Being human is messy, it’s not easy for anyone, we all experience ups and downs, whether they are forced external difficulties and dilemmas or because we are unsure about what or how or when to act, speak out or shut up! How can we make life easier for everyone? Just last week someone asked me ‘how are you?’ my response ‘I feel pretty crap actually’ to which they responded rather abruptly ‘Oh, that’s nice isn’t it?’ as if I had committed a cardinal sin by saying how I really felt.
Tell the Truth Quicker
I made a commitment to myself over 20 years ago that if someone asks ‘how are you?’ I would say how I feel instead of responding with a polite but dishonest and inauthentic ‘fine’ (fucked up insecure neurotic and emotional). I wonder what it would take for everyone to not buy into the fake “I’m great!” to say how you feel at any given time without concern for being negatively labelled or judged, after all no-one bats an eyelid when we say everything is great?
The biggest thing you can give your friends and acquaintances is your ears – to listen to them and not to just sweep over things when it doesn’t quite fit with what you expect in general ‘polite’ (fake) conversation. I watched a programme tonight about footballers who kill themselves and the stigma of mental health in the game, the tragic suicide of a player has a knock on effect on many, so how do we begin to de-stigmatise fluctuating mental well being?
I wonder if it would make a difference if colleagues/teammates truly listened, took time to just notice small things, to give permission for others not to be ok. We live in a culture where people judge emotional vulnerability as weakness, showing your emotions is not weak, we can change the culture by changing ourselves. I train people in suicide intervention skills, how to notice and respond to people who may be not themselves or have had recent difficult experiences. Listening to someone doesn’t make things worse for them, it might make things better and mental well being is a collective as well as individual responsibility. We need to be striving for acceptance of humanness.
Permission to express how you feel, good, not so good, angry, happy, sad and everything in between is officially granted. Accepting ourselves in all we are is how we are able to sit with other peoples discomfort and struggles. So be courageous and say how you feel, by your bravery you grant permission to those around you to express their struggles too.