Everything You Need to Know About Asian American Counseling

Everything You Need to Know About Asian American Counseling

With the growing cultural diversity in the United States, mental health providers and counselors meet clients with diverse cultural backgrounds more often. These clients have often faced different problems and mental health issues of mainstream society.

The problem?

Many mental care providers don’t really understand how to handle and help these types of people. These professionals need to improve their levels of cultural knowledge and competency to be able to provide relevant help and guidelines. However, the advancement of cross-cultural mental counseling is a continual process, and it’s safe to say that we’re heading in the right direction.

In some Asian American cultural groups, psychological distress may reflect negatively not only on the individuals who are feeling it but on the entire family in general.

Understanding the mental health issues of Asian Americans is important because of the many Asian American cultural beliefs about mental health and the connection between the mind and the body.

Internal harmony and the focus on family impact the interpretation and the expression of mental health issues. Often, Asian Americans do not admit that they experience any kind of mental health problem because of the shame and embarrassment they might feel.

All these factors affect the willingness of Asian Americans to seek professional mental help. In addition to the cultural values, stigma among family members, English language proficiency, and limited access to culturally competent mental health. These factors all play a huge role in the decision to not seek any professional help in situations people from other cultural groups might seek that help.

Mental health professionals have documented that often Asian Americans who do choose to seek professional mental health are more likely to cancel the treatment prematurely.

There is an increased demand for culturally qualified mental health professionals in the United States with expertise in working with Asian Americans.

Mental health counselors need to recognize the role of cultural values of their Asian American clients.

What is Asian American Counseling?

Asian Americans need to balance the junction of various social identities and cultures. Often Asian Americans need to handle immigration issues, patriarchy issues, and differences in family values, which sometimes can affect the mental state of Asian American individuals.

Asian Americans are lucky to have the opportunity to enjoy all of the benefits that come with living in the United States, while still having the chance to enjoy their colorful Asian culture.

Asian Americans often struggle with their self-image as well. They’re aware of the diversity in culture, communication, and values they hold. That sometimes causes them to feel like they don’t fit in any box. Fighting with mental health problems is hard enough without having to deal with them all alone.

As society becomes more accepting and welcoming to intercultural friendships, and relationships, marriages among Asian Americans are increasing.

American vs Asian American Counseling – cultural differences

For many Asian Americans, mental health is strongly connected to their physical health. Many believe that psychological health is influenced by individuals’ willpower. For example, when feeling sad, distracting the mind and not dwelling on negative thoughts is viewed as an appropriate coping mechanism.

Focusing on family and community and maintaining internal harmony when psychological distress hits are viewed as a demonstration of a strong will and emotional health.

In many cases, Asian Americans hide the symptoms of stress and sadness not to risk being emotionally vulnerable or low-willed.

As a result, even when they seek psychological help, they tend to hide more serious symptoms and share only the milder ones, which are more easily accepted by society.

Many Asian Americans still practice natural healing. Traditional healers as religious leaders, community leaders, or older and wiser family members. Many Asian Americans’ indigenous healing practices are controversial.

Religion, spirituality, and family are important protective factors in the life of an Asian American. Divorce rates are really low in Asian American households, which demonstrates the importance of family for them. It also demonstrates a high degree of loyalty and a willingness to deal with problems when they arise.

Mental health problems are common in people of all ethnic backgrounds, but some cultural groups are much more likely to connect with mental health professionals than others.

Asian Americans are among those who rarely seek mental health help. Studies show that they are poorly represented in mental health treatment. What is the reason for this? Here are some of the factors that lead to this:

Stigma and shame around mental health treatment

Many Asian-American communities care much about professional success. For many of them, asking for professional help when personal problems arise is a sign of weakness. As children, many Asian-American adults learn that expressing emotions is not appropriate. For them, emotions must be swallowed and not expressed to other people.

Cultural Norms in Asian communities

Asian communities usually believe in connecting with an extended family during times of trouble. Problems usually do not come out of the family.

Turning to a third party for mental help contradicts these beliefs. Some Asian-American families teach their children that religious faith and practices, such as prayer, are the best way to deal with life’s challenges. Many of them refuse to seek help for this reason.

Often, Asian-American parents may perceive their children’s mental illness as a result of their parenting skills rather than a medical condition that requires special attention and treatment. When these same children decide to seek professional help, the relationship between them and their parents may be put to the test.

Feeling of guilt

The children and grandchildren of Asian immigrants often realize or are reminded that the lives of their relatives have been and still are extremely difficult.

It is possible that their parents and grandparents fled their homeland in the United States and then went through years of hardship as they learned the language and settled in the new country.

As a result, Asian Americans who suffer from mental health problems may feel that their pain has no place to compare with that of their parents, and they should be able to deal with these “minor” problems on their own.

Conceptualizations of mental illness

Southeast Asia, Japanese, and other Asian cultures see mental imbalances differently than Western Europeans and Americans. This cultural mismatch can lead to a breakdown in communication between therapist and their client if these factors are not taken into account.

Western medicine is built on the idea that the mind and body of humans can be easily separated from each other. As a result, when it comes to depression, doctors focus on subjective conditions such as feelings of anxiety and sadness.

In contrast, Asian cultures are more likely to perceive body and soul as a whole. They do not perceive mental and physical illnesses as separate states. When an Asian client with an anxiety disorder begins to see a therapist, they first begin to address the physical symptoms at the expense of their emotional state. This makes more sense to them in terms of their cultural background.

Language barriers

Many Asian Americans are actually born outside the United States or their parents were born outside the country. This can lead to a lack of language skills in the family or poor language skills. Poor English language skills make navigation in the healthcare system a great challenge.

Lack of helpful resources

One of the many myths about Asian Americans is that they are often considered rich and successful, but the reality is that about 1 in 6 Asian Americans lives in poverty.

The cost of treating mental illness is quite high and still unaffordable for many people, including Asian Americans. Even if they have the financial opportunity, many of them do not see the point in investing in this direction, because they are raised differently. Even if they want to turn to a professional for help, some of them do not know how to turn to a professional for help, where to look for it, what they need to know in advance, etc.

Often mental health therapists come from a different background than that of their Asian American clients. Many therapists mean well and strive to understand what it’s like to grow up in an Asian community, but they still can’t fully fit into the shoes of Asian Americans and understand how their culture relates to their mental health.

In reality, there are not many Asian American psychotherapists, so finding a culturally enriched professional is still a big challenge.

