I got together with a friend not too long ago who was struggling. I knew he was having a tough time, but when I asked how he was doing, he just replied, “Fine.” I’m always a little wary when I hear someone say they’re fine. What does fine mean, anyways?
FINE: Feelings Inside Not Expressed
In my experience, probably the best way to interpret “fine” is to use an acronym: Feelings Inside Not Expressed. Usually when someone says they’re “fine,” there’s something going on underneath the surface. They may not be ready to talk about it or deal with it, but it’s there.
Stuffing Our Feelings Doesn’t Work
What’s the problem with holding our feelings inside? The bottom line is it doesn’t usually work. We might be able to keep everything pent up inside for a time, but it’s not sustainable. Something will happen that will set us off, and our emotions will come out sideways. It’s like trying to hold a beach ball underneath the water. It might work for a short time, but sooner or later the ball will pop up and fly out of the water.
Also, keeping our feelings pent up inside keeps us isolated. To connect with others at a heart level, you need to share your feelings, needs, and wants. Keeping all those things inside hurts our connections with others. We can only go so deep.
No Opportunity for Help and Comfort
Finally, when we stuff our feelings, we don’t give others the opportunity to help us in our time of need. We aren’t meant to do life alone. We need other people, just like they need us. But when we isolate ourselves, we cut ourselves off from others who might be able to help and comfort us.
Sharing Feelings is a Risk
Sharing our feelings with others is a risk. There’s always the chance that we could be rejected, which could leave us alone. But when we don’t let other people in and stuff our feelings, we are alone anyways. Why not take a risk and see what connection and vulnerability might have to offer us?