Ego

Generally speaking, I find I’m only aware of interacting with the idea of the ego under the ideas of self-importance, self-esteem, and/or conceit. It wasn’t until acting class in LA that brought me back to my Grade 11 studies of psychology on the ego as defined in the dictionary:

the part of the psychic apparatus that experiences and reacts to the outside world and thus mediates between the primitive drives of the id and the demands of the social and physical environment”

Acting class truly allowed me to tap into that definition and become aware that the ego within ourselves is what keeps us to believe that we are “in control” of our lives and that we are safe. It was my Oprah “Ah-ha!” moment. If you don’t think you have that ego, well I’m here to tell you that you do.

Do you ever wonder why you can’t seem to quit your job, even though you know it’s making you unhappy, and to pursue your true passion? It’s because of your ego.

Do you ever wonder why you can never confront your best friend that they have hurt you? It’s your ego.

Do you ever wonder why you can’t break up with your boyfriend/girlfriend knowing the relationship is so toxic?  One word: EGO.

The ego is the voice that tries to rationalize so many different thoughts you have in your head to the point where you become out of control, unfulfilled, and confused. Every experience in life ends up becoming stagnant, tolerated, and safe because you don’t allow yourself to confront situations that are out of your comfort zone. Your ego responds by saying, respectively, to the above questions:

“My job is a highly reputable and recognized profession with a secure employment in any industry and a guaranteed 6-figure salary in the future. To be an actress, there is no guarantee I will be successful and prosper”;

“If I confront my best friend about how I feel, I may lose our friendship forever”; or

“I can’t break up with my boyfriend because they’re the only person I truly have and care about in my life right now. Without them, I’m lost”.

Your instincts will appear in a blink of these moments by considering how to confront these conflicting experiences in life that may seem so out of your element that you can’t imagine yourself doing it. But you can. Your ego is just holding you back so that you feel “in control” and rather just “play it safe”.

Since I was 6-7 years old, I always wanted to be an actress. But those thoughts only came for a split second because my ego would intervene and say “You’re not pretty enough, you’re not skinny enough, you’re Asian, etc”. And I accepted those as rational, reasonable responses. And since then, I’ve always played it safe. I asked myself questions like “What is the career that will be easy to get into?  Is this a career where I can make a reasonable amount of salary? Will I be respected among my social network?” I definitely pursued a safe choice in life but it’s left me unfulfilled in so many aspects of my life. So it wasn’t until last year I started to truly listen to myself and asked, “If I had no insecurities and no judgement upon myself, what is it that I would pursue?” And then my inner voice came again for that split moment and said “acting” as it has for many years. And from there, I allowed my instinct, and not my ego, to guide the life that I want, that I am worth, and that I love. And this has allowed me to be at a truly happy state of mind because I now feel I’m doing it for myself and not for the respect and acceptance of others.

I find meditating will help guide you to your inner voice because you free your mind of all the flaws, imperfections, and judgements you have on yourself. Spend some time to just act on your instincts because your mind is telling you something that is important. Don’t over-rationalize every single thought and place judgement on them, especially on yourself. Like I said, that’s your ego talking to you.

Thank you Anthony Meindl & studio staff for teaching me such a valuable lesson.

Yes

I read a quote by Eckhart Tolle the other day that resonated me:

“It is not true that the up cycle is good and the down cycle is bad, except in the mind’s judgment”.

That quote sums up pretty much the work I had to do on myself for over a year to be at the state of happiness that I am today. It’s crazy even just thinking that it took me more than 12 months but I made it and that’s what counts.

When I came into my professional field as an accountant, I really had high hopes that I would be great at what I do. Six months in, I think I was considered the worse of the new hires. I couldn’t learn fast enough like my peers, I constantly made mistakes, and I was just always lost. I also found myself in a state where I was not getting along with certain coworkers which made working a hostile environment. So the career that I thought was good for me, turned out to be the career I didn’t want.

