Episode #2: MY REAL CLINICAL COUNSELLING SESSIONS. Self-improvement culture (as well as Asian culture) does not give us the tools for self-mastery. I was only able to truly love myself and manage my anxiety by mastering my dark side and learning to use my flaws as a powerful weapon, “my flaming sword”. I show you my martial arts sword performance + ACTUAL clips of me in clinical COUNSELLING right after I chose a different life, as I was preparing myself to go to Thailand for 6 months.
Connect with me on Instagram @BeccaTheSun
Video Essays: http://bit.ly/beccathesunvideoessay
Hey sunshine, you’re listening to my eponymous podcast, Becca the Sun. On the previous episode, you learned about how quitting martial arts as a teen is what forged the path for the rest of my life; a life I didn’t want, without realizing it. You are always one decision away from a totally different life. I chose a different life to find my way back to martial arts; I chose VICTORY over victimhood. If you want to be the hero for yourself, this show is for you. You saving you. You conquering your own demons, even if those around you never faced theirs.
A “hero” isn’t a perfect person who always gets things right. Far from it. A hero is someone who “found or achieved or [did] something beyond the normal range of achievement,” and who “has given his life to something bigger than himself or other than himself.
– Principles, Ray Dalio
Choosing victory over victimhood is the hero’s journey; owning your story – accepting what you were not in control of, and taking responsibility for what is your’s to overcome. You can do this by embarking on a truth seeking journey, as I did in Thailand where I fought my first fight 6 months after I left behind my career and first relationship of 8 years.
In the first episode, I mentioned what I believe to be the 4 reasons why we struggle:
- Unrecognized and unprocessed emotional trauma
- A loss of childlike self-expression
- A confinement to to narratives (Narrative: not filmmaking/marketing/etc speak, rather a hardwired story that we as individual tell ourselves about our past and future)
- An obsession with self-improvement
I recently had dinner with a dear friend who I hadn’t seen since I left for Thailand to discuss what I had learned through out my journey. She brought up how amazing it was that I was able to confront my demons and remarked “we all can’t imagine how scary it is to be completely alone with your thoughts”. I replied, “I simply had no choice”, and how I had to sit with my suffering through the pain of growth through the isolation of solo travel for 6 months in Thailand after my first break up and finding my way back to martial arts by overcoming my fears to fight my first Muay Thai fight.
This episode is about unrecognized and unprocessed emotional trauma. We’re going to discuss embracing your darkness; your flaws and weaknesses.
I show you actual clips from my clinical counselling sessions.
Critique of “Self-Improvement” Media
My mission statement is to give you the tools and resources to find self acceptance and personal victory in your truth. Essentially, I want to use media to selflessly serve you; to enable you to be who you are and realize victory on your terms, in a world where media is being used to influence you to be someone else by fulfilling someone else’s definition of success.
I will share how I became a content creator in another episode, but here I will briefly discuss who I, as Becca The Sun, want to be in media.
As a girl, I wanted to see women who look like me in media. As an adult, I want to hear stories like mine in media. I can do both and I am doing both – through my Instagram, YouTube, and podcast.
A lot of people assume that since I’m woman and because of the photos I post on Instagram that I’m mainly speaking to females. That’s not true. I’m speaking to all genders, especially our youth. I speak the truth as the eldest child of two; an older sister to a younger brother. I’m not about women empowerment or male empowerment; I’m about human empowerment.
Isn’t this what we truly want? To be seen, to be heard, to be understood…
– Seth Godin
Media is oftentimes blamed for being the source of vast unhappiness because it gives people a platform to create a fake narrative about how perfect their lives are. Social media is not going away anytime soon, nor are the people who use and profit off social media the most. All we can do in the mean time is be vigilant and proactive of our own shit. Take back your internal locus of control.
I struggle with anger constantly whenever I see inauthenticity and sometimes I think media is nothing more than a vapid meritocracy. We tend to lose sight of every day beauty and simple truths. Take for instance, that my physique, which draws praise and attention for being beautiful, healthy, and athletic, when looked upon through the social media landscape, is considered average. This is because mainstream media is meant to appeal to you, catch your attention, and draw your attention to what is extreme, exceptional, and seemingly perfect.
The saturation of this vapid meritocracy has led us from truth, in favour of oversimplification of the truth. Our society has an unhealthy obsession with self-improvement where there is a dying lack of self-acceptance – one of the four main reasons I believe we are unhappy, which I will discuss in a future episode. Mainstream “health & fitness” and self-improvement media have become a whirlwind of “before & after” transformations and catchy one-dimensional inspirational quotes that lack context and not convey the entire process of real growth; rain/ sun, ups/downs, and setbacks/comebacks.