The mental health industry is beginning to accept the fact that professionals need to learn to work with clients from different cultural backgrounds so that more people can feel comfortable seeking professional help when they experience anxiety or depression.

Myths and misconceptions concerning Asian Americans and their culture

Asian Americans are similar to European Americans

A major misunderstanding about Asian Americans is that they, like European Americans, are consistently seen as role models, better than the remaining smaller ethnic groups. The fact is that such thinking is wrong for any ethnic group, but it still creates a lot of problems for Asian Americans.

The result of this belief is a lack of attention to the mental problems of Asian Americans. Lack of research and clinical trials specifically focused on the mental health of Asian Americans.

This can also lead to conflicts with other minority groups due to interference in the development and building of coalitions against racial minority groups.

Asian Americans are overachievers

Another misconception for Asian Americans is that they all achieve academic and professional success. It is true that quality education is highly valued in Asian cultures has a difference in the academic success of Asian Americans. They depend on the ethnicity, the status of the generation as well as the economic status of the family.

From an economic point of view, some Asian American families are better off financially than other ethnic minority groups. On the other hand, they also tend to live in poverty compared to society as a whole.

Also, in many households of Asian-Americans, all people of working age work in one or more places outside the home, which can lead to a higher average income for the whole family.

Asian Americans only work specific jobs

Another common misconception is that Asian Americans only do specific jobs. The type of employment is actually quite diverse among them. Many immigrants of Asian-American descent are often trained in specific occupations such as medicine, business, and engineering, and they often work additional jobs to their main occupancy.

Even among highly educated Asian American families, the effect of the glass ceiling can be seen. In other words, many Asian Americans cannot be elevated beyond a certain position because of discrimination, institutionalized racism, or sexism.

Outcomes of culturally competent care toward Asian Americans

Professionals working in the field of mental illness treatment need to be aware of the inaccurate stereotypes and myths associated with Asian Americans and how this can affect their mental health.

Professionals need to be aware of their own stereotypes about Asian Americans and work to eliminate them. Mental health specialists need to be aware of their culture, the diversity of their educational and professional achievement, and public perception. Only in this way will they be able to offer adequate professional help.

Professionals should also be aware of the social and economic status of Asian Americans and avoid making suggestions about clients’ experiences and adherence to traditional cultural values.

Many mental disorders are manifested because of cultural, generational, and racial levels. Mental health specialists need to be able to assess these specific factors when working with Asian Americans clients across the United States.

How to Stop Arguing Over the Smallest Things (video!)

 

How to Stop Arguing Over the Smallest Things | Relationship Advice

 

Do you ever find you and your partner arguing over the tiniest things? Something so small that a day later you don’t even remember what you fought about? Well today I’m going to talk about why this happens and how to stop doing it. So you can stop arguing over the smallest things and get on living your life! 


Now Arguing about small things, we have all been there. We are all there right now! And I would argue that arguments over small things are actually harder to deal with than arguments over big things.

Say for example your spouse cheats on you with their coworker. There is no doubt who is at fault who needs to apologize, etc. But when it’s a small argument, its there is a difference in reality. To you, it’s a big deal but to your spouse it’s nothing. So it’s hard to get on the same page. And you end up fighting about whether or not it’s a big deal.

So much of this has to do with communication, unspoken wants and needs and misguided assumptions. And I’m going to help you wade through some of this today.

So let’s get started with  some Do’s and Don’ts to stop arguing about the smallest things:

 

For the person who is angry/annoyed:

Do
:  be mindful about when you are starting to get annoyed. 

Take a breath. When you are annoyed, I know the first thing you want to do is let it out. My advice is to slow down a little and think about what outcome you want. Don’t settle for short term gains–yelling and getting angry are short term forms of relief. However, you will end up arguing with your partner potentially for hours or days. So think about your goal.

Do: figure out why this small thing bothers you so much.

What does this small thing symbolize? For example, I see a lot of wives who ask their husbands to run small errands while coming home from work and the husband forgets. The wife, in return, gets very angry. Why does this happen?  Come to realize that the wife knew her husband was very on top of things at work but when it came to home, the husband was more relaxed. She felt that he cared less about home than work and felt less important. Less valued and ignored. 

So when she could communicate why it hurt her so much, the husband was more open to hearing her. When she could say “it hurts when I see you put so much energy into finishing tasks at work but you forget just a small thing for us, I feel forgotten and unimportant.”

VS “you always forget. You are so irresponsible and I don’t even know why I bother asking.”

Maybe you don’t want to go that deep for whatever reason, you can communicate using the lighter version:

Do: Use the sandwich method.

The sandwich method is simply two sides of bread which is positive, and the meat which is your ask. I simple template like this can be used: 

First part:
“I appreciate that you ______________  (made dinner for the kids)“or 

“I know that you ___________________(are exhausted from working 12 hour days)”

Second part:

“I’d love it if you could remember to put the milk away. I don’t want it to spoil and not having to see it out and worry about it would really just make things easier for me.” 

Third Part:

I know you do a lot for us, so doing this one other small thing would really help.

Do: Be mindful of your tone.

So much of our communication is body language and tone of voice. If you come to your partner with a negative tone, your spouse is likely to be defensive and not give you the listening ear and validation that you need. Sometimes just reminding yourself that your spouse in general is a good person, a good partner, and all the things that you are grateful for can help calm you down so you can communicate in a constructive way.

 

For the receiver of the complaint:


Do: Take the ask seriously.

Maybe the issue is small to you but it probably has a deeper meaning for your spouse. Don’t ever assume that this is an issue about “going to the grocery store.” Ninety nine percent of the time, there’s something else underneath. 

So if for your spouse you keep forgetting to go to the grocery store, basically you are telling her over and over again” you are not important.” and this erodes trust in the relationship

On the other hand, you just remembering to do the little things makes a huge difference. It shows you value your spouse, it shows you understand what is important and you are taking it seriously and not blowing it off. You will come across as dependable and trustworthy. 

And this is for doing the small things. 

Don’t: tell your partner that they get mad about “the littlest things.” 

Or that they get angry over things that “aren’t important.” Maybe it is important to them. Your partner is not you and does not hold everything that you hold important and unimportant in the same way. Try to understand why things are important and try to come up with a compromise that will help your partner be heard and understood. If you can do this, this will build trust, and they are likely to loosen up their expectations as well. 

Do: Validate, own up to your mistake and fix it. 