At this point in my life, I played what I typically call “the victim”. I surrendered myself and said I suck at this job, no one likes me, and I should simply be fired (as there were points where I hoped to be fired because I wouldn’t be brave enough to quit on my own). My reaction was very much resistance and intolerance to accept the circumstances that I was in and make things better. As a result, it left me to isolated and stagnant thoughts of my limitations in life, which ultimately created my depression. In other words, I continually spent months of holding onto this burden that I did a terrible job in the past that I couldn’t even focus on the present to make things better. I kept allowing others to define me with past experiences that I couldn’t move myself forward to be better.

After spending months of healing myself, I discovered that to move forward, I have to allow acceptance and forgiveness as a way of actively responding and participating to my resistant and intolerant thoughts. In other words, just say yes to life when it seems like a complete, chaotic, crowded mess. And instead of asking “Why me?” – ask “Why NOT me?”

Things happen for a reason. I could look back and say it was a terrible experience at that point in my life once I discovered I hated my job — but I do not one bit. My lowest point in my life a year ago was actually the best thing that happened me. And I’m happy it happened to me because I learned so much about myself as a person. And with that, great things in life are happening.

In fact, my senior at work told me he felt I was the most improved staff in my year. I also regained my confidence back in my job such that my clients grew fond of me and my managers respected my request in my interest to transfer to a new industry group within the firm. Most of all, I actually like my job now and I love the people I work with. Things are now looking out for the better all because I said yes to life and its challenges.

Life has its ups and downs but your judgment dictates what those moments and experiences in life can become. You’ll be amazed that taking ownership of your life by simply saying “yes” can give you a whirlwind of new opportunities. 

Meditation

I recently started meditating after it was assigned as my homework from my acting class. Strange that that would be my homework for acting, isn’t it? At least that’s what I initially thought. My unconventional acting book by Anthony Meindl called At Left Brain Turn Right illustrates that meditation is key to allow yourself zone into the moment leaving behind all preconceived thoughts, judgments, and anything else that’s junk in your head. As an actor, this is essential as it allows you to really live in the reality of your character as opposed to having predispositions of how things should be, which makes the acting more choreographed when it should seem like you and your character are just one. But this also rings true to real life because we tend to have “an idea” of how we should go about doing something as opposed to just doing it.

At Left Brain Turn Right

Even before I read the book, I knew that meditation was linked to all sorts of good things: happiness, success, and overall greater health. I just never adopted it because it’s so hard. But one thing about myself that I was certain before going into it was that I carried no judgment of myself. Or so I thought…

On my first attempt of meditating last week, I tried so hard to focus on my breath. But I kept running all these thoughts about people in my life and I somehow developed fictional conversations with them unconsciously. For example, there was a female in my acting class who kept staring (up and down) at me for a good amount of time last week. I sat diagonally behind her so it’s not just easy to just stare at me as she did. We’ve talked before and had a lovely conversation – but in class, her glances back at me did not make me feel comfortable. So as I was meditating, this memory came back to life to me. Although she did not say any words to me in my memory, her stare read to me as if she wanted to tell me the following in her sassy voice “What are you wearing? Your dress is too short. You’re showing too much skin. You’re in class, not at a bar”. [FYI: I was wearing a sleeveless black and white striped dress that was mid-thigh length and my military boots]. This is one of several thoughts I generally have while meditating. It’s always involving another person in my life who is either speaking or unconsciously speaking to me in a negative connotation. At the end of each meditation, I find myself either saying in my head or aloud “SHUT UP MIND, JUST SHUT UP”. I know that attitude is really the opposite of what I’m really trying to achieve when meditating but I just get so frustrated when I can’t close my mind at peace.

So then I asked myself why I kept having these negative, confusing, and yet fictional conversations with people in my life. Even when I’m not meditating, they still exist. Then the light bulb went off. The reason all this was happening is because I do judge myself – A LOT – and NEGATIVELY. All this time I was so in denial about it. The first chapter of Meindl’s book essentially said “stop judging yourself” in order to reach my deepest, most authentic self. My response: “Psh, I don’t judge myself.” But I DO! I don’t realize it because I use people in my life to say the words that I would say to myself if I looked at me. So even though the girl in my class looked at me, all those thoughts I had of what she was saying, was ME all this time thinking those things about me. For all I know, in reality, she could have said “I like her outfit” and kept staring at me for inspiration. Who knows!!?

