It’s so easy to believe what people want you to see, but more and more people I’m meeting on my personal journey are not actually feeling 'fine', not taking time for self care and not accepting of other’s inner world - even if they present a ‘rosy’ exterior...
I remember once losing my eyesight in one eye due to severe ongoing life stresses from losing my mother, job, house and confidence during an extremely challenging period of my life. I never forget meeting my friend one day and listening to her complaining, worrying and crying that her extended family were coming for dinner but there weren't enough chairs for the large dining table. Back then, about a decade ago, I was speechless as to her 'worries, anxiety and stress' that she was expressing but now after years of 'putting myself in others shoes' rather than judging and comparing people, situations and reactions which is the natural response of most, I am able, finally, to comprehend her pain. On paper, we were both experiencing suffering but for different problems, but the pain, anxiety and discomfort that we each feel can't be compared. So what's stopping you?Stopping you and others from expressing yourself with integrity? In a world increasingly emphasising the 'external' as a significator of a 'successful' life, many people feel compelled to respond to the question of 'how are you?' with an over-emphasised 'I'm fine thanks'. Of course, as a polite response to a stranger or new acquaintance, this is perfectly justifiable, but when people you know well or people who are facing life challenges offer this response, I do feel somewhat concerned for the inability to 'be sincere or open'. Sometimes we need to close up, as a way of just getting on with things and not having to react to every emotion that comes our way. No one needs to be a walking-talking bag of expressing all emotions felt! Closing up and letting things pass naturally over the course of time or consciously processing feelings from life are things I have learned from my personal journey, however presenting oneself as 'fine' when actually feeling terrible inside has become more and more common. From a sociological or psychological perspective, this way is considered to be more or less the norm in some cultures, whereby being too 'open' is thought to be a sign of weakness, ignorance or 'stupidity'. During my travels and observations I have noticed that in some places in the world more people offer an honest and open response - but almost a way of complaining and 'moaning' - offering life problems from the mundane to the most challenging whereas in other places I've had to really 'read' the signs of a person who tells me they are 'fine' but are suffering. We all suffer to different extents, that's for sure, but the difference between what one considers to be 'challenging life issues' are something that are becoming increasingly apparent. We are all experiencing our own reality and pains.I've seen so many people responding with 'I'm fine' out of fear that they are not going to be truly 'listened to' or 'heard' as so many people asking 'how are you?' are coming from a place of judgement rather than actual genuine concern. Being less judgemental of people is a vital part of both personal peace and social interactions. We are all coming from only what we know, from our own life perspective. People don't open up if they feel judged and then they are judged for not opening up and being 'fake'. I've learned that the richest most 'successful' people I've met in the world are suffering too - and a suffering that seems more cruel as the pains are things that money can't fix. Many poorer people I meet are in search of work, more money or something that money can provide the answer too - it's more tangible, yet we tend to offer a listening and less judgemental ear and hand to this section of society more.Be patient with people around you - this involves trying not to compare your perspective to what people around you are experiencing - it's all valid and causing discomfort - even if you think its not a reason to complain or be upset about. So many times I have heard people say: 'why is she complaining, she has everything!' - In these moments I feel also for the person judging and comparing, along with the person expressing their pains. It's so easy for one to lose patients with someone who appears to be upset for 'nothing', but this expectation that we put on others to face, react and manage life as WE do, simply prevents people from being sincere and willing to express themselves freely. Both 'judging' and 'comparing' others comes from a damaged ego, one could say. Our ego pushing us to expect others to be 'better', to live like us, to be 'perfect' - an innate behaviour to categorise people and their levels of pain according to our own perceptions and experiences. The real question being one of our own self-ego, inner and outer image that we hold for ourselves and the perception that others place on us, being the true block to how well others are able to respond openly and with integrity to the basic question of 'how are you?' Next time you ask the question, 'How are you?' instead of judging because of the lack of integrity the person is offering, simply ask yourself why they don't feel comfortable responding fully openly to YOU...
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