When people ask me how I am doing, I will sometimes answer honestly and say, “I’m not doing well at all,” and for most people, that’s not the answer they want to hear. They want to hear that everything is hunky-dory. So their response is often, “Well, you look great.” That’s not very helpful, and sometimes it’s hurtful because it feels like they are trying to negate what I just said about feeling terrible. It also feels disingenuous to me on a very basic level: I’ve also gained almost 100 pounds due to my illness, and that doesn’t ever look or feel good to me. The “you look great” response feels like a platitude.
The better answer when someone says they aren’t feeling well is to acknowledge their pain. It’s best to reply to them, “I’m sorry you’re not feeling well. Is there anything I can do to help you out? I’m happy to listen (or run errands or whatever you can do).” If you’re not prepared to respond in a compassionate way, then it’s really best you not even ask the question of how someone is doing.
© 2014 Green Heart Guidance