Now that I look back at that class, I felt very well put together that day because I wanted to feel good. And when I saw everyone in class wear jeans and a long-sleeve tee, I started to feel insecure. And that insecurity transcended to fictional ill-judgment of everyone who did stare at me. How do I really know that people think of me THAT negatively? I don’t. Should I care? No.

It comes all down to being comfortable within my own skin and letting go of any judgment of myself. I know who I am more than anybody else in this world so I will let judgment pass.

I highly recommend everyone to just meditate – not just for better health, success and happiness. It’s the journey to unravel who you really are as a person and letting go of all the junk in your mental capacity that you don’t need so that you become a more awesome you.

Not Like Therapy

In acting class, a common constructive feedback in my performance was the fact that I tend to only touch the surface of choices I make in a character’s emotional journey. When I was sarcastic, I wasn’t sarcastic enough. When I was happy, I was still reserved. It was really frustrating for me to think I performed well and only to find I was short on emotions from watching my playback.

The great thing about the instructors I’ve worked with was the fact that they open up to me and ask me why I made such choices. As much as I was told that acting class should not be treated like therapy – I treat it so. I found out through self-discovery that working in the corporate world, I have a poker face. I can’t express too much as it’s considered a sign of weakness, unless I want to get fired of course. But I don’t. Who does!?

My instructors constantly reminded me that acting class was a safe haven to express emotions and carry that journey to places you’ve never been before. And I loved that. And I loved it even more when I saw the class react to my progression in a positive way.

Now that I’ve joined improv at Second City, my first class experience has really let me come out of my shell. To be spontaneous, proactive, and impulsive were things I never knew I could embrace.

There was one game called “Yes, Lets!” where someone would scream out “Let’s do this [fill in the blank]” and the group would scream “Yes, Lets!” and act out what the person screamed out. So when someone in the class screamed “Let’s audition for a reality show!!” and we responded “Yes, Lets!” my instinctive reaction was pretending I was on camera, taking off my shirt and flashing to everyone. Everyone who saw me started laughing hysterically. And to be honest, I was so taken aback, I flushed. I just couldn’t believe the response. But it made me feel good inside because it’s been quite awhile since I’ve made complete random strangers laugh (unless it’s me embarassing myself like falling off a curb while walking, which I’ve done before). And through that, it reminded how I love making people happy/feel good/laugh.

To say to treat acting/improv class not like therapy, how can I not!? I feel like I’m in a much better place than I was a year ago. And I can’t thank you all for sharing this journey with me.

Success

Happy new year to all my readers! It’s been a whirlwind of chaos (good and bad) since my last post. But to say the very least, I have made huge achievements in both the professional sphere and in my life in the last few months of 2012. In fact, I successfully passed the CPA/CA national exam and advanced to the next level in my acting classes. What a great way to end 2012!

I find a lot of people don’t take the time to really reflect on their achievements over the year . It seems as though everyone looks at the year at a high level and quickly move on with their lives for the new year. But I’m a true believer that it’s really important to give yourself some self-recognition, if not, A LOT! Of course there’s going to be some bad or embarrassing moments in your year but they definitely don’t define who you are today. Every moment has its place.

So without further ado, I’d like to highlight my successes in the year in hopes to inspire you to reflect on your own achievements:

  • Passed my CPA/CA exam at my first attempt!
  • Took on acting class for the very first time. Even though I didn’t successfully advance to the next level at first attempt, I didn’t quit. After my second attempt, I successfully advanced. And I can definitely say I love it more every time I do it.
  • Took on dance classes for the very first time this year and eventually worked my way up from the back of the class to the front of the class
  • I began this blog which allowed me to channel my creativity and spark conversations with close friends on similar stories of inspiration, hope, struggle and challenges
  • I committed to making positive changes in my life by doing things that I love to do, reinforcing positive affirmations, and maintaining and strengthening genuine relationships with loved ones

I have a gut feeling that 2013 is going to be a great year and I can’t wait to share my stories to you along the way. I have some big plans coming up so it’ll be interesting to see what will happen next. For now, I can only dream with excitement.

Dream Your Heart Out!

