I haven’t really written much during the last two months, mostly because my life has been a little in turmoil – professional and personal. Feels like when things are in flux, I lose some of my creative energy and focus a lot on the things that are happening to/around me.
I still think, I still reflect, but I don’t have the energy to structure the thoughts in my mind and share them with the outside world. Even if the thoughts are shareworthy, my mind isn’t ready to share. But here I am, semi-forcing myself to put down some lines to jump-start the engine if you want.
Two things happened today that made me think.
One of my friends who knew that I have been going through stuff messaged me and asked: “how are you today?” What might look like a regular 4-word question to you, is actually the key to asking the question right. See the last word, “today?” That word makes all the difference.
When people go through difficult times and you want to check in with them, it’s easy to just ask: “hey, how are you?” or “how are things?” The intention is good, the execution isn’t. Think about it, it’s a ginormous question. Where would I even know to start answering that question without sounding superficial (I am fine/alright/good/great/fill_in_the_blank)?
However, if you ask more specific, for example by adding “today” to it, you make it SO much easier for me to respond. It’s much less intimidating. It’s much more specific, it’s much easier for me to tell you how I am doing in that day versus compared to the day before.
This advise isn’t new. You might have seen or heard it from Sheryl Sandberg who talks about it in her book. I liked it when I read it, I liked it even more when someone asked me that today.
Another friend today – we were catching up over the phone – asked me: “how is your mental health?” I truly had to pause for a second to digest the question. To the point that I asked him: “did you say how is my mental health?” To which he responded: “yes, we caught up about life, but now I want to know how you are doing up there in your mind.”
And I loved that question. Why? Because it was truly genuine, and it came from a place of caring as/for a friend – which is one of the most powerful feelings I have found to have in my life (friends who care for/about me). So we spent the following 10 minutes talking about how we are doing mentally, what are the demons we are fighting against, and what are things we are grateful about?
With that, I hope you leave this article with two pieces of advise. Be specific when you ask how someone is doing, and care enough to ask how they are doing mentally.
Also, I am doing better than the last few weeks, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing again :).