From How I Feel to Who I Am: A Paradigm Shift (part 2)

This post is part of a series. Read the first part here.

Common sense and years of reading self-help books had told me that the best way to get over the blues was to simply ignore the negative emotions. If I could just steel my heart somehow and do whatever I had to do, they would eventually go off by themselves.

I used to admire people who could go through emotionally wrenching experiences and still be able to stay focused on whatever life required of them. Like my dear friend Sarah, who lost her mother to cancer during a major high school exam but was still able to lock herself in a room and immerse herself in revision, putting her immense sadness on the backburner to emerge the top student.

Me? One argument with a boyfriend and there went all my ability to focus. It still amuses me that I could easily laugh off things that would rattle most people – like the traffic, unsolicited criticism from casual acquaintances, rude salespeople. But when the people I cared about push my buttons, the downward spiral was almost always a given.

The grip of my emotions was just too strong, or maybe it was just me who was weak. Growing up I knew my negative emotions were a stumbling block. Over the years, attempts to understand and discover ways to break the cycle resulted in slow and gradual progress.

As a Christian, I read the Bible, sought advice from church leaders, and prayed. It didn’t occur to me to seek professional advice until two years ago – and that was when I learnt about negative core beliefs.

“You lose your ability to function and focus because a negative core belief you held about yourself was triggered, so the key is to identify this belief, challenge it because it is untrue and then replace it with a positive core belief,” said the wise shrink.

I felt like I had been given the key to the prison door and eagerly did the homework she gave me – jotting down descriptions of the thoughts that ran through my mind whenever I felt down, and soon the thought pattern became clear: that I actually had the belief that I was not worthy! Beneath the strong and confident and go-getting façade that I presented to most of the world I actually I felt I was not worthy: unworthy of unconditional love and acceptance, and that I had always had to prove something to myself.

(to be continued)


From How I Feel to Who I Am: A Paradigm Shift

According to my MBTI profile, I am an INFP. And the problem is I scored 80 on the F (for feeler) and only 20 on the T (for thinker). So I used to joke that I didn’t use my head much. 

Joke aside, Myers-Briggs was spot on about me. I am just wired to be driven by emotions, even in school some friends observed that my grades seemed to fluctuate according to my mood! 

But over the years, as my responsibilities in life grew and my aspirations grew along, the yo-yo started to get tiring. My emotions were great when they swinged towards the positive: I had signed up for law school, a marathon and fund raising, beauty pageant, volunteer work, written heartfelt letters, quit a job to pursue my dream career, cooked for my grandma when I felt great about myself and that there was nothing that could stop me. (Right now I am feeling pretty jolly and am contemplating returning to law school, but oops, that’s another subject altogether). 

But when they took a nose dive for whatever reason or trigger – an argument with a loved one, or some disappointment – I got hit pretty hard – words just wouldn’t flow when I had to write, I would want to hide at home and not face the world when there were people I had to meet, and there would be a sense of frustration standing like a wall between me and all that I wanted to do and be, the feeling that “if I could just get over this sadness and heaviness, then my heart would be light again and I could chase after life again.” It was frustrating, exasperating, and depressing – until I got out of it and snap back into my happy self. It felt like a vicious cycle I had little control over – not serious enough to cause a dysfunction, but bad enough to cause a lot of frustration and opportunities. 

Until I finally got a revelation this morning. 

(To be continued) 

God Is In Control

I doubt many of us will be stranded on an island like Robinson Crusoe, at least literally. Figuratively, however, I am sure most of us have felt stranded at one point or another in our lives.

Isolated, lost, alone, with no one to call for help, or so it seemed. Worried, anxious, not knowing what to do, wondering how long our supply will last–be it finances or the emotional strength to tide us over. It might have even felt like there’s no way out — on an island and there’s no passing ship or plane or copter to bring us back to shore.

I do not have much to offer a friend or relative who is stranded, save for moral and emotional support, and these four words: God is in control.

It’s Not About My Performance, it’s all about Christ’s Perfection

Psalm 84:11New International Version (NIV)

11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
    the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
    from those whose walk is blameless.

Sometimes waiting for God’s will to come to pass feels like fighting the temptation to eat the first marshmallow–but if we would just wait for His appointed time, we will have two marshmallows instead of one.

And my God is faithful, whatever He has promised, He will surely deliver.

Love this song by New Creation Church.

Being Christian: What It Means to Me

Inspired by my pastor’s preaching on praising God this morning, I searched Youtube for Christian praise songs and found this beautiful number by Singapore’s New Creation Church.

Unto You, be all glory and all praise–indeed!

This song got me sentimental and thinking of what a wonderful God and Saviour I have chosen to follow. And an amazing journey I have had since the day I began to follow Him–the God who loves me despite my imperfections, mistakes, and rough edges.

And that really should not be a surprise at all because there is no command in the Bible for the followers of Christ to be all saintly and perfect. If we could achieve that there would be no need for Jesus in the first place.

I guess Christianity becomes controversial and offensive–when Christians forget their own humanity and need for Christ, and go around trumpeting opinions and dishing out do’s and don’ts in His name. Maybe it’s easy to blur the lines between becoming like Christ, and wrongly thinking that we are already like Him and therefore have the right to impose our views on others.

Being a Christian, to me, is simple. It simply means I have a source of guidance to turn to in times of troubles and doubt. I have a Higher Authority to whom I look for hope when things happen that defy explanations, and when prognosis for the future looks bleak. I have a point of reference when I am not sure what is right or wrong. It means I have knowledge that shapes  my beliefs, principles, and ideals. The rest — like the fun worshipping in church, the peace and joy and boundless optimism —  are the happy by products of my walk with Christ.

So this is how it works for me–my relationship with my Saviour, and learning to become a better person. It may work differently for others, and the good news for me is, I know enough about the Bible to be absolutely sure that I am only called to follow Christ, not to be on His law enforcement team–if there is even one in the first place. Ha!