Drowning into Books 

Happy weekend, everyone! 

These past few weeks, I’ve noticed on my Facebook wall numerous people shared the status on Harry Potter’s 20th anniversary. I can’t believe how fast time flies! 

I was not a good reader when I was young. My mom used to tell bedtime stories for me and my twin brothers, but never with any books in her hands. She always came up with her spontaneous ideas and some of them stick with me – up until today. The only one who read when I was young was my youngest aunty – who signed up for weekly Donald Duck magazines. I finally decided to read her collection when I was at year 5/6. 

My habit of reading gradually grew when I was at high school years. I started with easy and light readings, such as Chicken Soup. Then I upgraded my level of persistence into novel and fiction stories. That was when I started to read Harry Potter. Little I knew that this series will be the most memorable one! I love the characters as if they are real people who live next to me. I was in agony for months when Sirius Black was killed by Bellatrix Lestrange! I was hoping that he would came out from that darkness and waiting for Harry at his place – sit next to the fireplace. But he never did!  

I was crying out loud when Sirius Snape killed Albus Dumbledore. That plea of “Please” from Dumbledore was the trigger of my never-ending tears that one night. I ended up with swollen eyes at 3am! I was deeply lost. 

I do believe so much in the power of books and reading. I’m so blessed and grateful that I am able to buy books and read the good books. Most importantly, I can also introduce this good habit to my son since he was very young. Nowadays, books are something that close to his heart. He always asks for story time and he has to choose the book. He would ask,  “Book again?” whenever we finished with one book. Even if he promised that the next one would be the last one, he would ask for another one. 

I’m hoping that I can introduce him to Harry Potter once he is able to read independently. But before that, I am thinking to re-read the whole 7 books during my free time. Hopefully I will do so accordingly. 

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Psychoeducation: Trip to Hell or Understanding

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As I lay myself to sleep, I turn on the radio and stumbled into a talk about sex. The speaker is called ‘an expert’ of sexual life (I missed the first part of introduction).

This type of talk is one form psychoeducation, in which psychologists are responsible to educate society regarding certain topics. The objective is to deliver the right information. Yes, the right information.

The speaker said that it is dangerous for parents of two children with different sex to let the children play together. The boy might imitate the girl in doll playing or the girl might be tomboy while playing with the boy. He mentioned that this kind of mixed playing process can cause sexual disorder.

The speaker also said that men are tend to follow their instinct and therefore, they might turn to be a sadomasochist because his instinct is no longer satisfied with a normal sex life.

I’m speechless. The program is still going on while I wrote this post. Sexual education is one important program for everyone and has to be delivered differently – based on the audience or age. Nevertheless, the information should be accurate and scientific.

I am trying not to judge this speaker on the radio, but his facts are not scientific and he used the word ‘might’ many times.

Personally, I always believe that our profession as a psychologist is not an easy one. We need to carry out our moral responsibility well – for the well being of our clients and the community. And of way to doing so, is by giving the correct and scientific information for the society.

I hope the society can enjoy the ride to understanding from our profession.

“I am a Psychologist”. Sorry, what?

Yes, I am a psychologist.
It is interesting to notice the first impression of others when they ask me about my job. Mostly they will ask, “Don’t you feel stressed out listening to others in daily basis?” Or “What kind of problems that people share with you?”.

Even though I’m working in a big city in Indonesia, Surabaya, people still second guess this profession. It can be caused by the limited information regarding this work or the wrong conception regarding this job. People tend to think that psychologist is the one who is responsible to take care of patients with mental disability or schizophrenia. They forget to see between those two gaps – anxiety, depression, relationship issues or even daily hassles. Sometimes people come to my office to share how they feel or think – and that’s all.

Working in this area has a lot of benefits for me. For example, I have the privilege to learn a lot about life and its complications without the need to experience it first hand. I also blessed to have the opportunity to broaden my knowledge of life – how to see things objectively and slow to judge. Sometimes, when people are busy talking of others, I can float myself out of the circle and not being part of that ‘small minded’ conversation (as Roosevelt said).

Another important experience as a psychologist is the need to keep on updating oneself with recent knowledge. Going for conference and engage with a group discussion is very challenging and also enriching. For me personally, to be able to learn from and share with others is fun.

