When an external trigger creates internal tension, the natural tendency for me is to seek relief in the external world. I turn to music, my favorite foods, cleaning my room, anything to take my mind off the situation. I have recently realized all these channels are merely a distraction to take away from facing the source of my pain. A fantastic friend and I were in deep discussion, and he shared a personal story with me that added a layer of insight into how seeking external relief creates the illusion of healing, when in reality, we are subconsciusly risking forming new attachments.
Imagine your housemate or partner has created a terrible mess in the shared living space and this terribly irks you. You immediately feel a sense of discomfort, unease, and perhaps even disrespect as you witness the result of what seems to be careless action. The majority of us would then take 2 routes:
A) Fall into a thought loop driven by frustration, thinking something along the lines of "How could he/she do this when they KNOW this upsets me?" Allow the emotions to take charge, evoking the ego, and then letting doubt slip in. "Should I even be with/live with this person?" Perhaps this would even inspire an obsessive craigslist search for a new place to live, or a mentally exhausting internal dialogue questioning your compatibility with the "culprit". By sinking into this victim mentality, the "me vs. them" game, we are in a sense now turning up the dial of our own suffering without even realizing it.
B) Reframe the situation as "They probably didn't mean to do this... I'll just clean it up anyways." By playing the cool, dismissive, and over-forgiving role, we run the danger of falling into a cycle of self-sacrificing behaviors in fear of jeopardizing the relationship. Don't get me wrong, it's a great quality to forgive and move on, but it becomes a delicate line when choosing to honor ourselves or to ignore what we are feeling for the sake of external "harmony". In a sense, we subconsciusly sink into the delusion that "external harmony" is more important than "internal harmony".
In both scenarios, we are placing power in the external environment to resolve the internal turmoil. We become dependent on external configurations as a means of validating our internal happiness. Thoughts like, "When I move elsewhere, I will be so much happier. When they realize this and this, things will be so much better," continuously place our own happiness and well-being contingent upon external factors while giving little attention to the internal configuration during this experience. The truth is, even if we do move into a new space, when the same trigger comes up again, the same emotion and thought patterns are highly likely to repeat. Even if your roommate/partner does catch notice and apologize, this might lead to an unsustainable and unhealthy self-conditioning where passive-aggressiveness through self-sacrificing behavior is the only way to inspire behavior change without thwarting the relationship. By replaying this karmic cycle over and over again, with different faces representing the same archetypes, we are doing ourselves a huge disservice and inhibiting our own growth.
When these feelings arise for me, I am learning to remind myself to self-observe without judgment, and to watch my thoughts rather than jump to attaching and acting out of them in a disrupted emotional place (for when we act out of pain-body identification, we tend to project our hurt onto others and say/do things we later regret). I remind myself that these triggers are by no means meant to be interpreted as a character flaw in others, but rather an opportunity to recognize a part of me that is yet unhealed. With this awareness, I can choose to ask myself more questions such as, "Hmm, why does this bother me so much? Where is the root of this trigger? What would the best case scenario look like if this were to happen again? How do I communicate my true desires in a loving way that will help the other understand my perspective without coercion?" This opens up the path for honest self-reflection and creates a fertile ground for us to observe our own reactive tendencies with compassion. From a place of compassion and unconditional love for oneself, we are then able to interact with others in a much more authentic and loving way. When conscious communication honors both parties involved, only then can sustainable behavior change occur naturally, giving way to growth.
"Doing the work" to me is one of the critical components of living consciously. Through recognizing our own capacity for growth by practicing self-observation without judgment, we are able to navigate the realm of emotions much more smoothly without over-identification, and lessen the likelihood of unnecessary friction within ourselves and between others. "Doing the work" does require more mindfulness, but I promise you it's absolutely worth it. Once we exercise the mindfulness muscle, we are re-wiring our own reactive patterns and making it easier for future versions of ourselves to navigate similar experiences much much much more quicker and skillfully.
By owning and taking response-ability, and honoring our ability to respond, we are doing the work not only for ourselves, but on behalf of the collective. Stay awake, stay loving, and most importantly, stay true to your higher self. I believe in you and love you.
Love & Light,
Lately, I have been feeling incredibly grateful the the amazing people in my life.
Truthfully, I cannot say I have ever had a hard time meeting new people or forming connections in unlikely places. However, I do find in most environments, I've always felt the pressure to hold back from my true full expression. Perhaps this is out of the ego-driven fear of "what if they don't understand/accept me for who I am? What if I do something not socially acceptable? Why do I even care if what I do or say fits in to the condoned social norms?" I have noticed once the self-doubt creeps in, the game of "what ifs and whys" creates a strange thought cycle that then manifests as tension within my body. I am then less natural in my environment, more withdrawn, and feel less empowered to be my full authentic self.
