So, How Are You Doing?

by Belinda Munoz on August 2, 2010

how ya doin

It’s a simple question.  Often I have a stock answer to whip out at the ready with little variation for who’s asking.


A telemarketer?  “I’m fine.  What is this call about?”

A colleague? “Great!  What’s goin’ on with you?”

Someone close?  “All is good.  I’m (insert news here).  Husband is (provide a few choice details).  Son is (rave about his latest antics.)”


The question is a basic construct designed to show good manners.  Rarely does anyone delve too deeply.  I mean, really.  Outside the bonds of a close friendship, who has the time, the moxie, and the skill to pry and gain someone’s confidence to the point of coaxing a confession of deeper, darker truths?  And if you had all of the above, what would you do if you found out something weighty?

Upon closer examination, it’s a question that doesn’t seem so simple after all.  Beyond the superficial, each of us possesses a tangle of angles that whispers or shouts doubts into our psyche.

There’s the physical.

There’s the spiritual.

There’s the emotional.

There’s the social and so on and so forth.

There’s the real or imagined or perceived (or false but believed).  And then there’s the steady stream of what’s indistinguishable, unrecognizable or unidentifiable.  “Damn those carcinogens in barbecue!”  “Was that barb directed at me?”  “Oh no, did I just embarrass myself?”

Suddenly, fine isn’t fine, good isn’t good, great isn’t great and getting unstuck from the subject becomes as easy as finding a living dinosaur.


There is an inclination to obsess (some may say focus) on this snarl of slants we each possess.  The many parts of us — a chaos of characteristics fused together, at times, a clutter of contradictions — collide and sometimes cloud how well we’re really doing.  It happens to the best of us, doesn’t it?

I’m no stranger to doubt.  But I’d like to believe that I know it well enough to sneak a few inches ahead of it.  Not always, but enough times.

I’d like to think I’m doing well as long as:

+ I can express gratitude for at least one thing about each day.

+ I can laugh at myself.

+ I can apologize and ask for forgiveness.

+ I can remember to take my keys with me most of the time.

+ I can try again later if I fail to do or be something now.

+ I can recognize how much I rely on others’ presence in my life.

+ I can listen to my heart’s deepest desires despite the relentless mental mutterings. (Oooh, this is a controversial one isn’t it?  Luckily, my thick-skinned heart can take it.)

+ I can walk away from things that don’t matter much to me.

+ I can run toward those who I love the most.

+ I can acknowledge that you might not want to know that much about me so I’ll stop right here.

Sure, I can always do better.  But for now, I’m good with well.


So, how are you doing?
How do you deal with self-doubt?
How do you keep yourself from undermining how well you’re doing?


Image by Tambako the Jaguar

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August 2, 2010 at 11:45 am

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 TheKitchenWitch August 2, 2010 at 4:33 am

I’m doing fine, thanks. Except now I’m worrying about the carcinogens in barbecue…you crack me up!


2 Aging Mommy August 2, 2010 at 7:26 am

Very clever again, it is so very easy to look for the “non fine” aspects about our life right now, health or otherwise and obsess about that instead of focusing on what IS fine and dandy. The glass half empty view of life.

As for your release list – if I could manage just half of those each day I’d be doing a whole lot better I think at it all, so I need to try harder I think!


3 Meg August 2, 2010 at 7:27 am

I’m fine, thank you and stopped barbecuing a long time ago. ;)

I deal with self-doubt by accepting that nobody REALLY knows anything about anything we REALLY want to know about, which means we all give it our best guess, our best shot; the playing field of Larger Questions is actually quite level. Everything else is whatever we make of it and sometimes we are well-suited for it and sometimes we aren’t.

A lot of successful people are really good at playing the long game, and I’ve learned to remind myself of this in order to not give up too soon or to get discouraged during rough patches. And the older I get, the more I’m playing the game just to be playing it, and not worrying too much about the ultimate goal. It keeps time from seeming to pass to quickly.

Which seems to say I might not even want to know the answers to the Larger Questions, and thus perpetuate the illusion that universal doubt is a level playing field.

How about that for a Moebius-strip of thoughts? Now for my second cuppa coffee… ;D


4 Nikole Hahn August 2, 2010 at 9:35 am

This post was very lyrical. I enjoyed reading it.

