She recently gave a Tedx Talk titled “Lessons from the Mental Hospital.” It was inspirational, funny, and real. What I loved most about it was her super accurate description of how we all answer the question – “How are you?”
Without fail – we all say (and have been taught to say since the beginning of our days) “Fine! How are you?”
Even if we’re not fine, we say it anyway. Why is that?? Isn’t that ridiculous?
She says it’s because we’re all afraid of telling the truth about how we are, what we’re feeling and admitting that maybe we’re not really 100% OK. I would add that our culture – particularly the environment that I grew up in – admonishes any inclination toward truth-telling when it comes to feelings and emotions. I remember being taught from a very early age that “it’s nobody’s business” and to “put on a show” and the most repulsive and humiliating of all “no one needs to see our dirty laundry.”
Talk about shaming.
OK, that said, I’m all for truth-telling, but I’m not for pity parties and people dishing about every last problem and bit of minutiae they’re dealing with. However, when we put on the super-hero cape (her analogy) to protect ourselves from judgment, guilt, shame, etc., we lose a bit of ourselves. We kid ourselves. And we sink deeper into the illusion that we’re OK, when really? We’re not.
Her bottom line is that it’s braver to be Clark Kent than Superman. It’s braver to be real and authentic and a truth-teller, than someone who has to mask true feelings.
I love her message. Part of me is sad that it’s taken me so many years to be OK with this, but it makes me feel good to know that I no longer worry what other people think of me and my story.