In October of 2021, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) and the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) joined together to declare a National State of Emergency in Children’s Mental Health. Children and families across our country have experienced enormous adversity and disruption. The pandemic has struck at the safety and stability of families.
In early childhood and adolescence, we all begin to hide behind a tough smile, telling those who ask that we are “good,” as we face the emotional bumps and bruises of life.
Multiple times each day, we’re asked, “How are you? How’s your day? Are you having a good week?” And we give our conditioned response, “I’m Good, fine, or busy.” We impulsively hide our raw feelings, without even a thought about how we really feel.
I do it all the time too. We hide our struggles behind “good.”
Sometimes because it’s the easiest response to give, and other times it’s because we don’t want to burden others with our honesty. “I’m good” is the safest answer, requiring no follow-up.
Why has honesty become a burden?
Why do we feel the need to hide what’s going on inside? Both our struggles and our excitement?
Why do we feel the pressure to make everything good even when it’s not?
Parents often unintentionally model this for their children, or even come to expect this contained response from them.
As young people, what starts out as a conditioned response, ends up becoming the very thing that fuels irrational beliefs and creates distance within the family system.
And let’s not forget the young adults who often begin to feel alone and isolated due to lacking honesty and vulnerability in their relationships.
This month, let's begin with honesty. Show those in your life that you see them, you hear them, you love them, and validate them, and allow it to be reciprocated. This month I am challenging you to swallow the “good” and tell the truth.
Let’s take a breath, exhale bravery, and answer questions about how you are feeling or how your day is going with honesty. And when you hear my honest answer, please don’t be shocked by the absence of good.