Whether you are meeting a long-time friend or a new acquaintance, the majority of all conversations begin with the same question: how are you?
Sometimes we don’t even wait for the reply and instead launch into a story of our own. Sometimes we shoot back a quick “good, thanks”, nod the head and ask a question about work or family or the weekend.
Often we don’t hear what people actually want to say. Even when we know our friends or family are having a tough time the question can be easily deflected.
And perhaps it’s because we are sometimes asking the wrong question.
Instead we should be asking: are you OK?
September 14 is national R U OK? Day. The initiative was created in 2009 by Gavin Larkin to honour his father who took his own life and to try to protect other families from experiencing similar pain and grief.
R U OK? is now a charity with goals to:
- Boost confidence to meaningfully connect and ask about life’s ups and downs;
- Nurture the sense of responsibility to regularly connect and support others; and
- Strengthen the sense of belonging because we know people are there for us.
The awareness day exists to start a conversation. To remind people that we should be asking “are you OK” every day.
A most salient point is the impact of human connection.
It’s important to put the mobile phone or other device down, remove yourself from social media or chat without using a keyboard.
But don’t just do this because it’s a national awareness day.
We should use this day as a reminder on how we should conduct ourselves every day, for everyone we meet and in every situation.
While we should ask the question, we should also be prepared to accept the answer without judgment. To know that it’s OK to not be OK. But also, to know how best to support that person.
Experts advise people to ask, listen without judgment, encourage them to seek help, and ensure you connect with them again and continue to stay in touch.
That connection you create could help someone at a difficult time or save a life.
- For more information on the day and how you can help visit www.ruok.org.au
- If you, or someone you know, needs help contact Lifeline on 131 114 or beyondblue on 1300 224 636.