Alison's Insights

Making Sense of Addiction Recovery in Midlife One Slow Deep Breath at a Time

“How Are You?” Answer From the Root, Not the Branches

roots and branchesOn the surface, “How are you?” is a pretty simple question and is usually offered as a conversation starter or to acknowledge someone else.  In turn, the expected response would be to hear a short, to-the-point answer because for the most part, those who ask the question aren’t truly interested in, or have time for, an information dump.

Now there are those I absolutely want to hear what’s really going on, the unedited version if you will.  On the other hand, there are an equal amount of people I’ll ask the question as more of a “drive by”, stopping briefly if I get a sense that would be the polite thing to do.  However, experience has proven the mere act of stopping opens the door for hearing in detail everything from aging parents to household breakdowns and marriage demands.

Until I understood the value of mindful conversation, in situations like the one I just described, I would have mentally rolled my eyes and thought, “Dear God when will this end. Isn’t there someone else this person can unload all this on?

I don’t think that way today.

I’ve come to understand those who go on and on about what troubles them need to talk, seeking validation from another human being.  I’ve also learned the things on their mind might very well be just what I need to talk about too.  On the other hand, maybe I have some experience with what they’re going through.  I won’t know any of this if I’m silently begging for mercy that an easy exit is within reach.

I write a lot about the lessons I’ve learned since shifting away from obsessive, self-centered, addictive living.  I’m infinitely grateful the lessons keep coming and for the willingness to enhance the ones I’ve already discovered.  My ability to do this is based on all kinds of different conversations with people who need to release what burdens them.  I don’t question who I’m interacting with anymore.  No matter the subject or who is sharing the details, I’m right where I’m supposed to be.  At the onset I may not know why I’m engaged in these encounters but in the end, I have no doubt.  I’ll have either had the privilege of sharing a similar experience or heard suggestions which may guide my future.

I’ve come to believe the daily challenges most people feel troubled about are like leaves on a tree.  They are the outgrowth of the what is at the root.  Similarly, our daily burdens are usually inflamed because of something deeply embedded and unrecognized.  Therefore the attention needn’t always be paid to problems flowing in the wind, but rather to what’s at the core of the issue. And just like I can’t dig a tree by myself to examine the root, I can’t unwind my problems and find a solution without help.

We need each other.  We need to talk honestly and truthfully with those we trust. We need to let them hear us and for us to hear ourselves.  We need to offer support because we never know if what’s troubling us at the core might be the same for them.

So the next time someone asks you how you are, consider who’s doing the asking and if you’re willing, tell them.  You might just provide the insight they need if the question were to be asked in return.


A Moment to Breathe ….

Have you had similar experiences when asking or being asked about how things are going?  Have you ever been surprised by what you’ve learned about yourself during these conversations?  I’d love to gain that insight.  Please take a moment and share the experience by posting a reply below.  I thank you in advance for having the courage to do so.

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