How are you… really? The question ‘how are you?’ is one that we ask each other all the time, and the response we give is often brief: ‘fine’, ‘busy’, ‘ok’. We say this when we sense the other person doesn’t really want to know or when we aren’t really sure how to answer. Most of us experience many different feelings all at once, and it can be difficult to know where to start with expressing how we are. I am very blessed to have people in my life that do ask me how I am, and I know they really want to know and have time to listen. Yet so often my answer is ‘I don’t know’ – because I haven’t checked in with myself.
Regularly creating space to tune in and be with myself is so important for my health and wellbeing. It helps me to stay grounded, to not overstretch myself and to meet my needs as they arise. It also makes it easier to answer that question when it is asked! I start each day by writing in my journal, which is a great opportunity to check in with myself, to notice my thoughts and feelings, how my body is feeling, what I am processing. I have also learnt to use the question ‘how are you?’ as a prompt for reflection. Even when I can tell the other person isn’t really interested and is only looking for me to say ‘fine’, it is still an opportunity to ask myself how I am and to answer the question internally.
So… if you have been patient enough to read this far, I invite you to check in with yourself right now. Close your eyes for a few moments and listen. Listen to your body, to your thoughts, to your breath. Then gently ask yourself ‘how am I?’ and continue to listen. Notice what thoughts and feelings arise, without placing any judgement on them as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. You don’t need to do anything more than listen, to be with how you are. When you are ready, gently open your eyes.
And finally… next time we meet, please know that when I ask ‘how are you?’ that I really want to know, that there is space for you to answer fully, and that if you ask me the same question and really want to know, that I will answer as honestly as I can.