This blog is written by Mrinalini Ponappa Banerjea, a certified parent educator and mother of two teenagers
“Hi! How are you?”
This is a question we are most asked and we ask others in return. And, while it is a very intimate question, the answer is almost always an unthinking,”I am fine. Thank you. And how are you?” And so carries on the never ending cycle of a personal question followed by the cagey and socially “appropriate “answer. And, in this fast paced world of chasing time, it’s quite possible that no one really wants a five minute monologue answer to this question, when over decades, it’s been a polite way of greeting both close family and friends, to the people we are being introduces for the first time.
And, what if this is truly a question we can explore more. What if, this is a question that tells us more about what’s happening within, then how about turning it back to ourselves, and checking in with this, “How am I doing today? Emotions are dynamic and how I deal with a same situation, maybe different on another day. And here is the best part, we can think out an answer as long or short as we want, because if we want an answer to that, we need to be both brave and vulnerable.
So, when life is different today than what it was last year before the pandemic, if we asked ourselves this question, how am I feeling today? We might have felt different emotions coming up as we thought of our routines, work deadlines, school events of our children, relationships, health etc and in answers to those questions there could have been many emotions like relief, joy, overwhelmed, anguish, pain, disappointment etc. This way whatever is going on in us comes into our awareness because of this reflective practise. This simple question can help us to then engage with our reality with more consciousness. A simple example being, one may be overwhelmed at work, then, as a reflective practise to ask the question to self about how am I feeling today? after giving that a full thought and recognising that today because of work there is a feeling of overwhelm and there needs more organising required etc. This recognising of feelings and needs helps us to be proactive towards not only our day but also our relationships. Say then ,if our child wants something from us, as simple as loving attention ,we can speak to them about our busy day rather than take out our overwhelmed feeling towards work in the form of anger towards them.
Today, in these times, more than ever, we need to touch base with ourselves everyday with this question. Our reality, routines, concern for health, worry about job security and sense of personal space are all under stress. Where each one in the family had their own space in the form of work, school, hobbies etc, now don’t have these routes for self expression because everything has come to a standstill. And with these buffers gone, are now spending every moment of the day with in the walls of their homes. Many are alone in their homes and have no personal interaction with others. Everyone, world over, is coping with it in the best way they can, it could be hard for some and a bit easier for some others. This checking in with self is needed more than ever now. Being aware of what’s going on within us is probably the most effective coping strategy. Many feelings might come up and we may choose to think, write, connect with a friend, make some art work, cook a dish, speak to a professional, whatever is the best way we would like to go.
Tomorrow, when all this is behind us, our children will remember how we coped. They will also remember how we helped them cope. And when we know the depth and value of the question how am I feeling? We will ask others in the society,” Tell me, how are you today? “And we, along with our children, will sit there and listen to their answer in a word, a line or however long it takes to answer that question!