“I’d rather be honest and authentic and disappoint some people than to exhaust myself trying to keep up the façade of perfection.” ~Crystal Paine
In casual conversations, we are frequently asked, “How are you?” The most common response to this question is “I’m fine.” But what if you’re not “fine”? What do you say then?
I won’t lie: I drop the “F-bomb” every once in a while.
But it’s not the one you’re thinking of. I’m talking about the word “fine.”
Why is the word “fine” so awful, you might wonder? Well, this measly adjective is more than just that.
When that word is used in tangent with the contraction, you enter a new realm of danger, one that’s defined by passive-aggressive behaviour and emotional reluctance.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re defensive by nature or just a little closed off: You’ve probably used the classic phrase at least once.
Maybe it was to avoid a mushy emotional conversation, or maybe it was to see if your partner, friend or colleague could figure out the extent to which they screwed up on their own. Either way, dismissing your emotions to encompass this one little line can take its toll.
The words “I’m fine” can fester in your mind, building up little grievances until they all finally add up.
Apparently, it’s better to just tell people how you really feel than to give an offhand, polite response to a question like “How are you?”
Researchers found that when people masked their feelings—even if they were trying to avoid sharing negative emotions with others—they were perceived as unpleasant, distant, less extroverted, and less likeable. In other words, putting on a happy face and trying not to dump your bad mood on your partner, friends or coworkers might actually backfire. So don’t do this, What people would rather hear? The truth. Imagine that! So instead of just saying “I’m fine,” you might want to try “Eh, I’ve been better.”
“It’s been a rough day” and “Not my finest hour” would work too. It might take some getting used to, but it can improve relationships between you and those around you. It might help benefit your mood too: Researchers found that holding back negative feelings only made participants more upset, and those who did this reported less satisfaction with their social life and a tougher time getting close to others.