How Are You Really Feeling?
When asked by friends, family, colleagues, or professionals the question ‘How are you?’, we often find ourselves automatically responding with lines such as, ‘fine’, ‘okay’, or ‘keeping busy’.
It’s a common conversation starter for many yet the question seldom explores any further than ‘I’m good thanks, you?’ But what if you could answer that question transparently without fear of judgement from the person asking? What if that trusted person was the same one reading this article right now – you. This may seem a little odd at first, after all, you would like to think that you know yourself better than anyone. But it is possible that we have become so used to not saying how we feel that we even give ourselves an automatic answer.
Before you can really discover how you are feeling and what is going on for you, it’s advisable to spend quality time with yourself. Ideally, it’s good if your immediate environment is quiet, but if this isn’t possible, make it a place where you have a good degree of privacy and no-one else can disturb you. At this point you might feel slightly silly but try and sit with it. You may be thinking, ‘Here I am, sitting by myself, about to ask myself how I’m doing – I must be mad.’ A response like this is to be expected when you are trying something you’ve never done before.
You can ask yourself, ‘How are you?’, either by voicing it out loud or by saying the words in your head. Alternatively, you may prefer to write the words down and look at them. The idea to keep in mind is consciously asking yourself the question as if being asked by someone else. Avoid rushing to answer the question, let the question move through you and notice how it feels and where you feel it in your body.
Not all ways of communicating how we feel are verbal and not all answers take the form of words. A response may come to you in the form of words, pictures, colours, sensations, or a change in posture. Various feelings may float to the surface and some of those feelings might surprise you or feel slightly uncomfortable. If it’s helpful, keep a notebook close by to write things down, draw anything that comes to mind or even use the pages to scribble or doodle. Remember that this is an opportunity for you and doesn’t have to be shown to anyone else.
You may find that how and what you express changes as you sit with your answer. It might be that you have more to say than you first thought, or all you needed was a couple of seconds to put into words how you’re feeling before continuing with your day. Sometimes allowing thoughts and feelings to rise can become overwhelming. If this is the case, don’t try to push on but do resolve to contact someone, either a good friend or counsellor for example, who can guide and support you. It can be reflected positively that those feelings were able to arise when given the space, but there are times when seeking professional help is advised rather than trying to tackle difficult emotions on your own.
This simple technique is perfect for those times when you need to tune into yourself and how you’re feeling. Allowing yourself to acknowledge where you’re at and responding in a way that works best for you is a valuable way to honour your feelings and recognise their importance to you. It can provide you with a necessary breathing space during the day to gather your thoughts, reflect and let them settle. It can also make it easier to express and share them with those who are able to listen because you have already started to recognise and articulate them. Taking the time to listen to your inner self is something that can become an everyday practice given time. Be as good of a listener you are to others, to yourself. Show yourself you care by taking time to tune into how you feel. The next time you ask yourself, ‘How are you?’, don’t be surprised if the response is more than just ‘Okay’!
Tune into How You Feel
∙ Ask yourself ‘How are you?’ either out loud or in your head
∙ Let the question resonate and try not to rush to answer
∙ Respond in a way that best suits you, whether that’s in words, pictures or writing for example
∙ Make it a regular habit to ask yourself how you’re feeling and consider keeping a note of your responses to refer back to
Hilary de Vries is a Reiki Master Practitioner, UKRF member and composer/musician near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands.