Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Frustration and Expectation

Do you feel frustration a lot? If you experience it occasionally, that’s normal and fine, but if you feel it quite frequently, that’s not so healthy. I will talk about the emotion of frustration today.

We feel our basic emotions, such as anger, sadness, joy, and fear, naturally from birth, but frustration is more complicated: When we have some “expectation” of something and this expectation is not met, we get disappointed and experience “frustration.” Without such expectation, we would not have frustration, even if other emotions may be experienced.

We tend to have a lot of expectations of ourselves, our spouse, family, company, others, society, and so on. And the more expectations, the more disappointment and frustration we end up having. What is most important in this picture is to look into our expectations themselves, instead of experiencing frustration and/or frustrating situations.

Our “normal” is not really normal for everyone. It varies between individuals, cultures, and generations. What we think how things should be is not an absolute common belief. Others and society actually rarely satisfy our desires. The important thing is to understand and admit what are reasonable expectations “at this point,” “realistically speaking.”

As a result, there is some sense of “acceptance.” Based on this acceptance of reality, we can make a decision of what to do and how to do. For example, either to promote improvement, give up, avoid, etc.

What’s essential here is to recognize what is under our control, and what is out of our control. If we try to do something beyond our locus of control, the worries and expectation will be unresolved with an outcome of disappointment and exhaustion. Sticking to the realm under our control and doing what we can do is most important.

Excessive and unrealistic expectation is nothing but harmful. It is helpful to reexamine your expectations for yourself, others, and the world.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

A Inspirational Short Story to Share

I was taking a yoga class and the teacher shared a very short story which struck me. I wanted to share it with you today.




There is a story they tell of two dogs.

Both at separate times
walk into the same room.
One comes out wagging his tail
while the other comes out growling.

A woman watching this
goes into the room to see
what could possibly make one dog so happy
and the other so mad.

To her surprise
she finds a room filled with mirrors.

The happy dog found
a thousand happy dogs looking back at him
while the angry dog
saw only angry dogs growling back at him.

What you see in the world around you
is a reflection of who you are.


How do you like this story?

Although not always the case, this is often how we behave. We psychologists call it “projection” where we project our unwanted feelings onto others, and react to them, without knowing the feelings are coming from us. If we are open to our own emotional experience, accepting them without any self-judgment, we can be ourselves, and let those around be themselves too.

*I was unable to find the author of this story, although I spent some time trying to research it, so I could not add a reference to it. If anyone happens to know exactly where it is from, please let me know and I will add the information.

Monday, October 14, 2019

"I’m sorry, Okay?"

I’m not a “Doctor of Censorship” or a “word-hunter,” but I do pay attention to the possible psychological and relational impacts of our expressions, because coaching clients on effective communication strategies is one of my areas of expertise. In the past, as some of you know, I talked about “Shoulds and Shouldn’ts,” “I know, I know,” “I feel guilty,” “Are you Okay?” “Be more positive,” and “Yes, but…” Today, I would like to briefly write about the very common expression, “I’m sorry, Okay?”

The reason I wanted to talk about this expression is because it appears that some people genuinely don’t know why they receive negative responses from others whom they sincerely apologized to. They made an apology, they meant it, but it still won’t work… It makes them feel sad, frustrated and so powerless. One of the possible reasons is that they used “I’m sorry, Okay?,” and if that’s the case, it is something that is so easy to fix. That’s why it is worth it to be aware of using this expression. 

“I’m sorry” is an expression with strong power. When we own up to our mistake and sincerely apologize for it, it can change others’ minds and hearts instantly. We are aware that we all make mistakes and we are kind to each other for that reason. But if someone does not apologize but keeps making excuses, that triggers us negatively so much.

When you add “Okay?” after “I’m sorry,” it actually works negatively. When we say, “I’m sorry,” it is an apology and the respondents tend to feel better. On the contrary, when you say, “I’m sorry, Okay?,” then the respondents feels forced to dismiss things while forgiving this person no matter what. This “Okay?” means, “I did apologize to you, so now you need to shut up and let it go. Forget about it, Okay?” Of course, it does not work! It is so useless as a function of an apology. The similar issue happens when people say “I’m sorry, but…” Once you add “but,” now your apology is not working as an apology but making an excuse, which does not work effectively, either. This issue is similar to “Yes, but….

