How are you?
Are we really fine? All of us, always? It is funny how this question might be one of the most asked questions. Many of us start conversations using this question but how often do we respond honestly or expect an honest answer to it?
What happens if we or the person we are conversing with responds authentically like tired, terrible, excited, nervous, good or with contradictions like excited but exhausted, anxious but hopeful. Are we willing to engage in a conversation with that? Are we willing to take a couple of minutes out and make ourselves or another person feel cared for & supported?
We live in a world where fine is an acceptable answer to how you are because we might not have the time or it might not be important, but that means emotions aren’t important and that is a cause of concern.
Emotions are important, they matter a lot.
They affect our :
Mental and physical health.
Attention and memory
Creativity and learning
Decision making and performance
Formation and maintenance of positive relationships
And all of these are really major aspects of our lives that affect our overall well being. According to Marc Brackett, Ph.D (founder and director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence) we need to stop being emotional judges and be emotional scientists in order to aid us.
By that he means we need to be curious and open instead of critical and closed. View emotions as giving valuable information about yourself and others rather than errors. Get into the shades of emotions rather than clumping them up asgood or bad or positive or negative.
The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence gives us an approach called the RULER to help become an emotional scientist. This is an evidence-based approach to social and emotional learning.
R - Recognizing emotions in self and others - paying attention to the emotions being experienced in one's body and mind and in other people's words, body languages, faces and voices.
U - Understanding causes and consequences of our emotions.
L - Labeling emotions accurately - paying attention to the nuances in emotions. For example: are you irritated or enraged, nervous or afraid?
E- Expressing emotions - creating a safe non-judgemental space for yourself and others to express whatever they are feeling.
R - Regulating emotions effectively - what do I want to do with what I am feeling, increase or decrease it or just maintain it or create or prevent it and what are the strategies that help me do these?
So the next time you answer how you are, pause and examine and give yourself the permission to feel all these emotions. And more importantly, the next time you ask how you are, genuinely mean it and hold that care for another. Remember that there is no bad, wrong or negative emotion. Emotions are emotions, don't judge or compare them. Allow yourself to experience them all!
Brackett, M. Evidence-based Research On Social And Emotional Learning.
Brackett, M. (2019). Permission to Feel. Quercus Publishing.
Meet The Author
Zahra is and always will be the optimist, the hoper of far-flung hopes and the dreamer of improbable dreams.She believes that imagination and stories are the greatest resources for humanity. She loves everything science fiction and likes learning about philosophy and history along with mental health, of course. She cares for herself by treating herself with dark chocolate, walks, and painting her versions of starry nights, and yin and yang koi fish symbols.
Zahra Diwan, Psychologist