Are You Facing Repeating Patterns in Your Life?

Have you watched Groundhog Day before? It’s a movie about a TV weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray) who goes to a small town to cover an event called Groundhog Day. Phil is a cynical and arrogant person and looks down on everyone.

Phil (Bill Murray), an arrogant weatherman in the movie Groundhog Day

Bill Murray as Phil, an arrogant weatherman who looks down on everyone

At first everything seems normal as he goes onsite and covers the event, while acting like an a*shole to everyone. But then he wakes up the next day and realizes something strange: it’s the same day again! The worst thing is, no one notices this but him!

(Note: Massive spoilers ahead)

Initially, Phil is very confused. Then frustrated. He starts off by behaving even more rudely to those around him. Then he decides to have fun with it, from getting into a police car chase to taking advantage of women (geez).

But no matter what he does, he wakes up in the same day each day. Over and over again.

Phil (Bill Murray), stuck in the same day over and over

Phil stuck in the same day over and over

As reality sets in, Phil becomes very depressed. He tries to commit suicide, but it doesn’t work as the time loop would reset itself. No matter what he does, he’s back where he was.

Eventually he decides to change his actions. He uses knowledge of the time loop to help himself and others. He picks up skills like ice sculpting, playing the piano, and learning a new language. He also goes around saving people, including catching a boy who falls off a tree and saving a choking man.

Groundhog Day - Phil mesmerized by piano piece

Phil is mesmerized by a piano piece while at a restaurant and decides to learn piano

As Phil changes from being a deeply cynical person who hates everyone, to a positive and sincere person who works on improving himself and helping others, the time loop breaks. He finds himself in a new day, finally out of the time loop.

Negative Patterns in Our Life

There are many meaningful life lessons to get out of the movie. For me, one of the lessons is how the time loop can be seen as a representation of the negative patterns in our life.

Do you face any negative patterns in your life? For example:

  • Constant struggles with weight,
  • Constant issues with money,
  • Constantly meeting toxic partners,
  • Having the same issues and arguments with your partner,
  • Having the same conflicts with your family/friends,
  • Struggling with a bad habit (e.g. drinking, smoking, overeating),
  • Constantly setting goals and not following through, or
  • Constantly facing the same struggles with your children.

While these patterns vary, they all have something in common: they keep happening again and again. Sometimes, we may think that the problem is gone, but it happens again after some time, meaning it was never gone.

For example, we may end a toxic relationship and think “that’s it” and we’re free of it, but then our next relationship turns out to be toxic as well. Or we may lose weight and think that we’ve overcome our weight problems, but we regain the weight after a few months, ending up with the same weight, and a little more.

Looping vine

A loop (Image: tanakawho)

Are you familiar with the concept of reincarnation? In Buddhism, there is a belief in reincarnation, which is the continuous rebirth of a soul after death into a new physical body. It is believed that a soul will be continually reborn, whether as an animal or human, until it learns the required life lessons and reaches enlightenment. Rebirth then stops and the soul transcends to the next level.

Whether you believe in reincarnation or not, this concept can be applied to our negative life patterns. From my years of coaching and self-development, repeating life problems rarely happen by chance. When you find yourself in a repeating life situation, chances are they are there to teach you a lesson. There is a message that your higher self is trying to tell you. Until you understand what the message is and act on it, the pattern will keep happening, again and again. It is when you look within to understand the life lesson and act on it, that the pattern stops and the loop is permanently broken.

Pattern #1: Struggle With Weight

A repeating problem I faced in my teens and 20s was my inability to lose weight and keep it off. I was never overweight but I had excess weight which I wanted to lose. I would exercise and eat healthy, but my weight loss would be thwarted by overeating episodes, where I would either (1) binge eat after a period of healthy eating, or (2) feel discouraged from going off-track on my diet one time and then eat excessively for a few days, before restarting my weight loss plan.

Exercising was never a problem, I had no issues sticking to my exercise plans. Emotional eating was my issue. From weight loss plans to mass exercising to fasting to embarking on different diets, I tried them all. There were times when I reached my ideal weight, say through rigorous dieting or fasting. But I would rebound to my previous weight after a while. It seemed like I was destined to struggle with food and weight my entire life, and to be stuck at a heavier weight.

After exhausting all physical means to address this issue, I realized I was missing one dimension — the spiritual dimension. I looked within to understand why I kept overeating, why I kept struggling with my weight. The answer was astounding. I found out that I was repeatedly overeating because I kept pushing myself, ignoring my needs, and not loving myself. Food was my companion when I wasn’t to myself. To eat was to comfort myself. To eat was also to punish myself, because I hated myself for failing in my plan again.

My overeating behavior was my subconsciousness’ way of screaming at me to pay attention, to stop ignoring myself, and to love myself.

The answer was then to stop pushing myself and listen to my needs. Stop working on things I don’t love and stop ignoring my needs. Listen to my inner self to understand what I want to do. Really love, honor, and respect myself.

As I did this, my negative eating patterns started to disappear. From my highest weight of 65kg (143lb), I naturally reached 58+kg (128lb) and have stayed this way since (it’s been over 10 years). By understanding the message behind this repeating pattern, and acting on it, I was finally able to break it for good.

Read more:

Pattern #2: Money Struggles

Man stressed over his bills

(Image: mproduction)

A repeating pattern can also be money-related. For example, I once worked with a client N who had been in debt for the past 10 years. Even though he is a successful entrepreneur running multiple profitable businesses, he struggled with money and was constantly dealing with bank overdraft statements and paying his employees on time.

Prior to our sessions, N worked with a business coach who told him to charge more and remove low-return clients, so as to earn more. While this was logical business advice, the problem was more than that. Because it almost seemed like N was trying to be in debt. He was constantly spending without regard of his bank balance. Even if he did charge more, he would likely earn more but also spend more, and hence remain in debt.

The question came down to, “Why is N in debt? Why does he keep struggling with money even though he’s earning good money and clinching high value deals each month?” As we dug within to find the answer, we found

  1. He wasn’t enjoying his work. While N was passionate about his business, he wasn’t enjoying his daily work. Seventy percent of his days were spent chasing deadlines and doing coordination work, which he hates. The tasks he loves to do are ideation (creating new products) and getting out there to network and pitch deals. These were taking up 30 percent of his work days. Since he was doing things he hated, he would feel drained, after which he would readily spend money to “reward” himself.
  2. He didn’t really care about getting out of debt. When I asked N why he wanted to get out of debt, his immediate answer was, “To achieve financial freedom.” Yet financial freedom isn’t a real goal — it’s a means to an end. “Exactly why do you want financial freedom?” I asked N, which then stumped him. Because he didn’t have a clear reason to get out of debt — like understanding the clear benefits of being debt-free and having a strong motivation WHY — he continued to stay in debt each month.

So we worked on first, creating a work structure that energized him, and second, creating a real motivation to get out of debt. With (1), he delegated the tasks which he didn’t want to do to his staff, and planned a work agenda centered on product creation, networking, and closing deals — tasks he thrives at and which build the business. With (2), he discovered his deepest passion is to grow as a human and to help other entrepreneurs. To do this to the fullest, he needed to be out of debt — it was draining him each month, dealing with overdraft statements and finding money to pay people.

With this, N became naturally excited about his work. He started to show up for our coaching sessions energized and happy. This was a sharp contrast to the past, when he was tired all the time and kept going on vacations to be happy. Instead of spending money to be happy, he is now intrinsically happy — which means his money now goes toward clearing his debt every month (vs. filling a void in his heart).

Pattern #3: Meeting Toxic Men

Bored couple in restaurant

(Image: nd3000)

The last repeating pattern I’m going to share is meeting toxic partners.

A while back I conducted Soulmate Journey, my course on finding authentic love. One of the many things I did with my participants was to analyze their past relationships, identify trends, and draw lessons from these trends.

With my client H, we found that she had a pattern of attracting toxic men. This wasn’t just in love — looking at her life, H had been in the company of toxic people her whole life, be it family or friends. Her family members constantly bullied her and made her feel unwanted (they told her they “don’t want her around”), while her “friends” regularly criticized her about her weight and looks.

Through our sessions, H realized that she attracted these toxic relationships as she didn’t love herself. Deep down, she saw being bullied as a way of getting affection, which came from a very old childhood story. Growing up, this was how her siblings treated her and it was the only way she knew to get attention. Hence, H would tolerate toxic behavior from others to maintain the relationships. She also felt the need to please and be nice to everyone, even when the person was being mean to her. This made her very miserable because she was putting up with negative behavior to get perceived “love.”

The answer was to stop putting up with bad behavior from others and to work on loving herself from within. As H worked on loving herself and being her best self, she

  • Lost 4.1kg (9.0lb), which she wasn’t able to do for the last 10 years;
  • Drew boundaries with her family, when she did not do this before;
  • Distanced herself from toxic friends, when she would feel obligated to meet them before;
  • Joined meetup groups and made new friends (in her words, she has “never met anyone as passionate about writing as she is”!);
  • Took control of her debt situation; and
  • Started pursuing her passions of traveling, writing, and photography. She went on three solo trips in four months, joined a writers’ group, and started to build her photography portfolio!

The funny thing is, we didn’t set out to achieve these when we started. We just worked on understanding why she was attracting toxic men — to understand the life lesson behind this repeating life pattern. The message was to love and respect herself, and to live her life without putting it on hold for others. When she worked on it, everything flowed into place.

Are There Repeating Patterns in Your Life?

