I just read a long, ranting post on Facebook written by a new mom. She’s requesting that people quit asking her ‘how are you’ and instead ask her, ‘what is something interesting or exciting in your life right now?’
Fair enough—but her post was so emotionally charged that it struck a chord in me. I really wondered what motivated her to publically ventilate with such fire.
She complained that the people asking don’t really want to know her answer. I suspect these accusations were coming from a place of fear and hurt.
Maybe she’s afraid that she will express some sleep-deprived–new mom-honesty about her exhaustion and weariness to that annoyingly simplistic question. Her response just might stun the asker, or leave the asker speechless.
Perhaps her rant stems from fear of feeling so vulnerable. Maybe she’s afraid that she won’t be seen, heard or truly acknowledged for wherever she is — especially if her response is anything other than a clichéd platitude.
So often when we feel vulnerable we also feel fear and shame. Maybe her angry post was actually a response to her own feelings of vulnerability.
I get where she is coming from- but it seems from the post that she’s getting upset at the question. She’s ranting that people can’t actually handle hearing any answer other than “great, thanks; and you?”
But I say give people a chance. Begin to break the cycle by being vulnerable. She wants to be seen and heard just like we all do. She is looking for a world where she can say, “I’m exhausted, overworked, overwhelmed, frustrated.” Yes, a truthful and vulnerable statement like that can be a very uncomfortable mirror to those who hear it.
I say, GREAT! Getting uncomfortable is where we grow… and we need not take responsibility for another person’s discomfort.
If we continually point to something outside of ourselves- like this woman wishing people would change the question- we will be perpetually unsatisfied.
I can relate. I remember a time when I felt like no one was asking me what was going on in my life. And I would come home from parties, gatherings or even visits with my family feeling like all I did was listen and chitchat about bullshit. I didn’t share a whole lot that was meaningful about my own life.
I didn’t like that feeling. So instead of waiting for people to ask some magic question—I decided to start sharing more vulnerably.
I made the choice to share what was real in my day or to share what’s in my heart in the moment instead of just passively exchanging banalities. I decided to give other people the opportunity to be there for me. And if the other person isn’t up for it- that will become obvious very quickly. And that’s just fine.
I’m certainly not trying to make someone uncomfortable with my authenticity. However they respond is ok. Because sharing authentically and expressing what is true is the practice.
Sharing information with intention of being truthful, authentic and vulnerable is a gift to all involved.
It’s not about what the other person does with the information. It is indeed a beautiful exchange when they really hear you/see you and are able to just BE there with you. That’s real compassion- and perfect vulnerability at its finest.
So instead of focusing on what others are doing/not doing… instead of trying to change the question, how can you BE the change you wish for? How can you move an inch or two toward more vulnerability and authenticity today??