Thursday, 1 September 2016

I Need To Be Gentler With Myself

Rewiring The Brain


Did you know that childhood experiences could wire one’s brain in a way that could cause one to create perceptions in adulthood, that might or might not be the truth?

When I was a little girl, Dad was incarcerated for alternative political views. However when he was released, he had continued to hold political views that were not aligned with the establishment, and was still quite vocal about it amongst his friends.   I felt that when the family had already walked through the struggle of his detention, he should just stop taking too hard a stand against the establishment and learn to be more open to the intent behind some of these policies and indeed be more open to the political opinions of others.  I blamed Dad’s continuous anti-establishment rhetoric on my not being important enough for him to just “shut up”.  When my parents chided me for grades that were not within the top percentile, I blamed it on my not being intelligent enough and my lack of discipline.  When my brother hurt himself while playing as a toddler, his nanny told my parents that I had bullied him, and of course I had a scolding for it.  I blamed that incident on my failure to take better care of him. 

That wiring in my brain had over time, made me extremely critical of myself.  When my performance appraisals at work saw general comments like “needs improvement”,  I blamed it on the fact that I might not have delivered a project well, had not been detailed enough with my work or perhaps I was too lax in the management of my team.  When I struggled at the gym with boxing, always making the same mistakes repeatedly, I blamed it on my age and my lack of agility.  When my Mom fell a few months ago on her way to church, I blamed it on the fact that I had not spent enough time with her and had not taken better care of her.   When my son went through the phase of acting like an imbecilic teenager by spending lavishly on his girlfriend without thought of the value of money, and covering up his lack of control over his expenditure with lies to David and I, I blamed it on my failure as a mother.


Putting So Much Pressure On Myself

I spent the weekend talking to Mom, to my best friend Molly, and then to my mentor Alixe last night and there was a common thread that ran through each of their advice. They said that I was putting too much pressure on myself.  Every day, I juggled multiple roles, trying to be a good marketer at work, a counselor and mentor with my clients, a student at my boxing training, a mother, wife, and daughter at home.  I had inevitably placed my own set of evaluation criteria on myself within each of these roles, trying to over-achieve all the time, trying to please everybody, and trying my best to take care of everyone’s needs but my own.  In some of these situations, I had bitten off more than I can chew, taking on everyone else’s responsibilities and worrying for the people in my life that mattered most to me. 

Last night, I drew a circle on a piece of paper and wrote the names of the people within my network that were closest to me. I then wrote a bunch of words that automatically described my immediate thoughts about them and things I had done for them or wished to do for them.  Finally I circled the words that were repeated most.  These were the words that got circled the most -  Save, Support, Salvage, Nurture,  Heal, Sorry, Please.  These words told a story of how I had always felt I had never given enough, done enough or delivered enough.  There was always something I had to save someone from.  There was always a situation I had to salvage for someone.  There was always someone that needed my support.  There was always someone I had to continuously nurture.  There was always someone that had an open wound that needed continuously healing. There was always someone I needed to please. There was always someone I felt so sorry to, for not being able to further save, support, salvage, please or heal. So I often held myself accountable for someone else’s issues or mistakes.

Being Gentle To Myself

Acknowledging my own limitations and my need to draw that boundary around me, I  decided today that I had to be gentler to myself.  I had to stop taking responsibility for other people’s problems, faults and failings.   I needed to take time out to rest for a bit.  I needed space from some people.  I needed time to nourish my soul and nurture my mind, body and spirit back to a state where I can take back control of my personal power.

Taking Care Of Me

So I will take care of myself over the next few weeks. 

I had to stop being anxious about Joel and his lack of accountability for his frivolous spend. Whatever little he earned from his national service stint belonged to him after all and he had every right to spend it in the way he wanted to. How he managed his money today would go a long way to teaching him about the value of savings and wealth management as he grows older, manages a career, owns his own home and have a family in the future. 


I had to stop nagging David about his lack of discipline with regard to his diet.  His health was his responsibility. The quality of life that he wanted to live in future as he got older, would be determined by how he managed his health, lifestyle and fitness today.

I had to stop stressing about Mom’s well-being and whether or not she was getting enough attention from me. Mom had a huge circle of friends, and she was often surrounded by my uncles, aunt and cousins who often spent time with her. She would have to assume full responsibility over the way she wanted to design her new lifestyle after my Dad had passed on.

I had to stop getting annoyed, when certain clients did not take my advice and kept returning to consult with me on the same issues. They were afterall masters of their own destinies and needed to take charge of their own happiness by choosing to accept things that they could not change, or make changes to things that they could.

 I had to stop being “mother-hen” to my team at work, worrying that they would get bullied by other senior managers when I could not be at certain meetings.  I needed to trust that my team members are capable enough of fighting their own battles as these experiences were essential to their development as future leaders.

What impacted my emotions most would often be the people and things I cared about most.  On hindsight, I felt grateful for the angst, anxiety, anger, sadness, frustrations, disappointments and all the negativity from incidents that had triggered my feelings of fear of lack of control, lack of approval, and lack of security because these feelings helped me acknowledge my vulnerability and my own need for help, support, nurturing and space. 

So, be warned. When I need a hand to hold, I would be asking you for it soon.  When I need space and time to myself,  please know that I am not trying to avoid you.  When I indulge in a few more glasses of wine than usual outside of my cheat day, please try not to judge me for my ill discipline.  When I need to go for a vacation longer than I had planned, please allow me that time to take care of me.

What I truly need most now  though, is to go walk barefoot on the grass, listen to birds sing, feel the wind in my face, hug a tree and feel the wet sand between my toes at the beach. Please try not to think I am "hippy-wierd".

I am just learning to be gentler with myself.


About The Writer

The writer of this blog post is a Marketing and PR professional for over 20 years.  Due to her love for Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), she is also a freelance sports writer on the side, contributing MMA-related articles to several sports media.  She works in partnership with her husband, David Ash, who is an avid sports photographer from  She is passionate about Boxing and nurtures a dream to fight competitively one day when her coach stops making fun of her.  She is also a psychic intuitive by birth and runs a consultancy that does tarot and numerology readings under her brand, Sun Goddess Tarot.  This blog is affectionately called "The Crazy AngMo" as she is married to one, although she has not yet explained to THE Ang Mo that when translated, he has been labeled  “the bloke with ginger hair”.  

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