openly communicate my emotions without the fear of judgment or criticism, please, take the time to Enjoy the Ride!