Why Do We Say "I'm Fine," When We're Really Not?
How many times have you said the two words, "I'm Fine," when you really weren't? How many times have you put on a brave face, when deep down you felt anxious, scared, overwhelmed, and just... unhappy? And then, when given a second chance to speak up - "are you sure everything's okay?" - you forgo the opportunity to speak up, and instead respond with, "yes, everything is fine."
It can be challenging to open up, even with friends, family, and our closest coworkers. We somehow feel compelled to bottle our emotions, keep quiet, and remain engaged in more superficial topics. Is it that we feel we'll be a burden? Is stigma at play, in which someone will believe there is something "wrong" with us, that we're unable to handle the struggles that are a part of...life? What about self-stigma - labeling ourselves as weak, even "crazy," for expressing emotion or feeling a certain way?
While being honest about our thoughts and feelings with others can be challenging, I often find that individuals struggle with being honest with themselves. Many feel the need to brush off their mental aches and pains, and muster up their inner strength to convince themselves they're okay, they can get over it, and that...."I'm fine."
Unfortunately, it often isn't until several months or years later, when individuals realize they cannot cope on their own, that they are not okay, and ultimately come to the conclusion, sitting across from me on that comfortable, pillow-filled sofa, admitting, "I'm not fine."
The truth is, ignoring our painful emotions, especially those that we've been carrying around for quite some time, do not go away on their own. The more we avoid our struggles, our emotions, our fears, our worries - the more intense they become...all because we are nervous about speaking up.
Think about ignoring a sprained or broken leg. I wonder how long we could try convincing ourselves that we're fine, that it'll heal on its own. I wonder what it would be like to go about our daily lives, trying to ignore the pain and muddle through. We may not get very far; but, if that's the case, why do we force ourselves to muddle through emotional pain?
We often forget to realize that our minds can hurt, just like any other part of our body. This pain often affects us in ways no one else can visually see; but we see it. We feel it. Our minds require care, and not only at their very worst. Some of us may go to the medical doctor for a common cold, a routine physical, a back ache - without thinking twice. When I ask my clients what made them wait so long to come see me, I'm sometimes met with:
"I didn't think my problems were severe enough. I didn't want to waste your time."
My message is: If you sprain your ankle and have difficulty walking, you don't wait for your ankle to break before seeing a doctor. The same should apply with our mental health. We don't need to feel our very worst before seeking help - Why dig ourselves a deeper hole before climbing out? Know that if you are not operating at your very best, it is always okay to reach out. Your struggles are important. You are important.
DISCLAIMER: The blog posts shared on www.StacySmithCounseling.com contain the opinions of Stacy Smith, MS, LPC, and do not reflect the opinions of any organizations or affiliates. While Stacy is a licensed mental health professional, all blog posts on her site are for informational purposes only, and are never a substitute for professional advice catered to your individual needs. Stacy Smith is not liable for any diagnosis, treatment plans, or decisions made based on the information presented on this website. Furthermore, commenting on posts does not mean a treatment relationship has been established with Stacy Smith.