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How To Stop Saying You're *Fine* When You're Really, Really Not

And other ways to respond to a friend who's checking in on you.
How to talk to a friend who checks in on you
PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK
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Kumusta?”

“What’s been going on?”

“Everything okay on your end?”

These are some of the questions I got from friends since the pandemic hit. Given that everyone’s been affected by COVID-19, I know that they checked in on me with that in mind. But my answer has been consistent to what I used to say before the shit show that was 2020: “I’m fine,” or “We’re good, you?”

And while that may be true some days, it’s not the full picture. It might also come across as wanting to stop the conversation—for whatever reason.

When I realized I was doing this, I asked myself why. It’s a kind gesture. It’s a person who cares. I came to the conclusion that I answered abruptly whenever someone asked how I was doing because of two reasons: 1) I didn’t know how to talk about how I felt without *dumping* my shit on someone and 2) I assumed that not talking about it would make the problem go away faster. Basically, if I just get through this day, I’ll be as “fine” as I said I was by next week.

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Surprise: That coping mechanism didn’t work.

So I started becoming more aware of how I reply when a friend reaches out. I catch myself every time I’m tempted to brush their concern off and immediately ask how they are.

If this is a problem you can relate to, there are many ways to slowly open up about how you’re doing. Here are some simple responses you can try next time.

How To Talk To A Friend Who's Checking In On You

“Do you want the short or long version?”

Or, “may time ka ba?” If like me, you’re worried about accidentally unloading on someone who’s also going through a lot, this is a good way to check if they have the emotional space to carry your load as well. And if they choose the short version, don’t take it personally! It’s the kind of support they can give you at the moment, and even that is coming from a place of love.

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“It’s both good and bad.”

In our daily lives, both exists. Even on your worst day, there’s still something good happening in the big picture. You might be having a hard time with a work project, for example, but at least your COVID-19 vaccine is coming!

“Right now, [insert] is happening…”

Bring up a topic that’s the easiest thing for you to talk about. It could be as simple as right now, “I’m taking a long lunch and making my favorite dish,” or “I’m good, I’m playing with my dogs and they’re putting me in a great mood, lol!” Remember: Conversations don’t have to be super deep for you to reconnect with a person.

“I feel [insert] today.”

If you want to open up to your friend, “I feel” statements can help you begin. These sentences are based on what you feel rather than what you think the other person might want to hear. From there, you can see how they react and determine where you want the conversation to go.

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Ikaw?”

Don’t forget to throw it back, you guys. This person made the effort to reach out to you and to carve time out of their day to see how you’re doing—especially when there’s a big chance he or she is struggling, too. Make sure the conversation isn’t all about you.

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