Sunday, August 24, 2014

Friendship boost

This has been one of the best weekends in a long while. I've been doing some activities with expats and met some really nice people the past couple of days. We bonded by sharing our personal experience of how difficult it has been to emotionally connect with the locals. This morning I woke up feeling nurtured and content. I have not felt like this in quite awhile, which makes me realize that 1) I've been deprived of friendship rapport for far too long, and 2) how crazy it is that my body chemicals respond so strongly to social validation. 

I have been going to expat events since I first arrived here, but it's mostly been casual socializing at pubs, restaurants, clubs, or even hikes, with only small talks and no real connections. This time I lucked out and was able to make some connections with some people by sharing how isolating we have all felt while living in this beautiful city.

I think if I had never moved here, I would have taken for granted the positive effects of friendship support that I get regularly back home. It is when this aspect is absent from my life that I notice how deprived I feel. 

I have been paying attention to feelings more recently, and I notice that I often make people feel uncomfortable. I think I talk a bit too fast, being afraid that people will stop listening to me before I finish expressing what I want to say. Sometimes I'm a bit insensitive to what might offend people or what topics are a bit too grim for small talks. Sometimes I'm so keen on getting out what I want to say I interrupt other people, or I fail to acknowledge the main point that they are trying to get across in their speaking.   

By hanging out with more non-science people, who seem to be a lot better at communication in general and at making people feel at ease, I hope to learn from them, become a better listener and communicator.

I think if/when I move again, it will the top priority that I move somewhere where it is easier to establish a social circle with friendship support. It's almost as important the soul as food and water to the body.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Never ending journey of personal growth

I made an excuse that I wanted to pick up my bike, which was still at the ex's place, to which he heartily agreed. I then mentioned that I had no idea how to ride it back to my place (truth), and he agreed to guide me back. The journey was an hour long and the route was quite confusing, so I was very grateful that he was kind enough to guide me the whole way. We ended up hanging out at a local beach, a short boat ride, and then going for delicious dinner at a nearby hip Asian restaurant. It was such a fantastic day that I felt like I was a total idiot for breaking up with him.

Except the next day it was radio silence from him again. Oh yes of course,  now I remember: this behavior is the reason that I have been feeling crazy the past year.

I think I have a better understanding of why babies + toddlers cry so often. Every new experience in the world can be so uncomfortable and stirs up so much emotions! I think if I have met a few guys like the ex earlier in my life, his behavior wouldn't be such a big deal to me. I would be able to walk away very easily. However this is brand new experience for me. Someone is super nice to me and doesn't ask for anything in return: he must be interested in having a relationship with me, right? If I return the kindness he would like me better for sure? No, sadly that's not always true.

I think I have a tendency to sink very deep into my emotions over any major or trivial incident that triggers a deep reaction/emotion in me. Today I was quite depressed for a few hours, feeling very alone and lost. Somehow I managed to snap out of it a bit later. Compared to stuff happening in the world (Israel/Gaza conflict, Ebola outbreak, Russia/Ukraine conflict, ISIS in Iraq, etc. etc.), what's happening to me is very trivial. The thing is I am alone most of the time, so all I have are my emotions and my thoughts, which can hold me down by keeping me in my bed for an entire day, or chaining me to my desks for hours while not able to complete any productive work. It is very important for me to realize this tendency so I can find ways to try to snap out of it.

The same thing is true for all the big conflicts in the world though. A few sociopathic beings want to be in control of a group of people/a particular region/an entire nation. This thought leads them to acquire influence, money and resources to achieve what they want. They achieve influence by evoking people's strong emotions such that they can't think rationally.... hence they can get these people to give up their lives for some "holy" cause.

Guess what I'm trying to understand and to express is that thoughts and emotions are two huge forces that drive human behaviors and decisions. If I lived in a jungle or on the African plain, then my mind would be occupied by how to stay away from predators and how to acquire food. If I lived in a warzone then I would be preoccupied with survival strategies and maybe how to take revenge on those who are killing my loved ones. Since I live in a peaceful part of the world, I become obsessed with relationships and securing a good job. If I didn't need to work for a living and already have a loving husband, I'd probably still find something to obsess about, like how to make the perfect cupcakes or how to dress like the Stepford wife or something.

Some people think this is sad (the ex felt that way about me). I guess it's how I was raised (must strive for career and marriage). I've been trying hard to reprogram myself, but I don't know exactly what I am supposed to reprogram into. When I was really into yoga, I was a bit turned off by how obsessed people were with achieving that next asana. The whole diet and life style change, which are meant to improve health and maintain sustainable living, became more like expensive fads only rich yogis with a lot of free time could afford. Not everyone is like this, but I've certainly met a few yogis who felt they were better than other people because they have switched to a vegetarian diet and they chant regularly for peace.

I think perhaps the external conflicts in the world in some way reflects the inner disturbances in all of us. I don't know what are the solutions, but I must keep working towards calming my inner emotional storms, by examining all my mental habits and making changes when needed. It is extremely difficult. I would say my battles with my inner daemons, while not as significant or consequential as the wars in the world right now, are just as difficult to resolve.