I had a great interaction at the coffee shop recently, all about the words we use for our feelings.
The staff and I discussed our feelings while not knowing each other well. The trigger for me was one person stating, “I had a bad feeling.”
I simply asked, “What is a bad feeling? I feel we use that term a lot, but do not actually know what it means. Are we evil? Morally wrong? Feeling sick?”
Cue the lengthy conversation…
…one guy motions to his stomach as if he was churning it, and just goes, “Ummmm…”
…a woman starts coming up with a number of emotions that could be deemed bad.
…I asked, “When are we feeling good? And what is good in comparison?” We agreed on ‘saintly’. (Cue laughter)
The point is, we are more than good and bad when it comes to emotional health.
Most of us have trouble with that classic social interaction question: How are you today?
Why? Because we want to be warm and approachable, especially around our tribe, the people we see often and have something in common with but are not part of our inner circle of warmth. We also want to be separate and show confidence in a public place. I frequently come back to those two aspects of communication and social persona because they seem to sum up our social cues so well. But those first few seconds of every interaction can throw the best of us off our game.
So how are you doing?
One of the reasons I have found trouble with that question is because I may not know myself. If I am confused or under an unusual amount of stress, I may be frazzled. And I may not want to unpack that with a people that I am not accountable to and am not able to give the time to do it properly.
We usually answer, “Good”, which is not grammatically accurate to begin with, so I have been told. You may be doing well as a person, but are you good? Maybe you are, but what exactly is your rubric to measure your goodness? Good is a social parachute, allowing us to find a way out of a social situation for which we did not plan.
More importantly, you may not be practicing your own understanding of self. I have learned, relearned, and life forced me to learn it again, the importance of knowing and expressing myself with clarity and self respect. Yes, self respect. It begins with you and your own understanding, the “Love your neighbour as yourself” concept, that helps in all social situations. This is because it begins with your person, how the ‘temple’ is decorated and kept from the inside, that enables how you communicate and reflect this understanding to your outside world. If you are using smaller and lesser understanding of self, you may be representing yourself in this way. And that may translate into your response to those awkward social questions.
Try this: Look in the mirror and ask that person how they are doing. You may be surprised by the response.
I will be unpacking this in Spring 2018, as part of a communication series I offer to individuals and groups. Let me know if you are interested: #MondayMotivation (link to contact page)