I work in many different school environments and I see a lot of interactions between people. In familiar places it is very common for people to greet each other on passing. One thing I have noticed about people in general, is that we tend to to say ‘How are you’ instead of ‘Hello’, when we actually mean ‘Hello’. And we say this even though we don’t necessarily want the run down on how someone is actually feeling in that moment.
For me, on the very first workday of this week, I woke feeling quite tired after a fairly restless night of disturbed sleep. I could absolutely feel how not having a quality sleep that provides a deep rest and rejuvenation for my body, puts me on the back foot for starting the day.
Mostly when people say ‘How are you?’, when I'm in shops, other general places or even walking past someone, I tend to just give them a very engaging ‘hello’ in response, as I can feel that this is what they are meaning. However, going into different schools, which I absolutely love, I can be met with a ‘Hello, how are you?’. Most of the time, in this situation I have found people to be wanting a bit more than a hello in return but at the same time not my complete in-depth listed criteria of how I actually am.
I have noticed that the ‘Hello, how are you?’ is the standard greeting that gets bantered around, just as the standard response is, ‘Good’, when clearly it isn’t always ‘good’. I mean how can life always be ‘good’? I often feel that people don’t want to say how they really feel. Perhaps this is because they feel they have to portray they are coping or perhaps they sense that others are not all that interested in their response. I also often feel that people don’t want to really hear how others honestly are. Maybe this is because it may feel uncomfortable and they may not know how to respond if the reply is about what is really going on, what the other is honestly feeling or if it’s a completely unpleasant reply.
This way of being is to a degree, a great big lie that we are all living. We are effectively keeping each other in this untrue way of communicating and expressing by pretending life is one way when it is in fact it is another.
How can we ever get to the point of supporting each other and releasing all that is untrue in life, if we cannot even be honest with ourselves and to each other?
On this day where I woke feeling tired, I chose to get myself ready with the same level of space, time, dedication and care, as best I could, while also looking forward to returning to my bed for an early night that evening. I let myself be honest with where my body was at and moved it in an honouring way that acknowledged the tiredness. This was a great support for my body. I did not want to fall into a false drive and override the tiredness. So, as I drove to work, I drove presently as I always did; as I walked, I walked at a pace my body was calling for, remaining presence with my steps and posture, and so on.
When I got to the school I was working at that day, I was then greeted in the usual way - I did not reply with, ‘good’ or ‘great’ or ‘amazing’ but with, ‘I’m actually feeling quite tired today’. Then when I could feel that it was not what the other was expecting and that they didn’t really know what to say next, I followed this up with a, ‘How are you?’
The amazing thing about this very tired day of mine was that at least eight people said, ‘Hello’ and asked me ‘How are you?’ Of these eight, five after I asked them how they were, replied with, ‘Me too, I’m tired today too’. The other three replied with the standard ‘Good’, with a feeling of, quick I don’t have time for anything else. For a few of the five, who didn’t rush off, I was able to ask them what made them tired while some just even came out and said it in their first reply. I found this to be amazing!
This experience got me thinking and feeling about the lived lie we have weaved for ourselves of how we are not open and honest with each other and the effects of this on our whole world status. And . . . it also presented me with the fact that if one person is willing to be open and honest then it has a ripple effect and gives an unwritten permission for others to do the same.
I know that if I had on that day just said, ‘Good’ then that is exactly what I would have received back, ‘Good’. And this would have kept the world in ‘everyone is good’ but it is not everyone being ‘true’.
People might not be at the stage of taking the conversation further by asking, ‘Oh really, why are you tired? or ‘What happened yesterday to make you tired?’ or to go even deeper by asking, ‘How were you with yourself yesterday that caused you to be tired today?’ One step at a time – each honest step supports the next.
I will continue to take this learning, this understanding and this responsibility of replying with absolute honesty when asked ‘How are you?’. I can feel this is one true step to breaking down the protection, the politeness and the facade that we can play with each other, by thinking we have to be a certain way or that we to have to have it all together all of the time.
We should be able to just be ourselves all day long, no false roles, ways of being or living by ideals and beliefs that do not support us to be all of who we truly are. We don’t need to play the ‘everything is fine’ at work and then open up at home. Living our lives in sections is not supportive of our whole being. If we brought all of us honestly and openly to all of life, every part of it, then the world would receive our greatness.
The more real, honest and open we are supports others to also be this – which I’m sure is the world we all want for our next generations.
By Johanna Smith, Bachelor of Education (Major Special Needs, Minor Psychology), Graduate Certificate of Early Childhood, Studying Diploma of Counseling, Esoteric Complementary Health Practitioner, Woman, Teacher, Mother, Wife and Friend