We Need New Questions.

If I had to capture the current average answer to the question “How are you?” It would be, “Foul. I have a cloud over my head that I.CAN.NOT.SHAKE.” Other answers have included a shrug, an eye roll, and even, “BAD! Everything is terrible!”
Suffice it to say, my clients (and friends! and family!) are feeling totally overwhelmed with all things . . . 2020. In fact, I keep joking: “When are we going to shelve the question: “‘how are you?'”, jokes aside, I’m actually feeling that ought to be lumped into the box with shaking hands as a greeting (Remember when that was a no brainer? For thousands of years? Even after the 1918 pandemic? But I digress).
But actually, I don’t. Right now, more than ever, hearts are hurting, minds are overwhelmed. There is so much to do in our regular lives, so much information to process about the world, our society, and in the news, that it makes it difficult to do the things that seemed simple just a few months ago. Things like making decisions, like focusing on work, goal setting, productivity, and focus in general. (Sidebar: I kind of wish I had a dollar for every time someone has shared with me that they find reading a single page of a book to be a Herculean effort. I’d have a pile of dollars.)
I am noticing that this inability to focus is also taking its toll on our ability to truly connect to one another. Connection is one of my driving values AND I feel it’s more important than ever. Really understanding, seeing, listening, and connecting to one another is how we grow and change for the better. So, our old go-to throw away of “how are ya?” just isn’t gonna cut it anymore.
We need new questions. More specific ones, ones that help us to better really see each other. I know I do, so I’m sharing with you just below the ones I’m starting to try out. I’d love to know what you think, and if they work to foster deeper connection for you (or not, of course!).
  • How is your energy today? Are you feeling rested?
  • How is your heart feeling?
  • How are your guts feeling?
  • What is happening in your mind? What story are you telling yourself? Is it a positive one? (I vote yes!)
  • How is sleeping going for you these days?
  • How’s your water intake today?
  • Have you taken 3 intentional breaths today?
  • Are you getting out of your chair?
  • What is present for you right now in this moment?
  • How is the hamster wheel of your mind? Are your thoughts spinning on it or are you feeling more even?
  • Is anything stuck in your throat? What needs said? I’m here to listen.
  • Are you believing everything you’re telling yourself?
By the way, sometimes we really don’t have the time to connect with our people in the way we’d like to. Some interactions just aren’t about that, and I get that. In those moments, our tendency can be to either avoid or go on auto-pilot, but I think, let’s don’t. What if we simply practiced being clear and made that a new default, for example: “I’m on a time crunch, and so can’t connect at this moment with you in the way I’d like to, but let’s make a plan to do that.”
I’m choosing connection — even when it’s weird and awkward and new territory to navigate — over not. Let me know what you think.
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