Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Bad day


I had a really bad day yesterday. I've been struggling for months to be competent at my job. In my mind, I had this idea of a set of technical skills someone competent in my position should be able to do. Unfortunately, a task that would take a competent person in my field 10 minutes to accomplish takes me a full day to do a half-assed job. I've been very frustrated with that, and I've been staying at work late almost every day, so I can accomplish at least that one single tiny task.

And then I had a meeting with my boss. He asked me what is my vision of the project. I flustered and stammered that I'm trying really hard to acquire enough technical skills to handle the analysis of the  dataset given to me. He kept insisting that the technical skills are not the important part, that it's more important that my "vision" and plans are clear and spelled out. I almost snapped right there, or maybe I actually snapped; I'm not even exactly sure what happened to me.

You'd think that with 6 years of grad school training under my belt, I'd be an expert of some specific set of skills. It feels very crushing that I am back in the exact same position I was 10 years ago at my first science job, where my only skill is that I know how to use Google to look up information. I have some rough ideas on people typically do to this kind of dataset, so I search for available software and online tutorials / online discussion forums on how to use these software tools to perform these analyses. It takes frigging forever and it makes me feel like I don't know how to do anything. I stay late every night struggling to learn my job and now he says that's not important; it's more important to write up what you plan to do and how you envision you will succeed?

And then I realized that one of the skills that every employee should have, no matter what field you're in, is to be able to try to understand what the boss wants and offer it to him, even if it makes no sense or is completely impractical. I obviously lack this particular skill. Of course bosses don't care how you accomplish the tasks as long as they get accomplished. For research, since the set of tasks is not so clearly defined, the only thing the manager can do is to ask you to provide him a list of action items you plan to do, and then periodically poke you to see if you have completed the tasks yet. The concept is kind of sad for me. I almost kind of want a supervisor who will tell me exactly what I need to do and then I'll just do them. Then I go home and not worry about work any more.

I hope to eventually reach a point where I can become more competent at my job. Then I would feel better about giving my future plans, my "visions", and other BS. I also hope to be less exhausted when I go home every day. Right now I feel like all my life energy is exhausted by my work. I am also very tempted to give up science and take up a less cognitively demanding job. If only I knew what other kind of jobs I would qualify for.

Life shouldn't be all about work, especially in a field I have lost confidence in. I feel like I've worked so hard all of my life, but going in the wrong direction the whole time. Not sure what is the right path for me. How do I search for it and get on that road instead? Where is the Google search engine of real life?





Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Approaching life with blinders on

Have you heard of the famous marshmallow test, where researchers left a kid alone in a room with a marshmallow and told him/her that if he or she were willing to wait for 5 minutes, he/she could have a second marshmallow (also see video)? Well, I feel like the kid who not only waited the 5 minutes, but even when the adult came back and told me that there was no second marshmallow, that I should just eat the one I had in front of me, I insisted that if I keep waiting, something better would come along. And when it never comes after many years, I blame that adult for lying to me about the second marshmallow.

Am I "successful"? Well, by conventional definition, I guess achieving a PhD and holding a high tech job in a foreign country counts as success. But truth is, I feel totally lost. I had wanted to do my graduate degree here 8 years ago, but my mother said no, so I didn't come. In reality, the grad schools here pay grad students so well that I could have come anyways without my parents' approval. But it seems like I never got the concept of what constitutes independence from parents. When I got my first job out of university, my whole family laughed at how little money I made. My sister and brother-in-law did it because they've been both berated by their parents for not working harder in school and not achieving university degrees. Even when my sister was making quite a good living as a salesperson for health supplement products, mother still made her feel like she would always be an unworthy human being because of her low education level. I on the other hand, got the impression that Bachelor degree jobs are just child's play (even though my lowly salary was enough for me to be financially independent). Also my first job was meant to be a stepping stone or testing ground, rather than what I was going to do for the rest of my life. but my family didn't understand that and made me feel insecure about my state of being. So I quit, moved back home, and applied for grad school.

Instead of 3 years, as my supervisor said to lure me into doing a PhD program, it took me 6 years to complete the degree, with the last 3 years being extremely frustrating and unproductive. However, all my attention was still focused on completing the graduate degree. While other people my age were finding secure jobs, getting married, buying houses, having children, etc., I had one fixed goal of "completing school", and simply didn't think much about anything else. I actually knew that you can't get a good job straight away after completing a PhD, that postdocs are the highest educated cheap labors in the world, I still didn't reconsider. I mean, 3 years into my graduate program - if I quit, I would have nothing to show for what I worked on for 3 years. I would be considered as a slacker who failed in her degree program. At some point even my parents were saying that school's not so important; I should try to get married and settle down - not my plan in life at the time, but the point was, I should have downgraded the goal of "completing my degree" and gave my future more serious thoughts. But I didn't.

