Are You Sure You're Okay? Why We Lie About How We're Doing

How are you? Everything good with you? We get asked these same questions multiple times a day, every day. How many times do you average a day? Five? Maybe 10 a day? What this means, I hope you realize, is that every person tells a minimum of five to 10 lies per day, because the truth is, pretty much nobody answers these simplest of questions truthfully.

The reason we get away with it is because saying “I’m fine” or “everything’s good” is a very vague reply. What exactly is "good"? No one is perfectly good, but we will say we’re good because we don’t feel completely awful. Some things are good. Other things in our lives aren’t so great. When was the last time you were entirely and completely fine? We’re usually somewhat fine, but more often than not, there is something weighing on our minds or bothering us. Although we are occasionally fine and everything is good, generally it’s not. Nevertheless, we claim that it is all the time.

Of course, most people ask how you’re doing out of courtesy. In honest truth, they couldn’t really care less about all of your little disappointments and problems. If there were something bigger that was wrong, then they might feign interest, but when people ask you how you are doing, they’re not really looking for a story. They’re basically saying hello.

Most people won’t even stop walking past you while they ask you how you’re doing, clearly not planning to stop and have a conversation. But there really isn’t much more you can expect from acquaintances. We don’t really want to know too much about the lives of most of the people we say hello to. We just want to say hello and then be on with our days. However, because we’ve become so used to lying about how we feel and how we are really doing, we do so when our close friends and family ask us about our lives.

Sure, some people don’t have this problem and love to spill all their emotions all over whomever will listen, but the majority of people do have trouble properly communicating their emotions. We do it so seldom that when we finally get a chance to talk to someone about how crappy everything has been as of late, we aren’t sure how to approach the conversation.

More than that, because we are so used to people not caring about how we are actually doing, we’re afraid that even our closest friends would prefer not hearing about our problems. Even worse is that some of our friends don’t want to hear about our problems. We’ve been raised in a culture in which personal problems are supposed to remain personal problems. We don’t share; we keep our mouths shut and swallow the pain.

The funniest thing is that some of the most popular TV shows -- all those dumb reality shows -- are as popular as they are because none of the characters keep their feelings and emotions to themselves. Everyone on the shows is always over-the-top emotional and very open to sharing exactly what they are thinking at any given time.

People love these shows because they find them entertaining, a sharp change from their usual, mundane, closed lives. We don’t want to hear about people’s troubles in real life, but boy do we eat it up when it’s on a television set. Why not just do yourself and your friends a favor and actually listen to all the crap that has been coming their way? Whatever they have to say is likely to be just as interesting as whatever housewives of whatever-town have going on. Plus, you’ll feel better.

Hearing about other people’s problems may make us feel a bit better about ourselves, but that isn’t always the case. What’s more important is that by hearing out all the things other people are going through in their lives, we’ll be better prepared for when we experience something similar. Imagine getting a crash course on how it feels to get dumped, on how to deal with it and how not to deal with it.

Or seeing firsthand how difficult it is to lose a loved one. You’re basically preparing yourself for your future. Everyone basically goes through the same problems in life. They may be packaged a little differently, but at the core, all sh*tty problems are the same sh*tty problems.

I wish my closest friends would be a bit more willing to open up to me. For one, I wouldn’t feel so weird wanting to share my life with them. Also, I would love to give them the support they need, because whether or not they want to admit it, they need it. We all need support. Sure, we could survive without it, but why struggle when you don’t have to?

Friends are meant to be there for each other and back each other up when things get tough. Having a shoulder to lean on can be a life saver. Being that shoulder to lean on is what you should be doing as a friend.

However, if you keep lying about how you’re doing and how you’re feeling, and your friends do the same, then you’ll be depriving yourself of a very useful support system. We would all be better off if we shared a bit more, cared a bit more and judged a bit less. It takes no effort to do… but we have to actually do it.

Photo credit: Corallorosso