In short, if you mean to say, “I’m sorry,” do not add “Okay?” or “but…” A simple and sincere apology is the best way to ask for forgiveness. Even if we are so anxious to be forgiven or to explain things, adding these words really affects the effectiveness of the apology negatively. It’s sad when what you are trying to do won’t work. So let’s be careful, shall we?

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Decision Making in Crisis

I took a workshop last weekend about legal and ethical issues, something which psychologists are required to do every two years. For some reason I love to learn about legal and ethical problems and the workshop was quite enjoyable, even if the room was freezing and my back was hurting a lot!

One of the remarkable things based on a various research that was addressed at the workshop was how our emotional state can influence our decision making and behaviors when we are in trouble. Putting it simply according to my understanding, when we are experiencing fight or flight mode, our anger or anxiety/fear can impact our actions more than we realize. Therefore, a major recommendation was to slow down. When we are threatened and in crisis, we need to slow down by consulting with others, relaxing, breathing deeply, and the like, so that we don’t screw things up. Yes, that’s understandable.

At the same time, interestingly, the importance of our emotions in the decision-making process was also emphasized. This means that if we ignore, disregard, or detach our emotional state, our decisions won’t be the best, either. This can be counter-intuitive for some “logical” people, but it has been found to be so, and I have seen it as well.

What is cool about these two important findings is that it aligns with what I have been believing and advocating for: I have been encouraging people to acknowledge, accept, and as needed express their emotions, instead of avoiding and ignoring them. In a crisis situation, for example, we may feel angry and/or fearful. If we can acknowledge those feelings and accept them, that itself would slow down our reactivity. Also if we express our emotions, we can consult with someone or undertake some more introspection. When we do that, we are no longer just emotional beings; we are now aware that we are experiencing our emotions. These two states are quite different.

The bottom line is that in catastrophic situations, we may want to acknowledge, accept, and as needed, express our emotions, so that we can slow down our reactive process, while remaining in touch with our emotions. This way we can make the best decision and take action. It sounds quite reasonable and helpful to me. How about you? 

Thursday, September 19, 2019

So many “Shoulds” and “Shouldn’ts!”

Are you aware of using the word “should” frequently through the day? Do you also notice people around you also using this word many times? If you can answer “No” to these questions, you are lucky and you can stop reading now! For the rest, quite possibly a majority of you, I’d like you to know that overusing the word, “should,” has a negative impact on you and others, as I will explain today.

First, please know that this use of “should” that I am writing about includes “have to,” “must,” and “ought to” as well. Therefore, please don’t feel relieved if you often use “have to” instead of “should.” You will still benefit from this post. All of these have similar impact on us.

Of course, I would not deny there are things we “should” and “shouldn’t” do, such as taking care of our children, following basic rules, not violating others’ rights, breaking promises, not killing people, and so on. Yes, I am aware of that. However, do you realize that we do not have as many things we really “should” or “shouldn’t” do as might be indicated by our frequent use of should? It’s actually much less!

Why do you think I am against the heavy usage of “should” and “shouldn’t?” That’s because “should” gives us a sense of obligation, and if we don’t do what we “should” do, then we end up feeling bad and guilty. If you keep using this term on yourself a lot, you will be feeling bound, suffocated, and overwhelmed in your life, because you have little sense of freedom left, but rather a feeling of so much obligation which may not be really necessary. Also, if you allow someone to use this term with respect to you a lot, you will lose your sense of autonomy and power, and you will be emotionally submissive to the person and the “should” statements. You may even rebel and fight back unnecessarily instead. “Should” and “shouldn’t” pressure us in a certain direction, but we often don’t notice its subtle impact on us; this is the big risk and problem. 

