I often tell my clients that the million-dollar question I am going to ask them every week is as simple as, “How are you?” These 3 little words pack a lot of punch when you allow them to be answered honestly and with vulnerability. The answers give us the doorway to your heart and the catalyst for the thesis statement on your life. The privilege I have as a therapist is that when I ask them, I really genuinely want to know the answer. Prayerfully, the bonus for my client is that someone wants to take the time to listen.
You might be surprised to know that 9 times out of 10 it takes the clients a while to formulate their answer. They usually take a deep breath, repeat the question to themselves (as if they are waiting for the answer to come to them because they can’t articulate how they really are) and then begin to answer. Why? Because so often in today’s fast paced, text and twitter only communication we take for granted the power this simple question can have. We are so overwhelmed with our to-do list, the needs and concerns of others and the countless demands that life throws at us we don’t really know how we are. It takes us a minute to figure it out.
What about you? How are YOU?
You might be thinking to yourself that is ridiculous and I don’t know what I’m talking about but I dare you to give it a try. When you ask yourself the question, “How am I?” can you challenge yourself to give more than a one-word answer? I am going to guess that you are tempted to answer with your physical state first. “I’m tired” being the top vote. Beyond that, “I’m fine” being the next most frequent answer. What’s the point in all of this? The point is that you don’t have to be in therapy to have someone ask you how you are whenever you need it. Jesus does it for us all throughout his word and therapy session or not, it feels great to have someone genuinely ask us how we are. I want to challenge you to take him up on his offer to “come to him all who are weary and heavy laden” (Matthew 11:28) it might do you some good to tell him how you are. He really wants to know.
Are you at a loss for where to begin? Start with this:
Identify your feelings (helpful categories are mad, sad, glad, afraid, confused, ashamed, and lonely. Try to expand on these as you identify.)
Isolate your circumstances (so you aren’t tempted to generalize to your entire life. Ex. I’m so lonely, I don’t have ANY friends vs. I’m so lonely, My friends aren’t initiating to me so I feel left out.)
Institute a plan to help you through your trials (call someone you can trust to help you through a hard season, select a scripture verse to pray over, take time to journal, change what circumstances you can to help make the situation better.)
Life moves pretty quickly these days and we all need reminders to slow down and be in the moment. With these three steps you might find yourself more inclined to practice this slowing down. And for those of us already asking others how they are, let’s prepare ourselves for more than just the standard answer; after all, it’s what we would ultimately want ourselves.