So here I am, working in a beautiful city, getting paid more than my first job out of college, but all my friends have jobs that pay better. But does pay even matter? I can survive pretty well on my own with my salary. I can't afford a car or a house with my salary, but these things have ever been very big on my list of desires anyways. My colleagues were asking the other day if I wanted to stay here. I answered that my contract ends in 1.5 years. They didn't think it would be too difficult for me to find another position or some extend my contract some other way. That's very nice of them to think so, but I've been anxious the whole time I've been here that I haven't demonstrated that I am worthy of my salary. So do I want to be here for longer given this piece of information? I have no idea! I'm so used to not being allowed to get I want that I just assume the world is against me so why bother thinking about it... Just go along with the flow and be okay with what I can get... Except I'm never fully okay with just that either.

I don't know if I've gotten across how confused I am. Right now I cannot disentangle what are things personally want vs. what are things my parents want, and why I want those things. Have I always wanted to do so much schooling, or was getting a higher degree simply a way to earn more respect in the family? I am not a materialistic person, so the reason I want to make a lot of money is solely because I want to gain respect from my family and I want to feel financially secure/independent. Deep down I am still anxious my mother is still laughing at me for making so little money with a PhD degree. She used to put a lot of money in my joint account with them, and sometimes take the money out unannounced. It is very unnerving to see your bank account values fluctuate like that and you have no control over it. It also makes you feel like what's the point of working if you parents can just hand you a year's worth of salary and tell you to do something else. I was a total puppet under my mom's financial games. If my parents hadn't made me feel this way, I could have tried a little harder to try different jobs after my B.Sc. and gotten a better sense of what I wanted to do with my life. I was so anxious about being disapproved that I jumped into grad school because it meant at least 3 years of not having to think about the future.

As for work, I've accidentally gotten myself into a country that is hard to get in, but once you are in (esp. With an advanced degree), they don't just kick you out either. I got the impression that if I want to stay here long term, I just need to get along with the people and they will help me work something out. Here's another major concept that I got wrong all along: I thought getting a job is all about your basket of hoarded skill sets, and how amazing you are at accomplishing everything that's asked of you. Turns out you only need to be "good enough" for the job, rather than "totally amazing". So it is more important that an employee's personality fits with the culture of the company. So that's what I should focus on rather than keeping my blinders on focusing only on my job tasks, although at the moment I am totally unhappy with my own performance so it's a juggling act for me to balance socializing and learning the skill set to complete my project.

They say that one feels happy at his/her job if position provides a good challenge but is not overly difficult. There's no such thing as a non-challenging research job. I feel like I am barely competent enough to do my job and there are soooooo many people out there who are much better than me. I will have to try to calm my nerves and put my energy into learning rather than beating myself up on how much I suck even after all these years (or because of too many years) in school. I'm destined to not lead the "standard" life, given how my overly idealistic thinking is all over the place and totally non-conventional. I should give further thoughts to exactly what I want and can accomplish in life given my IQ, EQ, social intelligence and (in)ability to handle stress, not just accept what others say I could/should accomplish given my grades in school, which says nothing about my competence level in real jobs anyways.

The world looks so confusing now that I've taken my "focus on school" blinders off. The strategies that would make sense in a Taiwanese culture are unnecessary or do not apply in a Scandinavian culture. The economy is changing, company structures are changing; I just have to stopping being anxious about not being prepared enough and take the challenges as they come. Easier said than done though.




Cravings and obsessions since previous life times

Serene Flavor asked an interesting question on her blog today: How many of you naturally believed the saying that if you came across yoga during this existence, you probably had done yoga in a previous life? 

I don't know the answer to this, but then I haven't been practicing yoga regularly and don't have a particular strong yearning to practice it that much. I am currently only craving regular exercise. Also, because of my long ligaments, it's really tough for me to get a good stretch in my muscles. I feel like most poses I have to be careful I'm not just stretching my joints, which don't need stretching, and try to move the stretch into the muscles, which is quite difficult. 