A simple “oh shoot, I forgot, sorry about that, I’ll go right now. I’ll try to remember next time by setting an alarm on my phone.” Takes about 30 seconds to say but can prevent hours worth of arguing. 

Do:  look to make permanent changes.

Do not do it for a few weeks until you’re in your partner’s good graces again and then go back to what you did before. This will erode trust in your relationship. Make your best effort to do it for good. If you cannot, talk to your partner about why and come up with a good compromise. 

 

For the person who is angry/annoyed:

Do: look for progress, not perfection.

If you see that your partner is genuinely trying, give them some grace to mess up from time to time. Understand that (like I said above), what is important to you may not be important to them, so give them some time to adjust and build a new habit. 

Do: Affirm and appreciate when your partner is trying to make a change.

Your SO is doing this for you and they do it because they love you and want you to be happy. Your affirmation helps solidify that this new habit is something worth doing. Just like with our kids, we want to connect a good behavior with a reward so they want to keep doing the good behavior. If your partner connects putting the milk away, washing the dishes, helping with the kids, with a “thank you, that really helps!”, they will be more likely to do it. 

You may be thinking “I have to appreciate my partner for something they should already be doing?!?” I hear this a lot. I’m not here to say what is right or wrong, only what works. And if you want your partner to change their behavior, appreciation is a way to reinforce the desired outcome.  If something inside you doesn’t feel right doing this, I would suggest you talk this out with your therapist or trusted person to figure out if there are deeper issues going on. 

So try those things and see if you don’t start seeing your arguments become smaller, shorter and less explosive. 

 

About the author: Lia Huynh LMFT is a therapist who specializes in high conflict couples. Her private practice serves the San Jose, Fremont and Milpitas areas of California. She also sees people all over the state of California through online therapy. If you’d like to learn more about her, click here for more information.

 

Here is a direct link to the YouTube Video

 

How to Impress Asian Parents (video)!

Asian Parents

[vc_video link=’https://youtu.be/S9-IP1bkZzw’]

Impress Asian Parents (video)

So you’ve been dating someone you really like and feel it’s time to meet your SO’s, Asian parents. Maybe you’ve never dated an Asian person before. Meeting your significant other’s parents for the first time can be a daunting and anxiety-provoking event. However, meeting Asian parents is on a whole other level. You may think “this is just like any other parent right?” wrong. Yes there are basic things like shower and be polite but there are little nuances that you don’t know about that can win you some big points. 

 

I’ve had so many cross-cultural couples in my therapy practice talk about how the cultural divide is so hard to navigate, especially when dealing with traditional Asian parents, whether Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Indian, or any other Asian ethnicity. However it doesn’t have to be all bad if you learn about the culture and prepare. And as an “outsider” if you can show some of these cultural graces, parents are likely to be impressed. Here are some tips to do this well:

 

*Please note that I am not saying that all Asian parents are the same. I am making generalizations that may not apply to all families. Acculturation also plays a big part in how much families adhere to these cultural expectations. So when in doubt, check with your partner who knows her/his parents best! 

 

Tip #1: Let’s start easy: take off your shoes when entering the home.

Even if you need to go through the house to the backyard for a BBQ for example, take off your shoes, and carry them through the house to the back. 

 

Tip #2: Greet all family members, and be intentional about elders.

This is common sense for all cultures but for Asian cultures, this is especially important. Be intentional about greeting the elders if grandma is there and don’t wait until you cross paths. Seek them out. If you see that mom is in the kitchen in the back, make a special effort to go back and say hello. 

 

Tip #3:  ask if anyone needs help.

Work ethic is huge in the Asian family. So if you see mom in the kitchen cooking or dad in the backyard barbequeing or setting something up, ask if they need help. Do not sit around if you want to make a good first impression! Be intentional. The parents will notice, trust me. 

 

Tip #3: Bring gifts.

This is not a bribe. It is a gesture of gratitude for them inviting you to their home. Fruits are often the best bet. A box of oranges or a tray of Korean pears is a good way to go. Flowers, candles and other typical American gifts are nice but often seen as impractical and a waste of money. It will depend on the family so when in doubt, check with your SO about what to bring. 

 

Tip #4: Speak if spoken to first. Do not be too opinionated.

I know this sounds like weird advice but Asian cultures value not garnering attention and respect of elders. (And again I am generalizing– more acculturated families are less hierarchical and invite more two-way conversation.) However if you are in a more traditional Asian home, the best thing to do is be humble and be ready to answer questions and listen to the older people talk. 

 

Be interested in what they have to say, ask questions and be polite (this can apply to any family!). Do not be highly opinionated even/especially if you disagree. This is not the time to be right and even if you are, they probably will take your differing opinions as a sign of disrespect. 

 

On the other hand, if you have nothing to say and you are in doubt or feeling awkward, get busy helping out. Ask what you can do. And for God’s sake, do not go on your phone! I know it’s tempting and maybe it’s just my grumpy old self talking, but this is just rude, especially for the older generation.

 

Tip #5: Be ready to answer questions about financial stability and education.

If you are educated and financially secure then you have a lot less to worry about with parents. If you have a house then even better. (I know this is extremely rare in the San Jose/Bay Area so don’t sweat this one too much). If you are not in a high paying field or if you chose not to get a higher education, be prepared for some concern. I’m not saying it’s fair (it’s not my value), but for Asian families, especially those who immigrated here with nothing and slaved away in a restaurant or liquor store all day, they want to make sure their kids won’t have to do the same. So try to understand their point of view. Even communicating a plan of how you are saving for a house or how you are looking to get more training so you can be promoted or start your own business can ease parents’ anxiety. 

 

Note:  if you are in a field you feel called to and you work hard at it– even if you don’t make a lot of money– don’t internalize their disapproval if they communicate it. It’s their value but it doesn’t have to be yours. 

 

Tip #6: After a meal, help with the cleaning and dishes.

Again, your actions will speak a thousand words. This will win the heart of your future parents. 

 

Tip #7: Do not show PDA (public displays of affection).

Most traditional Asian couples do not show PDA, not even hand-holding as it is seen as immodest. I know that there are small gestures that may seem endearing to American families like a stroke on the back or hand-holding, but if at all in doubt, show your love by doing things, not by physical affection. At least in front of the parents.

 

Tip #8: Learn some of the native languages and use it.

Even if your Vietnamese or your Chinese sucks, the parents will really appreciate the effort. Your SO’s parents– if they are immigrants– came here and had to learn a whole different language and in some ways had to give up their own. Someone who is willing to learn their native language speaks volumes. A simple greeting like “ni hao” takes 2 seconds to learn but will show interest and respect to their heritage that they will appreciate. This is very respectful to Asian Parents.

