How Are You? The Value of Checking in With Yourself
It seems like a straightforward question.
We ask it multiple times a day of people we know intimately, as well as people we hardly know at all. When we ask, how often are we really interested in the answer? When we answer, how often do we just offer a "fine" when in fact, this is not the case at all?
Perhaps most importantly, how often do we ask ourselves this question in the spirit of really wanting to know?
You might feel that you are too busy to stop and consider this question. I understand. You might not actually want to know the truth of your experience right now. I get that, and I realize it can be uncomfortable and perhaps even scary to find out what the answer to the question might be.
In spite of all this, I'm inviting you to check in with yourself and see what comes up when you ask, "how are you?" in earnest.
This month's Teaching Balance theme is cultivating self-awareness. To become more well-acquainted with your inner experience, you need to be willing to take an honest look. The beauty of doing this through the lens of mindfulness is that your introspection is supported by the nonjudgement and self-compassion you bring to it. Some of what you observe when you reflect on your experience may be joyful and worth celebrating, which is great. Once you've enjoyed these, see if you can then observe these positives dispassionately and let them go. This is similar to how mindfulness invites us to observe and then let go of the more challenging elements of our experience, when appropriate.
Some emotions, though, are deeper or stickier and need to be worked through.
Last week I sent the Teaching Balance Mindfulness Members a video practice specifically designed to help us turn toward and be present with these more difficult emotions, and I would like to offer a link to this video so you can see how it may be useful.
One point of clarification: When we "allow" these difficult emotions to be present and choose to simply observe them, it is NOT the same as feeding them and ruminating on the story behind the emotion. This is a way to see the emotions for what they are without perpetuating them.
Knowing that you can bring a mindful and kind disposition to the experience, consider doing a quick check-in to see how you are right now. Take five minutes (or more, if you'd like). Ask the question with sincerity and answer it the same way, and be aware that how you are today may be very different than tomorrow, and that's expected and okay.
The point is to allow yourself to know, and from that knowing, mindfully choose what you want to do -- allow and make space for the thoughts and emotions that require more processing, or let go of the thoughts and emotions that just aren't serving you in any productive way.