Alternatives to asking a Survivor "How are you?"
“Wait what? I’m not supposed to ask 'how are you?'”
Pause for a moment. *take a breath* and think with me for sec. Your friend/ loved one has just endured a great trauma, or is reliving that trauma because of a trigger, they have shared that they are experiencing feelings of despair, social withdrawal, fear, anxiety, etc. You have a pretty good inkling that they are NOT actually doing well, but you still want to check in...
Step 1: ask yourself, “do these feelings go away quickly?”
Step 2: ask yourself, “how would I feel if I was in their position?”
Step 3: remember that they ARE NOT doing great, maybe not even good. SO DON’T ASK. (It’s really triggering, yo.)
⚠️ BUT WAIT YOU CAN STILL CHECK IN⚠️
•••ALTERNATIVES TO “How are you?”•••
• "What are some ways you showed yourself love today?"
• "No need to respond, but know I am thinking of you and sending you loving energy."
• "Let me know if it feels good for me to hold some space for you today. We can chat or I can listen."
• "Did you eat?" (Points for: "can I bring you food?")
• "What songs did you listen to today?"
• "Did you see or experience anything beautiful today you didn’t expect to?"
• "What did you spend most of your time thinking about today?"
• "Are there any victories you’d like to share?"
The point is trauma survivors are going to want to avoid talking about their “okayness”-whether or not they’re okay- because it puts on a burden that they NEED to be okay in order to receive love or support.
The question “how are you?” becomes formal and insensitive when you’re healing. If you can ask more reflective and sincere questions your #survivor loved ones can sense you truly #care AND #support their healing. Checking in with your loved ones is still really important, even if they don't respond. Remember, it's always important to respect a person's boundaries. But, a little bit more effort to consider a traumatized persons experience and take it seriously for and with them, can be a the saving grace that keeps a person afloat when they feel like drowning.