Despite being an ENFP, I have observed a craving to be alone to process my experiences and to decompress from the overwhelming inflow of energy from all the beautiful human interactions I receive through my amazing job. My time away from work creates the desire to be more selfish with my time and energy, as I seek to actively learn more and more each day about how to fill up my own cup. Though it is necessary to discern between when it's appropriate to take time for oneself (without remorse), I have found it to be equally as necessary to engage with those we care about on a daily basis.
Recently, I am blessed with the company of AWESOME individuals with whom I have greatly enjoyed exchanging energy with. In a sense, this has reawakened me to my purpose, which is to serve as a channel for Divine Love. When exchanging energy with like-minded individuals hungry for growth and equipped with the openness, honesty, and introspection, is an entirely different level of nourishment for my mind-body-soul complex. When there is a true deep heart-felt connection between myself and the other, it is as if our stories and life experiences run parallel. The words shared have a direct and powerful ability to activate a deeper part of my core, leaving me to think, "Mmm, brother/sister speaks for me". It is through this raw and honest reflection that I am able to catalyze my own processing. I am recognizing the potent power of storytelling as a means of learning and teaching. I have always enjoyed being the one who tells the stories, but just now truly falling in love with giving my full attention and listening to others tell their stories. What a remarkable gift it is to receive someone's reflection, witness their growth, and see the sparkle in the micro-expressions of their face when recounting an experience. It is beautiful experience when we come together to co-create an environment where everyone feels safe to bring their full selves to the table.
A big thank you to the wonderful, magical humans I have been fortunate enough to cross paths with. Your presence and fearless commitment to honoring your true selves have held the space for me to grow. This has been a great tool for me to reflect on my own experiences with great love and care. Thank you for sharing vulnerable pieces of your journey with me and for being fully present and engaged while I share my stories. It is a true blessing to both witness and be witnessed in full beauty and rawness.
With Love & Light,
Back in November of last year, in efforts to escape the emptiness of post break-up life, I logged into the League and figured why the hell not. Much to my surprise, I "matched" with some very interesting and seemingly intelligent individuals. One in particular really caught my interest. We shall name this individual "Jeffrey" for the purposes of this story...
Jeffrey and I would chat via this app interface and occasionally over text quite reguarly as respective travels kept us from meeting in person for almost a month. Finally, Jeffrey was back from his multi-week outdoor adventure, and drove straight to meet me at a Griz concert. We had a blast, had a few adult spirits, and of course explored the chemistry a bit further. As a result of not fully "feeling myself", I drew clear boundaries and Jeffrey was very respectful of such.
It was clear he was infatuated with me, and it was clear I was unable to reciprocate any time soon. I kept my distance and made excuses for the next 2 months as Jeffrey excitedly texted me only to receive sparse and inconsistent responses from me. Finally I was honest with what was still unfolding for me and expressed it was nothing personal, but simply just not the right time currently. He understood, expressed his patience, and we would meet in person for a heartfelt apology from me.
Finally in January, as my heart began to fully heal and was in a playful state and began to open, I invited him over to share how I felt in person. He was receptive, kind, and agreed to ease into picking up where we left off. Things were smooth and fun the next few times we hung out. It was much to my surprise to receive a text one day that expressed his heart was no longer in it. Though I truthfully felt similar, I learned it was still uncomfortable being on the receiving side of this news.
In this moment, I felt both a bit rejected, but more so honored in his brutal and gentle honesty he shared with me. Clearly it took a few days of mulling over to reach a state of self-awareness and self honesty to communicate in raw truthfulness what he wanted and felt like he deserved. In this moment, I stepped out of over-identification with my emotions and was able to appreciate the his perspective on the matter, which I imagined may have played out something like this: Guy invested heavily in girl, treats her like a Princess, responds to every text immediately, yet gets stiff-armed for a good 2 months. Finally after girl "gets her shit together", comes over and experiences immense pleasure, is suddenly texting aggressively to see guy again. Guy may be feeling a bit used, and have too much respect for both parties to continue investing energy in something that realistically wasn't meant to be more.
Very interesting, very respectful, very honest, and a very opportune time for some self-reflection and compassion. I texted him back thanking him for speaking the unspeakable in such a gentle, kind way, and to express my gratitude for all the wonderful time spent together. Through this experience I learned to be much more considerate of others', and know when and how to set boundaries for myself when I'm clearly not in a space to be dating or playing. I learned that even though sometimes we think we are "clear" in our communication, we cannot account for how others interpret the message (the classic "no" means "maybe", and "maybe" means yes). I learned how not to take these things personally, how to get out of the ego's temptation to begin internalizing false stories of self-pity, and how to find the beauty and learning in all the unfolding. I learned how to respect and honor and the Divine Masculine, to a level I wasn't previously aware I needed to work on. I learned how intimate connections have the power to heal and change all, for the perceived better or worse (hopefully better most times). Most importantly though, I learned how to maintain my center, and not let any external perceptions or events throttle this unshakeable attitude of self-love and my self-worth.
Ever a work in progress, Every bit worth the process.
