Thursday, November 14, 2019

Self reflection vs self criticism. What is the difference?

To solve a math problem, we need to know numeracy.  To solve an emotional problem, we need to known emotional literacy.  In this episode, we explore the difference between self reflection vs self criticism.  Knowing the difference, will guide us to be more reflective rather than too self critical.  This may help us in improving our self esteem, mental health, and our productivity.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

We did a talk for final year Medical Students on how to survive and thrive in their career

We explore strategies to help final year Medical Students survive and thrive in their career.  How to have a healthier and happier life.  These tips for Medical Students will apply to everybody else too so see what you think.

What is fusion and defusion and how knowing that can help with our mental health and wellbeing

In this video, we explore the concept of fusion vs defusion and how this can help us improve our mental health and wellbeing.  Imagine watching a movie and although it is not real, we are still able to "fuse" or "buy into" that story, and have real emotions.  Fusion enables us to have emotions, and emotions can motivate us to take action.  However, this can be a double edge sword as in our minds, there are often many stories as well.  These stories can be very negative for some of us.  In some ways, these stories are not the real problem.  It's the fusion with these stories that can create the problem.  Hence, we have to learn how to defuse.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

If numeracy is critical for solving maths, then emotional literacy is critical for solving emotional problems

Why is emotional literacy so important explained in less than 45secs?  Watch above and please leave comment.  Love to hear your thoughts.

Health is biopsychosocial but what does that even mean?

Our physical health, mental health, and social/relational health are very much interrelated.  One affects the other.  Poor physical health may lead to poor mental health, which then may lead to poor social/relational health, which then may lead to poor mental and physical health.  Be careful of this vicious cycle.  Watch this video for further tips....

Improving your relationships can improve your emotional health as well as your physical health

Relationships are very important for our emotional wellbeing because we are social beings.  If we have poor relationships, research have shown that this is very unhealthy for us emotionally as well as physically.  The 75yr Harvard Study have shown us that good stable relationships is good for our health!  Watch this video for some tips in this very important area of our life.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Thought challenge versus unhooking or defusing from thought....Which one is better?

To understand this concept better, let us first explore the some terms related to our "emotional world" and what it means.  This is emotional literacy, and it is very important for us to learn in order to solve emotional problems.  Just like learning numbers and numeracy to solve math problems, we need to learn emotional literacy in order to effectively solve emotional problems.

The human mind has a great ability to fuse, hook into, or buy into a story whether that story may be in a form of a movie, story book, or thoughts in one's head.  So when one is feeling sad, upset, happy, or angry, one may have fusion with a story in one's head.

So how can we change this?

We simple have 2 main options.  One is to change our story.  The other option is to unhook, detach, step back, or defuse from that story.  Traditionally, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is more about understanding the story and helping a person to change that story into a more "positive" or helpful one.  Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT), is more about coaching a person to defuse or unhook from that story, and once unhooked, the story will natural has less grip on that person.

There are therapists who consider defusion or unhooking from thoughts a better strategy, and at the same time, I personally believe that thought defusion and thought challenge needs to go hand and hand.  Having said that, I do believe that if one is very fused with one's thoughts, it is much harder to do thought challenge effectively.  That is to say that one has to defuse from thought first in order for thought challenge to be more effective.

At a pragmatic level, if one is very fused with thoughts, I would lean towards a more ACT approach.  If one is already defused or detached from thoughts, I may take a more CBT approach.  I personally think that there is a lot of overlap between these two modalities in any case.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Working through the "storm" in relationships

When 2 or more individuals with different personalities, backgrounds, past experiences, and biases are in collaboration or in a relationship with each other, there will be challenges.

With any group dynamics, we will go through 4 stages of group development as described by Psychologist Bruce Tuchman.

1 The forming
2 The storming
3 The norming
4 The performing

The storming is inevitable for us to get to the “norming” and “performing” stages it seems. If we ride through these storms together over time with acceptance, openness, honesty, and a positive regard for one another, then we have hope.

So how do we get through the storm?

1. We need to align our goals. Two or more different individuals with aligned goals equal a great adaptive team. Two or more different individuals without aligned goals equal a war.

2. We need to connect when we are disconnected. When one feels disconnected, the rational thing to do is to reconnect. However, people don’t often do this. They often fall into the trap of withdrawing or criticizing which makes the disconnection worse. Be careful of this trap.

3. We need to resolve our conflicts through a positive regard for one another, accept and appreciate each other’s differences, and move forward together with aligned, value driven goals. Again, be careful not to fall into the usual trap of the fight or flight response with withdrawing or criticizing.

None of this is easy of course, but it is possible.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Counselling in a nutshell

What is counseling in a nutshell?  There are a number of evidenced based strategies. 

1 Supportive counseling= Validation, acknowledgement, compassion, empathy, reflection, externalize thought and psychoeducation. This is super-important in my opinion. It is foundational. 

2 CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy)= This is more about creating awareness of thoughts, beliefs, and behaviours that lead to negative feelings, AND challenge or change those thoughts, beliefs, and behaviours.  Not easy for many of us, as are are often too “fused” with our thoughts and beliefs, but it can certainly be learnt and cultivated over time. 

3 ACT (Acceptance Commitment Therapy)= ACT is more interested in the detachment from those thoughts and beliefs, rather than challenging or changing them through self awareness with values, self compassion, mindfulness, time, maturity, perceiving rather than judging, being present, seeing things through the lens of the here and now rather than the lens of the past (esp traumas and hurts), and taking value based actions. It is not easy of course, but like any skills, it can be certainly be learnt and cultivated over time.

4 IPT/EFT (Interpersonal Therapy and Emotionally Focused Therapy)= This is more about teaching and coaching interpersonal skills and relationship skills. 

5 An eclectic approach= All of the above. 

Monday, July 3, 2017

Musing on emotional literacy and self care

In Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT), we talk about receiving information through two ways:
  1. One way is in the "here and now" experience through our 5 senses.
  2. The other way of getting information, is from inside our head. The memory of the past and projecting this into the future.  Through our brain's ability to "fuse" with the stories and thoughts inside our head, we can react to these emotionally as if it is in the "here and now".  These stories and thoughts can seem very real!
Both are important of course, but if we spend too much time in our head, it can be very overwhelming and tiring.  This is the result of information overload, where one experiences too many memories of the past and worries about the future.

Hence, it is important to get outside of our head at times.  This is often called "mindful practices".  It helps to bring focus into the "here and now", through our 5 senses.

Some people do this through comfort eating, drinking, smoking, music, physical activities, sport, social media or recreational drugs.  These sensory activities get us out of our head.  One can say that mindful eating is a meditative practice, although watch out if you are doing too much of it!  When we bring our focus out into the "here and now", it's often relaxing and enjoyable!

Other examples of "comforting activities" include bush walking, sight seeing, watching TV, massage, craft, camping, having a hot shower or floating in the pool.  Although if one is doing these activities and one's focus is "still in the head" experience, then this may not be so relaxing!

The point is, we must do some healthy mindful practices, to find a balance between our inner world and outer world experiences.

A focus on any sensory experience is considered a "mindful practice".  Not all sensory experiences are healthy, so choose wisely!