Things manage to weigh me down and my “mental mutterings” manage to add some weight to those things, and then I realize I have to sweep out the doubt, the paranoia, and the other less productive feelings in there in order to see what is working, the possiblities, and to weather through a particularly tough moment to persevere to the next moment when things will work once again the way I wish them to work or as close to that as possible. LOL.

I know what you mean.

“How are you?” Most people ask me.

“Pretty good.” My standard answer.

“Only pretty good?” As if I am not in my best mood when I am at the time they are asking me.

“More than pretty good.” I smile.

Usually, these questions come in passing and I normally don’t encourage the long drawn out conversations that would evolve if I were to answer in detail and truthfully. Most people probaly don’t want to hear the details. I wonder if we are becoming disconnected as a society?


5 Sara August 2, 2010 at 10:11 am


Once again the blogosphere has done it’s magic. Today is sort of down day for me as my kid left for grad school. Yours is the second site I’ve visited and both of you had different, but similar messages for me.

I loved your list and it’s such a good reminder for me. While I might be a bit sad, it’s just one part of me. All in all, there are many reasons to feel good. I just have to see them; bring them to the forefront.

Thanks for this post:~)


6 Christine LaRocque August 2, 2010 at 11:35 am

I would be doing so much better if I could walk away from the things that don’t matter too. Appreciated this perspective, and the call to reality. Really, all things seriously considered I’m really very well. And I LOVE to hear about you :-)


7 Justine August 2, 2010 at 1:08 pm

Belinda – when I first moved to this country, I was taken aback when people asked “how are you?” but didn’t so much as glance at you for an answer as they kept walking towards their destination. It took me awhile to get used people who asked but didn’t quite want to know., and I was often perplexed: then why ask? A simple “Hi” would have sufficed and felt more genuine. Acknowledge. Move on.

And when people do stop for the answer, I have to craft the response based on our relationship, the intent of the question and the time that we have for a conversation. A simple “how are you?” is not that simple, as you’ve eloquently pointed out here. You process so much in the quick second you take to answer that question, including how you really feel versus what you end up saying.

Thank you for this insightful piece. (And yes, I’m smiling at our oddly parallel post titles today).


8 BigLittleWolf August 2, 2010 at 2:57 pm

What a delicious musing – and over a seemingly simple question that is always loaded, not to mention culturally charged. (I smile, thinking back to the number of times my European father-in-law asked why we Americans ask questions like “how are you” if we don’t really want an answer other than “fine thanks.”)

I loved this: the many parts of us — a chaos of characteristics fused together, at times, a clutter of contradictions – how true!

How am I today? Who’s asking? And in what context? :)


9 Jenny August 2, 2010 at 3:38 pm

Hello Belinda,
Another lovely post to add to the list.
I am doing fine. I deal with self-doubt sometimes by reminding myself that I cannot control outcomes, only actions and so I need to be willing to act, accept the outcome and know that good or bad, I am learning and therefore growing so it’s all good.
Other times, I procrastinate…. ;)
I work to keep myself from undermining what I’m doing by paying attention to my thoughts and working to dump the thoughts that don’t serve me. I’m not always successful, but… it’s a process.


10 Tess The Bold Life August 2, 2010 at 5:11 pm

How am I? As happy as I make up my mind to be. Thanks for asking. I was laughing at the end of your list.


11 Tony Single August 2, 2010 at 7:36 pm

So, how are you doing?
Better than yesterday, thank you for asking. :)

How do you deal with self-doubt?
I don’t really. I ought to, but I don’t. I usually wait for the doubt to pass. It’s like depression that way, in that both do eventually give way to life’s needing to be lived.

How do you keep yourself from undermining how well you’re doing?
Again, something I tend to fail at. The only defense I have is to just keep doing doing doing, and try not to compare myself to others and what they do.


12 Meredith August 3, 2010 at 6:32 pm

“I can listen to my heart’s deepest desires despite the relentless mental mutterings.”

After that sentence, I’d venture a guess that you are doing beautifully, Belinda. It’s my first stop by your blog and it’s a beauty. Nice to meet you!


13 Patty - Why Not Start Now? August 3, 2010 at 9:13 pm

Hey Belinda – In my work, I actually get to ask people “How are you doing?” and they actually tell me how they’re doing. All of it. And I love it. I know it’s not practical for day to day life, but I wish there was more room for deeper exploration when we ask or are asked that question. Wow, what would the world be like if that happened? Maybe we’d all feel heard. And about doubt, well, I just love your tactics for staying a few inches ahead of it. Good stuff.


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