Here are my questions to you:

  1. Are there any repeating patterns in your life?
  2. Why do you think this pattern is happening? What is the message your subconsciousness is trying to send you?
  3. How can you apply this lesson?

Receive this life lesson and act on it. For Phil in Groundhog Day, it took him 30-40 years before he internalized the lesson to be a kinder, better person and actualized it, hence breaking the time loop. For you though, I doubt you will need this long. I have a feeling that now that you’ve read this post, you’ll know what to do and break out of the loop. 🙂

Related posts:

Stop Asking Couples When They’re Having Kids

Stop Asking Couples When They Are Having Kids

“So, when are you having kids?” my aunt asked me. At that point, I was 30 and had just been married for a few months. I didn’t even know if I wanted kids, much less when I was having them.

So I simply said, “I haven’t decided if I want kids.” I would spend the next hour listening to horror stories about women who (1) regretted not having children because they had put it off until it was too late, and (2) had difficulty conceiving because they had waited too long, basically suggesting that I was going to regret it if I didn’t work on producing children right away.

This would be my life for the next few years, where I would receive constant questions revolving around “When are you having kids?” from friends and relatives, followed by a bizarre, almost ritualistic attempt to persuade me to have kids.

If you think that this stops after having a kid, nope. The people who previously told you to have “just one kid” will now tell you to have one more. It just seems like it will never end.

The problem with “When are you having kids?”

I can understand why people like to ask this question. Find a partner, get married and have kids. This is the path we’ve been taught to follow since young. This is the path we’ve been told is the way of life.

This is especially so in the Chinese culture where having kids is seen as the ultimate goal in life. Sayings like 生儿育女, which means to birth sons and raise daughters, and 子孙满堂, which means to be in a room filled with children and grandchildren (often used to symbolize the peak of happiness), all support this belief.

Multi-Generation Chinese Family at the Park

A multi-generation family, often used to symbolize the peak of happiness in the Chinese culture

So after you get married, people automatically assume that this should be your life path. Without thinking, they jump in and ask “When are you having kids?”, as if really expecting you to give them a straight answer.

The problem is that it’s rude. It’s invasive. It’s also presumptuous.

1) Having kids is a personal matter

Firstly, having kids is a deeply personal matter. Whether someone wants kids or not is something for them to discuss with their partner, and not anyone else’s business. Whether you’re someone’s best friend or relative, you shouldn’t be asking a question like, “When are you having kids?”, because (a) you’re assuming that the person wants kids when they may not, and (b) you’re assuming that they even want to discuss this with you, when they may well not want to.

Even if you’re asking this with the intent of having a heart-to-heart, something like “Do you have any plans for kids?” or “Are you guys thinking of having kids?” would be more appropriate. The question should be open-ended and not presumptive, because, believe it not — not everyone wants kids.

2) Having kids is not the only path to happiness

Secondly, everyone has their path in life. The path is not the same for everyone and that’s okay. Some people want kids while some don’t. Some think that having kids is the greatest joy in life, while some see kids as a burden.

Having children is a decision with lifelong impact and will take away significant time, energy and resources from the parent(s) for the first 20 years or so of the child’s life. Anyone who has kids — and has raised them themselves — can attest to this. There are many ups and downs of having kids, and for some, the downs are too much and it’s simply not practical or realistic to give up so much of their lives to have kids. For some, it is better to remain child-free rather than have kids for the sake of it.

To assume that everyone should have kids, just because some other people think that having kids is the great and awesome, is rude and disregards an individual’s own wishes for their life.

Take for example, Oprah Winfrey — philanthropist and talk show host. Oprah chose not to have kids and dedicated herself to her purpose of serving the world. She produced and hosted The Oprah Winfrey Show, the highest-rated daytime talk show in America, for 25 years; founded a leadership academy for girls; and started her television network OWN. Through the years, she has inspired millions and become a champion for people worldwide. As she says,

“When people were pressuring me to get married and have children, I knew I was not going to be a person that ever regretted not having them, because I feel like I am a mother to the world’s children. Love knows no boundaries. It doesn’t matter if a child came from your womb or if you found that person at age two, 10, or 20. If the love is real, the caring is pure and it comes from a good space, it works.” — Oprah[1]

Is her life not purposeful because she doesn’t have kids? No, not at all. In fact, I dare say that her life is much more purposeful than many in the world, including some people who have kids.

Many famous celebrities have chosen not to have kids as well:

  • Chelsea Handler is a talk show host who chose not to have kids. She has said honestly in interviews that she doesn’t have the time to raise a child, and she doesn’t want her kids to be raised by a nanny.[2][3]
  • Betty White was a famous comedian who chose not to have kids because she was passionate about her career and she preferred to focus on it.[4]
  • Ashley Judd is an actress and political activist who chose not to have kids because she feels that there are already so many orphaned kids in the world. To her, her resources can be better used to help those who are already here.[5]

And then there are others like Chow Yun Fat, Marisa Tomei, Renée Zellweger, Rachael Ray, and Jennifer Aniston. These people choose to be child-free for different reasons, such as because they’re already pursuing paths deeply meaningful to them, because they do not wish to be tied down with a child, or because they just don’t feel a deep desire to have children.

Not having kids has not prevented them from being happy, and people need to stop painting the narrative that one must have kids to be happy. Doing so has caused many parents to suffer dissonance when they have kids and realize that reality is far off from what they were told. There are people with kids who are deepy unhappy, and there are many who live deeply fulfilling and happy lives without kids. There is no one path to happiness, and it is up to the individual to define what makes them happy.

3) You may cause hurt and pain

Thirdly, you never know what others are going through.

Some people may want kids but are facing fertility struggles. For example,

  • Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan went through three miscarriages before having their firstborn.[6]
  • The Obamas had a miscarriage before they had their daughters via IVF.[7]
  • Friends star Courteney Cox had a total of seven miscarriages before having her daughter, as she has a MTHFR gene mutation which raises the risk of miscarriage-causing blood clots.[8] In fact, she went through a miscarriage while filming the episode about Rachel giving birth. As she said, “It was terrible having to be funny.”

About 10% of women have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant[9] while 13.5% of known pregnancies end in miscarriages, with the figure rising as the maternal age rises.[10]

For some, the journey to conceive is fraught with deep pain as they experience miscarriages, go through round after round of invasive fertility treatments, and wait in vain for a successful pregnancy.

And then there are people who cannot have their biological children due to genetic issues, illnesses, or problems with their reproductive system, which could have been there since birth. For example, Charmed star Shannen Doherty was unable to have children due to her cancer treatment.[11]

Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, and family

Barack and Michelle Obama had a miscarriage before having their daughters via IVF

While you may be think that you’re being helpful or funny by asking people when they’re having kids, your question may well trigger hurt and pain. As Zuckerberg said,

“You feel so hopeful when you learn you’re going to have a child. You start imagining who they’ll become and dreaming of hopes for their future. You start making plans, and then they’re gone. It’s a lonely experience.”[12]

4) Not everyone is in a place to have kids

For some, having kids is simply not something they can consider due to their circumstances in life.

Some people may lack the financial resources to have kids, a reality in places like Singapore.

Some people may be facing serious issues with their marriage, in which case their priority should be to work on their marriage, not to have kids.

Some people may be so burdened with caring for their dependents that they are unable to consider kids, at least not at the moment.

And then there are people who may be facing health issues, issues that you don’t know and can’t see, that would make pregnancy difficult due to the toll it would take on their body.

For these people, they may look like they’re in a perfect place to have kids due to their age, job status, etc. But the reality is they can’t due to very serious, legitimate reasons, and you don’t know because you aren’t them.

5) Some people could still be thinking

Lastly, there are people who are neutral to the idea of having kids. This was me when I just got married. These people need time to think it through, because having kids is a permanent, lifelong decision with serious consequences. There’s no reason to assume that having kids should be an automatic decision because you’re bringing a whole new life into this world. This is a decision that would change your life forever, as well as the life of the child you bring into the world.

I personally think one of the worst things someone could do is to simply have children for the sake of it, and then afterward give their child sub-standard care, something which I feel many people do.

For those who have yet to have kids, they need the space to figure out what they want — not have people breathe down their neck day in and out about having kids.

My experience

For the first few years after I got married, I wasn’t thinking about having kids. Firstly, having a child is a lifelong decision, and I wanted to enjoy married life before diving into a decision as serious as that. Secondly, my husband and I were happy spending our lives with just each other — we didn’t feel the need to have kids, certainly not in the way our culture obsesses over it. Thirdly, my husband was dealing with some personal problems and I was fully focused on supporting him through them. These were issues that we needed to sort through before considering kids, if we were to want kids.

Yet I kept getting nudges to have kids, even though I never said anything about wanting them.

“So, when are you having kids?”

“This person’s baby is so cute, isn’t it? Why don’t you hurry up and birth a baby?”

“When is it your turn?” (In response to news that someone else just had a kid)

It was as if I was some vehicle, some machine to produce kids, where my own views in the matter didn’t matter. It felt dehumanizing, even degrading.

The most frustrating thing was that I kept getting this question, while my husband — as a man — would never get it, even when we were in the same room together.

It was as if my sole reason for existence as a woman was to have kids, and until I had them, I was regarded as unworthy or incomplete.

The decision to have kids

Yet the decision to have children is a personal one. It is a complex one. It is also a decision that will permanently change the lives of the couple.

It is not a decision that one should be pressurized into making because their mom wants grandchildren or because their grandma wants to play with kids. It’s a decision that a couple should make because they genuinely want to bring a life into this world and nurture it to its highest level, and are ready to overcome all odds and challenges in the process of doing so.