 

Note: if parents speak English well, do not do this. Especially if they were born here. You will seem racist at worst and awkward at best. So make sure you check in with your SO first. 

 

Tip #9: During a meal:  do not eat first.

Always wait for the elders to eat before you begin, even if they insist.  Some families practice the younger serving the elder. So if grandma is sitting next to you, you would offer to put food on her plate or offer to pour tea. Take cues from others to see if this is something they do. 

 

Tip #10: When eating out, if you can afford it, offer to pay the check.

And if they fight you on it, you must fight back. Don’t say “oh ok, thanks for paying!” Continue insisting until they physically do something like run up to the counter to pay. 

 

Tip #11: If someone insults their food or anything about themselves, don’t ever agree.

For example your SO’s mom says “this chicken I made is too bland,” don’t say “aw it’s not that bad, it just needs some soy sauce” and then pour a bunch of soy sauce on the chicken and then say “wow, now it’s perfect.” 

 

A better response would be “I love this chicken! It’s not bland at all” and eat it with a smile. 

 

Conclusion:

Navigating a different culture can be an anxiety providing task, meeting Asian Parents for the first time is no different . Throw in the fact that these are people you may be calling “mom and dad” for the rest of your life can feel paralyzing. But it doesn’t have to be. If you understand the culture and what translates to love, care and respect, you can speak that language to win their heart. Hopefully the tips above helped you to speak their love language for a successful first time meeting! 

 

Lia Huynh

Why We All Need Time Alone

why alone time is good

Why do we need alone time?

Alone time is underrated in our society. There is a push to be extroverted, to be around people, to not be “lonely” or a “loner.” However, spending time alone can be one of the most healthy things that we do for ourselves. Removing the stigma for ourselves is often the first step to accepting and building in alone time for ourselves. Here are five reasons why alone time is so crucial: 

 

  1. Alone time gives your brain a break and can foster a sense of calm and well being.

    We are bombarded by so much sensory input all day long. We are trying to process so much, so many demands that we can feel overwhelmed. Having some space to just be alone can give our brains the recharge we need. 

 

  1. Alone time can spark creativity.

    We are filled with ideas and creativity but often those ideas don’t get the space to be manifested if our minds are crowded with other things. Taking some space can give our creative minds the opportunity to come forward. This is the reason why some of our best ideas or “revelations” come in the shower. When we are alone! 

 

  1. Alone time can enhance relationships.

    If one is spending time reflecting and getting to know oneself, understanding one’s motivations, needs, strengths and weaknesses, this can help in relationships. If someone blows up at your partner out of the blue, the person who reflects and understands why they did it is going to have a better outcome than someone who has no idea why. 

 

  1. Alone time can build self-reliance and confidence.

    Insread of relying on others to stimulate you, to make you laugh or feel good about yourself, learning to find ways to do this on your own can bring a sense of confidence. In my own younger years, I would never be caught dead in a restaurant or a movie. As a result, I often missed out on an opportunity to see a movie I enjoyed or go to a restaurant I liked. Now that I’m older (and more confident), I don’t mind at all. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy doing things with people. But if I want to do something and no one is available, I just go and do it myself. 

 

  1. Alone time can help buffer depression and anxiety.

    Being out in the world having to perform, to be on top of our game, to be social and oftentimes not our most authentic self, can be taxing. And this can for some people feel overwhelming and lead to depression and anxiety. Being alone can help us come back to who we are, to know we don’t have to always be on top of our game, that we can just be ourselves and that we are ok.

 

Conclusion:

Being alone is often looked down upon in our extrovert-biased society. Some may also feel “selfish” for taking time to be by oneself. However, this can often be the healthiest thing you do for yourself. Make the time and enjoy spending it with yourself.

 

 

About the author: Lia Huynh is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist for the San Jose, Milpitas and Fremont areas. She is an introvert who needs her daily alone time. She helps others overcome their guilt for taking time for themselves in order to be better versions of themselves for themselves and their loved ones. If you are interested in working with Lia, find out more here. She specializes in couples therapy, Christian counseling and Therapy for Asian Americans

Boundaries With Family Over The Holidays

setting boundaries during the holidays counseling

Don’t know how to set boundaries with family over the holidays?

Setting boundaries with family is hard, but especially over the holidays.  Some people don’t share that experience–they  can’t wait to get home for Christmas and spend time with their parents and extended families. This is usually the expectation when we are talking to co-workers and friends.  However, what do we do when we feel conflicted about spending time with our own families?

 

Many therapy clients I see come to me talking about family functions and gatherings especially over the holidays. Their conflict shows that they care–they love their parents and want to please them. And if they are Christian and/or Asian, this expectation to always love and please may feel even heavier.

 

These values to honor are a good thing. However, you may feel discouraged or offended during these gatherings. There may be family members who are disrespectful– or parents who are controlling or critical. There may be a past hurt that was never addressed or is minimized by your family.

 

As a result, you may feel guilty for feeling conflicted and know you will feel doubly guilty for not going. You may feel you have an obligation to attend. Or you may receive slack from your family. And many family members just genuinely want to see you and you want to see them as well. And it’s the holidays, a time for family, so if you don’t spend time with them, you may feel lonely. It’s a conflict for sure!

 

Here are some tips to deal with this conflict:  

1. Assess the extent of the damage and set boundaries if needed.

 

Some of my therapy clients are able to go to family gatherings relatively unscathed.  However, many of my therapy clients feel depressed for days after going to a family function. Many times their interactions end in arguments or unspoken snide remarks that bring back old wounds (or new ones!). 

 

I  always tell my counseling clients that your first priority is always your physical and mental health.  If anything in your life causes you harm to your physical or mental health, it is time to re-evaluate the commitment to this person, job or event. No one is going to take care of you but you, so you have a responsibility to care for yourself, regardless of what others expect of you. 

 

2. Be prepared for resistance. 

 

Some families will respect your boundaries. Others may feel hurt or not understand, or just get angry. Understand that you cannot make everyone happy and whenever you say no to someone, a lot of the time, they won’t be happy. 

 

Don’t let them guilt trip you or make you feel down for your decision to take care of yourself. Accept the fact that they won’t be happy, some for good reasons, some for bad. You are only responsible for your own feelings and to act respectfully towards your parents. You are not responsible to make them happy. 