Love & Light,
My Dad is the BEST. He is incredibly hard-working, super intelligent, has a wicked sense of humor, and a true heart of gold. Things haven't always been smooth sailing for us, but I am incredibly grateful for the ever-blossoming relationship we have.
You see, as a child, Dad was the BEST. As an adolescent/teenager, Dad was not perceived as the BEST. Being a first-generation Asian-American, I grew up conditioned with Western expectations of what "paternal love" ought to look like, but often forgot to take into account the very different, conservative Chinese culture my father raised in. Having a military father and being the oldest and only son, expressing sensitivity, vulnerability, or any emotions at all was certainly not encouraged.
As a young embodiment of all my father stands for, the good and the not so good, my innate endless curiosity led me to rebel in multiple (and sometimes very unskillful) ways. My father's endless devotion to his research would sometimes create a sense of disconnect for me. There were distinct times growing up where I felt I was competing for his attention. Who could blame him? His hard work was accelerating humanity's understanding of brain cancer. He gladly put in 50-60 hours a week, would occasionally work on weekends, and still continue writing grants and editing his publications after returning home from work. Let's be real, he was (and still is) working to save the world through his passions and talents. Ironically, this very same work ethic was what even led to the opportunity for my family to emigrate to the U.S. when I was a wee-baby toddler Tong-Tong.
In the 2-3 hours of the day where our times would intersect, we did our best to connect over dinner. When sharing my stories from school, he would be the first to ask what I could've done differently to affect the outcome. He wouldn't ever let me play the role of a victim in any story I told because this was the hallmark in helping him escape the oppressive environments and tyrants in his own life. Only later would I come to appreciate his well-intended critical eye. The realization grew into understanding and later accepting the fact that he was here to help me grow, not to coddle me.
My Dad didn't come to every tennis match, play rehearsal, dance competition, etc, but he did show up when I needed him the most, always. He would move to the suburbs and take on a 45minute one-way commute for almost 10 years so I could go to the best (most academically rigorous) public high school around. He would save every penny he could, alternating between the same 10 Ralph Lauren polos for years, so I could buy "Angel jeans" and "fit-in" in high school. He would drive 5 hours to come hear my name called at graduation when he had a multimillion dollar grant due the next day. He would take clear his schedule, take-off work, take me to my favorite childhood beach and sit with me when he heard I was coming into town after a big break-up. He would sit beside me holding my hand during the hardest court case of my life. Most importantly, he would forgive me for all of the trouble I would get myself into, all the dishonor I brought upon our ancestors, and he would continue to unconditionally love and accept me the best he could.
It took years for me to understand our vastly different environmental influences and upbringing led to a distinctly different language of love. Where I sought verbal affirmation and quality time, my father displayed his love in the form of gifts and acts of service. For him, growing up in scarce economic times meant fighting to survive. His tough upbringing motivated him to work incredibly hard so I and future generations would never have to endure the type of suffering he was all too familiar with. For him, financial security, having the BEST version of what I "needed", college tuition saved up, and always being there on the other end of the phone was the best type of love he could offer.
It was not until Spring of my sophomore year in college when I would come to the realization that I had been a little turd the years prior, and that I needed to step up if I wanted a better relationship with my father. I began taking initiative and calling my father for advice, to connect, to ask him about his childhood, to celebrate my achievements, to discuss my fears... Heck, I'd do anything just to get to know him and help him get to know the person I was becoming.
In the next few years to follow, our relationship grew exponentially stronger and stronger. There were a few brief moments of brutal honesty that were difficult to digest for us both. He shared his regret in me not attending an IVY League school, pursuing medicine, and being a "normal" Asian daughter. I shared my frustration with his emotional immaturity, inability to verbally apologize, and never hearing the words "I love you". Despite the rough patches, one fact remained the same- we loved each other unconditionally and always will. Time and time again, our mutual commitment to growing, both ourselves and our relationship paved the way for new behaviors, compassionate communication, and more love to take hold.
In the most recent years, the beauty of emojis has opened another channel for us to communicate our feelings and love without the "forced" pressure of an unnatural "I love you" to him. Recently, I remember calling my dad after a small discourse, apologizing for my own irrational words, and him immediately forgiving me on the other line saying, "You're always going to be the most important thing in my life, and I will always here to support you." To me, that was the same, if not better than any "I love you."
If anyone out there reading this feels some resonance to my story, from the bottom of my heart I encourage you to take action and reconnect with the male/father figure in your life. I've learned that people will live up to the stories you believe about them. Through small steps, beginning with forgiveness and then re-wiring our minds to hold nothing but positive, loving thoughts about them whenever possible, we are allowing ourselves to heal old wounds and create space for more love and new endings to be written.
Love & Light,
Welcome to the inner musings and mind gems that I've harnessed from the thought streams that scurry across mind. Here you'll find the experiences, reflections, and learnings I feel worthy of documenting as my journey unfolds.