I do, however, feel like I've been interested about how the world works since forever. It's like I've accumulated a million questions in me since my previous lives and am dying to answer them ever since I could form language of thoughts in my head. Why is the sky blue? Why do people get sick? How does the airplane fly in the air? How many different kinds of animals are there in the world? What kind of creatures live in the ocean? What's in outer space? Are there aliens in the universe? Will we be able to travel to the moon one day? 

On the other hand, it seems like my mother has only worried about getting me to grow up healthily, get good grades, get into a good school, find a stable job, marry a trustworthy man, and live the smoothest/most stable life she can imagine. Curiosity about the world is just child's play - totally unimportant for real life. Other kids at school seem to mostly care about playing, making the maximum number of friends, enjoying life, while I was the weirdo who was obsessed about getting perfect on my exams since grade 1. Some girls have talked about wanting to be a mother since they were 2 years old (I've never thought about wanting to be a mother even when I was a small kid). It seems like some deep desires that people have must have carried over from a previous life rather than established in this life time. I must have been a scientist or a philosopher for several life times... probably pretty unsuccessful back then, and still unsuccessful this life time. 

Maybe I need to relax and enjoy this life; just take the world for what it is instead of trying to understand every single aspect of this world. Stop being an obsessive compulsive knowledge hoarder and end up accumulating a lot of knowledge that aren't that correct anyways. I feel like I've been stressing myself out for thousands of years and it's time to chill and take it easy.

How about you? Have you been wanting something ever since the earliest childhood memory and it feels like you've been wanting it since before you even had a concept of self? Are there things you strive for that other people around you never really cared for that much (Ashtanga yoga counts)? I'm interested in hearing your thoughts about this.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Energy management

I lose energy so easily it's pathetic. At work I can only truly focus for a few hours of productiveness. When I come home I am usually feel drained and exhausted. On Saturdays I sleep in, but sometimes even when I get up I don't feel fully awake. Coffee does not wake me up. Deep breathing helps a bit but I feel like I need more. I can't practice breath of fire when I'm at work because it looks to weird. The cold also really gets to me. I eat fatty food and drink a ton of warm drinks to try to warm myself up from the inside. If I could manage my energy, time and mood better I think I would try to exercise every day, practice pranayama, and socialize more. Instead I struggle to get out of bed every morning, end up being late for work, struggle to focus at work, get distracted and check other websites instead of concentrating on figuring out how to solve my project problems. It's so difficult to get "into the zone". When I succeed, my colleagues call for coffee break and the concentration is broken. I check email 50 times a day, complain about everything, feel anxious about my troubled relationship with my family back home, worry about not forming close friendships in this foreign city, doubt about my abilities to succeed in my job, worry about my career outcome in the future, and go home exhausted. This is for sure not the ideal way to live life.

But right now I feel good though. It's 11pm; I just had a glass of wine , I am breathing deeply and regularly. Actually, 11pm is always one of the more alert hours of the day. I treasure my rare moments of alertness which is why I don't want to go to bed, which is why I am so tired the next day. I really should be an artist instead and work during my alert hours instead of following this 9-5 work hour patterns which does not work for me.

I gotta make more changes in life to find something that works for me.

Blogging is good for your health?

At least according to Richard Branson:

http://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/blog/blogging-good-for-your-health

I guess I should keep on blogging then. :)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

First primary series Ashtanga practice in months

Somewhat completed my first primary series practice since I moved to Europe. I think it was my sloppiest practice ever. Took two major breaks to get my laundry from downstairs shared laundry room. Long pauses in between many seated postures because I totally didn't want to do all the vinyasas. Felt like quitting many times throughout the practice. Breathing was all crappy. Got the orders of so many postures wrong. Somehow I still managed to get to the end, and it was still a helpful practice.

My flexibility was almost all there; hips could be more open but I'm not too concerned about that. It seems that I have lost the ability to connect with my core. I couldn't feel them engaged most of the time. I seemed to have some strength retained for certain asanas but not others. My left calf cramped up while trying to do bujapidasana so I couldn't suck the legs up closer to the body.

The practice kind of resembles my life right now. I can sort of get through the primary series, like I can somehow carry myself to lead a working adult life. I know most of the elements on how to live on my own and be an responsible employee, but I feel like parts of me refuse to grow up and still crave full guidance in life. I purposely sabotage some elements of my life practice; other aspects I just can't seem to motivate myself to do properly. I lack confidence and need lots of pampering and cheer leading. But I know for certain things I just have to suck it up and master it on my own through self-discipline and practice. It's just so hard, but I don't know if I make it hard myself or if it's really not that hard, but I just over-worry and over-analyze things.

