It is a phrase that is spoken perhaps more than a billion times per day; however we rarely stop to reflect on the true meaning of the question. “How are you” has become a conversation starter or polite greeting but we never expect to hear a truthful response. Sometimes we don’t even wait for the general one-word response before our minds are racing on to the next thing. There is no value placed on the state of another human being. Our communication has become screwed and in many ways this masked communication has prevented authenticity and honesty from existing in our relationships.
For a week straight, I responded as honest as possible when I was asked “How are you?” I even managed to explain my melancholy mood on an off day; however the responses I received were cliché and apathetic to say the least. I was met with indifference and awkward silence in response to how I was really feeling. Our responses have become automated so when we do give the raw, unfiltered truth, people do not know how to respond. We hide behind one-word answers like “Well” and “Fine” without getting to the root of what is really going on inside.
My attempt to broaden the communication between my companions and I had failed, but it takes small steps like this one to open the passageway to honest communication. We do not have to continue to engage in meaningless conversations. We can choose to be vulnerable and authentic with one another without fear of guilt, shame, or judgment. Honest communication has to occur in order for us to support and help one another. We will never know what we can do for someone else if we are not capable of breaking down the barriers of communication.
We must be willing to take the time to share in the experiences of one another. The next time you ask someone “How are you?” wait for their reply, listen attentively, and respond empathetically. Also give yourself permission to respond truthfully to how you are doing as well. You never know how you can be a blessing to someone else just by choosing truth in your interactions. In order to support and help one another we have to start engaging in meaningful, authentic, and honest conversations. It all starts with you. So, How are you?