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Taking off the "I'm Fine" mask

Posted by R S on


(Featured blog from the Brightside Bear.)

I think the cultural norm of asking people how they are and replying in a simple and polite way has slipped into my close relationships. My mind replies to everyone in the polite, simple way that is masking my true feelings.

Now, I am not saying to tell the nice barista your life story when she is asking your order during the morning rush. There are times when people are in fact just asking how you are doing to be polite and for casual small talk because it has become a social norm. But your support system and loved ones do care how you are doing when they ask!

Why Stop

When our loved ones are asking us how we are, they do so because they really do care. They are not exchanging simple small talk- they care about you and want to be there for you! Think about it like this- wouldn’t you want to know if your loved one was not fine?  By saying you are fine when you are not, you are building a wall of isolation around you. Your loved ones are unable to be there for you because you are not letting them. So, how do we tear down the “I’m fine” wall that is keeping us from receiving help and support?  Keep reading to see how I am breaking down this wall!

How to Stop

1 | Reflect

Why do I say I am fine when I am not? Why do I have this reaction to put on a mask? Take some time to think of yourself in your “I’m fine” mindset. Why are you keeping the mask on? I decided to journal about this to help clarify my thoughts- highly recommend! 

After my reflection, here are five of the reasons of why I respond with “I’m fine” that I think are probably common ones.

  • I feel like a burden
  • I am trying to be strong but do not feel strong at all
  • Easier than explaining these emotions
  • I feel like I should not feel the way I do
  • I feel guilty

Your reasons might be similar or completely different. The important reason is to reflect on why you are putting this mask on for your loved ones. 

2 | Reach Out

It is so hard to ask for help! It does not help when you are telling others you are fine when you are not- creating more isolation. When I was in a better mental state, I told my support system about my automatic response. I told them how I heard the words leave my mouth, but they seemed out of my control. I told my support about my reflection and why I might have this response now. Yes, this was a hard conversation to have. But, it was necessary! Your support needs to know when you need them in order to help and support you.

I kept reminding myself if the roles were reversed I would want a loved one to reach out me. Help them help you.

3 | Develop a Plan

Time for more reflection! What is it that you really need when you tell someone you’re fine? Do you need a listening ear? A positive distraction? A big (Brightside) bear hug? Maybe it varies, is a combination of all three, or something completely different. That is more than okay.

To begin, I told my support that I need them to be persistent in asking me what is wrong, to the point of nagging me. I needed help breaking my automatic response. Then we brainstormed some other ways to open up in these situations. For instance, instead of asking “How are you? asking, “What emotions are you feeling right now?” allows for a different mindset.

Talk to your support about what could help you open up or help you feel better in these situations and develop a plan.

4 | Practice Speaking Up

What is going on in your life? How are you really feeling? Becoming more honest and aware of your emotions in general will help you from putting on your fine mask. It can be scary talking about our emotions and what is going on. I am a big fan of writing about your feelings to help you process what is happening. Many times I have journaled about something and then talked to someone about the same issue. Another option is to set aside time with your support for regular check-ins. This could be anything from a weekly dinner together to a daily chat. I am forever grateful that I live with my support. We have made it a habit – even on our habit trackers – to go on a walk together daily. On our walks we leave our phones behind and just talk about our days, checking in with one another.

Not Fine

It is okay to not be okay in life, just remember that everything is temporary. You might need help changing perspective or bringing more gratitude into your life. Be sure to keep up with your self-care! Seemingly simple things such as staying hydrated and having a clean space help us more than we realize! Of course be sure to show appreciation to your support too!

Do you find yourself telling your support that you are fine when you are not? Please comment below and tell me what you think of my tips and if you have any tips to add! If you know someone who could benefit from this article, please show you care and share the bear! Be sure to sign up for my emails and follow on social media to get the most of the positive world of Brightside Bear!

Written with love for you, 
Brightside Bear  

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