top of page

Are You OK?

Hello, dear one -- I've got a couple more weeks out here in the Pacific Northwest before I head back to the East Coast. It's frosty here most mornings recently and it will be pretty chilly by the time I get to Boston late December. Fortunately, my first real STOP on the trip will be Florida for a family gathering. Hopefully, I'll fill up on some sunshine and warmth before braving a New England winter. 

Before I left for my West Coast sabbatical, I attended a show in a theatre near my apartment. As it ended and the performer was getting a standing ovation (and maybe offering a short encore), I decided to take a chance at an early exit to beat the crowds. The house lights were still down, it was pretty dark, and I missed a step. Since I was hurrying and the floor was sloped, I went flying and smashed into the back of a seat a few rows down. It was a good thing everyone was on their feet clapping or I might have jolted the occupant of that seat pretty hard! Somehow, I got to my feet and even though I felt like the breath had been knocked out of me, I started toward the exit. I met an usher on the way who looked very concerned and asked me, "Are you ok?". "I'm fine!", I brightly panted and pushed past her as she asked again if I was really all right.

When I got home, a short walk from the venue, I had the outline of the back of the theatre seat bruised into my chest! When I first fell, I wasn't sure if I had broken something -- thank goodness I hadn't. I'm not sure how much the usher actually witnessed, but my guess is that she saw the impact. It hurt, yet I was determined to say that I was ok. 

I think we've all been in situations where either we've fallen or we've seen someone take a header. I remember when my brother was with my sister and me at my aunt's house after she died. He tripped and knocked a big stack of books and other stuff over and it made quite a loud noise. The first thing he said was, "I'm ok!" even though there had hardly been enough time to tell if that was really accurate. Why are we so worried that someone will think we're not ok?

In 1967 there was a book that got a lot of attention. It was I'm OK, You're OK by psychiatrist Thomas Anthony Harris. This is a gross oversimplification, but basically he described four life positions:

  • I'm not OK, You're OK

  • I'm not OK, You're not OK

  • I'm OK, You're not OK

  • I'm OK, You're OK

With the first one, we feel like we are less than and not as good as either another person or everyone else. It definitely feels disempowering. 

The second one feels very problematic to me. If nobody is able to handle things, how can we safely navigate this scary world?!?

The third one enables us to assume a position of authority but at the expense of another or others. No chance of feeling comforted through connection.

Ultimately the last one is a win-win. 

The catch is that sometimes (often?) we don't feel OK. There's a lot going on in the world that doesn't feel right. Some athletes and other people under public scrutiny are starting to speak out about their mental health and there's a lot being said about how brave they are to do that. 

Have you ever noticed that even though someone seems like they're having a hard time, you're hesitant to ask, "Are you OK?"? Even if you do decide to check in, aren't you hoping they might say, "Oh, I'm fine!" ...? Often, we might try to cheer them up without even questioning how they're really feeling. 

I believe this is a two-way street. Not only is it important to ask others how they're doing, but also to be honest about our own state of mind. So often we just need someone to listen for a bit. Or, on the other side, we need the chance to get something out of the hamster wheel of thought in our head. None of us can be OK all the time. Sharing the fears and worries and concerns makes us human and takes away some of the overwhelm. We don't need to get mired in the problems. Talking about them can lighten them and maybe some solutions can come out of it. If someone seems upset, gently ask, "Are you ok?" and if someone asks you, allow yourself to receive their support. As always, be care-full. 

If I were to ask you, "Are you ok?", what would your answer be? You don't have to do everything alone. Contact me if you think you need some help. 

Happy Healthy Hump Day,


Thanks for submitting!

Sign up for my mailing list!

About the Author




Barbara L Cummings, MS, RN

is a sassy Queen-ager whose mission is to co-create a happier, healthier life with and for others.

Recent Posts
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Instagram Social Icon
bottom of page