Because when a child is born, the people bugging others to have kids aren’t the ones who will be caring for the baby 24/7. They are also not the ones whose lives will be set back by years (even decades) as they care for the new life. Neither will they be the ones responsible for every decision concerning the child for the next 21 years.

It will be the couple.

And the people who aren’t ready, who were pressured into having kids because they were told that it was the best thing to do, may have to deal with regret as they are stuck with a decision they cannot undo. Because there are people who regret having kids, and we need to be honest about that. These people regret, not because of the child’s fault, but because they were simply not ready to have kids, be it financially, emotionally, or mentally. Unfortunately, the children are the ones who eventually suffer, from living in dysfunctional households to dealing with issues of violence, abuse, and anger.

We need to recognize these realities and not make parenthood seem like it’s a panacea that solves a lack of purpose or life’s problems. Things don’t magically get better because people have kids; existing problems usually worsen as having a child puts a huge strain on a couple’s lives. Digging into people’s plans to have kids, and pressurizing them into one of the biggest life decisions they can ever make, will only stress them out and perhaps push some into depression. As this redditor shared,

“I have a friend who went through six years of miscarriages and fertility treatments before the doctors figured out the problem and she had her son. The nosy ladies at her work and her in-laws questioned her constantly. The depression from that made it harder for her to conceive.”

Stop asking couples when they’re having kids

So, if you like to ask others when they’re having kids, it’s time to stop that. It’s rude, invasive, and disregards other people’s need for privacy. It’s also none of your business.

The reality is that if people want kids, they will work on having kids. They don’t need you to prod them.

If they don’t have kids, it’s either because

  1. they don’t want kids,
  2. they haven’t thought about having kids but don’t need you to prod them,
  3. they are not in a position to consider kids right now, or
  4. they want kids but they are facing some struggles.

For people in group (d), they aren’t going to share such deeply personal experience over some afternoon tea, and certainly not by you asking, “When are you having kids?”

The best thing you can do is to give people space. Understand that having kids is a personal decision, and people don’t have to share or explain anything. Respect that others have their right to privacy. Respect that people are individuals on their own path, and this path may not involve having kids. And this doesn’t make them incomplete or lesser in any way.

Instead of asking people “When are you having kids?”, talk to them like you would to a normal person. There’s no reason why conversations should suddenly revolve around childbearing after marriage; it’s not like a person’s identity changes to revolve around having kids. A person still has their own passion, goals, and dreams. Talk to them about what they’ve been doing. Understand their interests. Know them as a real person, not some random being here to fulfill society’s checklist.

If you’re really interested in someone’s plan to have children, like I mentioned in the beginning, you can simply ask, “Do you have any plans for kids?” If they wish to share more, they will do so. If they give a half-hearted or evasive answer, then take the hint and move on.

Ultimately, having kids or not doesn’t change one’s self-worth. A woman is complete with or without kids. A man is complete with or without kids.  A marriage doesn’t need kids to be deemed complete. Having kids should be a conscious choice, not a result of external pressure. Don’t judge people by whether they have kids or not. Some people will have kids and some won’t. Some will have kids early, while some will have them later in life. All of these are different paths and there’s nothing wrong with them.

For me, we eventually decided to have a baby and we now have our beloved baby girl. Yet other people’s comments and nudges on when I’m having kids didn’t make me want to have children; it only irritated me and made me want to avoid these people, because having a child is a personal decision and has nothing to do with them. It was after my husband and I enjoyed married life without kids, and had the space to actively pursue our goals and interests, that we finally felt ready to have a kid.

In the meantime, I hope all of you are doing well. There are things that I’m working on that I look forward to sharing in time to come! Sending lots of love to you, and remember that whatever life challenge you’re facing, you have it in you to overcome it.

I’m Bisexual and I Have Been Resisting My Sexuality. What Should I Do?
Guy standing on the rocks, by the sea

(Image: Zachary Shea)

“Firstly, I hope you will respect my wish for confidentiality and will therefore refer to me as ‘John.’

I have known that I have been bisexual (leaning towards men) for a while now. I have always wanted to keep it secret (because I don’t agree with bi/homosexuality), but it is becoming harder to do so. My parents don’t mind what or who I am, but I don’t want to let them or me down. Furthermore, a major issue is my social status. Both myself and my friends are seen as ‘cool’ and I worry they may discard me. We have gone to plenty of discos together, and I have been with a fair number of women in my time.

But in my heart and soul, I want to be with them. My straight best friends. Telling them might make them realize I like them and that isn’t a risk I’m willing to take. Another problem is my girlfriend. I don’t want to let her down. She is smart, funny and beautiful (a rare combo, I know).

My life looks perfect on the outside, but inside it’s a permanent battle. Please help me.” — John

Hi John, thank you so much for sharing this deeply personal problem. I see that there are a few layers to this problem, so let’s look at them one by one.

Your Social vs. Real Self

Let’s start with the central theme of your issue, which is,

  1. Who is John? Who is the real John?
  2. And does the real John correspond to the John that others know, the social side of you that you display to others?

I’m going to jump to the second question first, and the answer seems to be a “no” — no, the real John seems different from the John that others know. While most people have two sides — a real self and a social self where they show filtered aspects of themselves to others, especially to people they don’t know well, in your case this difference is so stark that it has made life a struggle.

That’s because firstly, the difference between your real self and your social self centers around a core part of who you are — your sexuality, which in turn linked to your relationships, what you can say, everything. While for other people, the difference between their real self and social self can be small things like being chatty in a social setting while being introverted on the inside, for you the difference is a fundamental part of who you are. Pretending to be chatty despite preferring to be quiet does not hugely affect one’s life other than that the few interactions with those friends. On the other hand, pretending to be straight when you are bisexual (and leaning towards men) affects you in more than just those few interactions. It’s a facade that you need to keep up with across all meetings and interactions. It affects your romantic relationships, what you can say to others, and who you can be.

Secondly, the reason we have a social self is to fit into social groups, especially when our real personality is very different from what is socially “accepted” or “welcomed.” That’s because individual social groups ultimately have their personality that may not fit with our real self. For example, I love talking about personal growth, how to live a meaningful life, and social issues that go beyond our individual selves. However, some of my friends have no interest in such topics and I don’t talk about such things when with them. I obviously my true, unfiltered self when with my husband and very close friends.

But for you, your social self is someone you show to everyone, including your loved ones. Your parents, your inner circle friends, and even your girlfriend, someone you are supposed to be the closest and most honest with.

While for most people, they are their 100% natural selves when with close friends and family, for you, you are your social self the whole time. Your social self has taken a life of its own and shaped your entire life around it. Instead of you being your real self with most people and showing your social self only in certain interactions, you are your social self the whole time and never your real self. There’s no “off” switch, so to speak. This is why life has become a permanent battle as you have no way to connect with the world as the real you.

Acceptance of Self

This brings me to my next point, which is something you said: “I have always wanted to keep it secret (because I don’t agree with bi/homosexuality).”

My question to you is, why? Why don’t you agree with bi/homosexuality?

While I don’t normally question people’s views on bi/homosexuality because everyone has the right to believe what they want, here I have to probe as your view on bi/homosexuality is intrinsic to your relationship with yourself. If you identify as a bisexual but you don’t agree with bisexuality, that’s a problem — a big, big problem.

Let’s look at various views on bisexuality (and homosexuality). For some people, they think of bisexuality as a choice, where people choose to be bisexual and they are simply deviating from “God’s intended design.” For some, they think of bisexuality as a result of a person’s biology, something they are born with and don’t get to choose. I believe most bisexuals/homosexuals can relate to this. Some may think of bisexuality as a state of mind, a result of people being experimental, and it’s something they should snap out of. And then there are religious and societal views, where some religions outright condemn bi/homosexuality and some conservative cultures deny its existence.

For me, I think humans are incredibly flexible — as much as we are biological beings, we have the ability to shape our lives in vastly different ways due to our highly developed minds. I believe that there are people who are born bisexual and it is part of their biology. I also believe that there are people who adopt a certain sexual orientation due to past childhood trauma and experiences, and it makes the most sense for them in this world. In the same vein, I believe there are people who are born with an open sexuality or bi/homosexual and become heterosexual to fit in (similar to what you are going through), just as there are people who are born heterosexual and hence stay heterosexual (since this is the default configuration of society).

All these don’t matter though, as it’s about your views on bi/homosexuality. I can understand if someone doesn’t agree with bi/homosexuality if he/she isn’t bi/homosexual — without walking a mile in others’ shoes, some people may not understand something that’s not in their day-to-day awareness set.

However, if you are bisexual and you don’t agree with bi/homosexuality, then why is that? Is it because of your religious beliefs? Is it because this is what you were taught growing up? Is it because this is against what society believes in? Is it because you don’t believe that this is biologically the right way for a human to be?

Whatever the reason, as long as you don’t agree with bi/homosexuality, you will forever be stuck in a self-battle. As Carl Jung said, “What you resist persists.” To achieve the state of self-acceptance, you need to uncover your resistance towards bi/homosexuality and work through it. Bisexuality is not something abnormal, just as homosexuality isn’t something abnormal. It is just different, something that most people don’t understand if they don’t have any bisexual/homosexual friends. Unless you accept yourself, all of yourself, it becomes an uphill battle trying to find happiness outside of you.

Who Are You?

This leads me back to the first question, which is, Who are you? Who is John?

