Reading Casey’s post “Giving yourself some credit” I was reminded of the way people tend to relate more to the outside world than to their inside world.
It impacts even the simplest questions.
Making “how are you?” one of the most complicated questions to answer.
It’s a question that depends on the relationship and the way it is being asked.
When in school I learned that in the UK the question “how do you do?” isn’t meant to be answered. In France, the expected answer is “fine”. In Germany, things are a bit more complex as people expect an answer. However, most struggle with finding the appropriate answer. The answer is an indication of the intimacy or distance of the relationship. Whatever people share, it is an indication of where they are willing to go with the conversation at that stage.
The reason people struggle however is different. Most search for an acceptable answer. They start comparing themselves with the other, think about a socially appropriate answer, and wonder about the other person’s expectations.
They find it hard to see their well-being from their position.
How was I yesterday, last week, last year? What am I looking forward to? What am I disappointed with? What did I experience and learn? Are all approaches to finding an answer.
Answering the question using one’s positioning is challenging as people will fear that it impacts their status with the other. But the fear of losing status is only a general description of their fear to disturb the relationship.
That’s when people find it safer to compare themselves with others.
Can they be happy if the other isn’t? Can they be frustrated if others push through? Can they not be well off if everyone is suffering?
But these are all questions they don’t have an answer to. They can only imagine them. Comparing themselves with others and aspiring to please them has made it complicated to find an answer.
In letting go of finding the answer in themselves people have lost touch with themselves.