In reality, so many things we do in our life are actually optional. Even eating three times a day or helping out someone who just fell on the ground is up to you. Lots of people say, “You should take care of your elderly parents,” but even this is a choice you can make, not an obligation. (By the way, I am aware of a lot of cultural and racial norms around this particular example, but still, it is not an automatic obligation). There are things good to do and not good to do, but it is still optional and you can choose if you want to do them or not.

As another example, you might be in the habit of saying, “We should have lunch with so-and-so next weekend.” Try to start saying something like, “Let’s have lunch…” or “I’d like to have lunch…” Using these alternatives psychologically changes your thinking from obligation to something you choose and want to do. If you avoid using “should” and “shouldn’t,” you can feel more aware of your own options being your own choices. Because it is optional, you can pick and choose what are optimal for you and your loved ones, and what are not. As a result, you can simply your life and use your own energy and resources more effectively with a better mood.

You may be afraid of what will happen if you stop using “should” when it’s really about something that is an option,  but you will actually be surprised how much freer you feel once you rid yourself of this term. And now you can choose to do what you choose to do for yourself and your loved ones. This shift makes your life more fruitful and fulfilling. 

Monday, September 9, 2019

"I know, I know"

Do you know anyone who often says, “I know,” or “I know, I know?” If you do, you may gain some insight into this today. And if YOU often say, “I know,” or “I know, I know,” you may want to continue reading. In short, this phrase can be quite annoying, and I will explain why today.

When is it that we hear this response? Usually, when you confront someone with something they either omitted to do, or vice versa. Then they say, “I know, I know.”

On the surface it sounds fine, doesn’t it? They are responding to you by saying, “I know,” so there is no disagreement or complaint with you or what you said to them. However, there are a few issues with it.

First, if they already “know” it, why haven’t they done what they were supposed to do? Knowing and doing are quite different things and if they haven’t done what they should, or did what they shouldn’t, knowing it does not matter, and their response is tricky and annoying.

Second, “I know, I know” actually implies “You shut up, I don’t want to hear about it.” Because they already “know” it, they don’t what to hear anything further, and they want you to shut up.  This is essentially what this phrase really means.

Third, when they say, “I know,” they can distract themselves from the fact that they are NOT doing what they are supposed to do. Because they say, “I know,” they can psych themselves into believing that they are doing something right in acknowledging their failure, which allows them to forget about the fact that they have failed some way.

As you can see, “I know, I know” doesn’t really work as intended many times. It’s instead annoying and upsetting to others for these reasons. And it does not even beneficially serve the person who is saying it, because he/she never faces the facts of their behavior. Not cool, is it?

A lot of people use this expression so often without understanding its possible negative impacts on themselves and the person they are talking to. You may want to think about it before you use it. Perhaps next time you can reply something like “You are right, I did not do it (sorry). I will do something about it,” or something like that. What do you think (*Don't say, "I know" please!)?

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Message from Sharon Hou


Hi!  My name is Sharon Hou. I am thrilled and honored to join the wonderful team of Dr. Riichiro Miwa Psychological Services as a registered Associate Marriage and Family Therapist!

I earned my M.A. Degree in Clinical Psychology with a specialization in Marriage and Family Therapy from Azusa Pacific University.  Before my professional psychology training, I also received a Master’s degree in Theology, as well as a graduate program in Education.  I have many years of experience in teaching and assisting people dealing with their academic, emotional, psychological, relational and spiritual struggles.

It has always been my passion and practice to guide people to resolve conflicts in their relationships and marriages.  In addition, my education and training have equipped me to treat peoples mental illnesses. I am here to accompany you to work through pain, loneliness, trauma, and loss.  My experience enables me to help women gain comfort and peace after suffering from miscarriages, abortions, and struggles with infertility.  I find great joy when my clients experience emotional healing, develop confidence, and regain hope and vitality.

Moreover, I am specialized in diversity related issues as well. First, I am fluent in both English and Mandarin Chinese (See 中文網頁).  As someone who grew up in a bicultural background, I am capable of providing unique and helpful insights in dealing with problems caused by multi-cultural/inter-generational settings.  Furthermore, I desire to provide support for individuals, couples, and families of LGBTQ community who experience difficulties in finding congruence and acceptance of their sexuality within society and their wider family settings.

