Why We Say We’re “Fine” When We’re NotGoing through some pretty traumatic stuff has made me temper what I say to people, particularly when asked, “Oh, how are you doing?”.
I’m usually a private person.
Those who don’t know me well assume life is as good as a slice of bread with jam. Very few can tell that I’m not ok, and usually it’s a guess based upon how they would react in my circumstances.
But first: Why lie?
I don’t want to burden the listener.
I don’t believe they really care - they are merely being polite and I am politely responding in turn, because that’s what polite people do for one another - we make each other feel “fine”.
I don’t trust them to do what is truly needful; mainly because, they can’t. They are ill equipped, even if it’s just sitting with me,...
The listener, unwittingly, sometimes make poor choices, and end up trying to help in ways that only make matters worse...
… Or they go about telling others because it’s “news” - which it is, but not necessarily to be shared that way.
You say, “fine” because you don’t want to hear them give you a run down of their history, and hear them talk about situations that have nothing to do with yours, because they seem to want to “identify” with you. (Stop it! - you and they are not the same).
I want to nurse my wounds by myself - the hurt is too deep and I sit on the sidelines of life and mourn over the cuts, the scratches, the boo boos of life, like a dog that licks its cut from the unseen broken bottle that it stepped on as it ran through the grass…
It’s easy - I think this is why some people stand on the sides of roads asking for handouts. It’s easy for those passing by to throw a few coins in the dirty plastic cup, than it is to find out what brought this person to these circumstances. For example do you ever wonder,... When they were eight years old, did they dream and plan, that by age 37 they would be without a place to call home, sleep on cardboard with a flea infested, dirt stained, ragged quilt and reek of urine....
You just don’t know what to say. Truly, how do you explain what has happened when it’s something so ugly. Ugly usually repels people - even the nicest and well intentioned of them. Plus, why do you want to re-live telling each individual person the ugly details… It’s like putting a bandaid on a wound and then ripping it off just as it begins to heal.
When you respond with “Fine”, you get “the pass”. You’re okay and so are they. :-)
Second: Why do they accept the response of “Fine”?
(Now read this carefully): You don’t have to be identified, nor do you want to be associated with their problems - which is part of the problem - we are fearful of seeing ourselves,... We are fearful of somehow, their pain rubbing off on us, like the flu or worse yet discovering that we are a “carrier” of the “Not so fine”, and so we have to do something with our actions or reactions, because you are the problem.
We tell ourselves they want to be left alone. I/We tell ourselves, ‘...This is surely a private concern… I would be intruding…’
Their problem is way outta my league - I’m not a professional. I just haven’t a clue about how to respond, so nothing is probably best...
We want to pretend. I swear this is why I whiz through my uncle’s nursing home. I am Miss Cheer-ie and I smile and I walk fast and I click my heels three times till I’m safely on the other side of the door, where I am yet younger than they… Because I want to pretend, I’m not getting older, I’m not getting old like them - so everyone is always fine in the nursing home, right down to the old woman with the vein gnarled hand whispering to anyone who passes by to get her out of there. We want to pretend all is well, because that makes it true - right? Wrong!
We don’t have the time…
It’s the script of life according to mankind… Who wrote this life?
It’s cost effective - we don’t have to do anything
People would rather believe a lie, rather than the truth. Sometimes good meaning people will go as far to say, “Oh it can’t be that bad...:” And then they proceed to tell you all the reasons why it’s not as bad as you’re saying, working really hard to convince you, that you’re wrong and they’re right… See, better off saying, “...oh just fine..”.
Third: So what do you do, when you know, fine is not really fine? (DISCLAIMER: Folks these are not the opinions of experts. In fact all that I write, is just my opinion. (Actually, even in the news media, they try to sway you to think one way - their way - See? My opinion!), You don’t have to do things according to Nina, but might I suggest that you do so according to Jesus).
Consider praying especially when you have an inkling something isn’t “fine”.
Acknowledge what has happened that isn’t “fine”.
When I ask someone how they feel, I mentally prepare myself for the response and ask myself, ‘Do you have the time to invest in this person, to sit, to offer a hand… to stay in contact, to check back...to do what they need?’
Be open/available for what God might do through you, for them, for you, (the side benefit of being available).