One of the most common greetings nowadays is “How are you?” In turn, we are expected to respond with “Good, how are you?” But what if we are not “good”? What if we had a challenging day or week or year? What if we are on the verge of tears and had a rough morning with our kids? What if we are sad about the current situation in Israel and the world? What if we are dealing with family tension, or relationship turmoil? Why is there this expectation to act fine when we are not?
We are all human and deal with challenges in our lives. There is no one who is perfect. As a matter of fact, perfect should not even be a word. Perfect does not exist. Whether you are struggling with your career, family, relationship, friendships, dating or anything else—you are not alone. We all have our struggles and unfortunately no one is unphased. Life is complex, but that is part of the beauty of the human experience. Challenges allow us to grow, learn and appreciate other aspects in our lives. Often, it is the challenges that propel us forward and give us the strength, tenacity and grace to grow.
I would like to propose this radical idea: Tell the truth when someone asks how you are. It is okay to not be okay. If we all were honest with how we are doing, we would form stronger connections and gain support from others. Let’s normalize having difficult conversations. We can all learn and grow from honest dialogue and vulnerability.
Chances are, you are not the only one going through a hard time. Nowadays, we are dealing with rampant antisemitism, the challenging months of wintertime, an unstable economy, and an overall bleakness in the world. Let’s talk about these things with one another. Open the conversation by asking, “How are you really doing?” Allow the person to respond authentically and take the time to listen to their response. Allow the person the space to answer honestly. Validate their feelings and in turn open yourself up to vulnerability—you never know what you will gain from these open conversations.
Next time you find yourself answering, “good, how are you?” give yourself the grace to respond in an honest manner. We are all dealing with challenges in our lives. Let’s normalize discussing these challenges and holding space for vulnerable conversations. It is okay to say, “I am not okay, how are you?”
Gabrielle Moskovitz is a therapist at Collaborative Minds Psychotherapy, specializing in maternal mental health. She is passionate about advocating for women’s mental health access with issues such as infertility, pregnancy loss, postpartum anxiety and depression and struggles with motherhood. Gabrielle is currently pursuing a Perinatal Mental Health Certification (PMHC) through PSI.