Lastly, I offer spiritual counseling and assistance for people encountering religious or spiritual struggles or crisis.  I treat clients of all ages including teens, young adults, adults, and the elderly, whether individuals, couples, or families.

I look forward to hearing from you and to answer any question you may have.

Feel free to contact me at:


4540 Campus Dr., Suite 146
Newport Beach,
CA 92612

Confidential Phone

949-415-6258

Email

Sharonhoumft@gmail.com

Additional Information about Sharon:
Link to Therapists Introduction
Link to Psychology Today Page
中文資訊網頁連結



Wednesday, August 7, 2019

NAMI Presentation

Have you heard of NAMI?

NAMI is the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the biggest support group for mental illness. This is a non-profit organization and volunteer based, and so many people, particularly families with mentally ill patients are receiving its great support.

Last month, I was honored to be invited to give a presentation about mental illnesses for one of NAMI’s branches, and I had a great time with so many people who had good attention and questions!

 
 


If you know anybody who is struggling with his/her family member’s mental illness, NAMI is one of the valuable options for them for a support group, psychoeducation, and informative presentations like I did. See nami.org for more information.

There will also be an annual fundraising event, NAMI Walks 5K, in different locations from September to October 2019. If anyone is interested, please take a look at namiwalk.org.

*For Japanese speaking people, there is actually a Japanese speaking group in the South Bay area of Los Angeles: Japanese Speaking Support Group (JSSG). You may want to check this out as well!

Monday, June 10, 2019

Why Not Breathe More Slowly and Deeply??

One of the easiest and simplest ways to reduce your experience of anxiety and stress is deeper and slower breathing. You have heard about it many times, haven’t you? If you are suffering from anxiety, obsessive thoughts, stress, pressure, worries, etc., it is really helpful to incorporate deep and slow breathing in your life. However, many people don’t do that but still complain about their emotional problems. This breathing is free, effective, and with no side effects… Why not?? Today, I won’t talk about the importance of deep breathing (because many people have done it already everywhere!), but share my thoughts on why people don’t.

Stubbornness?: I think one of the biggest reasons is we are just so stubborn and inflexible. We like and follow our routine, and it is just so difficult to change the routine, including our way of breathing. It does not matter if we are benefitting from our routine or not. We just continue it. When I do life-coaching, this is one of the biggest obstacles I have to deal with, and I have to use a variety of behavior-modification strategies to make a change. We can read what’s good for us and what works for our life from many personal development books and websites, and if we all follow some good ideas and advice, people are much happier and healthier by now, right? That’s not how we normally are. Therefore, we first need to understand our fundamental difficulties with changing our routine, and learn how to manipulate ourselves to incorporate something new.

Not Magical Enough?: Also, probably breathing appears too dull and simple to be something to get excited about. Like a variety of diet plans and exercise machines people are fascinated about and fail at repeatedly, we just want something that look special, sexy, and magical. Something that is strangely and magically easy and effective to make everything so great! Breathing sounds so boring and too simple, like eating healthy and exercising more. Therefore, it does not appeal so much.

Don’t Know How?: In addition, I have to say many people don’t really know how to deep breathe effectively. I teach my clients how to deep breathe effectively, and most of them use their chest, instead of their diaphragm. As a result, it is not only less effective but also uncomfortable. Obviously, if it does not feel good or work effectively, people don’t want to continue it.

Lack of Self-Monitoring?: Self-monitoring is another interesting factor. When my co-author and I did research in Japan about deep breathing and self-monitoring in different populations, we were surprised how many people cannot even monitor their emotional experience and condition, as well as their environmental factors. Such a big lack of awareness was one of the common issues we observed. If you don’t pay attention to your own experience, you cannot even notice how your breathing is affecting you and your life. Therefore, people don’t do it, because they don’t notice the difference!

