Category Archives: Basic & General

The elderly companion

I came across quite a few “love-less” relationships in some elderly couples recently. They are normally above 60 years of age, retired, spending a lot of time together (if not all the time), and starting to argue within 5 seconds of a “conversation”.

I am not sure if it’s right for me to call them “love-less”. But there does not seem to be anything else, other than complains, arguments, resentment, and even hostility. Sometimes I feel like they are hating each other.

Whenever I try to shift the topics to something else, within a short while, and often without me realising, the topic is again back to the partner, what s/he has done, how s/he hates him/her doing that etc. I observe “loathing” on their faces when they talk about their partner.

“Hmm.. Ok. It appears that you two dislike each other very much, and dislike spending time with each other, and will start arguing once you talk. How about separation? Have you guys considered —” (Normally I don’t get to finish what I intended to say)

“No la! This is normal what! Don’t be silly la! You know how old we are now… It’s normal la, spending time together and arguing. You are young, you don’t know just yet”

Deep down most of them admit that they are no longer able to live the life on their own, without that partner who has been with them for many decades, whether with or without children. “Divorce” never crosses their minds, it can’t be mentioned, they don’t even consider it, as if it will lead to some disaster, socially, familial, morally etc. But they feel miserable with this life of retirement, it was never what they imagined to be (free, joyful, enjoyable etc). Even when they go on holidays, they can argue non-stop.

Other than listening to them, I’m not sure what I can do to help them. They don’t need any medication. They do need some counselling or psychotherapy, but they are not keen to stick to doing homework and learning new skills to communicate better, to manage anger better etc., they think they know better.

But normally, if both are relatively healthy, I’d at least recommend them to spend more time separately, look for their own interests and circles of friend, develop purpose of life of their own. This usually helps, as it indirectly enhances the quality of time they spend together. What say you?

Free and Alive – An email from a reader

My work email (hello@huibee.com) does receive emails quite frequently, from people seeking psychological helps, worried family members, potential clients, advice seekers, existing psychology students etc. However, this one is quite unique!

I’ve got the permission of the reader to share this email that he’s written to me last week.


Hi,

There is a story I want to tell You, I hope this letter reaches you and you’ll have some time to read it.

I’m a 21 yo guy from Hungary. 
A few years ago somehow, somewhere on the internet I stumbled on this post:
http://huibee.blogspot.hu/2012/09/behavioural-experiment-for-social.html?m=1
I don’t remember how I actually managed to find such a thing, but It was haunting my mind for years. “You should go take a banana for a walk, that would be fun”
I was daydreaming about it a lot more than I’m proud to admit
Not because it’s something foolish to think of, but because I haven’t done it for years, even though I wanted to and could’ve.
I even put in on my bucket list to make sure I’ll do it one day.
Then I realized that every day could be that “one day”. I don’t have to wait for it, not a single day.
So one day, on april 8th, 2018 I went for a walk with my banana, called “bobo” (I assume it’s not protected by copyright, right?)
It was amazing. People were laughing, smiling all the time around me. Someone even stopped to pet the banana, while other took pictured of it (and me). Since it’s 2018, it’s not a common thing to see someone taking a walk with their banana.
Of course there were some grumpy people who just didn’t get it and looked at me with that judgemental, disgusted face
I’m never affected by such things, I didn’t care about how they thought that i’ve lost my mind or whatever, all I cared about is the smile on the faces when walked past me.
It was a wonderful feeling. The sun was shining, it wasn’t too cold nor too hot, everything was just right.
I wish I could do other things with such a “free” spirit. Do you know any other ideas that are similar to this in some way? You know, that day for that 3-4 hours I felt really alive, which I haven’t felt for a long time. I’ve been trying to find my place in this mess called “world”, but it’s really difficult if you are entirely different than everyone else.
Honestly I really wish that you would understand how big impact that post had on my life.
If you have some free time, I would like to continue emaling for a while, if you don’t mind.

Thank You,


The post he mentioned was written during the time when I was in the UK and doing a diploma with Donald Robertson. You can also read it here (I moved my blog over in 2013, but the old link he provided has got a video of us doing it).

I’ve never thought that my blogpost would reach someone that far away, and influenced him in such special way. I mean, seriously, we can never imagine how things may turn out. I’m so glad that he took the effort and initiation to look for my contact (wasn’t available in my old blog) and got in touch with me.

Be kind, be grateful, and live your life to the fullest. Try out different things, embrace new experience.

He also attached the picture of his pet, Bobo, at the end of the email.

banana

Watching the Mind-Train

Meditation Exercise: The Mind-Train

Following my favourite Leaves on the Stream (see here), I am introducing another mindfulness exercise. It is an eye-closed exercise (though possible to do it with eyes opened when you are familiar), so please read the instruction first.

Imagine you are standing at a railway bridge gazing down at three sets of train tracks. A slow mining train is on each set of tracks moving away from you. Each train is composed of a string of little coach/car. Seemingly endless, all three chug slowly along underneath the bridge.

Now, as you look down, imagine that the train to the left carries only ore composed of sensations, perceptions, and emotions (e.g. sounds you hear, hot sensation you feel, sweaty palms, sadness you notice, itchiness you feel etc). The middle train carries only your thoughts (your evaluations, predictions, and self-conceptualisation etc). The train on your right carries your urges to act (e.g. your pull to look away, your urge to scratch your face or stop the exercise, your efforts to change the subject). Looking down on these three tracks can be seen as a metaphor for looking at your mind.

