These days, ordinary language can take on a whole new meaning.
For instance, in current conditions, our typical greeting, “How are you” has much more potency and is likely posed with greater care and curiosity.
What’s more, I believe that what we’re really trying to gather when we ask “How are you” is, “What’s your bandwidth?”
To be clear, this interpretation is not referring to Internet speed, although that is certainly a legit concern at this time.
Rather, “What’s your bandwidth” better captures the essence of our routine check-in question because it suggests that we need to conduct an honest and thorough self evaluation, instead of just throw out a catch-all descriptor word or phrase, such as “Okay,” “Not bad,” “Have been better.”
And, whereas “How are you” elicits words as a response, “What’s your bandwidth” seeks a numerical response.
In keeping with the saying, “Numbers don’t lie,” it’s likely that we gain a clearer sense of how someone is “doing” if they take stock of their energy, stress, thinking patterns, responsibilities, grief, degree of personal needs being met, fears, nourishment, etc. and put a number value on it, on a scale of 0-10.
The benefit of getting to the truth of “How are you” is that it facilitates connection more easily and is more likely to conjure up empathy, which arguably, is one of the most important of human qualities, particularly nowadays.
So, if you run into someone at the grocery store on your rare outing beyond your neighborhood, and you learn that they are a “4” that day, that number response is more likely to make you empathize than if they reply with an unenthusiastic, “Okay.”
The “4” might even motivate you to check in with them later on, which is support that is less likely to develop from a rote response.
As someone who typically prizes words more than numbers, I surprised even myself with this idea. Learning that Brené Brown developed a number tool to use in her own marriage probably inspired me to entertain it.
More significantly though, given all we’re dealing with, the usual exchange involving “How are you” now demands deeper understanding and sincerity.
An added benefit of discovering (and sharing) what your bandwidth number is, is the increased likelihood that we begin to offer compassion to ourselves. This is HUGE because when we practice self-compassion, we begin to heal.
Then, more really amazing things can happen: as we pursue a path of healing, the undermining “inner critic” in our mind loses power over us. Consequently, we are not so hard on ourselves. What follows is renewed energy and spaciousness. From these qualities, creativity elevates and we are able to solve problems more effectively.
That’s quite a ripple effect from just quantifying personal bandwidth!
The process is not linear, of course as our number differs depending on our circumstances. Extreme fluctuation reduces over time, however, as we engage in that crucial beginning step—self-compassion.
We’re witnessing many different ripple effects because of the Coronavirus, but the one I just described is more subtle and thus, more difficult to observe and track.
Nonetheless, it is powerful and well worth initiating.
This chain reaction starts with a number—the one in you.
So, let’s get it rolling…”What’s your bandwidth?”
Want to share your number with me? Or, need help figuring out your number and would like support unpacking it? Contact me…I am holding limited, free virtual “Office Hours” and would love to serve you!