Mirror, Mirror

I had a fear with mirrors and I didn’t even know it. And that fear wasn’t because of the physical, tangible object. It was the fear of looking at myself.

 

 

I actually didn’t realize this fear for quite some time. But it was kind of funny when I would go to the washroom, do  my business, and walk out without having a glance at myself in the mirror. And the next thing you know, my friend at work is telling me there is something stuck in my teeth. And I think to myself, “Well that’s strange. Why didn’t I catch it before I left the washroom? Oh, I guess I didn’t even look at the mirror when I was there.” Casually enough, I just brushed the idea off of any sort of fear.

By the time I read “You Can Heal Your Life” by L. Hay, I finally not only recognized that fear, but I also faced it – head on. And somehow, through my newfound hobbies of acting and dance, I have to face mirrors all the time!

For example, at dance class, I wouldn’t look at myself – I just looked at the instructor and hoped that every step I was making looked somewhat right. And when I faced myself for just a split second, I was taken aback, thinking “So that’s what I look like when I dance? That’s hilarious!” For the first two weeks, I wasn’t improving in dance class at all because I kept looking at the instructor and not at what I was doing. By the time I realized I wasn’t looking at myself, I knew I had to change that. And when I did, I improved (with definite struggles of endurance) and I now dance in the first or second row right next to the instructor. It’s pretty awesome I’d have to say!

And don’t get me started with acting. Every student in the class has their own DVD of their monologue and partnered scenes recorded. I did so terrible in my first monologue that I was so afraid to look back at my DVD to see how “bad” I did. But I knew if I could do it for dance, I could do it for acting. So once I played my DVD, I noted every single critique my acting instructor noted of me. By the time I got my partnered script, I looked into the mirror and just rehearsed over and over again. Just yesterday, I performed my partnered scene in front of the entire class, and my instructor loved it so much, she basically told me if it was an audition, I would have aced it. And I felt so gratified, relieved, happy, and just wanted to jump for joy! She even said “I think we’ve found your hit, you could definitely do comedy!” And Now, more than ever, I realize that I do love acting – with a passion.

I can truly say, if you don’t see yourself in the mirror now, you’re not realizing how amazing you are and can be once you face it. I highly recommend to take the time to look into the mirror and to remind yourself to love who you are, what you are, and who you’ll become. I know I do.

Metamorphosis

A few weeks ago, I confessed to my friend, Sara, about how I’ve hit a plateau with the positive affirmation exercises founded in Louise L. Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life (see: “New Hope, New Me” post). I felt like I was back at ground zero: fighting against the negative.

As I was telling Sara my situation, I reminisced the last time I felt truly happy in my life, which so happened to me the day of my convocation:

  

McMaster University, 2011

I told Sara, “I wish I could go back and be that person again.”

Sara responded, “You know, you never really go back to ever being that person again.” And that’s when it hit me.

Whether I like it or not, I’m constantly changing based on whatever new knowledge or experiences are presented before me. And how I absorb that knowledge and experiences will determine my perspective and outlook in life.

Luckily, I stumbled upon this article on Forbes called “How To Be More Interesting (In 10 Simple Steps)” . This article really caught my eye because it incorporated cute visuals to convey the simple message of just being more interesting. I thought the article was a great complement to my positive affirmation exercises because it made me dare to do something creative and bring in more fun in my life without having to try too hard.  

With the new inspiration, I took my very first (absolute beginner) hip hop dance class today and loved every minute of it! It was great knowing that everyone was learning at the same level as me, and that it was totally okay to embarrass myself. I can’t wait for the next dance class. I hope I improve through each class so I can hopefully move to the intermediate level by the end of the year!

I’ve even taken the time to try new recipes. My first attempt at spanikopita was great! They make look a little challenged, but they smelled and tasted amazing:

  

Delicious and healthy!

 

I also had the chance to make waffles from scratch too:

  

You can’t go wrong with topping it with strawwberries!

 

I have found ways to entertain myself and yet, I never realized how much I can accomplish on my own. I am now loving and embracing change more than ever.

Did I also mention I’m taking acting classes? I still cannot believe I got myself to register, but I did. With the costly fee, there is no turning back! That will be something worth blogging for next week (as classes start on Monday). Stay tuned!