 

What If I Still Want to Go But Am Dreading It? 

 

Some of us either don’t want to deal with the backlash from family members (which is totally understandable), or feel for the most part they can handle the gathering, but feel anxious. Maybe you feel things are very unpredictable at these gatherings, or you just never know what someone is going to say or do. Or you are just dreading going. Here are some tips: 

1. Set emotional boundaries.

 

Lots of my therapy clients feel obligated to go to a family gathering and be around them, in the mix of all the drama for the entire evening.  Some have family members, especially in Asian culture, ask personal offensive questions or make offensive remarks (e.g. you are fat, or how much money do you make?)

 

As a result, you may feel exhausted and overwhelmed by the end of the evening.  I usually advise my counseling clients to be emotionally prepared to thwart these questions or be ok to politely decline to answer, and then respectfully excuse yourself to use the restroom or take a phone call. You don’t have to engage emotionally with everyone that you talk to, especially if they are making you feel stressed out or offending you. 

 

2.  Set physical boundaries.

 

This may be obvious but if you are a “good” son or daughter, you may feel obligated to be around everyone 24/7 and engage. I would say it’s always good to show respect and be present,  but be mindful of your own bandwidth. Maybe some of you are expected to serve everyone hand and foot, clean the kitchen, and then drive everyone home all over the city.  All of that is good, but it can sometimes feel like a heavy expectation and one can feel like they are being used. 

 

If you feel yourself slowly shrinking down, take some time to be away. Go to the TV room, play with the kids or dogs, or just go somewhere and chill on your phone or call your friends. You can also set a time limit on how long you will stay. Bring your significant other, or your kids or your dog and have a code word for “I need to get out of here. Now.” 

 

3. Prepare for any negative interactions with family members.

 

I also advise clients to prepare themselves for any negative interactions. Preparing for something stressful can often help you feel more in control of a situation.

 

So if you are dreading having to watch Uncle #7 get drunk and fight with Uncle #8 and 9, or if you “can’t wait” to hear Aunt #3 compare you to her own kids who went to Harvard on a full scholarship, anticipate those landmines.

 

And then prepare yourself to disengage emotionally, to respectfully stand up for yourself, or physically remove yourself from the situation.

 

Conclusion: Settting boundaries with your family can often be the most loving thing you do. For them and you. 

 

We all want to show respect and love to our families. And for the most part, they love us too. We want the holidays to be a good time where everyone is happy. Remember that it doesn’t have to be perfect. Life is messy, every family has drama, and we can’t choose our family, they are given to us for life. 

 

We can be aware of our own bandwidth–emotional and physical and give as much as we can. And when those stores start to dwindle, we can take responsibility for our health and set good boundaries so we can enjoy our holidays together. 

 

About the author: Lia Huynh is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in relationship therapy in the San Jose, Milpitas and Fremont areas. She works with clients who have relationship problems and need help working those out through counseling. If you would like to find out more about therapy with Lia, click here. If you want to find out more about individual therapy to work on family relationships, click here

How To Talk After An Argument (video!)

Couples Trust Building Therapy

Couples Therapy | Let’s face it, after an argument, when things have cooled down, the last thing some of us want to do is bring it up again. And yet we know that talking after an argument is a good idea. Some of us don’t really know how to do that. Maybe it wasn’t modeled to us in our own families–everyone just swept it under the rug and moved on. Or maybe you’ve tried talking about it but it just ended up erupting into another argument.

It doesn’t have to be this way. In a loving relationship, you can safely discuss these issues and grow stronger as a result. You can find closure about some of the hurt caused during the argument. Here are some steps to do this: 

Watch the video or keep reading down below:

How to handle an argument
Link To The Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRIxSDsiL8k

Here are the steps:

1. Make sure you are calm and in a cooperating mood.

Make sure have some bandwidth to hear some difficult things from your partner. If you are in a calm and non-defensive place, this will put your partner in the same place.

2.  Ask them to tell you how they are feeling. 

This is self-explanatory. You can ask them if they are ready to talk, or if they would like to discuss the argument. The key is to ask permission. This will show respect and consideration for your partner.

3. Listen well

Listening is one of the most powerful and underrated things you can do in your relationship. You can find out more about listening here. Listening does something chemically to the defensive brain that calms the other person. Here is how to listen well: 

Show empathy. This is hard when you may be feeling like someone is unfairly accusing you of something. Put your own feelings aside and put yourself in their shoes. For example, if someone says “you went to play basketball last night, I was expecting you home, you never spend time with me!” Now you may be thinking “I always play basketball on Tuesday nights and I only play twice a week, why is she saying I never spend time with her?” Instead of saying that, put yourself in her shoes. She’s had a rough week and she was hoping I’d skip basketball tonight and she felt alone. The way you talk to her will be very different than if you didn’t have empathy. And this would produce a very different outcome for the discussion. 

 

Give reflections. Basically you are mirroring what the other person is saying. It seems cheezy to some, it seems ingenuine but trust me, it works. I will oftentimes have partners practice with one another and it’s beautiful to see the faces of the people receiving the reflections. I hear things like “I wish you could say this to me at home.” or “I’ve been waiting so long to hear you say that.” Basically they are repeating what their partner is saying and their partner is loving it! 

Here is an example I use in Couples Therapy: 

Angry partner:  “you went to play basketball last night, I was expecting you home, you never spend time with me!” 

Reflection: “you’ve  had a rough week and we’re hoping I’d skip basketball last night to be with you.” 

The key is it needs to be done with empathy. Otherwise, it will not feel genuine. And it will not feel good to you or to your partner. 

 

4. Take responsibility for your part.

Don’t take responsibility for something you didn’t do just to appease your partner. This will only make you resentful and it will not be genuine. For a majority of couples, the hurts that come from arguments stem from unintentional hurts that the other was not aware he or she was inflicting. If you purposely cheated on your spouse it’s easy to apologize!  It’s in the day to day arguments where both feel they were right, where it’s harder to take responsibility. 

So take responsibility for your part. Maybe you weren’t as sensitive as you needed to be. Maybe your spouse was giving you signals and you were distracted so you didn’t catch on to what your spouse wanted. 

Here is an example from Couples Therapy the basketball scenario:

you went to play basketball last night, I was expecting you home, you never spend time with me!” 