Is John the cool guy often seen with his cool guy friends? Is John the guy with a beautiful, smart, and funny girlfriend? Is John the guy with a perfect life and a nice social status?

Or is John someone more than that? Someone who transcends these social definitions, who doesn’t need people’s perceptions to define who he is?

Even though you are afraid to tell your friends and girlfriend about your sexuality, you have to ask yourself: What it is to you, and why does it matter? Because if your friends are with you because you are seen as straight, and they may discard you when they know your true sexuality, then are these friends you want to stay with? Perhaps not, or perhaps they should be seen as social buddies rather than close friends. Because don’t you want to focus on friends who care about you as you, rather than friends who judge you based your sexuality?

With regards to your girlfriend, I do think that you owe it to her to tell her the truth as she is committing herself to you by being in the relationship. You have to ask yourself which is the more important value: being Truthful, or being Agreeable (not wanting to let her down)? If both of you decide that you are not right for each other, then it’s better to break things off now rather than waste her time and your time. You didn’t mention your ages, but a woman has a biological prime for childbearing, so if she is in a relationship with no long-term future, that’s time taken away from her dating journey. Whether or not having kids is what she wants, it’s important for her to know so she can decide what to do and whether she should further invest in this relationship. For you, I believe you want to be with someone you truly love and want to be with, which may or may not be your girlfriend (since you are with her under a concealed sexuality).

With regards to your parents, the great thing is that they don’t mind what or who you are. This means that the battle you are really fighting here is with yourself, as I shared above. If your parents don’t mind what or who you are, then why are you so bothered about possibly letting them down? What is it that you are “letting them down” in — is it from not being “like other sons”? And in terms of what, your sexuality? Why would having a different sexuality be a let down in any way? If it’s because of social stigma, I believe (given what you said) that your parents’ love for you is stronger than what society or religion says. Whether or not there is negative stigma from others, this is something that your parents and you can work through together, as a family. Just because you are fearful of societal’s views doesn’t mean that you should hide your sexuality from them — especially if you have an open, honest relationship with your parents to begin with. It’s about telling them the truth and then working through this together.

Bringing Your True Self to the World

What does this mean? Does it mean that you should just “come out” to the entire world?

Well, it depends. It depends on where you live and whether the society around you is ready. In certain conservative cultures, people outright condemn bisexuality and homosexuality. For example, same-sex sexual activity is illegal in India and sex between men is criminalized in Singapore (though this law is not actively enforced). In Singapore, The Pink Dot (an LBGT-affirming event) has faced many challenges in recent years as they try to spread awareness of the community to the broader society. Depending on where you live, you may have to be careful in how and who you reveal your bisexuality to.

But no matter what people around you think, you have to (a) achieve self-acceptance and (b) give your true self a way to connect with others, even if starting in a small way. Such as only revealing it to certain close friends and family members first. Such as connecting with like-minds online, albeit under an anonymous handle, like in pro-LGBT forums, Facebook groups (this would require registering a different Facebook account to stay anonymous), and commenting in pro-LGBT YouTube channels (also under a different anonymous Google account). In a way John, you are already letting your real self get heard by sending in this Ask Celes question, so I thank you for that. 🙂

While society may not be fully ready for you yet — the aspect of you that is bisexual (because it is different from the “default” configuration that is heterosexuality) — that doesn’t mean that you should do the same to yourself. Society generally moves at the pace of lowest denominator, which means there’s often a need to accommodate for conservative views and less progressive behavior patterns. For example, environmental groups have been highlighting for ages the damaging effects of plastic use, yet governments, commercial groups, and the average person continue to condone, use, and discard non-biodegradable plastic bags and cutlery in the name of profit and convenience. Despite the emergence of green cars, most people still don’t use them because the default cars on sale are cheaper and easier to purchase. Even online, we are weighed down by a low quality of conversation because there are always the 0.01% trolls and spammers generating a lot of noise.

What does that mean? Does it mean that you should only wait until everyone is ready and accepting of bisexuality/homosexuality before you accept yourself? No, of course not. What if this happens in only 50 years? Are you going to wait for 50 years before you can accept yourself and embrace your bisexuality? That’s terrible and also incredibly damaging to your mental well-being and growth.

My advice is this: Don’t wait for others’ approval or acceptance for you to be who you are. Start to accept and love yourself, all of you, including your bisexuality. Figure out what’s blocking in your acceptance of your bisexuality, and address that. The problem isn’t with your family and their views (as you said they don’t care who or what you are), your straight guy friends and their possible rejection of your friendship, or your girlfriend, but how you see bi/homosexuality and as a corollary, yourself.

As you work on your self-acceptance, decide who you want to open up to about your bisexuality. Your girlfriend for sure, because you owe it to her to tell the truth. Your parents possibly, because they are your parents and you said that they don’t care about who or what you are. Selected friends whom you can trust. Your straight guy friends — if you are ready and you want them to know. Alternatively, you can choose not to tell them about your true sexuality and continue to hang out as social buddies. But you should most definitely find new buddies who non-judgmental about different sexualities, because good friends are people who care about you as you, not your physical or social attributes.

As you work on your self-acceptance, you will stop being troubled by others’ perception of bisexuality and of you, even though these may continue to be obstacles in how you can connect with the world. For example, you want to share your bisexuality only with trusted people and if it’s safe to do so, depending on the social environment you live in.

Obviously, the best case scenario is to live as your true self and have the society accept you 100% as who you are, but the reality is often not perfect. It isn’t for many people, even for heterosexuals. Many people today live with limitations caused by factors outside of their control, be it where they are born, their race, the opportunities they were given growing up, genetic health problems they had no say over, or in your case, having a sexual identity that’s not as widely understood or accepted as the default sexual identity. In the face of these imperfections, it’s about finding an equilibrium between living life as best as you can and managing the imperfections. Rather than hate the world for what it is, or hate our lives for what is not perfect, let’s try to make the best out of what we have and manage the other things that are not that great yet. Because we can’t control the cards we are dealt with, but we can choose how we deal with these cards.

I hope this post has been helpful in some way and you are able to pick the right way forward for yourself. Keep me posted on how it goes okay? 🙂

What Happens When We Argue With Our Loved Ones (Burning Man Sculpture)

When’s the last time you lost your temper at a loved one? What did you say or do to him/her?

When we get angry with our loved ones, we often say or do things that we later regret. We isolate ourselves from our partner/parent/child/friend, fuming and feeling upset — yet deep down, what we yearn for is to reconnect with him/her.

This sculpture, created by Alexander Milov for the Burning Man Festival 2015, captures just that. Titled “Love,” it features two wire-frame adults after a fight, distanced and sitting with their backs facing each other.

What’s interesting are the two children inside the wire-frames, trying to reach and touch each other — despite their physical bodies facing the other way.

Burning Man Sculpture "Love" - Inner Child Trapped in Us, by Alexandr Milov (Sunset)

(Image: Andrew Miller)

Milov says:

“It demonstrates a conflict between a man and a woman as well as the outer and inner expression of human nature. Their inner selves are executed in the form of transparent children, who are holding out their hands through the grating.

“As it’s getting dark (night falls) the children chart to shine. This shining is a symbol of purity and sincerity that brings people together and gives a chance of making up when the dark time arrives.”[1]

More pictures of the sculpture:

Burning Man Sculpture "Love" - Inner Child Trapped in Us, by Alexandr Milov (Night)

(Image: Andrew Miller)

Burning Man Sculpture "Love" - Inner Child Trapped in Us, by Alexandr Milov (Day, Sunrise)

(Image: Alec Kondush)

Burning Man Sculpture "Love" - Inner Child Trapped in Us, by Alexandr Milov

(Image: Andrew Miller)

Burning Man Sculpture "Love" - Inner Child Trapped Inside Us, by Alexandr Milov

In many ways, it is true. When we get angry at a loved one, we may seem irate and repelled by them. But deep down we really care. Our love is just not being manifested in a constructive or healthy way. If there is a way for us to reconnect, to be back together in peace, we would want to do that. But first, we have to put aside our adult egos and pain.

Some gentle notes for all of us:

  1. The next time you are angry at someone, focus on the loving spirit of your inner child. Remember that underneath your anger is love for the other person.
  2. Learn to regulate your emotions. If you feel angry or upset, find ways to manage and release these emotions without throwing them at your loved one. Give each other the space to cool down. Leave the room, go for a walk, close your eyes and breathe, or do something else.
  3. Focus on the conflict. What’s causing the conflict? How can you solve it? What help do you need from your loved one? What actions can you take? How can you resolve this together?
  4. Repair. Nobody’s perfect. There will be times when we say or do something we didn’t mean to (such as yelling or sniping at him/her). Focus on repairing the relationship by talking to our loved one after the event: state what happened, why what we did was wrong, and what we’ll do differently next time. Take responsibility for our actions and don’t blame him/her.
  5. When the dust has settled, reinforce your love for each other. Talk with a cooled head and figure out ways to solve the problem and avoid such outbursts next time.

The forgiving, open and free nature of children is your true nature. Inside each angry person is a hurt child trying to connect. Remember that when you are with your loved ones.

Share this post with your loved ones to let them know you care. Read as well:

I’m in a Domestic Violence Situation. What Should I Do?
Woman in the dark

(Image: Silvia Sala)

A while back I received an email from my client C:

During our recent session, you asked me when was the first time I feared not being heard or being mocked. I’m currently introspecting about this.

