BEWARE THE "I'M FINE" SYNDROME

We’ve all been there.  You are rushing around the usual routine, being a super hero, getting stuff done and someone you know asks “How are you?”.  We all know what’s going on here.  It’s a socially expected empty greeting that neither you want to answer honestly nor does the person asking truly have the time or capacity to hear and respond to an honest answer.  So you reply “I’m fine, how are you?”, to which a dutiful “I’m fine thanks” is retaliated as the exchange comes to an end and you both pootle on back to the stuff you were doing.

To reply, “Well actually, I’m feeling really quite down, I have a massive headache and I can’t put my finger on why” would break the social norm and would almost be something to apologise to your acquaintance for, for making them feel uncomfortable.  That level of vulnerability and indeed self-awareness from being present in that moment, so that you are able to access how you truly feel doesn’t seem to be allowed when we are all in ‘business as usual mode’.

But are you indeed, fine?  And is your friendly acquaintance indeed also, fine? 

Let’s see, perhaps you are bloated, or have stomach cramps or indigestion again. Or you didn’t sleep well, have a headache and feel generally sluggish or teary at little things.  Maybe you are starving hungry even though you just ate an hour ago or are in your mid-afternoon slump and snapping at your colleagues or the children over things that people ‘more capable than you’ can just deal with.  You’ve had a massive row with the other half, over what you are not quite sure, or you feel generally unsatisfied and that ‘there must be more to life than this’.  Sound fine to you?  And hell, “I’m fine” doesn’t even cut the mustard when the opposite is true and you are feeling elated, proud, successful, super excited or blissfully happy…but that would be crass and insensitive to share.

Day after day you stick with “I’m fine”, “I’m good”, “Great thanks”.  Slowly your mind learns ‘even when I don’t feel good, I am good’, ‘when I am on top of the world, I am just fine’ and ‘even if I wasn’t good, no one wants to hear about it anyway’ and shuts down even further to what you are truly feeling both in your mind and in your early warning system, your body.  All the signs are there yet our learned limiting belief blinds us from seeing them.  To compound the issue our diminishing self-worth, in favour of people pleasing and putting others first, further deafens us from the alarm bells going off in our head and body desperately trying to grab our attention.

Us coaches and wellness buffs are always banging on about ‘presence’, being ‘grounded’ and truly ‘present’ in the moment.  And don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you to take your shoes off and stand on the grass in order to connect with yourself via mother nature.  But I am going to ask you to consider this:

How much time have you allocated for self-care today?

And frantically whacking on some lippy and mascara or buying a skinny decaf latte doesn’t count! 

How about starting with dedicating 10 minutes of your day today to this? 

Grab a pad of post-it notes, taking a deep breath and then write down on each post-it something you are feeling right now.  Think about everything you feel in your body, any tension, pressures, pains or twinges.  Think about every emotion or recurrent thought you are having right now.  Don’t think about it too much, just keep going until you are done.

Take a step back and take a look at all of your feelings.

Pick the first one that jumps out at you and consider this:

What’s the smallest change I could make to change how I am feeling here?

Small, mindful choices in how you attend to your needs, emotions and feelings and how you nourish and energise your body, start to build and snow ball the more attention you give them, one creating a more stable foundation for the next.

If you are interested in trying a coaching approach to wellness and combining the empowerment you gain from establishing defined goals that align with your core values, with a nourishing and energy boosting approach to what you consume, check out the Reset and Reclaim programme at www.resetandreclaimprogramme.com from The Happiness Transformation in collaboration with bright yellow coaching by Tracy James.

If you didn’t get around to doing this little exercise today, answer me this rather loaded and uncoachy question:

“What is it I am filling my day with that means finding 0.7% of my day to check in on how I am feeling was not a priority?  Was it being “fine” perhaps?”.