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Being Honest Does Not Necessarily Mean You are Negative

It is okay, to be honest.  

It is okay, to be honest, but it is not okay, to be honest and unwilling to look for a way to move forward. While it is true that the more positive we are, the more our life will reflect positivity, the more dishonest we are with ourselves or others when things are not okay, the more disservice we will end up doing long term. We don’t drown because we fall into the water; we drown because we stay there. When we choose not to acknowledge what is happening, we don’t allow ourselves the opportunity to be available for insight, resources, kindness, and opportunities for growth. 

Today I vow to stop trying to be “Fine” and instead to start being REAL. It takes courage to say exactly how you feel before you are forced to do it. (Coach Pam)

Don’t Always Ignore the Pain.

A friend of mine posted Coach Pam’s quote the other day in regards to a running injury. She said she has learned to be mentally strong as a runner, and push herself through physically challenging runs and mentally challenging activities. While she acknowledged that it is a great asset, she said that, on the other hand, it makes her ignore pain. Recently, she decided that it was time to admit that she was going through knee issues again and is in pain. Her perspective was that she needed to get real with herself and respond to her needs. 

Too Many Times we use the words “Good” and “Fine.”

As I thought about what was going on with my friend, I thought about how many times I have said that I am fine when I might not have been. What seems to be more commonly used with colleagues, friends, and students- is “Good”. The adjective “good” or “fine” can be blurted out faster than someone is even to hear or process what has been said. Many times, I have found them to be the “polite or keep moving” words. The words that offer external respect but do not provide an opportunity to see another person. 

Take the Time to Label the Thought

The words “Good” and “Fine” are vague. Rather than using “Fine or Good” to describe everything from disappointment, frustration, peace, and relaxation, there are better ways of labeling feelings. Of course, with honesty, and having the courage to name what we are experiencing authentically, there might be a conversation where we are left unprepared.

Better Than I Deserve

I love how financial enthusiast and radio show host Dave Ramsey answers the “How are you?” question. Listeners know that he will always respond with a phrase that includes, “Better than I deserve”. I like the idea of finding a way to put together a response that shares how I feel with a positive spin on it. As I consider coming up with a new way of telling people how I am, I need to prepare a response ahead of time. Dave is intentional about making sure that people understand what is important to him and the message he wants to convey to others. 

What if  rather than saying, “Good or fine,”I chose something like one of the following to attach to my answer?

What about saying one of the following responses when someone asks how we are?

-I am blessed.   

-I am tired but I know that means I will sleep well tonight. 

-My back hurts but, I have a few ideas on managing the pain. 

-I am curious about how this week will unfold.

-My morning coffee was amazing.

-It was a tough morning getting out of the house, but the day continues to improve. 

-I am excited to see progress with the essays I am grading. 

-My football team won, and that made my weekend. 

-I started watching a great show on NetFlix over the weekend.

-My last hour went well, and I am excited about that. 

-First hour was challenging, but I have a good feeling about my lesson next hour. 

-I am not sure what February will bring, but I am excited to see snow. 

-I am overwhelmed but I believe it will get better. 

-I love what I am teaching today. 

-My classroom/ car was so warm today that it made me so happy! 

-I laughed a lot during the second hour today. 

Ask Questions that Dig Deeper

One of the best gifts we can give ourselves, and others is dig a little deeper and ask questions that require answers beyond the typical “fine or good.” As a society, we have conditioned each other to ask and answer questions in the quickest way possible. As we pass a colleague in the hallway, it is sometimes tough to break into a conversation that offers a longer response. Instead of saying, “How are you?” often to be followed up by the response “Good”, what if we offer a positive phrase and or ask a question that requires a different response. 

While it is true that time is a big reason we ask questions that only offer quick responses, there are moments that allow for getting to know people better.  For example, in the lounge, minutes by the copy machine, a stop in the office, or an opportunity to walk back to the classroom are naturally built into the week.  The same types of conversation can be modified and applied as we take time to get to know our students. 

Here are a few questions that are much better than the standard, “How are you”? 

-What did your students talk most about last hour? 

-Did anything surprise you today?

-What is one word you would use to describe today?

-What has gone well today? 

-How is today different from yesterday?

-How would you rate your breakfast/ lunch on a scale of 1-10?

-What are you looking forward to after work? 

-Tell me about your kids.

-Tell me about your pets. 

-Tell me about your weekend. 

Speak and Think Beyond Fine and Good

Look for opportunities to answer and ask questions that dig deeper. Don’t settle for telling people you are fine. You don’t have to share everything going on, but to see growth in conversation and relationships, it is important to begin diving deeper and asking questions that require someone to pause and reflect. Honesty is a virtue, and it is an incredible opportunity to be trusted by someone to hear how he or she is doing. When we are honest, we open ourselves to insight, resources, kind words, and make growth possible. It is okay not to be okay and in the middle of something messy. However, it is about finding something or someone to help us get up and keep moving forward. When we are honest, there is no shortage of people and resources who will remind us that anything is possible and the best is yet to come. 

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