There’s a moment from my past that I don’t know if I experienced it or not… I wonder if I had witnessed my father beating up my mother before.

This morning, when I was in the shower, I got my answer. I did witness it (this was many years ago). However, I did/said nothing to help my mom at that time. I wanted to tell my dad to stop but I couldn’t speak up because I felt that I wouldn’t be heard and also, I was too small then. I think this is the root cause of my fear. Realizing this made me feel guilty for not helping her. I felt so helpless that I cried.

This is a terrible memory. What should I do? I’m afraid of situations of violence towards women and I think it’s too much for me to handle.

Do you have some precious advice for me?

Subsequently I had a few exchanges with C which gave me more insight into the situation. Apparently her dad had been hitting her mom since C was a kid (it’s not clear whether it’s still going on since she no longer lives with her parents), and she witnessed many of these incidents. C never told anyone about this nor interjected except for one time. However, this did not solve the problem as the abuse continued after that.

When C told me this, I immediately empathized with her. This is not an easy situation to be in. On one hand, she loves her mom and wants to stand up for her. On the other hand, there is her dad, whom she cares about too, but who had been harming her mom. And then there are other struggles and considerations on what to do. Call the police? But what if others get wind of this shameful incident? Stop my dad? But what if he hits me too? Talk to my mom? But what if she denies it? But what if this continues?

These didn’t change my advice for her though, which is that domestic abuse should never be tolerated or allowed to continue in any form.

Domestic Violence Statistics

Domestic violence (also domestic abuse, spousal abuse, family violence) is a pattern of violent or abusive behavior by one person against another in a domestic context, such as in a marriage or during cohabitation. Allow me to share some stats on domestic violence from National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:

  • Every minute, nearly 20 people are victims of physical violence by a partner in the United States. This equates to more than 10 million women and men a year.
  • 85% of domestic violence victims are women.
  • Historically, females are most often victimized by someone they knew.
  • Nearly 7.8 million women have been raped by an intimate partner at some point in their lives. And this is a figure from 2003. An estimated 201,394 women are raped by an intimate partner each year.
  • On a typical day, more than 20,000 phone calls are made to domestic violence hotlines in U.S.
  • Sexual assault or forced sex occurs in approximately 40-45% of battering relationships.
  • Intimate partner violence (i.e. abuse by a significant other) accounts for 15% of all violent crimes.
  • Almost one-third of female homicide victims are killed by an intimate partner.
  • One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
  • Last but not least… most cases of domestic violence are never reported to the police.

While these stats apply to the U.S., they give you an idea of how widespread domestic violence is.

As a woman, domestic violence has an emotional place in my heart. It’s not because domestic violence tends to happen to women (I imagine I’d be equally passionate even if I were male), but because (a) I dislike people who abuse their strength to harm the weak, and (b) physical violence goes beyond what we should do as conscious beings; it’s inexcusable.

I’ve never been in domestic violence situations, but I have heard of stories from my clients and a friend who grew up in abusive households. For them, it was their dads who hit their moms. When they tried to intercept, their dads would beat them up too. And my friend is a girl. The abuse decreased as they grew up, probably because they are now adults who can fend for themselves. But there’s no telling when their dads would flare up again.

Signs of Domestic Abuse

We hear of people dealing with abuse and we get outraged, wondering why these people put up with the situation. But for the person in the abusive relationship/household, it’s not always clear-cut because you see both the good and bad sides of the person. Things can get blurred. The abuser can be nice to you but abusive to your family member. The abuser may make you think it’s your fault. Your culture may normalize abuse and make it seem like it’s normal (it’s not). Or you may be traumatized by the ordeal and block it off mentally, like what happened to my client C.

Here are some signs that you are facing domestic abuse:

  • The clearest sign is of course, violence. Hitting, slapping, punching, pushing, or any violent physical contact is abuse. No one has the right to hit you, not even your parent. This line gets blurred in the Chinese/Indian culture, because harshly caning or hitting your children is considered normal in the name of discipline. This is something I disagree with after growing up and learning more about human rights. Light discipline at home, coupled with proper explanation and counseling is different from publicly hitting your child and screaming at him/her, or repeated physical discipline.
  • Abuse can also happen through words. Threats, shaming, and intimidation are abuse. No one should make you feel less as a person. If your parent/partner shames or threatens you repeatedly, this is emotional abuse. Constant hurling of vulgarities is also a form of abuse.
  • Disregard of the abuse. The person denies the abuse is happening, or even blames it on you. He/She may normalize the behavior and make you think that the abuse is normal.
  • Control of your actions. The person controls your behavior to a large degree. For example controlling who you can see, what you can do, where you can go. Isolating you from others. Demanding that you do certain things. The abuser’s goal is be the center of your universe and gain dominance over your life.
  • Threats. The person threatens to leave you, hurt him/herself, or kill him/herself or you if you don’t comply with his/her demands. If you have children, he/she may also threaten the safety of your children.
  • Addiction. While addiction to alcohol or drugs doesn’t mean the person is an abuser, these behaviors often go hand in hand. Alcohol and drugs alter a person’s mood and makes someone more prone to violence.[1][2]
  • Frequent anger outbursts. The person gets angry so easily that you worry about what you say, do, in order not to trigger him/her. You constantly “walk on eggshells,” doing everything you can not to trigger him/her.

More warning signs of domestic abuse here, here, and here.

It doesn’t matter if the person exhibits the above 1% or 10% of the time. Abuse is abuse, and justifying it with the person’s good side (which I’m sure is true) downplays the gravity of the situation.

How To Deal With Domestic Violence

If you are dealing with abuse or witnessing abuse in your household, please don’t ignore it. Here are my recommendations:

  1. It’s not your fault. People who are abused often downplay the situation. They “normalize” the abuse and think that their experience is normal, or that it’s their fault. Well it is not your fault. Do not accept, deny, normalize the situation, or blame yourself.
  2. “It only happened once” is not an excuse. Once is one time too many. When someone becomes abusive, that means he/she has lost control of his/her better senses. There’s no telling when he/she will flare up again. If you witnessed an abusive act, this is worse as it means that the abuse has probably been going on for a while. Report it right away.
  3. Stop wearing a mask. Tell someone. A domestic violence victim is often living in a bubble. This bubble could be self-created (the victim cuts him/herself off from others to normalize the abuse) or created by the abuser. This first step to get out of the bubble is to tell someone about your pain. This person can be anyone you trust — your friend, relative, colleague, neighbor, family. Just talking to someone can give you clarity and the power to act on the situation. Be wary of bad advice, such as if your confidant tries to downplay the abuse or convince you that it’s okay. It is not okay and it’s not normal. Speak to those who can give you sound advice and a good listening ear.
  4. Talk to the victim. If you witnessed abuse, talk to the victim asap. Several reasons: (a) The victim may feel trapped, with no one else knowing about this. While you may think that you are invading his/her privacy, chances are he/she will feel relieved as he/she is no longer alone in the problem. (b) You help the victim realize that the abuse is wrong, something he/she may be normalizing. (c) You can help the victim identify practical next steps. Do not wait as this only perpetuates the abuse.
  5. Call the police. Domestic violence is illegal in many countries, and new laws are drawn up to protect the victims. In the UK, a new law targeting people who psychologically and emotionally abuse their partners, spouses, or family members came into force in 2015.[3] Instead of taking matters into your own hands, call the police and let them know that you are in danger. The police would have a process for handling abuse. For example, helping women to get an injunction, and serving as referral agents to other professionals, such as a domestic violence and abuse agency, a woman’s refuge, and family justice center.[4]
  6. Document the abuse. This is important to make your case later in a police report or for child custody. Get as much evidence as you can of the abuse. Keep a diary and note down the dates/times of the abuse, get videos/pictures of the abuse, get pictures of any injury, and get pictures of weapons used if any. Read: Building Your Case: How to Document Abuse
  7. Call a domestic abuse helpline. The people at a domestic abuse helpline are equipped to advise you and provide remedies based on your local laws. (See the end of the post for helpline numbers.) If you can’t find a helpline in your country, talk to a healthcare professional, such as a doctor, therapist, or counselor. If there’s a woman’s shelter, seek help there.
  8. Leave the relationship. I understand for some women who are locked in abusive relationships (e.g. having no family in a foreign land, having financial struggles, having children in the same household with nowhere to go), it’s not possible to leave the relationship right away. It may also get you killed. I’d like to share some verbatims from domestic abuse survivors (who left their abusive relationship)[5]:
    • ‘Do not put up with it. You are worth more… if someone is making your life hell and miserable, don’t put up with it, there is no excuse at all… and you will be happier… I can promise you, you will be happier.’ (Jacqui)
    • ‘You don’t have to be hit to be abused ….ring a helpline.’ (Sarah)
    • ‘…Tell somebody you trust …there’s help out there, whether it’s a GP, a parent, or a trusted friend, even just somebody at work, they can see it from another perspective. [My counsellor] opened my eyes to what was actually going on.’ (Mandy)
    • ‘Get help even if you have the slightest inkling.’ (Catherine)
    • To quote domestic abuse survivor Tina, things will get ‘worse and worse and worse.’ You may not be able to leave the relationship now, but it doesn’t change the fact that you need to leave. If you can’t leave right now, plan for a time when it is safe to do so. Call the helplines, talk to professionals, talk to friends who can provide good support, and work out an escape plan.
  9. Create a safety plan. A safety plan is your plan to remain safe at all times. Have a survival bag — with copies of important documents, an extra set of keys, clothes, some money — that you can grab and leave at any time. Have important contacts on speed dial. Set a code word with your neighbors/friends that you can use when in trouble. Have an escape route where you can easily get out of the house. Keep weapons and dangerous objects inaccessible. Read: Create a Safety Plan

Resources for domestic abuse:

If you are an abuser, you need to stop what you are doing. Read: How To Stop Being Abusive to Your Partner

I Get Nervous When I See an Attractive Guy/Woman. What Should I Do?
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey

(Image: Universal Studios / Entertainment Weekly)

“Hi Celes, I have been reading your blog since 2 years ago. Your tips are amazing and have helped me a lot. There is one problem about me that I haven’t read in any article on PE or any other site.