I do not see enough compassion and intimacy through social media, ironically – and that’s what I bring to the table.
People can keep doing what they’re going to do – that’s not what matters. What matters to me is that I level up and I take ownership of creating the content I want to see. I encourage all of us who have talent, work ethic, and integrity to do the same, instead of falling into the easy pit of resentment, comparison, and self-pity.
Value judgements: “You’re just weak”
From very early on, we are subliminally value judged and we internalize those judgements into a negative “feedback loop from hell” as Mark Manson coins in The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.
[…] you’re so worried about doing the right thing all the time that you become worried about how much you’re worrying. Or you feel so guilty for every mistake you make that you begin to feel guilty about how guilty you’re feeling. Or you get sad and alone so often that it makes you feel even more sad and alone just thinking about it.
It is so easy to look at what we do not like in the world and about ourselves. I don’t care about value judgements and ideologies more than I care about what is productive. Productivity in life means that I am solutions-oriented and maximizing the well-being of myself and others.
This is the greatest challenge in self-acceptance and embracing your darkness and imperfections: we spend so much time hating ourselves for our flaws/weaknesses, instead of using them to our advantage or to transform ourselves.
Judgement becomes unproductive when realizing you want to change something about yourself becomes a negative self-dialogue that takes up all of your time, energy and space, which deters you or completely stops you from taking responsibility and moving forward.
It feels addicting, almost exhilarating at times to evaluate our inadequacies, but less exciting to take responsibility for either accepting or transforming these qualities about ourselves. It feels exciting to future load our happiness by thinking that we will be happy once we have what we currently lack, and less so to realize that happiness through self-acceptance is the pathway there.
As an overachiever raised in a Chinese immigrant household by a Dad who is a martial artist, I am all too familiar with the demands of excellence. Perfectionism and constant self-critique left me with gold medals and a stacked resume, as well as an extreme and polarizing set of beliefs about my self-worth, which contributed to the detriment of my relationships and my mental health.
I’m writing a book on binge eating self-recovery for athletes, perfectionists, and overachievers, because we fall into the trap of engraining our self-identity in what we achieve. Discipline has become an oversimplified and misconstrued concept, which I believe has been largely influenced by self-improvement media. This is exactly what hindered my self-recovery. There were people in my life who tried to help me by tell me I was weak. I self-shamed, thinking, “WTF happened to the old Becca? You’re now undisciplined loser”.
We need to stop perpetuating the romanticization of self-hatred and dismiss its cultural cool factor. Olympic and elite athletes at the highest levels of discipline struggle with overeating disorders, and more broadly, addictions. If you’re struggling right now, the very first step in saving your soul is grace. At this very moment, let go of self-shame and back yourself up.
I was only able to self-recover from binge eating before I left for Thailand because I decided that I was no longer going to be defined by other people’s value judgements about me based on whether or not I followed the mainstream nutrition methodology of calorie counting and macro counting.
Once I stopped letting myself be defined by other people’s value judgements, I found that paleo and intuitive eating and this is the best physique I’ve ever had, athletically and aesthetically. People tell me that I look better than I did as a junior national wushu athlete with a 6-pack; better than before I had developed binge eating disorder. If you want proof that paleo and intuitive works, check me out @beccathesun on Instagram 😉
Shame: Silence, Oppression, & Control
I did not recognize or process my trauma because I was ashamed. I never saw stories like mine in media. I never heard kids talking about experiences like mine at school. I never knew that other people struggled through the same traumatic experiences that I went through. I was already a Chinese immigrant kid who was bullied by others and didn’t fit in mentally or physically, so in doing everything I could to be loved and accepted, my trauma was something I didn’t want anyone else to know about.
Instead of being able to express my negative emotions, I internalized. I didn’t want kids at school to think I was fucked up. I didn’t want my parents to decide, by their definition, that I was weak. I internalized my shame and I let myself believe that I was unacceptable.
Calling someone weak, and thereby shaming them, is an emotional tactic employed by many abusers or those who create toxic relationships. As mentioned in the previous episode, my parents and their generation, without any emotional tools, endured hardships of an extent which I will never face: poverty, violence, cultural revolution, sexism, racism, and abuse. Without access to and taboos against resources such as counselling or therapy, they did not recognize and process their trauma, so the only way they are able to deal with how badly they were mistreated by their parents is to justify that it “made them stronger”.