I have shared some reasons why I think people don’t take advantage of deep breathing. I don’t blame people for not utilizing deep and slow breathing, because it is not as easy as it sounds as I mentioned above. At the same time, if you slow down and deepen your breathing as part of your regular breathing, or for just 10 minutes a day (or even just a few breaths!), you can notice a remarkable difference. I personally want to do something that is simple, free, effective, and has no side effects for myself. What about you?

Monday, June 3, 2019

Let go of Shame-Full-Ness

Last time I discussed important issues related to abusing and misusing the feeling of “guilty.” When guilt is mentioned, another important emotional experience needs to be addressed as well: SHAME!

In some study, guilt was considered to be experienced more among Western societies, whereas shame was experienced more in Japan. This is said to be because of the absence of belief in one God, insularism, and an emphasis on the public eye in Japan. There may be some differences in degree, but I do often see both of these painful emotions in the US and Japan. You don’t believe that Westerners don’t feel shame much, would you? Right; I didn’t think so.

When it comes to shame, the feeling comes from imagining the judgement of others, of being under the eye of others. It is not about the laws or right and wrong as is the case with guilt, but rather with how others see you or what you did, that is the fundamental basis for the feeling of shame. We are shy, we are afraid of judgment, and we want to look good... Therefore, it is totally understandable that we worry about others’ watchful eye causing feelings of shame. However, many feelings of shame that people experience appear to be so unnecessary.

There are actually not so many things about which you can really can truly make yourself feel shame about. Well, if you killed puppies for fun or slept with your spouse’s best friend on your wedding day, you can definitely feel ashamed, and I would agree with it. It is a normal feeling of shame and nothing is wrong with it. But I don’t think most of you who are reading it really do such things in general, do you? Then why do you still end up feeling shame?

One possible and simple reason is that you still allow yourself to be surrounded by unreasonably critical, abusive, insecure, or judgmental people. These people cause feelings of shame in others, because that serves them well by hurting others. Or it’s a matter of them projecting their emotional issues onto others in a form of shaming. They need you to feel shame, and they make sure it happens to you intentionally or unintentionally (either way is irrelevant).

If you say you are NOT surrounded by these kinds of people, but you still experience a lot of shame, then it may be a less simple matter. Another possible reason is you have internalized those who shamed you in the past, which can be your parents, grandparents, teachers, preachers, ex-friends, etc. Something might have happened to you once or many times when you are younger, and you internalized this experience and overgeneralized it. We may not remember what happened, and it could be just because you dropped a glass of milk by an accident or some such small thing. Still, if it was internalized as a shameful event because somebody at that time made you feel so, and then this installed emotional experience is repeated again and again, and now you don’t even remember how it even started.

Then what can we do? In a way, it is simple, although probably a very scary challenge. You do not need to keep such shaming people in your life! If you have such people in your life currently, let them go or drastically minimize your contact with them. Nothing can justify your keeping these people in your life. It is okay not to have people with venom in your life.  If it is because of internalized experience, and you don’t have the people at the root of these feelings of shame in your life any longer, it is still important for you to let it go psychologically. A long time ago, someone at that time thought you were shameful or you did something shameful. So what? One, it was not true unless you killed puppies or something like that, and two, you are no longer such a powerless and scared child. You are now more mature and stronger. You can just let it go and live your life without shame. If you feel shameful a lot, your life is shame-full. Let go of these people. Being shameless means living without shaming people in your life!



Monday, April 29, 2019

Be careful of saying “I feel guilty.”

As you may know, I really value all of our emotional experiences. Even something that is very “negative,” embarrassing, and/or uncomfortable, when it comes to our emotional experience, has to be acknowledged, accepted, and expressed. There is no benefit gained from ignoring, pushing down, or distracting ourselves from these emotions, and not expressing them in some situations. However, when it comes to feelings of “guilt”, I warn you to be very careful and not to misuse this expression, because doing so can lead to unnecessary suffering on your part.

