Pretending to Be Fine

Apr 12, 2023

Many of us pretend to be fine for various reasons, including not wanting to burden others with our problems, fear of vulnerability or judgment, or just because it seems easier. However, pretending to be fine can be harmful and lead to feelings of shame and low self-worth. By not being truthful with ourselves and others, we miss out on opportunities for personal growth and healing. Meaning by saying you are fine, you miss an opportunity to honor and explore how you really feel. You miss an opportunity to grow in self trust by being a safe place to be honest about, and with, your feelings.

Sharing the truth of how we're feeling is essential for our mental health and well-being. It's okay not to be okay, and we don't have to pretend to be fine all the time. However, sharing with others may not always seem safe. And that is okay as well. Your feelings are yours to share, or not share, as you see fit.

In some ways fine may be your truth or it may be your protective cover.

And, either way, if you are being honest with yourself and sharing only with and who you choose; this is a beautiful perogative to exercise.

It's also a beautiful acceptance that can be embraced when receiving a fine from others; particularly those you care about. Understanding that fine may be their truth whether you think so or not. And it may also be what they are comfortable with sharing at the moment in time. It doesn't mean anything about you or the person submitting the 'fine'.

It's good to remember that sharing feelings is not a call to action. It's not an invitation to fix a problem or make things better. Feelings are meant to be felt, not fixed. Listening and being there for the truth of a feeling is often enough. This is especially true in our relationship with ourselves.

Recently I had a client who was feeling nervous about an upcoming presentation. She kept trying to push that feeling away- justifying why she shouldn't feel nervous. Telling herself things like: "I do presentations all of the time." "This is no different." "I am being silly." "Everything is fine."

Instead of honoring that she was feeling nervous and letting that be her truth; her brain made it a problem that she was feeling nervous.  Then it got to work digging up evidence assuring her that there was a problem that needed to be solved. It snowballed into fear which prevented her from preparing for her presentation; making the fear grow into terror.

Except the only problem was not allowing the initial nervousness to be there. Once we were able to separate the terror and fear based stories from the truth of the upcoming presentation, which were her thoughts and feelings of nervousness; she was able to make room for the truth that she was both nervous and excited. Then, instead of making it a problem; she could see what that nervousness needed.  What she found was that a little time and attention was all it needed (and a bit extra preparation for the presentation😉). It didn't get rid of the feelings but she could absolutely prepare for, and deliver, the presentation with both of those feelings present.

Seeing the evolution of nervousness, and the dismissing of that nervousness, to fear to terror; allowed her to gain a great perspective of the importance of her feelings- honoring and allowing them and as a result show herself compassion and appreciation for opening up to her feelings.

Opening up to our feelings allows an opportunity to get to our needs and desires more clearly and directly. Sometimes all your feelings need is acknowledgment and care. Other times, more.  And when you get good at listening and deciphering this in little ways, it prepares you for the bigger ways that may come.

Another great way to honor your feelings is to decide ahead of time what they mean for you. I decided a while back that doubt is an opportunity to answer questions my brain is offering and to create belief and solutions. For instance, I had doubt about a trip I'm planning. My brain was offering me questions about whether I really wanted to go, should I really spend the money, who would take care of my dogs, etc . So I answered each one- Yes, I really want to go. How I spend my money is never a question of should or shoudn't, but do I want to or not want to- and I do want to. And my dogs will always be well taken care of- by either family or stay-in sitter I trust. Answering the questions strengthens my trust in myself and my ability to create solutions.  

And it allows doubt to be there without it snow-balling into a problem that will take time, energy and attention unecessarily from the things I want to do to prepare for the trip.  

What is one feeling you notice comes up for you? I invite you to decide ahead of time what you want to make it mean for you. Maybe you borrow my definition for doubt; or maybe you create your own.

I also invite you to create your own definition of fine, as an empowering step towards being truthful with yourself. Maybe fine to you means content. Maybe it means no opinion.  Or maybe it means that you don't care to share your truth.  It's your's to keep if you want.

When we communicate our needs and desires clearly to ourselves, we create the opportunity to show up for ourselves in the way we need; and become an example of that to others in treating themselves and us. But it requires being honest with ourselves first.

The truth is that it's okay not to be okay, and you don't have to pretend to be fine all the time. And sometimes, fine is your truth based on any definition you choose.

Sharing your truth is an opportunity to communicate your needs and desires, but it's not a call to action.  If you have an expectation for action, make a request.  If you infer someone else has an expectation for action when sharing a feeling; decide if you want to fill that request and then verify that is what is being asked. 

Sometimes a share is just a share and requires no action at all.  Instead, it can be an invitation to create your own definition of fine and to be truthful with yourself and others if you so choose. 

So be fine.  Or don't be fine.  Share your truth or don't.  But don't pretend with yourself.  Pretending or pushing your true feelings away can lead to larger problems that can be avoided by honoring yourself and allowing how you feel to be acknowledged and cared for.  It's an opportunity to grow closer to you and build the self trust you need to handle any feeling.

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