Habits can hurt you: don’t just say “I’m okay.”
The other day, I walked out of my kitchen to find my next-door neighbor wandering around my house in her nightgown and bathrobe, carrying a towel. She had no idea where she was and did not know how to find her way back to where she belonged. Throughout the entire episode, she said, “I’m okay.” I’d ask her what was wrong, and she would reply, “I’m okay I’m okay.” I asked if she knew where she was, and she would say, “I’m okay.” Yet, it was obvious that she was not. As she paced around my house, it was also clear that she was not going to sit down, and she was not going to calm down until she was back in her own familiar surroundings. After a bit, I managed to get her attention and asked if she wanted to go home. Although she continued stating, “I’m okay I’m okay,” she looked at me and offered a hint of a nod. I said, “Let’s get you back home.” When she charged outside, I got her safely into her own house and contacted her husband.
I’ll skip over any discussion of her health and get to my point. Even though she was not well, she continued to repeat over and over that she was okay. The words seemed to be a mantra.
What is the moral of this story? Don’t get in the habit of saying you are okay when you are sick. If you have the flu and people ask how you are feeling, tell them that you have the flu or say you don’t feel at your best. If you are getting better, that is a good comment. It’s fine to say, “I’m not doing too well right now, but I should be better in a couple of days.” But do not make a habit of saying you are okay. Someday EMT or ER personnel may ask you how you are, and they might just accept that you are okay. To you, it is obvious that are not fine since you are sitting in the emergency room. However, even in the emergency room, saying you are okay changes the way people will respond to you.
In our society, countless people ask daily, “How are you,” and just as mechanically others respond, “I’m okay.” However, that persistent reply might get you in trouble someday. It certainly did not help my neighbor.