How Are You?

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I don’t ask this to be polite. This is not one of these corporate messages that goes something like: “Are you fine? You are. Ok, wonderful. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get down to business and talk about what I want from you.”

Truth is…

You’ve placed some small bit of trust in us by subscribing to our blog. I’m grateful you’re here. And I do want to know how you’re doing.

So how are things? What are you excited about? What’s beautiful in your life these days? What are you struggling with?

Comment below and let me know. If I can be of service, I’m happy to do so. I don’t pretend to be any kind of expert here. But I can at least pass on wisdom from my own experience. Or share a helpful resource. Or simply offer, “That’s hard. I’m sorry you’re going through that.” (Sometimes that’s all there is to say.)

But even if you don’t comment…

Take a moment to check in with yourself.

Really, how are you?

It’s rather easy to neglect this question.

Sometimes we just get busy. We have people to see, work to do, goals to chase, books to read, movies to watch, and so on. There’s no shame in that, by the way. These activities are often good and worthwhile. And not to mention, a lot of our “busyness” helps pay the bills, feed our families, or otherwise keep us alive.

Along the way though, we can lose sight of what’s happening inside. We forget to pause every now and then to notice how we’re feeling.

Of course…

Sometimes we stop asking this question because we don’t want to know the real answer. Or rather, we know the real answer, and we don’t want to hear it.

We’re worn down from the constant barrage of, “No, things are not ok.” And shutting down our emotions lets us function at least semi-normally. Deep down, we know the moment we stop… the second we let ourselves be still and silent… we’re going to have to face what we’re actually feeling. And it could overwhelm us.

Again, there is no shame in this

I know there’s an argument to be made for being strong and taking ownership over our lives. There’s truth in that. But at the same time, life can get really hard and painful. The monsters in our lives can truly exceed our capacity to deal with them.

Maybe this softness is a reaction to seeing the suffering many people all around the world have gone through recently (and are still going through). Or maybe it’s a nod of empathy to what I went through in the late 2019.

The full story of what happened is for another time. And I’m still working through a lot of it to be honest. But the short version is my health struggles took a hard toll on me. And things were dark for a number of months. I lost the ability (and willingness) to ask myself the question, “How are you?”

That, in essence, is why I stopped writing here at The Cave.

If I’m going to write honestly to you, I have to first be honest with myself. And it’s been a journey to get back to a point where I can do that.

Along the way, there’s one lesson that I keep relearning over and over and over again.

Connecting with how you’re really feeling isn’t just a tool for managing hard emotions or overcoming adversity. Being aware of how you’re doing plays another role:

This simple practice connects you to what is good and beautiful in your life

Please don’t assume this to be about “looking for the silver-lining” or “just being positive”. When life is difficult, and someone offers you those phrases… it makes you want to slap them. (At least, that tends to be my reaction.)

However, when you’re able to take stock of everything in your life – be it painful, beautiful, pleasant, or difficult – something strange may happen…

Without doing anything at all…

Without anything changing in your overall situation…

You might just start feeling good for no apparent reason.

And there really is no logical reason for it. Although I can easily argue for feeling grateful… I can make an equally strong case for being miserable. (I am, for example, still dealing with many of the same circumstances that caused me to suffer a year ago.)

Yet here I am.

As I’ve reconnected to my life again over this past year, I’ve reached a point where (as odd as it feels to say this)…

I’m actually doing… good.

This work is all easier said than done. It’s been a process even to reach where I am now. And it’s something I’m constantly having to relearn. There’s no question that this post is a reminder to myself too.

However, you can build up this ability over time. And best of all, there is no minimum effective dose. Even a tiny bit of self-awareness can be helpful.

So pause for a brief moment. Tune in to how you’re feeling. And ask yourself one simple question…

How are you?

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