And if you still unfamiliar with our job, try to watch some well-known series: Bones (with Dr Sweets), Law and Order: SVU (with Dr Huang) or Criminal Minds (with Dr Reid). Despite the criminality background, their part in the series is quite loud. And you may get the seriousness of this work (well, not that serious though).

Enjoy your work as much as we enjoy our work 🙂

Feeling Unlovable

One occupational hazard of being a psychologist is I tend to observe everything around me – what I heard, what I see and what I read between the lines.

People may express their feelings and emotions in many ways. And the other party also owns their own ways to be reactive.

Today I want to write what I reflect from some observations, especially when someone feels unlovable.

I was doing my hair in a hair salon when I heard a middle age woman who offered her husband to have his lunch. The time was close to 1 pm. She said, “Do you want to have your lunch now?”. To my surprise he answered, “What time is it do you think, Stupid!”. When that woman said that it was close to 1 pm, he finally said yes. He left me speechless – especially when I saw the woman took out his lunch box and prepared it for him.

Or another time when a wife told me that his husband easily gets mad at her and the children. Sometimes the issue is just another daily hassle, but he would not react differently. He would mad at her – as usual.

Or … A husband who gave up his pride as a man when his wife acted as a Commander all around the house. From what to wear, what to eat and how to spend the money. He said that he’s been giving up his free choice and voice to his wife – just for the sake of preserving the marriage.

Sometimes we see young children who are struggling to tell their parents that they love them. Some parents are well aware of the signs given – through letters, cards, hugs or songs. But some others are so ignorant – thinking that their children don’t understand what is love, or the ability to express their love.

I can’t imagine the feeling of the wife or the husband or the children in the story above. The heavy burden of feeling unlovable, when their pure intentions were being fire back with not-so-loveable reactions from their loved ones.

Everyone needs someone else to love them dearly and able to express those feelings in overt ways. When the feelings are not accordance with the overt actions, the ambiguous message will be sent. Love is a feeling that need to be shown, spoken or practiced. It seems easier to express our negative emotions – but we can practice to express our positive feelings as well. To make our closest ones feel lovable.

Let’s love each other loudly!
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What Are Your Reasons of Living?

Yesterday I attended a workshop held by a psychological center in Surabaya. There were 3 speakers, but there was a young female speaker who captivated me. She was in her early 30, energetic, smart and owned a deep understanding what she was talking about. The third speaker was a father of 3 in his 40s. He was also another star in the topic. He had his heart and calling on the topic.

Then just now, I watched the re-run of my favorite movie serial, NCIS 10. In that episode, one special agent name Ziva David lost her father on one attack. As an agent, Ziva is bold, determined and very effective. But as a daughter, she shed many tears for her father. She recalled her childhood when her father was away for work and now, as an adult, she was once again losing her father for life. She knew in her heart that her lost was nothing but consequences of the work as an agent.

How do you know if you are living the life that you want? Or how do you know when you are living your calling?

I read a quote recently, it said that if you have a desire so deep in your heart and it keeps on bugging you, there must be ways for you to own it. I cannot recall the exact phrase or the writer. But deep down I believe that’s true.

Human beings are the creatures of trial and error. We try, we make mistakes and learn from our mistakes. And then give another (and another) try. At the end of the day, you realize that you learn a lot along the process of trying, make mistakes, keep on trying – and then you reach mastery.

Mastery is not about being perfect in anything that we are doing. For me, mastery means a continuum of discovery. Like my previous examples of two speakers who mastered the topic of workshop and how they pour out then ideas and knowledge related to the to topic. As a participant, the radiance of mastery was somehow transfered from them.

Mastery also means a process of opening our mind to keep on learning and digging deeper to what we love. When someone stops at a certain point and declare oneself as a master, then he is not moving forward to the continuum of mastery. He simply quits.

Of course, every process of mastery and living our calling comes with consequences. Just like agent Ziva David in my example, who had to lose her father. Avoiding consequences as a prevention is acceptable. But avoiding consequences in all will blind us from finding our life calling.

Have a good start this week!

Business Trip is Only A Title

This is my first long business trip – 10 days. During the first three days, I learned a lot from my colleagues and I saw a lot more. One of my colleague quote the movie ‘Up in The Air’ as a true story, especially if you’re flying a lot for what-so-called a Business Trip.

