Because we say “I’m fine” when it really isn’tnb: the female grammatical gender used in the article also applies to the male.
I’m fine. Two sweet words, reassuring and synthetic. We pronounce them often but equally often this formula is completely false.
In a conversational tone, one “I’m fine” said to liquidate the other can be there. The problem arises when that “I’m fine” becomes a mantra and we also repeat it to ourselves and our most intimate affections, ending up implementing a systematic emotional avoidance . That “I’m fine” comes to hide so much suffering , to disguise it and even to deny it .
Pretend that everything is going well
When you say “It’s all right” but inside you feel tumultuous emotions difficult to interpret, you are denying yourself your true feelings, you are depriving yourself of a significant emotional experience.
An emotional cyclone hides behind a “I’m fine”:
- difficult emotions,
- doubts and fears,
- experiences never worked out,
- guilt feelings,
- feeling of not being enough,
- sense of emotional emptiness,
- depressed mood,
- belief of being misunderstood,
- truths never accepted e
- a lot, a lot, restlessness.
In relating to others, we want everyone to think that our life works well , that we “function well”, that we are capable , strong … We want to give an integral image when in reality we are in pieces. Between a “I’m fine” and the other, a struggle is taking place within us and our life at times seems unmanageable. The armor that we show to others is the embodiment of our avoidance, it avoids any confrontation and above all it prevents us from having to face our inner demons (those unresolved conflicts that have ancestral roots).
In this configuration, we turn our attention to what is outside of us and not what we have inside. The strategies we implement are manifold: there are those who do their best for others, trying to solve the problems of others rather than having to face their own. There are those who become hypercritical and vent their frustrations on the shortcomings of others, so as not to have to look at the shortcomings they carry inside. Many people are transformed into authentic Red Cross and striving for the salvation of the other seek reality their own salvation. The scenarios are manifold and all have the same lowest common denominator: the refusal to untangle the chaos inside us.
That “I’m fine” not to disappoint
The roots of that “I’m fine” are very deep: we learn to deny our ailments so as not to be of importance to the other important person . Everything is attributable to the parenting models we had and their relationship with the emotions we experienced when we were children.
A responsive parent, since the birth of their child, acts as an emotional facilitator and manages to operate an “emotional containment” when the child still cannot manage his emotions. In this context, the child introjects an internal representation of the person providing care as stable, caring and functional.
An unresponsive parent who warns emotional reactions and is unable to tune in to the child’s support and protection needs does not allow introjecting an internal representation of the person providing care.
To make what is written more comprehensible, I will provide practical examples of the most common emotional invalidations that parents naively implement towards their child.
- “Don’t cry, otherwise make mom worry”
- “Good children don’t have tantrums”
- “If you cry mom is so bad”
- Respond to the whims of his son with even stronger aggressive screams
- Respond to anger with other anger
- “You have to be a good boy or else the mother suffers”
- “Stupid children cry”
- “See Michele how good he is, he doesn’t cry”
- “You are crying for nonsense”
- Excessive anxiety responses to a child’s emotional / physical issue
- Excessive alarmism with each physical / emotional reaction of the child
Parental reactions to children’s ailments are the first experience of care we have. It is from here that we learn how to take care of ourselves, how much we can count on the other in case of our malaise … it is from here that we learn how much we can express our emotions .
If the only emotions approved by our parents were those of joy, we learn that suffering is wrong and that when you suffer, it is better to keep it for yourself so much every manifestation is useless if not counterproductive.
That’s why as adults it seems easier to systematically avoid difficult feelings and brood everything inside . Nobody taught us to manage our “emotional charge” in a functional way. So, year after year, we have accumulated a large number of conflicts without ever giving the “negative emotions” a precise meaning, an ideal location.
We have learned to silence the suffering in order not to disappoint the expectations of the other or not to be overwhelmed by an additional load . We understood that we can only count on our strengths because in our memory we have not internalized the image of a caring care-giver.
Here’s some news: what you learned as a child today is no longer true! 🙂
Give meaning to suffering
The failure to express negative emotions in the long run can be devastating. If you’ve denied your feelings and emotions for many years, focusing on what you carry inside won’t be easy. If you want to get closer to an authentic “I’m fine ” you can start right from your unmet needs. A psychotherapeutic path will help you and as you mature the idea of consulting a psychologist, you can start with the emotions you experience on a daily basis.
If you give meaning to suffering and your discomforts, it will be easier for you to process them. Remember that everything you learned in childhood today no longer has a great meaning: the feelings you have do not make you a “good” or “bad” person. You have the right to suffer and, instead of trying to change the way you feel, be benevolent with yourself, accept your emotional experiences and try to be “curious” in exploring what they are trying to tell you.
At any age you can learn to take care of yourself and your emotional sphere. A psychologist is the ideal person to deal with but you can do a lot even outside the professional setting. For example, identify a safe and reliable person with whom you can be more authentic, with whom to share doubts and uncertainties without fear of judgment.
To start working on yourself I recommend reading these articles:
- If you give meaning to suffering, it will lose all power over you
- Nobody ever took care of me, so I’ll do it
- You can be a better inner parent to yourself than the parent you have had
- The inner dialogue that heals
nb: the female gender also applies to the male.