You can feel guilty only when you did “something tangibly wrong”, such as something illegal and/or immoral or bad. Other than those situations, you CANNNOT feel guilty. I know many people cannot help but feel guilty, even when they have done nothing wrong, but such painful feelings CANNOT be labeled as guilt. They are actually something else, probably relabeling of such things as feeling “bad,” “sad,” “helpless,” “anxious,” and such.

It is very very important not to misuse the word “guilt,” although it is just a word. Do you have any idea why that is? Because although it is just a word, it has strong power over our psychological elements.

Let me give you an example. Assume you have an alcoholic brother who has been asking you for money for years. You have helped him out many times, but the result has been the same, and he is still a drunk with no motivation. You finally decide to choose yourself and your family and/or family of choice over him and say “No” to him, but you feel “guilty.” In this scenario, did you do anything wrong,  something illegal or immoral? No, you did not. So, it is not “guilty” feelings, but you are really feeling “sad,” “helpless,” and “bad” about the situation and about him.

If you mislabel it as guilt, then you cannot help but feel you are doing something wrong, and you will end up experiencing some internal pressure to do something for him, no matter how much you know that he will not change or even appreciate it. If you don’t do anything with this guilt, you will now suffer so badly because of this “guilt,” because you feel you did not do anything for him. Pay attention: If you label your feelings as feeling sad, helpless, and bad about the situation and/or about him, you won’t need to struggle over the strong internal pressure you would have experienced otherwise with labeling your feelings as “guilt.” You still feel a lot of emotion, but then you may be able to accept your powerlessness over the situation more calmly in time. It is just a matter of words, but it has strong psychological power.

Many people misuse the word “guilt,” and suffer a lot unnecessarily as a result. Yes, it is still awful to witness someone we love or care for doing something that is not good for themselves and/or suffering from their own issues over which we are powerless. We feel bad. But it is not our wrongdoing and our feelings can’t be called “guilt.” This is very important and if you tend to feel guilty often, try to pay good attention to what you are doing, and if in fact it is not something that is wrong, then correct this misused expression. You will notice something is different in you as a result.

As the expression “guilt-trip” suggests, the word “guilt” itself has strong manipulative power to it. When we have done nothing that is actually bad or wrong, using accurate words other than guilt to label our feelings is really helpful in our lives.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The Fear of Being Weak

I often wonder when it was that thinking of yourself as weak became to be considered a bad thing. And why is it that when people think of asking for help, they think “I’m weak so I should not ask for help and just stay strong?” Why do people say “I should not cry because it is a sign of weakness?” Sooo many people hold this strange belief, and it’s not only men who often tend to be afraid of looking weak, but women too. Honestly, it’s REALLY a lot of people! This is a silly belief so let’s talk about it today.

First, is being weak a bad thing? What are you talking about?! We are human, not robots. We have times of being strong, and we have times of being weak. So what!? Unless you constantly have what people commonly call “nervous breakdowns” or take “mental health days” every week or so, you are just a normal human-being. Even if you maintain your condition really well physically, mentally, and spiritually, horrible things can and do happen, and we all suffer at times.

Second, is crying weak? Honestly speaking, if you cannot allow yourself to cry when you want or need to, that   is actually weaker, don’t you think? Why is that? Why is it that you cannot cry? Is it that you are so “afraid” of other’s judgment that you cannot let it out? Is it that you are concerned about how you look to others, or how others think of you? Is it that you are unsure if you could recover from “breaking down”? All of these are big signs of “weakness.” If you want to be really “strong,” you need to respect and accept your emotional experience, even painful and uncomfortable ones, while having faith in yourself and others around you, don’t you think? 

Third, is asking for help weak? Gosh, this is such a common misunderstanding I see in the US. So many people have a big issue with asking for help. And as a result, you may not be able to complete your task, you cannot get things done appropriately, or you have a “nervous breakdown.” This is not a sign of your strength. Really strong people know that they can trust people who are willing to support them, while objectively and accurately assessing what help and support they can utilize for a better outcome. That is a real strength, isn’t it? Again, if you are afraid of others’ judgment about your asking someone for assistance, no, you are not proving your strength.