This is shameful to admit. Whenever I see a handsome man, I feel that he should like me and fall in love with me. I feel terrible to think like that. I don’t do anything to impress the guy because I know it is wrong. I have a boyfriend and I want to live with him.

I don’t want to get affected by handsome men. I don’t want such feelings to exist. What should I do?” — Kristi

Kristi’s problem raises a very interesting question for all of us, which is: Why do some of us feel nervous, or behave very differently, when we see handsome men and beautiful women?

Imagine this: You go to a party and you see someone good looking. You start to feel nervous, unlike yourself. You contemplate speaking to him/her. For guys, maybe you get sweaty palms. For girls, maybe you play coy and hope that the guy comes over to talk to you.

Why? Why does your behavior change based on the person’s looks? And it doesn’t have to be in a party setting too. It can be anywhere, at work, when meeting someone new, when going on a blind date, etc. Perhaps you see someone good looking and you get nervous, excited. In Kristi’s case, she’s anguished by these feelings and she doesn’t want them.

The Truth about Beauty

To understand why such feelings get triggered, we need to first understand the fundamental truth surrounding beauty.

The reality is that everyone is beautiful. Not more or less beautiful, but equally beautiful. This is something that I’ve shared before here. You are beautiful in your own way. I am beautiful in my own way. We are all uniquely and equally beautiful, not more or less than others.

Unfortunately, this message runs counter to everything you learn in today’s world. The basic message surrounding beauty today is that some people are more beautiful than others, and some looks are more attractive than others. If you don’t look a certain way, you are deemed ugly and unattractive, and you should do everything you can to change your looks to fit a beauty mold. Why?

A deep look into the history of beauty tells us that beauty ideals historically started as a way to separate the have’s and the have not’s. When you trace the evolution of beauty standards over time, you will see that

  • Being weighty used to be regarded as attractive during the Renaissance era, as food was scarce during those times, and only the rich had plenty to eat.[1][2]
  • Subsequently, being skinny became seen as very attractive when food became abundant and widely available. As everyone started gaining weight, and people became educated about their health and diet, being skinny became seen as the gold standard.[3]
  • During the 1800s, very pale skin was seen as beautiful as only the rich could afford not to work and stay out of the sun. Pale skin was associated with the aristocrats.
  • But when tuberculosis becoming the second-leading cause of death in the U.S. in 1900, and doctors in Europe and America began to prescribe sunbathing for tuberculosis, rich people flocked to resorts to suntan. Tanned skin now became seen as beautiful in the West.[4][5]
  • In ancient China, tiny feet became a symbol of beauty as the only women who could painfully bind their feet to keep them tiny were from wealthy families, since they didn’t need to work in the fields.[6]
  • Western features like tall nose bridge, deep-set eyes, fair skin, and angular features are generally regarded as more “beautiful” in Asian countries, and you can see this line of thought pervaded in much of mass media advertising here. This is partly because many Asian countries used to be under the Colonial rule (the Philippines was under Spanish colonization for almost 400 years for example), which created a deep-set mentality of white superiority, and an association that Caucasian-like features are “better” and “more beautiful.” You will never find a person saying that because the conditioning exists at a very implicit level, but more in the form of “Such features are more beautiful, and I’m so envious that [Caucasians] have them but not us [Asians].”

As you can see, beauty standards have historically been used to differentiate one group from another. The attributes of the affluent would be used as the starting point for what was considered beautiful then. The features considered beautiful would change over time, based on whatever was associated with the rich. This was to sieve out the “elite” and “more worthy” from the rest.

How This Relates to Anxiety Around Attractive People

Of course, this segmentation is faulty and not true. Whether a person is born with XYZ features has no bearing on their beauty or worth. Every look is beautiful, and a person’s worth and value is so much more complex than just something defined based on how well a person conforms to a beauty look — and this beauty look is in turn defined based on socio-economic factors that are outside of a person’s control.

This brings me to my main point. If you feel nervous around attractive people, or you feel negatively affected by handsome men (or beautiful women) like Kristi, it boils down to your underlying associations with attractive people.

Let’s say you feel nervous around beautiful women. When you dig into this nervousness, perhaps you perceive beautiful women as better, more worthy than other women. Attractive women are sought after by other men, and they turn heads and are desired by many. This makes you feel inferior because you are worried that if you’re rejected or spurned by an attractive woman, you will be seen as lousy and undesirable. Of course this isn’t true, but your subconscious beliefs are such.

Or let’s say you feel nervous around handsome men and you often wish that every handsome man you meet will notice you and fall in love with you. Why, though? Why would handsome men make you feel this way, but not “regular” men? When you dig into this feeling, it’s because you perceive handsome men as “better” than others because of their good looks. Girls swoon over them; people regard them highly because of their looks. They are the object of attention and affection by other women (and even men). If a handsome man falls in love with you, that means that you are desired, respected, “seen.”

And why would this matter? Because you sometimes feel “unseen” in your life. You wish that you can be “seen,” recognized, respected. And the attention of someone who is visible, desirable, and respected will make you feel that way.

In either case, is the answer to seek affirmation from an attractive person? Of course not. For some people it is, and they spend their entire lives chasing after the affections of so-and-so attractive people, without ever knowing as much as the personality and true self of the person they are in love with. The real answer is to understand your stories surrounding attractive people, and to address your inner voids triggering these feelings. Because it is your stories surrounding beauty and yourself that you are reacting to, not the supposed attractive people.

For example, if you don’t feel “seen” in your life, understand why. Maybe you don’t know who you are and your place in this world. You feel that you are following a trajectory in your life that you didn’t really set for yourself. Uncovering your inner self, and discovering your life purpose and values, is a good start. My Live a Better Life in 30 Days is a great kickstarter program to get you moving towards your ideal life.

Or let’s say you feel low in self-worth. Understand why you have a low self-worth. Perhaps you were never taught to develop your self-worth, but to look to others’ affections, your status, and your achievements as a way of validating your identity. An attractive woman is like a validator of your worth, because she is recognized as worthy by others. Of course this is not true since your worth is not defined by others, but yourself. Read How To Be The Most Confident Person In The World

This is the same for any gap or deficiency you feel in the presence of attractive people. If an attractive person makes you feel negative, nervous, or even unattractive, understand why. Dig into this feeling. Usually it’s because of an unhealthy belief you have surrounding attractive people — perhaps that they are better, superior, more worthy, more desirable, etc. — which isn’t true. Your nervousness mirrors a feeling of deficiency in your life. Understanding it, and addressing it from within, will help you remove this endless push-pull feeling you have when meeting such people.


In the end, your goal is to feel neutral when meeting “attractive people,” just as you would with any other person. Or rather, to feel excited meeting them simply because you are excited to meet someone new. You want to connect with people authentically, as themselves. To see someone as who they are, not based on a fantasy or conditioning. Even though majority of society look at people with tinted glasses based on how they fit a beauty mold, these people also struggle with push-pull feelings of infatuation and projections surrounding attractive/”non-attractive” people. In the end they are just living in their own mental projections.

When you do feel excited, happy, or nervous when you see someone, these feelings should come from your personal connection with him/her and your genuine interest in him/her, not based on the projections in your mind. That’s when you see someone for who he/she really is, rather than what you think he/she is. 🙂

Lastly, remember that every look is beautiful, equally beautiful. You have been taught to perceive conventionally handsome men and beautiful women as attractive, and they are indeed attractive people. The next step is to open your eyes to see other looks as beautiful too — because they are as beautiful as the conventionally attractive people you see. When you do that, you will see that everyone is special, different and just as beautiful, and perhaps that’s when you feel nervous/excited meeting everyone — because you are genuinely excited to get to know them and their story, the same way I feel when I meet everyone in my life. 🙂

For more reading:


What If I Lack Physical Spark With My Partner?
Couple kissing

Couple kissing (Image: stephen frith)

“Hey Celes, I recently broke up with my boyfriend. He broke up with me because he felt that I didn’t enjoy the physical intimacy (like kissing, hugging or even more) and he didn’t feel appreciated, and was no longer motivated in seeing me due to my behavior.

Truth is, I’m not so much of a physical person… and it hurts me because I thought we could connect emotionally and support each other through hard times, only to know that he didn’t see me in the same way. He told me that although emotional support is important, he felt that a relationship wouldn’t go long without physical intimacy and he complained the lack of spark between us. I realized that he is in his early 20s so physical intimacy probably matters to him… but this also made me realize that he didn’t truly love me (and that kinda hurts as well).

May I ask how you dealt with these kind of stuff when you were single? Did any of these issues bother you and your husband? Thank you!” — Madaline

Dear Madaline, I’m so sorry to hear about your breakup. I hope that you have been healing well and that you have already read my moving on series, where I share tips on moving on from a relationship.

