You snoozed your alarm and now you are 30 minutes late for work. You’re rushing around, trying to pull yourself together, and beginning your day off to a rough start. In your whirlwind of trying to grab a bite of breakfast before heading out, an argument sparks with your partner who should have stopped at the store yesterday to get those yummy granola bars you like, but did not. You leave the house stressed out, annoyed, and hungry, but you need to get on the road. As expected, your late start put you at the peak time for traffic and people are driving more erratic than usual. When you finally arrive at work, you realize the project proposal you have worked tirelessly on for the last month was left at home and is supposed to be presented this afternoon. You flop down into your chair in your office and let out a sigh, completely drained and frustrated from the morning’s events. Your coworker comes in and notices something is off so they ask a dreaded question: How are you?
You counter their three-worded question with a two-worded answer: I’m fine.
But what does the phrase “I’m fine” mean? According to the dictionary, fine is defined as, “good enough, but not excellent.” Would you say that this is an accurate description of how your day started?
Are you fine?
The underlying message of I’m fine is “I don’t want to talk about all the things that happened this morning because I’m exhausted, I’m frustrated, I’m pissed off, and I’m annoyed. I don’t want to talk to you right now. I’ll deal with it on my own so I’m just going to say I’m fine because I know it will end the conversation and we can move on.”
Is telling someone I’m fine really helping you? Do you feel a sense of calm or relief when you use it? Do your frustrations dissipate?
Perhaps there will be a little break from not having to rehash the events, but a short conversation about the emotions you were feeling could relieve it even more. Keeping our emotions bottled up or suppressed is a major influence on our mental wellbeing. While it brings us short-term relief from our negative feelings, it adds fuel to the fire of our deeper rooted emotions, which causes us to lash out or have large emotional outbursts.
So what can you do?
Communicate your needs and feelings!
Going back to our scenario, simply communicating, “I have had a rough morning and will talk to you later, but I would like to decompress first,” can help your emotional wellbeing. That statement not only allows you to set boundaries with your coworker, but you are also able to acknowledge your feelings instead of avoiding them. Acknowledging our emotions is the first step in processing them!
The next time you feel the urge to respond with I’m fine, think of what you are avoiding by saying it. Are you suppressing your emotions? Are you tired and not in a particularly chatty mood? Are you attempting to lie to yourself in hopes that the feelings will go away?
Unless you are truly “good enough, but not excellent,” using I’m fine is doing more harm than good. If you would like to speak with someone about healthy coping mechanisms for overwhelming emotions, give Tx Harmony Counseling a call at (832) 352-1600 or contact us here.