from 'how are you?' to 'what do you need right now?'

earlier this week i listened to my first episode of conscious construction, an enneagram podcast by abi robbins. sidenote: last night, i found out my nibbling, emet, took one of abi’s classes when they lived back in texas! #theworldgetssmallereveryday

the episode was: conscious construction: enneagram type 2 (the helper) panel!

i have a few other insights to write up from that episode but this particular thought is worth its own post. something someone on the show said has inspired a new experiment for me.

the person (i need to relisten to figure out who it was) was talking about the question “how are you?” and how they often would just respond with silence or a deer in headlights reaction. all i could think at first was… #relatablecontent LOL.

but then i felt down a bit and had two thoughts:

  1. yes, sometimes that is what happens; i don’t know how i am and so i need time and space to think it through. if that’s what is happening in a given moment, i will just stop, tell the person i need a second, close my eyes, take a breath, and feel/think into how i am in that moment. it freaks some people out, but it’s what i need to do to respond to the question honestly.

  2. other times, i totally know how i am but i don’t want to spend time explaining my true feelings to someone who actually didn’t want to know the full answer or doesn’t have time to deal with the truth in that moment. “how are you?” is a socially conditioned question that is drawn from a meaningful place but our consumer capitalist white supremacist time and space structures don’t actually allow for handling well. if i actually were to tell someone how i was in a given moment, it would derail almost every meeting i’m in.

so basically my stance rn is that either i’m going to give you a real answer or i’m going to refuse the question.

but, back to the episode, one of my takeaways from one section of the conversation was that 2s are so attuned to the needs of others that we often don’t know our own needs. and that it can be serious work to just know what our own needs are given that we’ve learned to move through the world meeting other people’s needs.

then one of the guests said that their therapist used to ask them the question: “what do you need right now?” or, they’d slightly reframe it to ask “what would give you relief in this moment?”

and it totally blew my mind. that is a question to which i want to have the answer to readily, all the time.

so starting today, i think i am going to request that folks close to me (not everyone) instead of asking me “how are you?” ask “what do you need right now?” or “what would give you relief in this moment?”

of course, it isn’t everyone else’s responsibility to help me think through my needs, but (as a virgo moon and life coach) i know that part of how i work is building structures that support my well-being so i don’t have to rely on “effort” to be successful.

ps - thanks, camilo, for asking me “how are you?” this morning and prompting me to write this all up. also thanks to george for so kindly handling my rejection of this question last week when i hadn’t yet written this up, lol.

pps - i realize i also hate answering “how are you?” via written communications (email and text messaging mostly). so much of communication is non-verbal and even a technically accurate written answer is only a partial one.

words / writing / post-processing
610w / 20min / 10min