Four Ways to Ask "How are You?"
One of Rob and my favorite things to do is go on mountain drives in Colorado. Since we are right outside of Denver, it's only about fifteen minutes until we are in full view of the beautiful scenery. Something about being away from the city can really clear my headspace. It's almost a given that our mountain drives are our time to see how each other are doing.
A few months back, Rob's typical, "How are you doing?" changed. He began to ask questions like, "How are your emotions?" or "What are you learning in your relationship with God this week?" Although these questions aren't anything profound, I realized that I ended up sharing something that probably wouldn't have come up otherwise.
A simple "How are you?" can be completely sufficient for checking in with someone (or yourself). Although, I've found that more pointed questions are helpful for me to reflect on specific aspects of life.
Sometimes, we try and hit all the categories:
"How are you doing mentally/emotionally?"
"How are you doing physically?"
"How are you doing relationally?"
"How are you doing spiritually?"
(Side thought: I wonder if a reason we don't feel known is because "how are you doing" often gets interpreted as "what are you doing." Rather than responding with where our hearts are, we respond with how work is going or the things we've been doing. There is no way we can be fully known if we only stop at the "what" and don't share the "how.")
If you're wondering what this could look like, let me share some ways that I reflect on each big area of my life. Whether it's with a friend, boyfriend/girlfriend, spouse, or yourself, I hope these prompts can bring new conversation or reflection into your life.
In short, I see mental and emotional health as everything going on in the noggin ;) Not only would this be mental health, but also what you've been learning, thinking about, or general emotions. The purpose of these categories are not to limit you, so see where this question takes you!
For me, I often do a check-in with my emotional state. Have I been more anxious than normal? More content? Naming an emotion can give you a great start for reflection. Why are you feeling this emotion? What do you think it is telling you? Although too much focus on emotions can also be unhealthy, our emotional state is often telling us something if we listen.
I find it easy to breeze over this topic, but it is so important. The ways we are fueling our bodies affects more areas than we think. Can you notice any ways your physical health is affecting you?
Here are some of my go-to topics in this category:
Discussing how I am doing physically often brings up some practical things I can be more aware of. I find myself realizing habits that have formed habits with screen time or sleep that would be beneficial to change.
I've found that I am a better friend and girlfriend when I actively check in on my relational life. Here are some questions that come to mind:
What friends have I seen (or facetimed) in the last week?
Time spent between acquaintances, friends and best friends, and mentors?
Is there someone who I need to reach out to?
Have I neglected a life-giving relationship?
Is there someone I don't want to lose touch with and should reach out?
A practical way that I reflect on my relationships is by going back to my Lego. In a recent blog post "Who's on Your Lego?" I talk about the importance of identifying our closest relationships and pursing them.
I know many of us have been asked the question, "How are you doing in your relationship with God?" Although a temptation might be to wrack our brains for what we've done for our relationships with God, I encourage you to target an emotion like we talked about in the first section. Have you felt close or distant with God? Angry, confused, hopeful, or unmotivated?
Yes, there is a place for talking about spiritual disciplines, accountability, and study. And if that's the conversation you need right now, go for it! But I've found that targeting how I feel in my walk with the Lord can be extremely telling of what I need in my relationship with God.
The goal of these reflection questions is not to bring shame or judgement, rather to bring awareness. Although our ideal would be to grow into healthier people through these reflections, I think it can be easy for us to fall into shame if we aren't happy with where we're at.
Rather than reflecting out of a place of condemnation, try mindfulness. In my Clinical Counseling Methods class, we are learning how mindfulness is simply "non-judgmental noticing." Mindfulness is not for the purpose of quickly changing everything the moment you become aware of it, rather it is a gentler approach. An acceptance and non-judgmental noticing of where we're at will allow for awareness, grace, and eventually, change.
I hope you gained an idea or two on different ways to ask "How are you." Friends, may our conversations this week be deep, honest, and full.