How are you doing, really?

Gwen Randall-Young

The world is so very different than even three years ago. We live in a culture where we often put on our game face regardless of how we are feeling inside. “How are you?” “I am fine.” End of discussion.
True, when some people ask that question, it is a formality, and they really aren’t asking if you are really okay. Certainly, as well, someone might pose the question, but we really do not want to get into it.
This absence of true, caring communication and connection can leave us feeling isolated. It might seem to us that everyone else is doing fine, and we wonder what is wrong with us that we cannot feel more upbeat and positive. People can even become depressed when they compare their lives to others and feel theirs comes up short.
My profession is based on really caring about how people feel. I see the profound effect it can have on others when they feel truly heard, understood, and supported. I also see the pain that comes from not having that outside the therapy office.
We are a tribal species, meant to connect with others; however, the pandemic, social media, and the busyness of life have interfered with that.
There is a sense of validation and belonging when we connect with someone who is like-minded. Often, I see people who feel isolated because no one in their world thinks like they do.
What do we do about this? For starters, we can listen deeply to others, trying to sense what feelings might lie behind their words. If they are to share personal feelings or issues with us, this is a sacred trust: they must know we would never repeat what is shared in confidence.
It is helpful if we are willing to share our own vulnerabilities, as that puts us on an equal footing. It can be comforting and validating for one to know they are not the only one struggling.
There is an even deeper kind of connectedness. That is our connection with our true self, orour soul or authentic self. All the busyness and distractions can keep us from spending any meaningful time with ourselves. Often a sense of disconnectedness can be as much about this as other people.
Our lives can become all about doing things for others, carrying out our responsibilities, and doing things that others want or expect from us. It can then feel hard to be alone, because when we are by ourselves, we are left with a stranger.
To overcome this, take some time by yourself often, and listen to your inner dialogue, the way you would listen to a friend. Explore what you truly feel at a deep level, and what your heart yearns for.
If this sounds like what happens when we start a new friendship, it is exactly that. When we become our own best friend, treating ourselves as we would another, we can comfort and support ourselves. Then, however alone we might be at times, we always have that connection with ourselves.