Unfortunately, business trip is only a title. There are a lot more than just make the deal, sign the contract and leave the good impression for long term relationship. Business trip is also an ideal place to be yourself – which means: you can be an invisible ‘badman’, maintaining affairs, and release the wave of fantasy inside of you. Am I being too dramatic here? Maybe. It depends on how you see it.

When you’re away from the people who know you personally, you have all the space you need. The choices are in front of you and all you need to do is to make a decision. The value of right or wrong can be very subjective. A man who’s cheating during his business trip may be seen as a great husband and a loving mother for his whole life – and that’s not entirely wrong. A woman who’s enjoying her wild fantasy during her trip is not necessarily becomes the worst mother in the world.

Are we allowed to do so?

No one can answer that question, but you. The choice to be faithful to your partner is there – standing together with the choice to be unfaithful. Go with your natural urge to ‘have fun as much as you can’ may satisfy your drive instantly. But the price to pay is there – patiently awaits you with the interest. Even though delaying gratification is not always easy, the reward awaits you – plus the interest.

I remember one quote (but I couldn’t remember the writer) says that: the real self of a person is how that person behaves when no one is around.

So how do you behave during your business trip?

The Importance of Image (Is that really important?)

As I am writing this post, I stand at ‘Doctor Lounge’ in a hospital where I work as a Psychologist. I look through a big window and I see an old almost-die car at the parking lot. Interestingly, the car is parked at one of those lots for ‘doctors only’.

While looking down at the car, I also see a young doctor is walking further from the parking lot. I would like to assume that the old car is his, but since assumption won’t necessarily do any good, then let’s not assume that he is the doctor who owns that car.

The image of practicing as a doctor has always been related to excellence, luxurious choice of career, and bright future (read: rich and famous). Somehow, we were all raised to believe in such image of a doctor. But is that true?

Maybe not entirely.

The owner of this old car might be a young man who’s doing his internship in the hospital and not being able yet to buy his own car. Therefore, he needs to borrow his Dad’s only car to work at the hospital. He might be very smart and meticulous, but since he is at the start of building his career, he doesn’t have his own car yet.

I also knew a young doctor who’s doing his residential years now. He comes from a very humble family and run a house business. His mother owns her own beauty salon (small and simple) and his father cooks (he has delivery service). To be able to support his school fee, both of his parents work real hard and complain nothing during the process. They believe that every hardwork that they do, will do good for their son as a future doctor. This young man has no car, so he has to use his motorbike to go to the hospital where he’s doing his residential.

It is easy to match one profession with certain images. Doctor is rich. Engineer is rich, but must dirty their hands. But being a janitor is not a choice – it’s only for those who do not have the choices. Those traits are coming from our belief in images.

But hey, the world is so rich – we have too many different colors to see! Embrace the richness and you will see that the old car is just a medium for someone to be a very successful doctor in the coming years.

Enjoy your life!

65th Wedding Anniversary? Surely A Hardwork!

On my flight to Australia, I read a book by Scott Peck – the well known ‘The Road Less Traveled’. I reached the second big theme, Love. He wrote that love is an act of courage and a hardwork. Love is effortful, unlike falling in love, which is effortless. When the two persons are out of love, what remains is the hardwork to keep the relationship as burning as when they were still in love.During my stay in Australia, slowly the process of ‘love’ welcome me. It was started when I stayed at my best friend’s place. He stayed with his partner who had different family and educational background. They also had opposite personality traits. My best friend is very bubbly, loud and colorful – while his partner is more serious, organized and quiet. Surprisingly, they can get along very well. And for the past 2 years, they never really had a fight, because everything can be handled by discussion and communication.

Then, when I moved out to another friend’s place, I also witness the hardwork of ‘love’. My friend is in relationship with her partner and they support each other positively. She always prepares the good meals for him and he always takes care of her – especially because she’s sick at the moment. Their relationship follow the flow and they never push too much toward each other.

Finally, the closing is today’s lesson. I went for mass at St. Benedict Catholic Church of Perth, WA. Turned out it was a celebration for those who celebrate their wedding anniversary. There were around 15 couples and they were called according to the years of marriage. The last one to be called was a couple who celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary.

Celebrating the 65th wedding anniversary is something rare and not everyone owns the privilege to have the same experience. People will struck by the awe and forget to ask of the ‘strategies’ to have such a long lasting marriage.