Now, find a comfortable chair to sit in for a while in a spot where you won’t be disturbed and you can be quiet. Begin the exercise by thinking of something you’ve been struggling with lately, then close your eyes and picture the three tracks. Your job will be to stay on the bridge and gaze down at these three trains moving away from you. Take at least 3 minutes just to watch what comes up for you.

Mind train. (Forgive my very basic skills, it's not as simple in my imagination!)

Mind train. (Forgive my very basic skills, it’s not as simple in my imagination!)

Are you a jealous person?

Think that you are always jealous? Think that your partner is always overly jealous and controlling? Obsessively checking his/her facebook/instagram? Always fighting because of “unimportant” persons? Constantly wondering what s/he is doing when he doesn’t reply to your message?

Here is a quiz on jealousy, it is possible to do it “on behalf of” your partner when you suspect that your partner might not be “healthily jealous” in your romantic relationship (yes, some level of jealousy is good and healthy to your relationship, but not when it turns detrimental to your relationship).

I do want to apologise that the questionnaire has assumed that every person is in a heterosexual relationship.

 

N.B. Feel free to contact me regarding the results by leaving your email in the form or leaving a comment below. However, I would say that the result of the questionnaire is not the main thing, instead, look at those items and find out if your partner’s or your jealousy is detrimental to your relationship, and if the answer is yes, do get in touch to find out what can be done.

Statistics: Smoking Status Among Malaysian Adults

  • In 2015, about 22.8% of Malaysian adults (aged >15) were smokers. (That’s more than 1 in every 5 adults!)
  • In 2011, 23.1% of Malaysian adults smoked, so yes, it had reduced slightly.
  • 43% of men and 1.4% of women smoked.
  • The prevalence among female smokers has increased from 1.0% in 2011 to 1.4% in 2015.
  • Among the smokers, a third (34.9%) smoked 25 or more cigarettes, 24.2% smoked 14-24 cigarettes, 18.5% smoked 10-14 cigarettes, 16.4% smoked 5-9 cigarettes and 5.9 smoked less than 5 cigarettes a day.
  • Among the three main races, the Malays had the highest prevalence at 24.6%, followed by the Indians at 19.7% and the Chinese at 15.4%.
  • Overall, 37.1% of Malaysian adults were exposed to secondhand smoke at home (not including children yet!)
  • More than half (52.3%) of adult smokers had tried to quit smoking in the past 12 months.
  • Smokeless cigarettes used has increased from 0.7% in 2011 to 10.9% in 2015.
  • (Worldwide) Tobacco use, a major preventable cause of premature death and diseases, kills 6 million people worldwide annually, 10% of these deaths were among non-smokers who were exposed to the second-hand cigarette smoke.

Unless otherwise stated, all these data were reported in 2015, retrieved from National Health & Morbidity Survey 2015. 

寻求关注 & 社交网站

记得大学时,在读到关于厌食症的时候,列在课本中的其中一个厌食症的原因是“寻求关注” (attention seeking)。当时候的第一个反应是,谁那么可怜,把自己弄这那样,就为了要别人的注意,要父母的照顾,要家人的陪伴(就算只是带她去看看医生而已)。毕业后的几年职业生涯中,我发现自己开始发现、并理解缺乏关注,正是引致很多心理问题的根源之一。

他人的关注,是人类作为群体动物需要的。想象要是一个人完全不需要别人的关注,没有因为别人的关注而快乐或满足,也没有因为缺乏别人的关注而失落或难受,那这个人将消失,从进化论而言,他也会绝种。

而缺乏归属感(sense of belonging),缺乏存在感的人,需要特别寻求别人的关注,可惜的是,我们给予任何一个人的注意力,似乎是与生俱来的,就像你看见一间餐厅,里头空无一人,其隔壁是个座无虚席的餐厅,你本能地会愿意走进隔壁这间… 我们给予别人的注意力,很多时候也是这样的,令人喜欢的人,越是令人喜欢,缺乏朋友的人,越是交不上新朋友。

所谓归属感,就是重视的人给予的正面的关注。所以如果一个家让你感到孤独寂寞,没有归属感,那很可能这个家(过去)没有给你正面的、你所需要的关注。

本来事情已经可以相当复杂,从年纪很小就说谎、青少年时期的叛逆,到厌食症、自残、抑郁症等,“缺乏关注”或“缺乏归属感”都很可能是诱因之一,这二十几年科技的发达,近十年社交媒体的普遍,让事情更复杂,更、难、搞!

社交网站使一切变得“方便”(也变得非常不真实)。你可以从中获得许多关注,你也可以自由地、“偷偷地”去关注其他人。

但是,在许多比较极端的情况里,如果没办法使别人喜欢我,那我宁可被讨厌、被生气、被害怕,我也不愿意被忽略,我也不愿意没有人关注我(因为至少当这些人在讨厌、生气、害怕我的时候,他们是正在关注我的!)

所以这些寂寞、不快乐、缺乏归属感的人,可以是危险的,可能造成伤害或犯罪。当然这也包括美国的大规模射击(mass shooting)。网络的出现,让缺乏归属感的人可以轻易地、快速地获得成千上万、甚至全世界的关注。或许我们应该停止“奖励”这些犯罪行为,因为他们要的,正是大家的关注(行为强化理论来说,这就是奖励)。

那我们该怎么办呢?该怎么应付这些缺乏归属感、寻求关注的人们呢?

不是在事故发生后,才去关注他们,这往往只强化了他们的不正常行为。而是在平时,放下手机、截断网络,面对面坐下,坦诚地交谈、关心彼此。或许这个文明病的处方,就是每天一小时,和你重视的人,get offline(离线)一起相处!