6 min read.
For the creatures of habit, change is hard. And for the perfectionists, change when you’re not fully prepared is like eating uncooked meat. We could die!
But for the everyday life changes, most of the time, our lives are not on the line. Our brains haven’t quite evolved to get past the survival mode yet, so the deep fears, worries, and anxieties are exaggerated to the point where it stops us from even trying that new, weird-looking dish, or to ask that girl out, or speak on stage, or apply for that position, or pickup a new hobby.
I’ve been guilty of this for so long. And I found it was because I was lacking the emotional intelligence. I was on both ends of the extremes, where I suppressed the negative emotions because well.. they sucked, but at the same time so emotional where I let it consume and overwhelm me and my decision-making.
Because of that, I had reached a point of complacency. I never did the uncomfortable thing. When something does become uncomfortable, I tense up, I shut up, I mentally check out.
What this resulted in was numbness in both the negative and positive. It took away my ability to appreciate the good things since I didn’t have anything to compare to. I can’t live like that. I have to be comfortable expressing myself so I can feel a wider range of human emotions.
On my website, I listed a scheduler where anyone can book a call with me to talk about anything, i.e. entrepreneurship, emotional intelligence, breaking paradigms, relationships, dating, Asian American identity, culture, money, or to find ways to collaborate in video or podcast production, guest blog posts, writing gigs, etc.
My mission is to increase self- and social-awareness, empathy, and emotional management in both myself and others collaboratively and that means really putting myself out there and connecting with people. I’ve found one of the best ways to accelerate the learning is to simply talk about it with strangers. It’s difficult to be vulnerable with these things with friends and family. Sometimes, we need an unbiased outside perspective. I figured, why don’t I go ahead and open up that space for myself?
As you might imagine, this is crazy vulnerable for me. And when the first person showed up on my calendar one day, I had no clue what I was getting myself into.
Am I Ready For This?
I saw the meeting invite show up on my calendar and I was excited! For a few months now, I’ve been blogging about somewhat abstract life topics (i.e. emotional intelligence, the meaning of life and work, masculinity, relationships, passion, mental health, etc.) that are difficult to talk about in a casual setting. It felt nice that someone was reaching out to talk about these things with me. Writers often live in lonely worlds.
I went into it feeling both positive and negative emotions and they were… mostly contained. But as the call progressed, I started to realize how out of place I was. I knew I was in over my head because this person shared so many intimate, harsh details of their life and I was ill-equipped to help. I don’t want to get into those details out of respect for privacy, but I could tell they were stuck in black and white thinking and I sensed a lot of trauma from the past events they were telling me about.
They were far into the abstract and had a lot of spirituality and philosophy tones to it, something I have limited experience in. I was trying to ground them and find my role in this by asking what type of goals they were after and how I can help but it seemed like they didn’t even see the point in setting any goals and was on the border of giving up on everything.
They later mentioned that they shot up some amphetamine before the call, which would explain a lot of it, but this only reinforced how unprepared I was. I was honestly afraid that if I said the wrong thing or created any conflict that they would turn hostile, to either me or to themselves. I have no experience dealing with mental illnesses or drug addiction.
While on the call, listening to them speak at “higher levels,” my mind immediately started preparing for the worst, They know what city I’m in, they have my email address, my phone number, my full name, they could find me. If I don’t help them, if they sense that I’m judging them, if I say that they have a problem and need to see a professional, it will hurt them, it will anger them! Or worse, my inability to help will make them feel even more hopeless and they might end up suicidal. What would that mean if I was the last person on their call history and I was a person of interest in death case?
Terrifyingly enough, as my mind was rudely freaking me out, the tenants above my apartment unit dropped something that made a loud bang and I almost lost it. My heart was pounding, my legs were weak standing up, but they couldn’t move. I kept telling the person on the phone, that I appreciate them for sharing their story with me, but I’m sorry, I’m not the right person who can help. Then they abruptly hung up.
I sat on my couch, let out a huge sigh, and literally said out loud, “What the hell am I doing?” Is is it going to be like this everytime? Is this who I’m resonating with and who I’m meant to help?”
Do I Keep Going?
That’s been the question in my mind ever since then. Do I really want to throw myself into this world right now? Do I really want to put myself through such emotional stress with other people’s problems?
The human mind is such a complex creation. We are learning so much more about it and yet so far from cracking it. Who am I to help people improve their emotional intelligence?
I sat on publishing this draft for a few months now (this call happened in the middle of 2018) out of worry that I might be revealing too much about myself, my insecurities, and the fact that I have no clue what I’m doing, but who really does, right? I’m tired of feeling like I have to pretend to know everything before doing it.
I know I can’t help everyone, especially those experiencing deep pains. But that’s not my place. That’s not my expertise or area of interest, I’ll admit that. I mean, if I had super psychic abilities to increase everyone’s mental power, I would do it! But I don’t, so I have to focus on what I can work with. And that’s helping people live better lives with a wider range of human emotions by moving forward with their goals.
I know there are people who have been in a similar situation as me, who have been told that expressing how they were feeling was not acceptable and have found themselves complacent because of it. I know there are people who have the answers inside them but just need that extra push. I know there are people who want to learn how to better manage their emotions so they can stop finding themselves in (or creating) stagnant relationships.
I know because I was one of those people and I wouldn’t have been able to get past any of it without asking for help.
So hell yeah, I’ll keep going!
Why Should I Do This?
I may not have the proper practice yet, but in everything I’ve learned in my life, the only way the knowledge or skill sunk in was when I just did it. No amount of reading, studying, research, or preparation was more effective than learning on the job.
No more wallowing, asking ‘what if,’ or wondering what I should do. All that does is stop me from getting anything done. I’m tired of being in the same, comfortable place, day in day out. I’m tired of telling people what I want to do and have nothing to show for it.
It’s time I get out of my comfort zone and go for it, even when I don’t think I’m ready yet. Even when I might embarrass myself, or seem dumb. Even when I might fall on my ass. Even when I might not recover and have to do something completely different. Because if I don’t, I’ll never truly learn and I’ll always be disappointed in myself for never starting just because I was scared of not being enough.
That phone call was nerve-wracking, scary, and probably should have been an indication that I’m not cut out for this. But I’d rather frame it as a kick closer towards knowing what I’m capable of, what I’m interested in, and who I can help. It’s clarification for what I could improve on and I would have never known that just sitting in my own head.
Let’s have more weird conversations! Let’s build the plane as it’s taking off. Let’s throw the hat over the fence and see where it takes us. If you want, I’m actually working on my coaching certification and looking to get some practice in identifying where you want to go and how to get past those emotional roadblocks. Don’t be afraid to jump on a free, no-pressure call with me!
Till next time!