With South Africans experiencing increased levels of stress and anxiety, it’s time for us once again to be more authentic with each other.
For most including myself, this is how we start off a mail or conversation. Over the past few years though, this question has carried a bit more weight, especially for those who have been honest in their reply.
In most cases, “I hope all is well” and “how are you” are very automated, as are their responses. I was hopeful that empathy and real interest in people’s wellbeing would remain a little longer, where we can have authentic conversations around how people really are and do so with genuine concern and intention.
But it seems that the tide has changed with empathy turning into intolerance because people are just ‘over it’.
This is possibly partly due to the fact that with all the added pressures of life, that we are just not as happy as we once were. South Africa has been ranked 91 in the world and achieved 5/9 in the 2022 World Happiness Report.
We are known for our resilience as a nation, so it was interesting going through the BrandMapp Authentic Resilience Report where they have identified myths of resilience (there are #10), one of which was ‘bouncing back’. To quote: “What we know to be true is that anyone who has experienced severe trauma, loss or adversity knows there is simply no bouncing. You can’t un-see what you have seen, you can’t un-experience what you’ve experienced, and you simply cannot go back, as much as you might want to.”
I am concerned at some of the behaviours that we are accepting and in some cases fuelling without any consideration for the human on the other end. I know that we have heard this so many times and that it is sure to receive some eyerolls – but we are not all in the same boat – our perspectives and circumstances are different and for most individuals, the impact will remain for many months and years to come.
So, for those wanting everyone to just get over it – we can’t. We cannot go back to before. There continues to be increased levels of anxiety and stress.
What we can do though is be more understanding of new circumstances. What we can do is take a real interest in our tribes – not to judge but to understand. What we can do is lift up not break down. What we can do is lead with empathy and through our actions grow ourselves.
So, to close, I have one question: How are you? To be clear, I ask this with real interest and genuine intention (as some of you already know).
Maggie Pronto is business unit manager at The MediaShop.
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