So first off, you should never, ever be pressurized into physical intimacy with your partner. It doesn’t matter how much he wants it or how strongly he feels about it. If your boyfriend wants to be physically intimate but you don’t, it’s a no. Even if he threatens to break up, it’s still a no. If anything, him threatening or changing his tone after you deny him intimacy is a red flag of his priorities and real interest in you.

You didn’t share specifics about the “lack of spark” your ex-boyfriend mentioned.

  1. Did he want more physical intimacy but he didn’t get that? Did he want sexual intimacy (or more of it) but he didn’t get it?
  2. Or did he get physical intimacy, in terms of the kind of intimacy and the frequency, but he felt a lack of chemistry during these times?

Either way, let me address them accordingly.

4 Components of a Relationship

I see every relationship as having 4 components: Mind, Body, Heart, and Soul.

  • Mind is intellectual, mental compatibility; the ability to share ideas, talk about them.
  • Heart is emotional compatibility; the ability to open up and be vulnerable, to have shared emotions and to empathize easily with each other.
  • Soul is spiritual compatibility, which I think is not very relevant for the purpose of this article and is also somewhat abstract, so I’m not going to go into this here.
  • Body refers to physical compatibility, which includes physical attraction to your partner and sexual compatibility. By physical attraction, I don’t mean “love at first sight” because contrary to popular opinion, physical attraction can grow over time as you know someone, even if you didn’t find the person attractive initially. I wrote about this before here: Are Looks Important in a Marriage Decision?

For any romantic connection to progress, it needs to have compatibility in at least one area — Mind, Body, Heart, Soul. If there is emotional compatibility, it creates a stable base for compatibility to be built in the other areas: mind, body, and/or soul. Same if there is existing mental compatibility; it allows for compatibility to be built in the areas of body, heart, and/or soul. Same for physical compatibility.

Note that I’m referring to the potential for a romantic connection to progress, not criteria for marriage which is a different thing.

So take for example, someone is a strong intellectual fit with you (mental compatibility) but he is a complete ass. On the other hand, you want a sensitive partner who cares about your feelings. Clearly there is no emotional compatibility here.

But perhaps he is a nice person at heart and behind his blunt words are good intentions. Maybe he is not aware of his bluntness, and if given the chance, he wants to express himself in a more sensitive way. Here, there is potential for emotional compatibility. Even if there is no emotional compatibility now, it doesn’t mean that there won’t be in the future. So it’s not the end of this connection, and it’s about nurturing it to see how it can grow.

But what if there is both emotional and mental compatibility, but no physical compatibility? What should you do?

When There is a Lack of Physical Spark

Three things to note:

  1. It depends on how important physical compatibility is to you.
  2. It depends on your immediate “expectations” for this relationship, whether you’re looking at it short term or long term.
  3. You have to consider that everyone has the ability to grow, so what’s more important is the person’s desire to grow and his/her interest in this area. Just because someone isn’t physically compatible with you now doesn’t mean he/she won’t be forever.

So this is where it gets subjective. There are people to whom physical intimacy is very important. They need physical intimacy, they connect with their partners using sex as their language of love and perhaps as a form of release, and they don’t have any notion for or against premarital sex. So for these folks, one-night stands and flings are a norm, and they see sexual intimacy early on in a relationship as normal and necessary. If you are someone who doesn’t care too much about physical intimacy and sex isn’t your primary language of love, and you are with someone who prioritizes sexual intimacy above all things, then this connection is probably not going to work for long (unless one or both of you change in this area).

But then there are people to whom physical intimacy is important, but emotional/mental compatibility is even more important. To them, sex/ physical intimacy is just one component of the relationship, so they focus on looking for a partner with whom they can connect emotionally/mentally first, before looking at other areas. For such people, they select their partners based on their emotional and mental connection first, and then let their physical closeness with each other build up naturally, rather than filtering people based on physical intimacy.

So I have a friend who was with her boyfriend for 3 years before they got married. During their courtship they weren’t sexually intimate, though her boyfriend was previously sexually involved with his exes. They were, however, kissing, hugging, cuddling, etc.. They are now happily married with a kid.

For myself, my primary language of love is not physical touch; it’s communication and words. I like to speak to connect with my partner, to know how he is doing, and to know him on a deeper level. On the other hand, my husband had many relationships in the past and he was pretty much sexually involved with all his past partners, including flings and one-night stands.

But this disparity didn’t stop us from connecting deeply. For me, when I asked him what he thought about deferring sex, he said he didn’t care because the connection between us is stronger than what he had ever felt before. The whole notion of sex early on in the relationship, later, after marriage, or even never for some bizarre biological reason was a mere triviality. In a different relationship he might have been concerned as he had encountered sexual incompatibility issues with some partners before, but this concern simply didn’t come up for him with us. He said the whole thought of sex or no sex paled in comparison to what we have. I happen to think his views are a little extreme (no sex forever may be too much I think), but I wanted to share this as a differing point of view from the narrative we always hear (that men are all about sex).

Now I’m not trying to say that sexual intimacy isn’t important. Sexual/physical intimacy is important, and it is part and parcel of a successful relationship.

Bu sexual/physical intimacy, for the most part and for most couples, arises out of a strong emotional and mental compatibility. In the cases I’ve looked at, couples supposedly dealing with an issue with a lack of physical spark or physical incompatibility are always invariably dealing with emotional/mental compatibility issues of some kind. Even though they may think that they are dealing with a unique issue in sexual/physical incompatibility or mismatch in sex drives, there are usually underlying factors causing this issue, usually an incompatibility in other areas.

For example, I knew someone who divorced his wife because they didn’t have sex at all in their entire marriage of 3-4 years. While it looked like an issue of physical incompatibility, when I dug deeper, it turned out that there was never a real emotional or intellectual connection from the start, leading to sexual emptiness in the relationship.

It is also important to note that there may be changes in our lives (such as work stress, down periods in life, etc.) that create intimacy issues with our partners. This is again linked to emotional and life factors rather than real physical mismatches.

Which brings me to this point: My sense is that the “lack of physical spark” is possibly not the real reason for your breakup. There is likely a missing compatibility in some other area (emotional, shared visions, shared values, aspirations, whichever it is) that caused physical spark to become an issue and the issue, hence causing the breakup.

Now, this isn’t a bad thing. Rather I think it’s a good thing that both of you broke up, because the point is that there was some incompatibility that caused “physical spark” to be an issue. So say you change yourself hugely to fill the gap in “physical spark” due to your ex’s complaints. Not only would you become a different person from your natural self, but you would also find yourself having to change more things to keep the relationship afloat, to fill up other areas of incompatibility. Or say your ex was truly looking for a lot of physical intimacy and it was the sole and only issue. Then the relationship simply wouldn’t work because that’s not how you naturally are or at least that’s not how you feel when you are around him (and there’s nothing wrong with this).

How to Build Physical “Spark”

So how should we deal with situations where there’s really a lack of physical spark, but there’s a strong emotional/mental connection? Like I said, I think most couples dealing with a lack of physical spark or physical incompatibility are really dealing with issues with other kinds of compatibility. There are exceptions where the gap in physical compatibility is really due to non-relationship factors (like a real biological mismatch or one’s deep-set fear towards physical intimacy), but those are the exceptions. Meaning if someone feels a lack of physical spark with their partner, I’d advise to look at the relationship fundamentals first vs. focusing on the physical component which is usually the effect.

But say you feel emotionally and mentally compatible with someone, and you’re fearful about being physically incompatible with him/her. What should you do?

Firstly, think of physical intimacy as a spectrum, not a binary “yes it’s there, no it’s not there” thing. Meaning, I wouldn’t worry about having instant physical chemistry with someone from that first act of intimacy (kissing, cuddling, etc.), but about building this chemistry over time.

Secondly, think of physical intimacy as having many stages. Kissing, hugging, cuddling, french kissing, petting, and so on. Even within each stage there are various degrees of progression. Depending on one’s comfort with physical closeness, some of these stages may only be done after marriage or later on in the relationship. Either way, you can already work on building chemistry within your range of comfort. For example, maybe you had a weird first kiss with your partner. Slobbery, wet, weird. But adopt a fun-loving, experimental mindset towards it and allow yourself to keep trying.

After a few tries, and as both of you get familiar with each other’s lips and kissing styles, kissing starts to feel normal between the both of you, and it starts to become something that you look forward to! Same for hugging, cuddling, french kissing, and any other physical activity.

Thirdly, let’s say there is zero connection when you kiss, hug, and even when you see your partner — like you don’t feel excited/happy at all when you see him/her. AND, you still don’t feel any connection after many weeks and months of being together. THEN yes, there may be a problem, and this is something you should talk about with your partner, to let him/her know how you feel, that there’s this issue, to understand the blockage, and so on.


In short, I wouldn’t worry too much about achieving an instant physical spark with someone or having no spark with future romantic prospects, unless you have some deeply rooted issues with intimacy (which I don’t think is the case for you, and which would be a separate thing altogether). Physical chemistry and compatibility is something you build with your partner, through open communication, understanding each other’s likes and dislikes, and an openness to explore new things.

Everyone has the ability to grow and develop, and one’s physical preference and inclination doesn’t stay fixed forever. Also, when you love someone and you’re emotionally connected, you will naturally want to be close with him/her vs. forcing yourself to kiss/ be intimate with him/her. It’s your role, as much as it’s your partner’s role, to build on your physical chemistry together vs. it being something that magically happens.