“You’ve had a rough week and we’re hoping I’d skip basketball tonight and you felt disappointed because you were home by yourself. (reflection)”

“I’m sorry that I didn’t catch on to that. “(taking responsibility)

 

5. Problem solve and follow-through

Showing how you will change helps your partner feel secure. You can start by saying things like “how about next time…” or “in the future, I will…” 

Example: 

“How about next time if you are feeling sad I will ask if you want me to stay home? Also you tell me what you need and I will honor it. “

 

6. When they are calm, share your own feelings. 

By this time, if you followed the steps, your partner should be feeling calm and feeling safe. He or she is ready to hear you out. They are in a loving place, not a fighting place. 

Take this opportunity to lovingly share your own feelings and hurts.

Here is an example: 

“Are you ok if I share something? I would love it if you would just share with me what you would want me to do instead of saying ok but getting angry and giving me the cold shoulder when I come home. “

At this point the hope is that your partner would be able to follow the same steps that you took to listen, take responsibility for their part, and problem solve. 

 

Conclusion:

Talking after an argument is not easy. Many times it is not smooth. Be ok if things get heated again. Take a break and try again. Life is messy and relationships are part of this messiness. We don’t have to get everything perfect. We can try it and make progress and see that we are moving closer to the goal. Communication takes practice, and if we continue to practice, we will make progress. 

 

About the author: Lia Huynh is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in couples therapy in the Milpitas, San Jose and Fremont areas. She is passionate about couples reconnecting, rebuilding trust and building happy lives together. Good communication takes practice and oftentimes is not easy. If you would like to find out more about working with Lia to improve your communication with your partner, see more here. Couples Therapy San Jose CA

Couples Counseling: Be a Better Listener to Your Partner: 5 Steps

couples counseling, marriage counseling

Couples Counseling:

In a healthy relationship, no one gets to have the last word all the time. Loving someone means accepting that they are a unique individual with their own thoughts and ideas.

This isn’t easy. Too often, we dismiss our partner’s opinions and feelings. Sometimes we feel misunderstood. Or we feel that our partner is unfairly criticizing us, so we shut down or argue back. On the other hand, sometimes we are distracted or stressed out–we don’t have the capacity to listen. Couples counseling can help!

Maybe after a long and hard day, our partner wants to complain about work…again! And so we choose to zone out. Or maybe you are busy checking your stocks and so when your partner asks you to take on the trash, it goes in one ear and out the other. (“What trash? I don’t remember you telling me that!?!)

These small, seemingly innocuous mistakes can blow up and lead to big arguments. Oftentimes at the heart of the matter, I hear people saying that they feel like their partner just doesn’t take them seriously. That somehow they are unimportant, and invisible. And this hurts deeply.

Healthy relationships take work, and learning how to listen is part of this work.  Listening is one of the most powerful things we can do in our relationship. But it is also one of the hardest. 

We may think we are listening, but there is a big difference between hearing and truly listening. And if you often hear the complaint “you never listen!” Then read on!

In Couples Counseling We Try These Tips:

1. Make sure you aren’t distracted.

Put your phone away when it’s time to have a conversation. Stop whatever you are doing, and give your partner your full attention. I often tell clients to pause whatever they are watching (e.g. the basketball/football game), or put down their tablets and phones.

If you are truly busy at the moment (e.g. changing a diaper, on the phone with an important client), say something like, “I’d like to give you my full attention. Can we talk about this in 10 minutes?” And don’t forget! 

2. Check your body language.

Keep your facial muscles soft. Turn to face your partner. Make eye contact.  Eye contact is very important! Remember when you were first dating, you couldn’t stop looking into each other’s eyes?   

In the therapy world, we talk about babies who don’t get enough eye contact from their care givers in the early years of life end up with lots of social and emotional issues in later life.

In the same way, as adults, we need eye contact from our loved ones to feel important and heard. Keep your posture open; do not fold your arms or cross your legs. Show your partner that you are open to them and what they have to say. Body language speaks a thousand words. 

3. Let them talk uninterrupted. Don’t give advice. 

Do not interject, offer advice, or argue.  In my experience, this is one of the hardest things for couples. We often love our partners so we don’t want them to be sad or angry anymore. And we have the solution! So  we feel like if we can just tell them what to do so their problem will go away, the problem is solved! Not so fast. 

I often tell couples that their partner is smart and probably knows the solution already. However, they feel stuck. When people feel stuck, they panic and they can’t think straight. If you can help your partner express their feelings in a safe space, your partner will calm down. When people are calm, guess what? They can think clearly. And when they think clearly, they can make the right decision.

So your role as a partner is not to give them the solution, but rather help them calm down so they can think clearly. Anyone can give advice. Your partner can go to google and get advice on anything in the world. Your role as a comforter and listener is so powerful, google can’t do that for us!

So keep quiet, and focus on what they are saying. Remind yourself that you will get a chance to voice your thoughts later. When you get the urge to interrupt, tune into your body. Just noticing where the feeling comes from can be enough to make it ebb away.

4. Mirror your partner’s words to check you’ve understood.

Rephrase their main points in your own words. Say, “I just want to understood I’ve understood you correctly. It sounds like you’re saying X,Y, and Z. Is that right?” This shows them you have been paying attention.

I know it feels cheezy but this is one of the most powerful things you as a partner can do. I have seen in happen in my office time and time again. It seems easy but it can be incredibly difficult.  A lot of the work I do is helping those who have trouble listening to learn how to listen well, to know how to reflect and listen actively.

5. Ask clarifying questions.

If you’ve given your partner a chance to speak, but still don’t quite understand what they are saying, ask simple follow-up questions. Questions like, “Could you tell me exactly what you mean by that?” or “Could you give me a specific example?” work well.

Adopt an attitude of calm curiosity rather than judgment. Curiosity is the keyword here. If you don’t know the answer to something, ask your partner. Try to understand, not condemn, your partner. Put aside your assumptions and think about the situation from their perspective.

Couples Counseling: Active Listening Isn’t The Same As Agreement

Active listening is particularly difficult whenever your partner criticizes you or raises a sensitive issue. Your first response might be, “How dare they!” or “I won’t listen to this!” In other words, you go on the defensive, and communication breaks down entirely.

But that’s exactly when you and your partner need this technique. Active listening is a tool that helps you put aside your emotions for a few minutes and focus on your partner instead.

For example, your partner might say “Yesterday when you went out to lunch with your mom instead of me, that showed that you value her more than you do me.” Maybe you haven’t seen your mom in a month and you assumed your partner was busy so you didn’t bother asking your partner.” Your first reaction is to say “You’re wrong! Nothing I ever do is good enough!” And an argument ensues.