A Negative Externality
Their justification of the abuse and mistreatment from their own parents is what they then perpetuated onto kids like me. Like I said, this series is about conquering your own demons, even if those around you never faced theirs. My parents did indeed develop resilience through enduring their hardships, but hardships themselves are not the issue. Adversity has shown us time and time again, through evolution and history, to benefit humanity.
The issue is the cost of unrecognized and unprocessed emotional trauma is the cost it bears to society. In economics, negative externalities is the concept that the negative costs of individual actions become what society must bear. Smoking is an example of this: the cost of treatment sought by smokers becomes part of what society pays for through our taxes in Canada’s public healthcare system.
If mental illness and emotional trauma were as tangible as smoking, we would begin to see the cost, and maybe even the immorality, irresponsibility, and negligence, of ignoring one’s emotional trauma.
People often to therapy to heal from those who never did.
Furthermore, the “silver lining” of resilience through enduring a difficult childhood does not diminish the suffering or the fact that there was indeed abuse.
Unfortunately healing, be it through therapy, counselling, or your own work, brings about anger, guilt, and shame, once you start to see the extent of your emotional wounds. People who have never done that work, including my parents, endured their wounds – they did not heal them. This is what survival mode looks like – you no longer have an adequate understanding of what proper treatment looks like, so in order to defend the position that your mistreatment was not so, you must put other people down who think otherwise.
This is is where I see many Asian or immigrant parents use shame and calling their children “weak” as a means to subtly mentally destroy and emotionally control their children instead of owning up to their mistakes and taking responsibility.
Internalize = Internal Lies
What you internalize, becomes your internal lie. I internalized my trauma because I didn’t want people to think less of me.
Internalizing shame becomes the internal lie of unworthy and unacceptable. I let myself believe that I was alone in my suffering. This is never the case. You are not alone in feeling alone. We are all in this together.
Shame internalizes into insecurity, which becomes the internal lie that you are not enough. Insecurity internalizes into guilt, the internal lie that everything is your fault. I started to believe that even when people hurt me, it was my fault. To illustrate, the pain and anger, here is an excerpt from a poem I wrote:
People kept telling me
That accepting abuse meant being strong
So that they could keep abusing me
Instead of saving themselves
By doing the work
I found a way to save myself
By doing the work
You gave me a shattered plate I could not use
Pieces, shards, and edges and said
“Here, eat off this plate
And if you can’t swallow the pain
Without cutting your insides,
Then it’s your fault.”
And this is where many of us develop our darkness, and we are conditioned to believe that these flaws merely existing are what make us undesirable. These beliefs become hardwired into our self-image, which are supported by repressed childhood trauma, into unconscious triggers.
I basically spent my entire teenage to early 20s in an environment that I did not recognize was toxic and zero self-awareness of my triggers. This was the environment that contributed to my mental health issues.
Triggering Your Alter Ego
Crimson is my alter ego and the person I used to be before I took responsibility for my own healing. My energy is fire and I grew up having no fucking idea how to wield that energy.
My clinical counsellor helped me realize that internalizing and self-shaming became my predominant and non-stop thought pattern of pathologizing my entire being. Out of anger, fear, insecurity, shame, and unworthiness, I’d lash out, and then I’d feel terrible about it and how others saw me, which made me hate myself even more. This was my perpetual cycle of pathologizing my entire being, hating myself, and lashing out. I had so much self hatred, no self love, because I operated in one dimension of what I had to be to conceal what I had to hide in order to be acceptable.
This is why self-acceptance is so difficult: we lack the tools to love all of ourselves; we are unable to authentically express ourselves; we are afraid to be ourselves.
Furthermore, when you have been raised in a toxic environment and conditioned to believe that you are at fault or weak for holding others accountable (or even attempting), it becomes nearly impossible to recognize yourself in a toxic dynamic and an episode of being triggered.
Who hurts you the most? Who triggers you the most? It’s usually people closest to us because they have the most access to us. Until I took responsibility for my mental health, I had no idea that I was constantly in trauma response mode; fight or flight. I’d be surrounded by negativity, not self-aware to what was causing my distress or making me triggered, then I’d be triggered, lash out, and then I’d hate myself for it or be told I was weak or inadequate by those closest to me, which made me hate myself even more.
Once again, the greatest challenge in self-acceptance is embracing your darkness and imperfections; we spend so much time hating ourselves for our flaws/weaknesses, instead of reflecting and growing from it.
