Doug and Trevor had worked in the same building for years. Their morning conversation went like this:
‘Morning Trevor, you alright?’
‘I’m alright Doug, you alright?’
‘Yea, I’m alright’.
Some mornings, of course, they were alright. But how often does your conversation go like this?
You ok? Yes, I'm ok. (No, I am not ok. My Nan has died, my goldfish is depressed, and actually, things aren’t going well in general).
Of course, this type of language doesn’t really invite honesty. But when we bother to ask, do we really want to know the truth?
Actually, I think lots of people do. We just aren’t that good at using mindful language in everyday conversation.
Are you ok? What does ok really mean? One person’s ok may reflect that things are good, ticking over (what does that even mean?), and that generally, that person is coping, happy and content. For another it may mean that things are really tough, and that they just can’t bring themselves to say it.
Poor Doug and Trevor. What would happen if one day, one of them said ‘tell me more about that’, or ‘what does that really mean?’ Perhaps it would be an opportunity for more meaningful dialogue.
As part of my role within the West Kent Recovery Service, I work with an amazing community group called aspire2be (about to become a charity in their own right but that will be a whole other blog). This dynamic group of volunteers are all in recovery and run peer led groups for people who need support around their own recovery.
One of the ways in which the volunteers support each other is their weekly forum, during which they encourage the use of mindful language. The forum ends with everybody speaking about how they are really feeling. I am constantly reminded that ‘ok’, ‘fine’ and ‘alright’ are not actually feelings.
June is recovery month. I am a firm believer that everybody is in recovery from something. So this month, maybe we could all try to think more about the language that we use with our co-workers, our friends, our partners and our children.
After all, we say in this sector that recovery is contagious. I think the same goes for happiness and positivity too.
‘Morning Trevor, how are you today?’
‘I’m great, I had a fantastic weekend with some friends, and I’m really looking forward to getting started on a new project today. Can I buy you lunch later and I will tell you all about it?’
‘That sounds great. I just realised I’ve left my lunch on the bus’.
Happy Recovery Month!