One of the topics that has been gaining more wide-spread attention lately is loneliness. Studies have found that loneliness can have detrimental effects on our health by impacting our healthy behaviors, cardiovascular system, stress hormones, and sleep patterns. Loneliness can impact our immune system, experience of pain, and ultimately, how long we live. Loneliness is an all too common experience in the U.S. and it is on the rise. The former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy called loneliness an epidemic. A study conducted by The Economist and the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) in 2018 found that 22% of Americans "always or often feel lonely, or lack companionship, or else feel left out or isolated." Given how many of us feel lonely and how damaging loneliness can be, I want to offer some strategies to combat loneliness and create deeper connections.
In the last blog post, I talked about awareness and understanding of self-sabotaging behaviors in romantic relationships. In this blog post, I will focus on some things that you can do to begin to heal and repair this pattern of self-sabotage. The first step, as I mentioned in the last blog post, is to identify why you might be engaging in self-sabotaging behaviors. Understanding the why can help you recognize that this coping strategy is no longer needed or helpful in the present and therefore, it might make it easier to let it go. Here are a few more practices to consider on your healing journey to create satisfying, nourishing and long-lasting relationships:
The recent tidal wave of individuals, mostly women, speaking up about their sexual harassment and sexual assault experiences is the culminations of years, decades, centuries of pent up fury and silence. The #MeToo movement is growing stronger and louder every day, led by courageous individuals in the public sphere and in my personal circles on social media. I have been wanting to write a blog post about this topic for awhile; it has taken me some time to digest the growing accounts of sexual violence and make sense of my own reactions. As I am writing this post I am still not sure I can clearly articulate my emotions related to all of this. As a woman of color and a survivor of countless sexual harassment experiences, my first reaction is of fierce pride for the individuals who have risked so much to speak up. My second reaction is of disgust at the perpetrators who have abused their power for so long with the assumption that their behaviors will be protected and rewarded. My third reaction is of anger at our society (a.k.a. all of us) for creating and maintaining a system that benefits perpetrators and perpetuates sexual violence. In this blog post, I want to address the question that I often hear asked about survivors of sexual violence: if this really happened, why didn't they speak up before?
I recently watched this amazing TEDx Talk by Jia Jiang on how he embraced his fear of rejection by challenging himself to ask for things that are likely to be turned down. He documented his 100 Days of Rejection on his blog with Youtube videos of each attempt. His asks are hilarious, ranging from asking to plant a flower in a stranger's backyard to sleeping in a mattress store. Along the way, he learned to manage his fear of rejection and discover how to turn a "no" into a "yes."
This week I have been thinking about forgiveness. I was inspired after listening to the TED Radio Hour episode on forgiveness. I was particularly moved by the TED Talk by Thordis Elva and Tom Stranger titled "Our Story of Rape and Reconciliation." Thordis and Tom talked about their shared experience as the perpetrator and survivor of rape. Thordis was 16 years old when her then boyfriend, Tom, raped her. He was an exchange student from Australia and he left for home shortly after the incident without recognizing what he had done. After 9 years, Thordis decided that she wanted to confront Tom and to find forgiveness. She said so powerfully in this talk, "But deep down I realized that this was my way out of my suffering. Because regardless of whether or not he deserved my forgiveness, I deserved peace. My era of shame was over." They talked over email and then met in person to work on reconciliation and forgiveness. Tom acknowledged then took up the responsibility and blame for his actions. They co-wrote a book about their experiences: South of Forgiveness: A True Story of Rape and Responsibility. The Dear Sugar Radio podcast titled "Dear Dad, It's Over" also touched upon forgiveness of hurtful relationship with parents.
"Because regardless of whether or not he deserved my forgiveness, I deserved peace."
This week, I am excited to share with you a brief interview that I had with psychologist and blogger Dr. Christy Barongan. She is the writer of Normal in Training: A Psychologist’s Blog About the Practice of Self-Acceptance. When I first had the idea to start a blog that blends my personal story and my professional interests, I looked to Christy’s blog as an inspiration. I admire how she courageously shares her own battle with mental health in a way that is poetic, relatable, and inspiring. Her authenticity and her human-ness comes through in these blog posts. When I read her stories, I see myself reflected in her experiences. I feel validated by her as a psychologist and an Asian and Pacific Islander (API) woman. It is rare, as I mentioned in a previous post, for psychologists to admit that we struggle with mental health. It is even more rare for me to find an API psychologist who speaks about her own struggles with mental health because the silence around mental health is so pervasive in our API community. I asked Christy the following questions over email for my own benefit. Her responses were so thoughtful and enlightening that I thought others will find this helpful as well. Christy has graciously given me permission to publish our conversation online.
We created this blog to share information about living a healthy, happy, and fulfilling life. We are constantly learning new things and making mistakes along the way. This blog is our way of chronicling our discoveries, musing, and lessons learned as people and professionals. We invite you to come along on our journey of self reflection, discovery, and thriving with challenges. We also hope to exchange wisdom and enlightenment from you, our readers.
The information provided in this blog is not a substitute for professional mental health treatment.