Thank You to Daniel B. Pearson, III M.D. of Oak Cliff Lodge No. 705 who wrote this article April, 3, 2020.
What do we really mean when we ask each other: “How are you doing?”
I think often when we say that, it is at least acknowledging another person’s existence. When we say that to the stranger on the street or in the hallway, we show that we are not so self-absorbed that we just ignore everyone, but at the same time, we generally are saying it as a currency of social exchange.
In other words, when we ask “How are you doing?”, we usually aren’t really asking “How are YOU doing?”, I mean really asking the other person how that person is doing; physically, emotionally and spiritually.
The problem with asking how a person is REALLY doing, is that you might actually be in for a long conversation. (And who has time for a REAL or a LONG conversation.)
Well if there were ever a time for us to be asking this real question, it probably is NOW.
With so many changes in routine, changes in work situations, with many not being able to work at all, being held “captive” at home, I think there are so many potential stresses on most people that it is almost inevitable that those stresses show up as cracks in what many believed were solid parts of their lives. Those same parts that make up each of us: our physical, emotional and spiritual parts.
We are each so different as to how those parts got to be the way they are- that is what makes us each so unique and individual. But at the same time, we all have those same parts, and in many ways, are very much alike.
In that way, all three of those parts go together to make each of us who we are. There are many factors that influence that final sum.
The PHYSICAL PART is greatly influenced by the genetics that go in to us, and then on top of that, the environmental factors that can affect that part: nutrition, physical activity, and even the bad things that can happen, illnesses, injuries or congenital abnormalities.
The EMOTIONAL part is the part that is our SELF, that part that guides our view of our selves and others and guides our relationship with our self and with other people on an emotional level. Though the emotional part may have a biological/genetic component, most of it probably comes from what we see, hear and experience as very young children, maybe before the age of three years. It is during this time we learn what “the world and reality” are, what it means to love, what it means to be a man, a woman, a husband, a wife, and develop relationships.
The SPIRITUAL part is that part of us that struggles what it means to be alive and part of a universe that is so much bigger than ourselves. That part also that struggles with what is right and wrong, and to relate to others in a way that is not really at an emotional level, that part that struggles with whether there is a power much greater than ourselves, a power that does not emanate from us or other people.
During this time of such uncertainty, I believe it is important for each of us to do what we can to nurture and take care of all three of our parts – physically, emotionally and spiritually.
So what might we do to take care of all three of our aspects?
PHYSICALLY - As we are much more restricted to our homes, and not able to go and be as active, it is important not to let this imposed relative inactivity actually result in our being less physical. This is not the time to become a couch potato and spend a inordinate amount of time sitting on the couch and watching TV. That’s not to say to not watch any, just don’t watch much more than you are in a habit of watching under usual circumstances. This might be an opportunity to start that exercise program you might have been planning. Maybe this is a time to do projects that had been put off or the cleaning project that has been waiting.
EMOTIONALLY - Again, as we are restricted to much less actual person-to-person contact, we need to stay in contact with others, emotionally (and at a six foot distance?)
Many activities are being conducted over the phone, social media and by such virtual group get togethers as Zoom and others. Though these opportunities are not face-to-face, they are a good way to be emotionally present with others in the meantime. In this way, we can maintain ongoing emotional relationships with those in whom we are invested emotionally. This is not the time to be withdrawing into ourselves.
So maybe arrange scheduled group times, get together for a virtual coffee hour or maybe “tea time.” Or maybe “tee time” with your usual golf buddies, or what ever the excuse to get together and talk.
And when we think about the “Big Situation” as well as our own personal situations (which still continue, even in the shadow of the Big one,) it is important to be optimistic. That does not mean “Polly Anna,” but that we don’t allow ourselves to feel completely overwhelmed. When we are more optimistic, we may see options and opportunities we might not see in pessimism. When we are pessimistic, our attention tends to be narrower or even turned inward, to the point we may miss seeing other ways to cope with the difficult situations. It also is important to acknowledge that there are aspects of most situations over which we really don’t have control. Those you either manage to the degree you can or recognize that they are beyond your control and let those parts go. (That may be an area where our Emotional overlaps with our Spiritual.
SPIRITUALLY - Though being more constrained may not restrict our spiritual life, these times once again may lead us to ask the “Why Questions.” Why such an illness is released on the world and all of the changes that has caused. Does such a pandemic as this speak at all to “right or wrong”, to a “God or not.” These questions, and probably many others, may occur to us when our sense of how the world should work is challenged right down to the foundations. It is in this part of us we might spend some of our time exploring and maybe digging deep into our selves and examine our relationships with life, itself.
So, when we casually ask someone “How are you doing?” or someone asks that question of us, know that by answering in a little deeper way than “okay, thanks,” we might make more of a difference in someone’s life that we ever expect or realize, or maybe even in our own.