So, that's a summary of my state of practice and state of life right now. Both could be much better if I could cut the crap in my cluttered brain.

p.s. The Manduka Pro Lite that i just purchased seems so much narrower than my old Manduka Pro and my Jade yoga mat. I think it maybe a psychological thing but I felt like I didn't have enough spaces to move about on my mat, especially for vinyasas.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Balancing reward-based vs. threat-based tendencies


This survey comes from the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain.

You a reward-oriented person if the following statements are mostly true for you:
1. When I get something I want, I feel excited and energized.
2. When I want something, I usually go all out to get it.
3. When I see an opportunity for something I like, I get excited right away.
4. When good things happen to me, it affects me strongly.
5. I have very few fears compared to my friends.

You are a threat-oriented person if you agree with the following statements:
1. Criticism or scolding hurts me quite a bit.
2. I feel pretty worried or upset when I think or know somebody is angry at me.
3. If I think something unpleasant is going to happen, I usually get pretty "worked up".
4. I feel worried when I think I have done poorly at something important.
5. I worry about making mistakes.

All 5 statements for threat-oriented traits apply to me. I'm so worried about making mistakes or something bad will happen to me that I don't always dare to pursue something I want. I monitor myself so carefully that I don't dare to try anything that I haven't tried before or that anybody warns me not to do (regardless of how irrelevant the warning is to me).

My personality does not jive well with my upbringing - I went into science because my mother bought me a lot of books on science - biographies of famous scientists such as Einstein, Thomas Edison, and Marie Curie (although she was hoping I would become a medical doctor). I dare to travel to random countries because my mother used to - without explaining to me or reassuring me beforehand - just place me in random summer camps that seemed just as foreign and scary to me as say, Somalia and Afghanistan (although in her mind there's nothing to be fearful about because she actually knew what the camps entailed about and who organized the events. She didn't feel the need to explain anything to me). I was told that I shouldn't touch business and commerce because of my personality, so I actually believed that I am not capable enough to ever try to understand how the business world works. If I weren't pushed to try out an activity (and I got placed into many extracurricular activities without being notified beforehand), I didn't gather up enough courage to sign up for something I really wanted to learn myself because I got the impression that I could not trust my own judgement to decide anything for myself.

It just seems really unfortunate to go through life being warned the whole time that the world is a dangerous place full of people that cannot be trusted, when I already set up so many stops and checks for myself as long as I can remember. What I really needed all along were reassurance, trust, support, and encouragement. I did NOT need more restrictions, rules, notions that led me to believe I am not outgoing enough to try x, or that it's too dangerous for me to attempt y. Now that I look back, I've been raised with contradictory values - I gain critical thinking skills from my education, but I'm only supposed to be as good as the direct knowledge transmitted to me from my classes (ie. my field of major) and I should never step out of line to try something else. I think this has been the source of my inner struggles.

It's a challenge for me right now to feel comfortable in a foreign country, to make new friends and to feel competent at my new position. I need to learn to shift from feeling really nervous and "worked up" about my life to feeling "excited and energized" about the opportunity I've been given. Sounds easy to say, "Just make that mental shift! Right now!" but in reality it hasn't been easy at all. I will keep working on it though.




Saturday, February 9, 2013

Negative thought monitoring

I think this winter coldness is really getting to me.

I love spending time alone. However, I'm noticing that if I spend too much time on my own, my thoughts go down a negative spiral. My brain picks out all the negative past memories and I starting mourning over my life. It's kind of scary actually that my brain DJ hand picks the unhappy memories rather than the happy ones. I reminisce about what could have been and if I had changed x,y and z in the past, my life would be so much better today (or, it could be completely different but not necessarily better). I went through my photos on my computer and was reminded by surprise of all the pleasant experiences that I have had the fortune to go through in the past. I really have lived quite a colourful life. I don't know why I only focus on the crappy moments in life and can't instead focus on the happy moments. I feel like I need to post all the happy photos on my walls to remind myself how fricking fortunate I am and stop dwelling on all the negativities because where I am today isn't exactly how I dreamed I would be 10 years ago.