Listening doesn’t mean you agree with your partner, or that you have to give into their wishes. But you can put yourself in their shoes. In this example, if you can put yourself in your partner’s shoes: that maybe this whole week you’ve been busy at work. And she is alone with the baby all day, cooped up in the house. You don’t agree with what she’s said but you can understand how she’d come to this conclusion. 

You can say something like, “I can see how you would feel that way. You see I’ve been busy at work. And you’re cooped up in the house all day with the baby.”

Ninety nine percent of the time, when a partner is able to do this, you can see her relax. She is not so angry anymore. And she can have a real discussion. You can tell her how you just didn’t think she would want to go to lunch. You can tell her you meant to take her out the day after but just didn’t get around to it and you’re sorry.

Listening helps both of you understand the other, which is the first step to finding a solution that works for you both.

Putting your ego to one side and connecting with your partner can be challenging, but it’s worth the effort. By taking time to understand their perspective, you’ll have less fighting and greater intimacy and joy in the relationship. 

 

About the author: Lia Huynh is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in helping couples reconnect and rebuild trust in the San Jose, Milpitas and Fremont areas. If you  or your spouse are still needing help finding the motivation to connect emotionally, or if you are finding the time but not connecting, marriage therapy/couples therapy can help. I have helped hundreds of couples in the San Jose, Milpitas and Fremont areas connect again. You can reach out today here or find out more about couples counseling here

To learn more about Couples Counseling please check out our dedicated page.

Why Don’t Asian Americans Get Mental Health Treatment?

asian american mental health lia huynh

Asian Americans Mental Health Treatment

Mental health problems are common in people of all ethnic backgrounds, but some groups are much more likely to reach out to mental health professionals than others.

Asian Americans are one such example. Research shows they are underrepresented in treatment. Why might this be? Asian Americans Mental Health Treatment

 

  1. Stigma and shame.

Many Asian American communities place a lot of emphasis on personal success. Asking for professional help with personal problems is a sign of weakness. As children, many Asian American adults are taught that displaying emotion isn’t appropriate.

 

  1. Cultural norms.

Asian communities generally believe in reaching out to extended family in times of trouble. Approaching a third party for help goes against these norms. Some families teach their children that religious faith and practices, such as prayer, are the best way to deal with life’s challenges.

Asian American parents may see their child’s mental illness as a poor reflection of their parenting skills, rather than a medical condition requiring treatment. When their children seek help, their relationship may come under strain.

 

  1. Guilt.

Children and grandchildren of immigrants often come to realize that their relatives’ lives were, and remain, very difficult. Their parents and grandparents might have fled their home country and then endured years of hardship as they put down roots in a new land.

Asian Americans suffering with mental health problems might feel their suffering pales in comparison, and they should be able to deal with their troubles alone.

 

  1. Conceptualizations of mental illness that differ from mainstream Western perspectives.

European and North American cultures regard mental illnesses as specific psychiatric problems. Each mental illness is seen as its own entity, associated with behavioral, affective, cognitive, and somatic symptoms.

Southeast Asian, Japanese, and other cultures see mental distress differently, and this cultural mismatch can lead to a breakdown in communication between a therapist and their client.

Western medicine is based on the idea that a person’s body and mind can easily be separated from one another. When doctors trained in this model talk about depression, they focus on subjective internal states, like feelings of sadness and anxiety. They recognize that people with depression have physical symptoms, such as headaches, but self-reported feelings take priority.

By contrast, Asian cultures are more likely to take a holistic approach. Many do not distinguish between mental and physical illness. An Asian client with depression or anxiety may initially talk about physical symptoms instead of their emotional state, because it makes more sense in light of their cultural background.

 

  1. Language barriers.

Many Asian Americans were born outside the US. A lack of proficiency in English makes navigating the healthcare system a challenge.

 

  1. Lack of resources.

Asian Americans are often stereotyped as rich and successful, but around 1 in 6 live in poverty. The cost of treatment is prohibitive for many. Even if they can afford it, someone might not know how best to approach a professional to ask for help.

 

  1. Therapists and their Asian American clients typically come from different backgrounds.

Well-meaning European American clinicians may try to understand the experience of growing up in an Asian community, but still fail to grasp how their client’s background relates to their mental health. There aren’t many Asian American psychotherapists in practice, so finding a good cultural match is a challenge.

Fortunately, the mental health profession is starting to realize that therapists need to learn how to work with clients from diverse backgrounds. In major cities, specialist treatment providers tailored to meet the needs of minority communities. Asian American clients now have opportunities to find treatment that is both effective and culturally sensitive.    

 

About the author: Lia Huynh, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist is an Asian American therapist in private practice serving the San Jose and Milpitas areas. She has a passion for working with Asian Americans and has done therapy with clients from Filipino, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean, Cambodian, Laotian and Indonesian cultures. Want to know more? Contact her here

Tiger Parenting: Helpful or Harmful?

Tiger Parenting

In 2011, law professor Amy Chua wrote Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. In her book, Chua argued that so-called “tiger parenting” is typical in Asian families, and that a strict parenting style is the key to raising successful children.

According to Chua, children of tiger parents often excel in school and college. Tiger parents emphasize academic and career achievements above all else, and put their children under considerable pressure to succeed. They are also keen to involve their children in challenging extra-curricular activities.

But does tiger parenting really help children thrive, and is it actually common in Asian American families? Although Chua’s account is interesting, we need to look at findings from large-scale studies before drawing any conclusions.

Tiger Parents Are Actually A Minority

 In opposition to Chua’s theory, several studies have concluded that most Asian American mothers and fathers cannot be described as “tiger parents.” Longitudinal research shows that a supportive parenting style is more common.

Supportive parents engage with their children in a positive way, encouraging them to do their best without relying on punishment or intimidation to change their children’s behaviors.

By contrast, tiger parents use a mix of positive and negative parental strategies. They are likely to use encouragement coupled with a set of strict rules and high demands.

How do different parenting styles compare to Tiger Parenting?

Surprisingly, longitudinal studies show that supportive parenting is linked with better school performance compared to tiger parenting. They showed that students with supportive parents got better grades than those with tiger parents!

Children of supportive parents also had better levels of socio-emotional adjustment, and were more likely to feel greater obligation towards their families. They are also less alienated from their parents, suggesting that supportive parenting leads to positive parent-child relationships.

Easygoing parenting styles, characterized by a “hands-off” approach, also produced better developmental (social/emotional) outcomes compared to tiger parenting.

