When someone says “I’m fine”, I know only one thing for certain… they are not fine. When someone is doing ok or well or great, they say so with those words. “Fine” is never fine. It is one of those polite words that has come to mean “I am very insecure/worries/stressed/ill/lonely/abandoned/neglected/angry right now and don’t really have a handle on it but I will say ‘fine’ to be left alone because I don’t want to talk about it and it is just being nice to say that”. If you ever want to test that, ask “Are you sure you are fine?” and look at the reaponse. If the response is emotional in any way, ya got your proof.
What do we do with “fine”? I have a teenage son now who is often “fine” and that is usually some freakish hormonal response of hanger or disappointment or injustice at some perceived fairness violation. And I probe as a good nosy mom and get an emotional response. So, obviously they want to not be “fine” but are too emotional in thr moment to deal with it objectively at that moment. So what do you do? How can we help?
I say now, “I love you and am here to talk whenever you want to.” And when the “fine” is adamant, I pray with him. This changes the perspective rather quickly and allows him to release enough stress to put it in proper perspective or talk about it or maybe even be fine after all. But a humble caring on their terms is invaluable. Generally, “I’m fine” responses are from a position of pride- false pride or selfishness- and humbleness is the cure, which is always true. And when faced with humble love, the pride cracks and the person has a chance at sharing. Then we can stay humble and help or pray with them or just listen. At least they will know we love them.❤