This “fear of being weak” is so common and so misconstrued. Please think about yourself and if you happen to blindly believe this misconception, this is the time to rewrite your script and become really “strong!”

Monday, March 18, 2019

Gifted… Cursed as well


For some reason, I have met a good number of gifted, smart, specially talented people both through my work and in my private life. They work not only in academia, but also in the professions, art, or some other particular areas. Being gifted sounds great, right? But their suffering is often overlooked. I am quite familiar with such experience, and have helped out people with smart brains and/or special talents, and believe that such gifts can be a curse. Gifted people may need more support than people usually think.

“Normal” means “belonging to the majority.” Below and above the majority is called “abnormal” by definition. This is not necessarily a good or a bad thing, but just a matter of the numbers. Since being gifted is actually considered “abnormal,” gifted people can experience some challenges in their lives.

Why is that? Consider the challenges endured by left-handed people, for example. The world we live in is designed for right-handed people overall. Therefore, if you are left-handed, scissors, doors, switches, etc., so many things were not designed for them, and their difficulties are often overlooked or simply ignored.

When it comes to gifted/smarter people, their “normal” is not the majority’s normal. What they see/experience is not what the majority sees or experiences. Often those with gifts see things more quickly, more deeply, and with a different perspective. As a result, they often experience misunderstanding, isolation, rejection, and difficulty connecting with others.  Some even self-sabotage to fit in with others. It is just not easy for them to perform to their full potential because their perspectives are not within the range of normal.

This is very tragic for those born with some special abilities. Their gifts may work as a curse, causing them suffering. When I meet such people through work, my focus is to help them understand who they are and what they have, and why some areas of their lives have been so difficult, while helping them learn how they can still fully perform to their full potential. They can still live to their full potential while being connected with others. This is liberating, freeing, and a big relief for them to discover.

My message to you today is that if you are gifted, or if you know someone who is gifted, please make sure you understand this challenging reality for you/them. And as needed, please allow yourself or give them support, because it may change your/their life. 

Monday, March 11, 2019

Tips for more effective couple communication


Last time, I introduced a really helpful perspective called ECU(A). The more I guided my clients with it, the more I am convinced that it is really effective. However, there have been some questions about the implementation of this ECU(A), and I will talk about it today.

The concept of ECU(A) is quite simple. You Express your needs/wants to your partner. If it does not work, don’t become distant but get Closer, and then Understand your partner’s feelings, thoughts, and experience, instead of defending yourself, offending your partner, or even trying to make yourself understood by your partner. And as needed, you Act sweet to get it done.

The biggest challenge here for many couples often is how to put it into effect when you get emotionally charged. Even if you know what to do, you may be too upset to do it. This is a reasonable and realistic concern. If you are too flooded with emotion, you cannot put it into practice correctly. Therefore, you need to take care.

There are a few effective strategies when you are too upset to implement the ECU strategy.

First one is taking Time Out. You take some break to calm down first. It could be 5 minutes, 5 hours, or 5 days. It depends on how badly you are flooded with emotion and how much time you need to calm down. The length is not usually a problem, unless it is a time sensitive issue. The most important thing when you take time out is to let your partner know when you will get back to them. It is your obligation to let your partner know when the conversation resumes. Without doing this, your time out will just work as a passively aggressive behavior, and it will not help. Without setting the time to resume, you can never take time out.

Secondly, calm down together. You can take a deep breath together with your partner, for example. You can also make some tea and have a break together, take a walk quietly together, any activity that makes both you and your partner calm down is great. Once calmed down, now you can resume your ECU(A).

By the way, this “A” part is sometimes forgotten. Chanel your inner actor/actress to perform it well in a sweet and loving manner. Your partner is not your enemy and hurting your partner is hurting yourself, that’s why this “A” is really worth it. Sometimes some people say, “Oh but it is not my authentic self!” or the like, but if your “authentic self” is acting uncooperatively and it is hurting yourself and your partner, you really need to think about it, don’t you? If you implement it well, you will find it very effective. Try it and see what happens!