I remember one of many strategies applicable about marriage, arrangement of chatting with our partner (in The Road Less Traveled).  Sometimes we don’t feel the urge to communicate, because we don’t know what to talk about. But, remember, without communication, you’re relationship will vanished. Communication is one way of expressing love and surely, it will need a lot of hardwork. Through communication, we can understand each other. Through communication, we can see the unseen from our partners.

Want to hit the 65th anniversary? Embrace the present, enjoy the hardwork and love wholeheartedly.

Enjoy your weekend!
With love from Perth, WA.

Life Itself is A Traveling

Many people say that they love traveling. They enjoy the fun of doing it and how each travel can add happiness to their bucket of happiness. But what is the real definition of traveling? How can you define traveling?

For me, traveling is a media. Of course, traveling can also be a goal to achieve. Traveling is a media for me to discover new knowledge, meeting new people and learn from their life stories. I enjoy walking by myself in a new area during my travel. I also enjoy making conversation with the people around (but not in a busy metropolitan city, for sure, since they don’t have time to build a conversation). Or simply flowing with the situation – sitting facing paddy field, drinking hot tea in a cold traveling day or enjoying chocolate cake in front of me. All those little things add some flavors to my life stories.

I believe that traveling is also a term that we can use to express the journey of our life. I’ve got this good metaphor from a movie ‘Blind Side’ – with Sandra Bullock as the main actress – which said that a person is like an onion, we need to peel them off one by one. I agree with that metaphor! Life has so many layers and in order to understand what life is all about, we need to give time and peel the layer one by one. By doing so, we travel. We take the journeys to the core of our life by giving it time, giving it our best effort – and of course, choosing the right knife to help us in the peeling process.

When we travel through life, we learn that we need to adjust our speed. Sometimes we are too slow in one journey, so we need to speed up. It’s usually happen when we are into deep or too attached with a certain experience or person and we simply don’t want to let it to. Sometimes we hang in too long with bitter experiences, because we think that will be our ‘tool’ to gain attention from by passers. In another time, we walk too fast. It seems that time is too short and we want to maximize our limited 24-hour period. In this case, we would rush and press down everything. We don’t want to lose the moments – but the truth is that sometimes we lost it by being too fast. We can’t enjoy the process, for being too focus on the results. We don’t want to stop every now and then, to check whether we’re tired, need some adjustments or almost die! Just because we want to reach the end. Well, we might reach the end line – knackered.

I love to give time to my traveling experiences – as in visiting places, or experiencing life. It is always surprising for me to find new discoveries on how someone can slowly show their true self after a while. That’s a good traveling in my sense.

Happy weekend, everyone!
Enjoy your life – and your traveling experiences.

Thinking? Feeling? Which One?

When we are facing problems, especially the kind of problems that need us to be sympathetic , we tend to choose – should I think over this problem? or should I just let my feeling take over. It seems simple, but it is the kind of consideration that everyone has. Let’s follow interesting conversation between Thought (T) and Feeling (F). You are allowed to nod or laugh when you are experiencing the same conflicts …

F : Damn it! I hate being compared to other people! I hate feeling as the second-best.

T : Whoa! Calm down. What is it going on here? Who compare you? What happened?

F : Someone told me that I was not the only one. There used to be someone else.

T : Interesting. You said: used to be. That’s past tense – and it means that ‘the someone’ is no longer here.

F : Well, she told me so. The someone else is no longer here.

T : Then how come you feel as the second-best? And how come you feel compared to the ‘used to be’?

F : Well, that’s the right feeling to feel.

T : I guess that’s not the right thought to think. You are the present. That someone else was the past. Enjoy your present life!

F : Should I feel happy with this present life?

T : I think there’s no such things as: should or shouldn’t I. It is important to feel what you feel. The ‘should’ feeling is not always relevant to your actual feeling.

F : Actual feeling?

T : Yes, your true feeling upon something or someone.

F : You are not supposed to talk about feeling! That’s my part.

T : Please do. I just want to help clarify your feeling – because sometimes you forget that you don’t have brain to think.

If people ask, should I think or should I feel? The answer is not absolute. The cognitive personality will always start by: what do you think? Meanwhile, the emotive personality will always ask: how do you feel about that? Both are needed in our life – we need to think and surely, we need to feel our emotions. I guess, it is all about the perfect combination of blending your feeling into your rational way of thinking.

Enjoy the ride!