‘Are you okay?”
‘Really? You don’t look fine.”
“Honestly, I’m fine”
Sound familiar? Except the truth is, you’re not fine.
Why oh why do we lie? Okay, time to fess up.
VIP asks me Every. Single. Day If I am ok. In fact, on average he’s probably racking up around at least ten ‘Are you alright?’ questions in a 24-hour period.
I get it. He’s caring – really caring – and for that I am lucky. Most of the time I am just fine. But when I’m not, nine times out of ten I lie and tell him I’m good.
Why? Well, (digging deep here) there are two reasons why I do this:
- Because I believe that he should know why I’m not okay – forget asking me – just put it right!
- Because I know deep down that I’m being silly for not being ‘fine’ and I’m battling with my emotions. So rather than make a fuss, I tell him (and myself) that I’m fine when really I’m not.
And when family and friends ask if something is bothering me, the other reason I might lie is because I cant be bothered to explain why I’m sad/angry/frustrated/bitter.
Why do we lie?
I mean, when was the last time you bumped into an old friend and when asked ‘How are you?’ you replied: “Well, my son got into an argument at school this week so I need to speak with his teacher. Oh and I’m so far behind on my washing and ironing it’s unreal!?”
But research suggests I’m not alone. And even when bigger issues are bugging us we’ll still tell people that we’re doing okay.
A study of 2,000 Brits found that the average adult will say ‘I’m fine’ 14 times a week, but really only 19% mean it.
And almost a third of those surveyed said they often lie about how they are feeling to other people, while one in ten went as far to say they always lie about their emotional state.
And this dishonesty goes both ways, with 59 % of us expecting the answer to be a lie when we ask others “How are you feeling?”
Jenny Edwards, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation who commissioned the research said: “While it may appear that most of us are happy openly discussing feelings, these survey results reveal that many of us are really just sticking to a script.
“This creates an illusion of support. On the surface, we’re routinely checking in with each other but beneath that, many of us feel unable to say how we’re really feeling.”
Men are more than twice as likely to be dishonest to others when it comes to their emotions (that doesn’t surprise me), with 22% admitting they always lie about how they feel, compared to 10% of women.
Women however are more likely to be hurt emotionally – 41% have regretted opening up to someone in the past, compared to 29% of men. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why we steer clear of admitting our real feelings?
A change of tactics
As for those ‘fine’ Brits, 34% use “I’m fine” as a response because it is more convenient than explaining how they really feel, while 23% say it because they think the person asking isn’t really interested. Mmmh, I can relate to this one.
In fact, most of us feel more comfortable discussing our emotions on social media and online forums than with our friends directly!
Jenny Edwards continued: “The people around us in our lives are crucial for our mental health; people with strong connections live happier, healthier and longer lives than those without. That’s why we all need a healthy network of friends and family who we are comfortable to confide in when we need to.
I for one am willing to try this – even if it means that I end up having fewer arguments!
If you’re really not ‘fine’, the Mental Health Foundation has launched an ‘I’m Fine’ campaign to encourage Brits to open up about mental health and ‘bring back meaning’ to daily conversations. Why not check it out? Unless of course ‘you’re absolutely fine’.