I’m in my third trimester of pregnancy now and people often ask how I’m feeling, particularly women. I appreciate this so much, and have also noticed how quick my responses tend to be. I’ll say things like, “I’m great” or “I’m doing well, thank you” and rush to move on.
While these responses are true, they’re just the tip of the iceberg. (Icebergs exist mostly below the surface.)
In short, I could be more honest.
As a result, I’ve been running a little experiment. I’ve been doing my best to slow down and answer these types of questions with more depth. A lot has happened in the last two months, personally and collectively, and I want to honor my experience. Plus two of my core values are courage and connection.
That said, I wasn’t always this way.
I remember coming into work one Monday morning in 2015. Two of my coworkers were standing together and one asked me how my weekend was. It was a simple question and I recall making a very conscious choice to be honest, for perhaps the first time ever.
I answered and felt so relieved upon sharing, and then I watched as my coworker recoiled in response.
“Geez, Karen,” he said, “I was only asking to be nice.”
It felt like he had punched me.
My relief was immediately replaced with shock and a deep sense of hurt as he walked away.
These days I look back at this version of myself with so much compassion. That woman didn’t believe anyone really cared how she felt. She also didn’t believe it was appropriate to share given her upbringing and how good her life looked on paper.
Because of this I often withheld my true feelings, and experienced a life without much depth as a result. I also believed that people didn’t listen to me, when the real truth was that I didn’t listen to myself.
We are all mirrors for one another.
That experience with my coworker was one of my very first experiments with being really, truly honest outside of coaching conversations. Needless to say it didn’t go as I hoped, and there was so much to learn from it.
Ultimately it was a catalyst.
I realized I didn’t want to be in an environment where people didn’t care about me. I didn’t want to feel disposable. And I didn’t want to continue spending my life doing something that paid well and left my soul feeling empty and unfulfilled.
That moment brought me one step closer to changing my circumstances.
Fast forward to today.
As I’ve run my honesty experiment over the past few weeks, life has gotten easier. Whether it’s about my fears of having a baby, how I’m feeling about my body or my business, or my parents leaving after a four-week visit, each act of honesty makes the load a little lighter. I’ve been feeling happier and more optimistic, even in spite of world events.
So the invitation I want to offer you is this:
The next time someone asks you how you’re doing or feeling, answer for yourself, not them.
Allow yourself to take a pause before you default to what’s easy and expected, and see what happens.
If you want something to change, whether it’s your day, your career, your relationship or your mental wellbeing, be honest. Nothing can change until you’re willing to admit how you feel. Honesty can be uncomfortable, yes, and it’s also a necessary part of the equation.
And, how you feel matters.
The progress we make in life is directly related to the rate at which we are willing to honor and tell the truth.
Try it and let me know how it goes, okay?
Have a wonderful day.