Tiger parenting is preferable to a harsh parenting style, in which parents are demanding and show their children little warmth. Children with harsh parents had the worst socio-emotional adjustment scores.

The Role Of Culture In Explaining Asian American Success

Tiger parenting isn’t the reason why Asian Americans are more successful than average in school and college. Is there an alternative explanation? Two cultural differences may hold the answer.

How Do Asian American Parents View Academic Performance?

Research shows that some Asian American parents see their child’s academic performance as a litmus test of their parenting skills. Their children learn that getting good grades and going onto the best colleges is a key life goal, and this is reflected in their work ethic.

This dynamic isn’t usually seen in European American families, which might explain why supportive parenting doesn’t have the same effect on grades and socio-emotional adjustment seen in Asian American children.

The Effect Of Attitude Towards Intelligence

Psychologist Carol Dweck, who researches attitudes towards intelligence, believes that Asian American parents’ view of intelligence is an important factor in their children’s success.

Most people have either an “incremental” or “entity” view of intelligence. Those with an incremental view assume that intelligence and success is the result of hard work and personal effort, whereas people who take an entity perspective believe that intelligence is hardwired and largely unchangeable.

Research shows Asian Americans are more inclined to take an incremental view. They work hard at school and college because they are more likely than European Americans to draw a link between effort and success.

What Does This Mean For Parents?

In summary, supportive parenting seems to yield the best outcomes, both socially and academically. Supportive parents discipline their children when necessary, but they are patient, kind, and engaged. Tiger parenting can produce outstanding academic results, but this is the exception rather than the rule.

 

References

Kim, S., Wang, Y., Orozco-Lapray, D., Shen, Y., & Murtuza, M. (2013). Does “tiger parenting” exist? Parenting profiles of Chinese Americans and adolescent developmental outcomes. Asian American Journal of Psychology , 4(1), 7-18. doi:10.1037/

About the author: Lia Huynh is an Asian American Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist located in the San Jose and Milpitas areas. She is of Chinese and Japanese descent; her husband is Vietnamese (hence the last name). She often strives to resist the urge to be a tiger parent to her two kids. 

Is Your Perfectionism Helping or Hurting You?

a woman who is stressed out due to her perfectionism which she feels is helping but also hurting her

Perfectionism: Helping or Hurting You?

If you are a perfectionist, you may have mixed feelings about it. You may be wondering if your perfectionism is helping or hurting you. You may also have questions about how you became a perfectionist. Here are questions to ask yourself: Did you grow up in a high-pressure environment? As a child, were you made to feel as though your best wasn’t good enough unless you got perfect grades and outshone everyone else? 

In the Asian culture, as children we are taught that working hard and excelling at school and work is the sure path to a secure future. As adults, we excel at work, score high grades at college, and enjoy professional success.

However,  there’s a price to pay. Intense pressure to succeed can lead to feelings of never “being good enough” and  always “wanting more.” Many of us feel that we will need to work hard for decades in challenging jobs with no definite end point in sight.  We burn out. We may feel that are driven by a fear of failure rather than a healthy desire for success. As a result, our work can drain our energy and suck the joy from us. Ultimately, these feelings can lead to an increased  risk of anxiety, depression, and even be a factor in suicide. Where we used to be driven by our drive to be perfect, we now ask ourselves: Is our perfectionism helping or hurting us?

Understanding Perfectionism

Perfectionism isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, it can be healthy. The problem comes when it’s driven only by the desire to please everyone else, or when you impose your standards on others.

Perfectionism comes in three forms:

Self-Oriented Perfectionism: Self-oriented perfectionists set and attain realistic goals. They are driven, hardworking, and live by their own set of standards for living. They draw on their inner resources, value assertive communication, and feel positive much of the time.

Other-Oriented Perfectionism: Other-oriented perfectionists are concerned with what others are doing. They closely monitor everyone else’s behavior, and chastise them when they make even minor mistakes.  

Socially Prescribed Perfectionism: This kind of perfectionism stems from external standards, such as those imposed by family or the media. It results in self-criticism, fears of rejection, and an obsession with being “the best.”

How To Thrive As A Perfectionist

If your perfectionism is other-oriented or socially prescribed, re-evaluating your core beliefs about yourself and the world will help you enjoy happier relationships and self-acceptance.

Acknowledge your successes as well as failures

Most perfectionists have a black-and-white view of the world. They think that if they falter, they are complete failures. This simply isn’t true, but it can take time to break this thought pattern. Take time to congratulate yourself on your successes, and appreciate your talents.

Let yourself feel your emotions–good and bad

Perfectionists have a hard time accepting and working with negative thoughts and fear. Don’t hide your emotions. It’s OK to feel unsure of yourself sometimes. Negative feelings are only a problem when you let them dominate your life. Often, sitting with them and letting them pass is all you need to do.

Learn to let go

If you’re an other-oriented perfectionist, try to loosen the reins a little; sometimes, you need to delegate tasks to others. Let them tackle problems in their own way. Resist the urge to micromanage, and focus on what they do right. Keep any criticism constructive.


Re-evaluate if need be

It’s great to set ambitious goals, but check in with yourself occasionally and make sure they’re still right for you. Maybe you need to re-evaluate or change directions. Maybe your lofty goals are hindering you from what you really want in your life.There is no shame in changing direction.

Love yourself regardless of your performance

Separate who you are from what you do. Don’t put all of your value into how you perform. You are much more than your grades, your SAT score or your job title. You have unique gifts and talents which cannot be measured by a numerical score, title or bank account.

“Good enough” is often “good enough.”

Learn to be “good enough.” Not everything needs to be perfect. Ask yourself if it would be worth it to put in the extra time for that extra 10% in order to be perfect, or would that time be better spent somewhere else?

Be aware of unhealthy perfectionism signs

If your perfectionism is causing you to lose sleep, to feel anxious or depressed, causing you health problems or problems in your relationships, it’s time to re-evaluate if what you are doing is worth it. It depends on the situation, but I often tell my clients that if something in your life is compromising your mental or physical health, it’s time to re-evaluate its place.

 

About the author: Lia Huynh is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist practicing in the Milpitas and San Jose areas. She helps clients use their perfectionism to work for them without allowing it to weigh them down. She understands that people of all ethnicities struggle with perfectionism but that Asians (including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Filipino, etc.) tend to have a higher incidence of perfectionism. Learn more about Lia Huynh and  Asian American counseling here.