People I’ve known my whole life are living in this hell of their own self-hatred and projecting this onto others. They’re not conscious and self-aware – they are unconsciously acting out a trauma response as a result of survival being their default mode.
Wield Your Flaws Wisely
Counselling and self-reflection made me realize my flaws are a part me; the ying to my yang. I posses powerful qualities that make me attractive, magnetic, and successful.
I’ve learned that my darkness is what I call “my edge”. I call it my flaming sword. I learned to envision myself as a powerful warrior princess with my flaming sword, and to respect that this weapon is a very powerful gift that can be used for creation or destruction depending on how I wield it.
Wielded properly, this flaming sword gives me all of the qualities that you admire about me: intensity, strength, badass-ery, hustle, determination, and focus. Wielded unskilfully, this sword is self-destructive and harmful to my relationships. My work as a martial artist is to harness my weapon with skill, discipline, and grace.
These are your flaws. They are a part of you and up to how you use them.
The most effective attitude to adopt is one of supreme acceptance. The world is full of people with different characters and temperaments. We all have a dark side, a tendency to manipulate, and aggressive desires. The most dangerous types are those who repress their desires or deny the existence of them, often acting them out in the most underhanded ways.
– Robert Greene, Mastery
It’s not a matter of repressing it and being an angel. Nobody in life is really an angel. I’m very suspicious of people who try to project this image of being a saint. I don’t believe it. Because we are human, we have a dark side, and we all have flaws. It’s not a matter of repressing it. It’s a matter of knowing it and being aware so that you can control the shadow or dark side so that it doesn’t control you. And you can perhaps channel it in productive ways. So, knowing that I have an aggressive nature, I have to learn to channel it into my work as opposed to harming other people.
– Robert Greene, FromTheGreenNotebook.com
This is your truth. We are not perfect. We will never be perfect.
Mainstream media is currently not here to teach you how to embrace your imperfections. Our culture is not at a place yet where we treat everyone with compassion when they admit their mistakes. Our society is not at a place yet where we have a multi-dimensional and selfless definition of strength and power. We don’t need another facade, we need more real ones. We don’t need oversimplified answers, we need more truth.
Knowing others is intelligence;
knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength;
mastering yourself is true power.
– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
There are a lot of people in your world, and maybe even those closest to you who raised you, who will try to teach you that strength is controlling others. Victims of this definition will go on to create their own victims. It is up to you to choose victory over victimhood. It is up to you to discover what strength means to you.
the strength it takes
i choose the latter:
the strength it takes to stay ; the strength it takes to walk away
the strength it takes to push forward ; the strength it takes to cut the cord
the strength it takes to say “i’m ok” ; the strength it takes to say “help”
the strength it takes to silently ignore ; the strength it takes to roar
I believe that strength is not rigid, but flexible. I believe that mastery is the ability to overcome yourself, which is something that many people cannot do. The ability to overcome yourself takes fucking heart; gentleness, softness, compassion, forgiveness, and humility.
You might think that my journey took an incredible act of courage, but what I’ve learned about enduring pain and overcoming myself is that being alive is the willingness to be human.
How do you survive the tsunami of Grief?
By being willing to experience it, without resistance. By being willing to feel everything.
By being willing to accept the unacceptable.
The conversation of Grief, then, is one of prayer-and-response.
Grief says to me: “You will never love anyone the way you loved Rayya.”
And I reply: “I am willing for that to be true.”
Grief says: “She’s gone, and she’s never coming back.”
I reply: “I am willing for that to be true.”
Grief says: “You will never see her walk in the door again.”
I get down on the floor on my fucking knees, and — and through my sheets of tears — I say, “I AM WILLING.”
– Elizabeth Gilbert
If you are willing to vividly experience the human journey, then as Elizabeth Gilbert writes in Eat Pray Love, the truth will not be withheld from you.
I think that recovering, overcoming, and choosing victory over victimhood is the most badass thing ever. I think that vulnerability is so fucking sexy. The people I am most attracted to are those who show me their soul and scars, rather than a facade. I seek and attract people who seek and tell the truth. If you’re looking for a real one, so am I.
Our world that doesn’t need another champion, tycoon, #1 in fill-in-the-blank, or Forbes’ richest. We need storytellers, healers, artists, journalists, writers; those who seek the truth and tell the truth.
Please support this show by subscribing to my YouTube channel or on Apple Podcasts or Android. Please support a young female creative entrepreneur & martial artist, who is trying to make a difference in our world.
Now go be a badass MF and learn how to wield your flaming sword with skill, grace, integrity, and discipline.