Photo by Timothy Paul Smith on Unsplash
I used to dread people asking me
I wanted them to stop, but they didn’t.
I tried to come up with something witty to distract them, to pretend the wheels weren’t coming off, the walls weren’t crumbling around me and a voice inside my head wasn’t screaming, help me!
But in the end I’d mutter, I’m fine, and move on.
I am a great liar.
And I am not alone.
Women say they’re fine when they’re not. All. The. Time.
We want to tell the truth. Honestly we do, but we’ve been burned at the stake for being over emotional in the past and we really don’t want to be judged.
We don’t even realise we’re lying about how we feel, because we’ve been doing it for so long. We are the sisters of suppression and the titans of tucking it all away, until we’re sobbing uncontrollably in front of “Marley and Me,” and we don’t even like dogs.
Women lie about feeling fine because we FEEL we have to.
We lie because being openly UN-FINE has rarely been an option…unless we’ve already been institutionalized by some well-meaning family member.
Mostly we lie because we don’t know how dangerous it is to our own self-preservation. So as a woman who lied her way to a decade of illness, I’m going to tell a few home truths here. And if you don’t like it, it’s ok to tell me you’re not fine with it.
We Lie Because We Don’t Want To Be A Loser
We’ve been trained to believe we should be positive and upbeat and successful and pretty much perfect. Saying we’re not fine makes us losers. Big time. If we’re honest about feeling say…a total wreck…we get the pity party, poor you, yes your life is awful, let me stick an L on your forehead.
We Lie Because We Care
We don’t want anyone else to feel bad, or guilty or responsible…even if they are. If we make them feel bad then we’ll just feel worse so what’s the point?
We Lie Because We Think We’re A Pain In The Ass
Everyone’s got their own problems and we don’t want to be a burden. Saying we’re not fine makes us an impediment to someone’s otherwise perfect day.
We Lie Because Our Mothers Lied
Our mothers and grandmothers were strong and stoic and they had the whole “put up and shut up” routine down pat. Whatever they wanted for themselves was way down the line behind the needs of everyone else. Right alongside how they felt about it. They lied about feeling fine and we unconsciously installed this behaviour into our psyche.
We Lie To Protect Our Jobs
Women are sensitive feeling creatures. It’s the way we’re packaged and, in the workplace, it’s seen as a weakness. I used to work with a woman who routinely cried at her desk, in the hallway, or anywhere else she felt overcome. She was seen as unstable, unwell and unfit for purpose. Her chances of promotion were zero, even though her work was exemplary.
We Lie Because We Don’t Know How To Ask For Help
We give the forced smile and bubbly exterior and hope that somehow you’ll pick up on the subtle clues that we’re falling apart. We sigh more, look pale beneath a full face of make-up and wait for the life-raft when we haven’t even dialed the emergency services. We retreat into ourselves because we don’t know how to reach out.
We Lie Because We’re Scared
Our self-worth is rarely rock solid and if we REALLY have to say how we feel, and show up for ourselves, it’s terrifying. As a sex, we’ve been oppressed, underpaid, inappropriately harassed and continually compromised for hundreds of years. We know deep inside we are a powerful feminine force but we see what other women had to go through to stand in their own power, to shine their own light, and frankly, it’s scary.
We Lie Because We Don’t Trust Ourselves
In our hearts we know how we feel, but then our head gets involved, we start over-analysing and wind up conflicted and confused. Men joke about us changing our minds, but when we flip between head and heart we’re not floundering, we’re trying to get back in touch with our wisdom. We want to trust our gut but we’ve forgotten how valuable our feelings are as feedback. So we stick in our heads where it feels safer and tell lies to ourselves.
We Lie Because We’re Afraid To Be Vulnerable
Honesty requires opening ourselves and exposing our soft underbelly to the world. It means owning how we feel and allowing the transformation that results. It goes against every self-preservation notion we possess because it’s risky and volatile and totally unknown. Lying is waaaay easier so we do it, even if it makes us miserable.
We Lie Because We’re Ashamed
When I became seriously ill I was outraged in a…WTF!!! How dare this happen to me…kinda way. I was ashamed of my body for letting me down so I lied about what was happening. I knew I was guilty of negligence but that crazy chick called denial was my best-friend back then, and she hangs out with a lot of women.
Females lie about feeling fine because we don’t know how to say “I’m sorry” to ourselves and make amends. We don’t want to admit we’ve got ourselves into this pain and we’re not always ready to rest at rock bottom and see what’s down there for us. We’re so ashamed we’re not fine, we push ourselves and demand more, instead of stopping to listen to our bodies.
We lie because we’ve forgotten self-preservation is necessary, not indulgent and we’re only just waking up to the fact that we don’t always have to put others first.
Faking That We’re Fine Creates Illness
We have to stop lying.
Denial looks like your best-friend but she’s a bitch. All the time we’re lying the problem’s getting bigger. The symptoms, the health crisis, the relationship, the work issue, the money situation….
We are not fine.
We are fragile.
I lied about being fine for years before I became seriously ill and would’ve given anything for another chance. I lied about being fine until I could barely get up off the floor and was too afraid to bathe my baby son in case I passed out and he drowned.
Fine is a fallacy that destroys our wellbeing. Speaking up for our own sanity and self-preservation is the solution. We need to become better at caring for ourselves. We need to allow ourselves to be vulnerable. We need to wade into why we’re not fine and rest awhile. We need to allow things to fall apart instead of holding them together with untruths.
Suppression is out. Self-expression is in.
Photo by Lauren Fleischmann on Unsplash
Feeling IS Fine
We must speak up for self-preservation. Our feelings are how we connect with others. Our emotions allow us to forge relationships and connect with the world. Life is an ongoing chaos of love, heartbreak, pain, trauma and learning through FEELING. Vocalising how we feel saves us. Slapping a rosy insta filter on the experience and presenting it to the world shuts us down.
Historically, we have been rewarded for being polite, courteous and considerate. That’s what got us into this mess! Saying how we feel can be life-saving. I know, I’m living proof.
Yes, next time someone asks, there may be an awkward silence when you answer honestly, but say you’re not fine and let it lie. Leave the door open for a genuine and caring response. The other person may show up for you, or disappear into the distance, but you will no longer feel invisible or unheard. You will belong to the tribe of truthful women forging a path towards an empowered feminine future.
Ready to stop lying and start living? I’ve got just the thing for you 🙂
Try my Free Ebook – The Little Book Of Sassy Self-Preservation – Click to download.