I wonder if I would be in a better mood more often if I were living in somewhere warmer, or am I just horribly homesick and wish I were surrounded by familiar friends who tend to shower me with encouraging, supportive and flattering words. Today my roommate is actually more positive and more encouraging than I am. I'm thankful that she managed to cheer me up a little, but today's one of those days where I wonder what the heck I'm doing in a cold foreign country all by myself. The city is still as gorgeous as ever but I'm having trouble fully appreciating its beauty right now. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Introvertedness

I'm half way through the book "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking" by Susan Cain, and I feel like she describes the profile of a typical introvert like she's been following me around and observing me my whole life. No wonder the sale of this book has gone through the roof. There must be millions of introverts out there must have been feeling like me, as misunderstood and as oppressed all of our lives as misfits in modern society. Our parents apologize to other people about our shyness since we were little kids, as if being soft-spoken is a poor behavior that needs to be corrected/rehabilitated. She also talked about stimulation levels, that extroverts need a certain level of external stimulations (sights, sounds, novelty) to be energized and stimulated to work and get through the day, while us introverts are the opposite - too much sensory stimulation drains us and we need a quieter environment to be able to concentrate and focus on work that require a lot of thoughts.

In a way this book helps me understand my mother (very extroverted) better. It drives me nuts that the TV is always on at home and that she's almost always on the phone. According to this book, extroverts need this type of stimulation or else they feel agitated and/or bored. My preference to sit quietly and read or spend hours in front of the internet must drive her nuts too. Environmental settings that calm me down agitate her and ambiences that energize her give me headaches. No wonder we can never get along with each other.

I'm having the same problem with my current flatmate. She talks too loudly for my amygdala's liking (apparently for introverts, our amygdala cannot take too much perception stimulation). She gets bored easily, enjoys verbalizing all her thoughts, including the circular ones and acts that she knows have failed her in the past. I don't understand why someone would declare she's are going to do activity x, and that it's going to suck, and then still goes ahead and does it. Then as a self-fulfilling prophecy, she comes back and tell me she didn't enjoy activity x. If you are going to be stupid about your life, please keep it in your head. I don't need to hear about it. Having grown up in blessed Canada, I realize we can be annoyingly positive about everything, but it's also way too annoying to live with someone who is negative about everything. If something is good, she never admits the positivity and says instead, "It's no SO bad", but most things are either crap or sh*t.  She complains a ton, and talks too much, but she also proudly states the two facts to everyone she first meets. I really don't know how to deal with this. I don't know how to tell her to stop complaining so much and stop being so negative in an assertive tone (I usually sound like a very uncertain mouse). I mean she's actually a really nice person.. it's just her attitudes and her habit of stating things majorly depress me.

I think things may have been better if I told her off the first day we starting sharing a flat together, but now I just dread going home every day. Normally my home is a quiet haven for me to relax, de-stress,
and re-energize. Now it is a place of negativity and too much sound stimulation. Both my flatmate and I signed a one-year contract and it is extremely difficult to find rentals in this city. I think she can sense a little bit that I prefer quiet, but I think she needs to vent about her day and she needs the stimulation of lots of activities and the TV. Introverts and extroverts may complement each other in work situations, but they don't do too well sharing one small living space.

In a positive way I guess this situation will motivate me to go out more rather than spending every evening at home, like I've been doing most of my life I guess.




Saturday, February 2, 2013

War on "The Science of Yoga"

William J. Broad, author of the book "The Science of Yoga", recently wrote a follow-up to the book, citing new evidence of how yoga can potentially hurt people including national statistics from hospitals, personal letters he received those who have injured themselves badly from yoga, and example of serious strokes and death resulted of several individuals during of after taking a yoga class. The comments section attacked him on obfuscation and exaggeration and other things. There were a couple of follow-up articles discussing people's strong responses to Broad's claim about yoga's potential to cause serious injuries, and heated discussions followed those articles too.

It seems like yoga has become a religion for some people, with no room for suggestions that it could potentially cause harm to some people when done incorrectly and when hard postures are performed by bodies with certain pre-existing medical conditions. The defenders of yoga say that, "Well then, it's the carelessness of these people and the medical conditions that caused harm to them, NOT YOGA!" Um, could you have some compassion for beginners and people who are naturally less body-aware, dear yoga-defenders? Yoga has been heavily advertised to be safe and suitable for stiff people, obese people, those who are totally unfit, pregnant women, toddlers, seniors and cancer patients. So for people who don't have full awareness/understanding of their body parts, when they do a headstand and can't tell if it's their neck bearing all the weight or if their back muscles and arms participate in the posture, and then they seriously hurt themselves, are you going to tell them how dare they muck up yoga's low injury rate statistics?

