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Make You YOU

You are different. You are special. You are unique. So are others. Every one of us is different, special, and unique. We are not made from the same cookie-cutter. There is no one exactly like you or me. As such, we should be grateful for our exclusive existence. Correspondingly, this means that there are no actual commonalities and parameters in life, for us to make an impartial and justifiable comparison between us, and others. A wise person said, "Life is the most difficult exam. Many people fail because they try to copy others. Not realizing that everyone has a different question paper." A lot of statistics that we read, about how people think, feel and behave, are just general categorisations, descriptions, and evaluations, based on certain objectives and purposes of the research studies. I reckon that, under normal circumstances, each of us has enough intrinsic assets and strengths to pursue a better version of ourselves.

As Bryant McGill highlighted,Life is so big. Do not try to fill it. Instead, expand within. You are enough for you. Each of us, abled or disabled, is given sufficient internal and external resources to maximise our potential, grow and pursue a more balanced and satisfying life we were meant to live!

Even so, there are times when we need to seek proper guidance to nurture and cultivate new or appropriate directions in thinking, feeling, and behaving, for a healthier and more stable self-sustainability. A Guilt-Ridden Self An ex-client of mine, Ms M (name changed for client confidentiality) was a fifteen-year-old girl, who had eating behavioural issues. Apparently, this started when her elder sister passed away in a car accident within the last year. After the tragic accident, Ms M’s parents noticed a gradual change in her temperament and interests. For instance, Ms M used to enjoy sports and exercise and had a lot of social outings and engagements with her classmates and friends. However, since the death of her elder sister, she became reclusive and spent her time playing the piano and painting at home. The parents discovered Ms M’s appetite grew a lot and some stored food items in the kitchen were consumed quicker than normal too. Yet, Ms M looked thinner and thinner within a short time. After some careful but loving questioning from Ms M’s parents, Ms M finally admitted that she had some uncontrollable eating behaviours. She could not help herself but gorge on food most of the time while feeling strong remorse and shame after the impulsiveness. To reduce such extreme negative emotions, she would purge herself in the washroom frequently to "make up for bad foods" that she bought and consumed. Ms M’s case was referred to me through her parents’ close and trusted friend shortly after the shocking and alarming family conversation. The parents planned to seek a psychotherapist’s intervention and treatment first, before a formal diagnosis from a psychologist, or even a medication prescription from a psychiatrist. Good . Enjoy . Stretched I remember when I met Ms M for the first time, I deliberately did not talk about the matters that she was brought to see me about, but rather, her school, studies, friends, habits, interests, aspirations etc. It was a pleasant and interactive chat and Ms M lowered her guard. Towards the end of the therapy session, I explained to Ms M what were Emotional Goals, Outcome Goals, and Behavioural Goals, and their differences. Ms M was requested to do a piece of home assignment to update me in the subsequent session of what were her personal goals in these three categories, for this course of therapy services. When Ms M met me again, she shared that her Emotional Goal, which refers to “How I want to feel?” was “I want to feel guiltless”. For her Outcome Goal, which is on “What I want to get or have?”, her reply was “I want to have freedom”. In terms of “What I want to do?” as her Behavioural Goal, her target was “I want to move on with my life”. Based on my prior understanding of Ms M’s case and profile, I knew what she meant with these three goals. Yet, I still requested her to explain each of her reply to me in details. I ought to provide her a voice to state and express herself. When Ms M was ready and more open, we processed her emotions and feelings concerning the sudden passing of her elder sister. Ms M revealed that just before the terrible incident, she had a tiff with her sister at home over some trivial things. During which, she angrily burst out and told her sister that “I don’t want to see you anymore!”. The loss of her close sister in a car accident caused Ms M to blame herself so severely to an extent that she believed her “curse” was granted by her own “evil energy” in her. With that distorted and maladaptive mentality, Ms M unconsciously lived her sister’s lifestyle as a way to “make up” for her intense guilt, regret, and self-blame, for leading the inexistence of her sister in the affectionate home. Ms M copied doing something her late sister used to enjoy such as playing the piano and painting at home. She also irrepressibly consumed a lot of food to cope with the engulfing psychological turmoil and torment. Ms M and I spent much time, energy, and resources in connecting and converting her Emotional Goal and Outcome Goal to her Behavioural Goal, in assisting her to process her culpability affection and reposition her imbalanced cognition toward the demise of her sister. In addition, I guided Ms M to be aware of and accept her “innate and genuine self” in terms of her authenticity, values, strengths, talents, potential etc, during the therapy process. I continued creating a stage for her to shape and form herself. She realised that she did not need to be someone else when she was enough just the way she was. She also learned that she did not need to outsource her happiness to the people or circumstances, but to herself. With this, I affirmed that she had reached the Insight Goal, relating to “What I want to understand?”, which I did not share with her during our first therapy session. As a therapist, I proceeded to establish the therapeutic Recovery Goals and Maintenance Goals for Ms M. They were based on a framework of “Make You You”, using the “One-Third Rule”, which provides the three pillars for her to redefine and regain herself, for herself:

  • One-Third of “What I am Good at?”, which was based Ms M’s strengths eg the mastery in sports and exercises.

  • One-Third of “What I Enjoy at?”, refers to what Ms M was motivated by eg, the social outings with her peers.

  • One-Third of “What I could be Stretched at?”, a platform to develop Ms M’s potential further eg be a leader in organising a school-wide sports event.

With these interventions, I further processed with Ms M on her mental relaxation, physique grounding, emotion regulation, incident dissociations, event interpretations, interpersonal and internal conflicts, grief and loss, self-forgiveness, acceptance, and closure etc. Overall, my aim was to lead Ms M to reach another two therapeutic milestones, based on the Progressive Goals and Breakthrough Goals that I established for her. I was delighted to be told that Ms M was moving ahead with her life wonderfully, after the course of therapy services. She became one of her school representatives in co-organising a national-level sports event and others. Furthermore, she was planning to pursue a Diploma in Sport and Wellness Management in a Polytechnic, after her General Certificate of Education Ordinary Level!

You are offered a new opportunity with each breath to think, decide, choose and act differently – in a way that supports you in being all that you are capable of being. You are not less than. You are enough. Brittany Josephina

Note: As this article is mainly catered to general members of the public, the case conceptualisation, intervention formulation, discussion and terminologies used are deliberately simplified and presented for an easy reading, comprehension and relevancy.

Quote: This article is written based on Krish Phua's greatest aspiration to be a mind healer, facilitating his clients to cultivate and explore "Inside Mind Insights" for improving their Wellness, Wholeness and Wiseness. Other articles of Krish Phua: Sow a Seed - Last Man Standing - In or Out - As It Is - Mapmakers and Travellers - Our Little Voice - The Three Minds - My First Lover - Hurting to Heal - Place . Space . Pace -


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