• Kay Johnston

If someone says they’re “fine” ask them again

How many people respond to the question … “How are you” with the reply …” oh, I’m fine”.

The word fine seems to cover a large scope of emotions and life experiences.

“Oh, I’m fine”. Could also mean ….

- I am grieving for a loved one and each day is a struggle

- I am so stressed at work that I come home and cry every night

- My college course is getting tough and I am falling behind

- I haven’t slept for the past week

- My husband walked out on me two weeks ago, I am devastated

- I have been feeling so angry about life I could hit someone

- I am being made redundant and my life has fallen apart

- I am worried I won’t have enough money to pay the mortgage

- I am so tired looking after my elderly relative

- My children are driving me bonkers

- I feel so lonely, I have no one to talk to

- I am in trouble at work and I don’t know what to do

- I feel so sad and empty

- I can’t afford that big car for my daughter’s prom

- I spend all my days up at the hospital visiting

- I can’t remember the last time I had a good laugh

- I keep think it might be easy if I wasn’t here

And very occasionally it means that your ok.

We all tend to use the word “fine” to hide how we are really feeling.

If you’ve been having a good time and are in a happy place, you tend to answer by giving lots of detail about all the great things you’ve been doing. You add the bells and whistles on to a conversation. You emit an energy and look positive.

But if you're "just fine" then there could be more to that comment that its seems.

It costs nothing to have a conversation with someone and it could make all the difference to that person. Instead of closing a conversation when the word fine is uttered, ask again and try and find out what they’ve really been up to and how they are feeling.

When someone says they are fine, take a good look at them and check that they are acting fine. Are they relaxed, smiley and full of energy? Or are they looking down, sad and drained.

Take the time to ask again, dig a little deeper. Invest in your conversations and listen to what’s being said. It can be awkward, but often people are just looking for someone who really will take the time to listen to them without judging.

We all go through tough times and knowing that people care and are there for you when you really need them can make all the difference. It could save a life.

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