Anxiety · Complaints

That damn question.

It is always the same, but asked in different ways.

~ How are you? ~ How’s it going? ~ How do you do? ~ How’s your day? ~

Why do people ask questions like this? The majority of the time they don’t care or want an honest answer. Most people are just asking to be polite. Frequently these questions are posed by acquaintances or strangers. (sales clerk, receptionist, hostess, server, etc.) The rate at which we are presented with this question has desensitized us to it. It is almost as if we do not process that it is an actual question. This has created an automated response of ~ Good ~ Fine ~ or something similar.

On days that we are feeling something other than good or fine, which quite frankly is most of the time for me, our response stays the same. We have been programmed and trained through repetition not to question or think about our answer the majority of the time. Yes, there are times we may give it thought and offer a more candid response with people we are closer with. However, not always because that can open a can of worms.  Here are a few scenarios and the things that come to mind…

  • A stranger or acquaintance asks you, “How are you doing today?”
    • You are having an AMAZING day.
      • If you say good it is what is expected and life goes on.
      • If you say amazing it can be perceived poorly because
        • they are at work, you are not
        • they feel like they should ask why
        • they don’t really care, blah blah blah
    • You are having a TERRIBLE day.
      • If you say good it is what is expected and life goes on.
      • If you say terrible it can be really uncomfortable because their response is “Oh, I’m sorry” followed by awkward silence.
        • This is because they didn’t care about the answer in the first place, but now that they know you are having a bad day they feel like they should at least pretend to care or ask why or something so they don’t look like an ass. If they decide to ask why or what’s going on,
          • Are you going to tell them?
          • Do you have time to tell them?
          • If you tell them are you being rude to others? (ie. holding up the checkout line)
        • Maybe you don’t really have anyone to talk to about it, so you disclose and over share and make this poor stranger feel uncomfortable and trapped because they ‘should’ be polite. Is that fair just so you can vent or talk through an issue???


  • A family member or friend asks you, “”How are you doing?”
    • You are AWESOME
      • If you say good it is what is expected and life goes on.
      • If you know their life sucks right now you don’t want to say awesome because that is rubbing it in (even if it unintentional).
        • Plus you are closer than an acquaintance so you know you should say why you are so fantastic. This will probably make them feel bad on some level.
        • Or they feel obligated to ask why and happy for you when they are struggling between their happiness for you and frustration in their life or jealousy.
      • If you know their life is going great it can come across like you are trying to outdo or one-up them. By saying you are awesome and why it can lead to the feeling of them wanting to share what is great with them.
    • You are AWFUL
      • If you say good it is what is expected and life goes on.
      • If you know they are having a rough go lately you don’t want to say awful and make it seem like a pissing match.
      • If you have been having a difficult time lately and have already talked to them about something negative recently you don’t want to seem like a Debbie Downer who does nothing but gripe and moan.
      • If you really are awful maybe you just want to pretend that you are ‘fine’ so you can forget for a bit and allow yourself to be distracted even though you aren’t being honest with them. (dilemmas)
      • If you are awful, but really can’t discuss why with them for whatever reason. This makes it awkward because they will want to sympathize or empathize with you and hear about what is going on, but then you say “I can’t talk about it.” This could make them ask why or wonder why you mentioned it if you weren’t going to explain.

Anyways, these are the things I think about. Long thoughts and ramblings about things that probably don’t matter.

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