Yoga is really not that mythical. Basically, it includes exercising, stretches, deep breathing, and self awareness (including body and thought patterns). The first 3 components de-stress and rejuvenates us. By being more self-aware, we are less like auto-pilots and can make more healthy conscious choices about our lives, despite all the societal conditioning in the world. Problem is that the image of yoga is such an idealized system that we again shut off part of our thinking brain and say, "Yoga is perfect, why criticize it at all? Just follow the system and we're all set to live our lives correctly." Well, since  humans are not perfect beings, we are bound to muck up any system that seems "perfect", by not engaging the proper muscles, over-squeezing the bandhas, dumping into our most flexible joints, stand on our heads without realizing we have ultra-high blood pressure/glaucoma etc. On the spiritual side I also found it difficult to be able to tell teachers who were preaching wise messages vs. those who were preaching bullsh*t for the longest time.

But it's the mysticism that keeps us so fervent about yoga, maybe. The fierce criticizers are worried the discussion will turn people away from yoga. For me, I enjoy "dangerous" sports like snowboarding and rock climbing, so it's not a problem for me to be aware of the potential dangers of yoga. I learned it the hard way that I personally can't take most anusara classes because the over-emphasis of hip opening and "heart opening" instructions are horrible for my body. It's possible for me to take it easy, but I have a tendency to try to do every pose to the fullest, and my hips feel totally unstable afterwards. It wasn't until I understood the anatomy and goals of yoga asanas a few years later that I understood that I cannot just take any yoga classes and follow all teachers' instructions blindly. Luckily I haven't had any serious injuries, but for me it's easy to see how injuries could potentially happen with misunderstanding of instructions and not knowing one's own limits in the body.

And it all goes down the drain

Every time I go to a brand new place or meet brand new types of people, I learn something new about myself. I've been doing that for the past 4 months, so it's been a wild and rewarding ride for me. In addition, I've been obsessing with self-help books (not a good sign.. seems like ones just ends up reading more and  more of this type of material rather than getting better and moving on to a more positive way of life), and I learned a lot about how non-assertive people (ie. me) typically behave and how typical (ie. assertive) people have firmer stances in terms of things like not feeling bad if they don't understand something, not feeling obligated to answer every question that anyone throws at them, and not getting offended at anything that people say that might resemble criticisms of them.

Sadly, one phone call with mom and all the growth goes down the drain. I fell back to old, self destructive patterns, as if I have never done any yoga or psychological deep work. I guess deep down I want my mother to acknowledge that the way she raised me was totally wrong, that she accepts me as who I am, and that she supports me no matter what. Of course this is way too much to ask of anyone (and I didn't consciously understand this was what I was looking for). What she said instead was what she always says, "Just forget anything bad that has ever happened to you. Be happy and everything in the world will be all right. Look at me! I'm so happy right now!" This type of saying always triggers me and we end up in a horrible fight.

I think it comes down to the realization that she tells me to call her once every week to say I am okay, and I do it because she says so not because I want to do it. On the phone I told her I don't want to go back home any more (the bratty kid in me talking) and she told me that she was all right with it if that makes me happy. She feels like she's such a good mom that she gives me freedom to do whatever I want. After I hung up on her half way through our arguments, I realized what I really meant was that I feel really lonely in a foreign country and I want to resolve our relationship problems so I can go home. By saying "Just be happy! Everything's all good! You get all the freedom you want!", it had the exact opposite effect of resolving our long term deep-seeded problems and instead was putting a big distance between us.

I no longer think it's her "fault" that I turned out the way I am today, but that we have such different way of thinking that we probably will never fully get along. My mom had issues with her mother too, but she never wanted to resolve it; she just want the problems to go away, to start fresh, to erase anything bad from her memories (and she succeeds in forgetting a lot of these things too). Me on the other hand, being raised in the west and being an introvert, want to talk through all the things that have gone wrong, analyze them to death, explain them in terms of both cognitive psychobabble as well as spiritual chakra/energy woo-woo stuff. My mother seems to be able to let the negative go easily (or at least bury them so deep down she's not easily aware of them). I want to dig up all the negative memories and examine them to death while reliving all the pain. I have no idea if things between us will ever get resolved.

Well, at least I realized I'm automatically choosing to do an action that I didn't want to do just because others told me to do so (ie. calling mom). It is so hard to reprogram myself to take active control of certain aspects of myself that are on auto-pilot and to let go of the negative toxic junk that could be thrown away a long time ago. It's a life long journey I guess.