Interestingly, by looking at physical intimacy as something that grows organically and adopting an open and fun-loving mindset towards it, it puts less pressure on you and helps you focus on building your connection with your partner, which then provides the foundation on which strong physical intimacy is built on. 🙂

Also read:

How To Stop Being Abusive to Your Partner
Man alone in a room with debris

(Image: Ben Salter)

“Dear Celes, I really love reading your blog. You are my role model! I am actively working on revamping and changing my life with the help of your blog.

Celes, I have a huge problem. I am abusive. I have made it my duty to stop cursing and stop raising my hands to my partner. But yesterday I snapped and hurt my partner again — I REALLY do not want to do this. I grew up in a household with domestic violence and I wish to be better than that.

However, my partner frustrates me sometimes and I feel as though she never listens to me — she always denies her mistakes or apologizes but does not mean it. I feel heartbroken that we are hurting each other. I love her. She has forgiven me but I want this to stop once and for all.

Your advice will be very much appreciated.” — Enchanted

Dear Enchanted, thank you for sending this letter. I want to applaud you for sending in this in because it takes courage to seek help on a matter like this. As you know, there is a strong stigma surrounding abuse, for both the victim and the abuser. Yet you have bravely sent in your question and I’ll do my best to assist you.

Laying Out the Problem

Let’s try to break down the problem here:

  1. Your partner frustrates you sometimes.
  2. In response, you become abusive sometimes, which can include cursing and raising your hands to her.

On #1, this is understandable. All relationships have their moments of frustration. My husband and I have moments when we frustrate each other too. Usually we handle these in a variety of ways from letting it pass to discussing to arguing, but we always try to resolve them and reach a positive place.

But #2 is an issue. Because as much as someone frustrates us, physical violence isn’t the way to handle the situation, whether the person is a stranger or a partner. One may say that it’s worse when the violence is meted out to your partner because this is someone you love, who trusts you not to inflict harm on him/her.

The good thing is that you recognize that (1) this abuse is a problem and (2) you want to stop it. There are abusers who feel that abusing others is okay and they are entitled to violence against their partner. These people have a separate problem altogether. You clearly do not think that way. So how do we tackle this?

Understanding the Source of the Physical Abuse

First, let’s understand the source of the abusive behavior. As we have established above, the source isn’t that your partner frustrates you or her frustrating behavior (that she never seems to listen to you). There are many couples who face problems, including feeling that their partner isn’t listening to them, yet it doesn’t result in violence. Or you can put someone else in your position, in this exact situation, and he/she would probably feel irritated, but not get violent.

The source is something else, and we’re here to understand what.

Enchanted, you mentioned that you grew up in an abusive household and I feel this could well be a strong link to your abusive behavior. According to studies,

  • About one-third of people abused in childhood will become abusers themselves.[1]
  • Men who as children witnessed their parents’ domestic violence were twice as likely to abuse their own wives than sons of non-violent parents.[2]
  • Children of domestic violence are three times more likely to repeat this cycle in adulthood.[3]

Why is this so? That’s because our childhood years are our most formative years. That’s when we form a big chunk of our life scripts, what I call childhood stories, until we consciously rewrite them later. So imagine a child who grows up in an abusive household. The subconscious beliefs formed become something like

  • “It’s okay to use violence on others.”
  • “Using violence on loved ones is a normal behavior” (because the child’s parents used it on him/each other).
  • “I can use violence to express rage.”
  • “Violence can be used if the situation calls for it.”
  • “Violence is a way to exert control.”

Even if the child is later educated in school/society that violence is a no-no, this will not override his/her fundamental childhood beliefs — especially if they are deeply embedded, especially if the child never got to work through these false beliefs.

I’d like to stress that such beliefs can develop even if the child didn’t grow up in an abusive family. It could be from being a victim of a violent crime, from childhood neglect, from growing up in a verbally abusive family, from being in a broken household, or from being bullied.

As a result, you can have situations where the child, now grown up, is completely nice and gentle. You can’t tell that he grew up in an abusive family or that he’s prone to violent tendencies. He is in total control of his behavior and he genuinely cares for others. (I use the male pronoun for simplicity. A woman can a perpetrator of domestic violence too.)

However, when he gets riled up, this is when anger takes over and things get ugly. His childhood conditioning takes over as he starts shouting at his partner (or child), yelling and perhaps hitting things and hitting him/her. It’s like he’s a demon possessed. He says things that he doesn’t normally say and he does things that he would never, ever do. Alcohol aggravates this behavior as it lowers inhibition and rational thought, and causes the deeper issues to surface.

When everything is over and the dust settles, he begins to deeply regret what he did, said. He apologizes and vows never to do this again. And he really tries his best. But somehow there will be something that trips him down the road, resulting in the same cycle all over again. This is known as the cycle of violence.

To those of you who can relate to Enchanted’s problem, does this feel familiar?

1) Violence is Not the Start of the Problem

The first thing I’d like you to understand is that violence is not the start of the problem. Violence is the tip of the problem, albeit a very extremely serious tip with grave consequences.

The real problem started way before the violence surfaced. It could be when you witnessed or was at the receiving end of domestic violence in your household. It could be when you made certain conclusions about yourself and the world after experiencing the abuse. These incidences, combined with other issues/beliefs, brewed over time to give rise to abusive behavior.

Hence, when the abuse happens, it’s because there has been a certain build up of pain, angst, and grievances, as well as a lineup of preconditions (like abusive beliefs), that results in the lashing out. This is why the abuse occurs despite your best effort — it’s often the final display in a series of unresolved issues.

By saying this, I’m not in any way excusing the abusive behavior. Your partner has physical and emotional pain that she now needs to live with, as do you — but understanding this is crucial to get resolution.

As a result, working on the abusive tendency only isn’t going to solve the problem. You need to get to the root of the issue. Because of that, if you are abusive, I recommend you get professional aid as resolving this will take time. I will, however, keep writing this article to give you a general guide.

2) Understand What’s Triggering the Violence

There are usually triggers to violence. If not, you would be violent to everyone 24/7 which isn’t the case. (There are people like that and they obviously suffer from a different problem.)

Our goal is to understand what these triggers are. It doesn’t mean that these triggers are the issue though. Like I mentioned, violence is the tip, not the start, of the problem. Likewise, these triggers are merely catalysts of the abuse. There are certain pre-existing issues causing the violence to occur. Knowing what these triggers are will give us insight into these deeper issues.

I have an exercise for you:

  1. Get some quiet space with yourself.
  2. List the past three incidents when you got violent with your partner (or kid, or family member). If there’s been one incident in total, then work with this one.
  3. Think about what happened in each incident before you got abusive. Perhaps your partner wasn’t listening to you, said something that insulted you, or did something that pissed you off. Write this down.
  4. Pick the incident where you had the biggest reaction. Imagine you are in the situation right now, getting abusive. Ask yourself, 

    Why am I getting violent?

  5. Type the answers that follow. Think of it as having a conversation with yourself, and keep probing until you get to the root reason of the violence. Be prepared for strong emotions surfacing. You’ll know the root cause when you reach there.

Take for example, someone who gets abusive when his partner refuses to listen to him. Here is a set of possible answers:

  • Why am I getting violent?
    • Because I’m very angry
    • Because she refuses to listen to me
    • Because she keeps rattling off even though I’ve told her to stop
    • Because she refuses to listen to me
    • Because it’s the only way to get her to stop
  • Why am I getting violent?
    • Because it’s the only way to make her pay
    • Because otherwise she won’t know how serious I am
    • Because I hate her
  • Why am I getting violent?
    • Because I don’t know what other way to get through to her
    • Because I’m already tried my best
    • Because I’m at my wits’ end
    • Because I don’t know
    • Because I don’t know better
    • Because I’m a pile of shit
  • Why am I getting violent?
    • Because I hate myself
    • Because I don’t know what else I can do
    • Because I just want her to listen to me
    • Because I feel like I’m alone in this world
  • Why am I getting violent?
    • Because I just need her to listen to me
  • So why violence?
    • Because if I don’t use violence, I don’t know if she will ever listen to me. I may never get my point across. I may never be heard and understood.
  • So why violence? Because you have no right to use violence.
    • Because I don’t know any other way. Violence is the only way I know to get heard. 
  • Why is it important to get heard?
    • Because if I don’t get heard, I don’t exist. I’m not a real human being.

The answer is out: as it turns out, the person in this example gets abusive because he is screaming to be heard. If he is not heard, he becomes non-existent; a non-existent human being. This thought terrifies him and he cannot accept it. So he desperately lashes out in physical violence, screaming and crying for the one person who matters to listen to him: his partner.

Does this justify the violence? No of course not. Violence is not justifiable under any circumstances, unless it’s self-defense. The above is meant to understand the trigger for the person’s abusive behavior. Of course when you think about it, it doesn’t make sense because not only does violence not help one get heard, but it will make any trusted communication difficult in the future due to fear and trauma. But many deep personal issues are not logical and stem from emotional difficulties. It’s important to recognize and understand them to start the healing process.

Besides this, there can be other reasons for domestic violence. Such as

  • Using violence to keep love by your side;
  • Using violence as an act of superiority and to create power over your victim;
  • Using violence to release your pain;
  • Using violence as an act of vengeance, to make your partner “pay” for a wrongdoing (say, infidelity); and
  • Using violence to feel that you’re wanted/needed.

Continue the exercise for the other two incidents. If you have more incidents to dig into, repeat with them. Keep doing this until you’ve uncovered all the root causes of your abusive tendencies.

3) Deal with the Root Issues

Depending on your results, you can have multiple factors driving your abusive behavior. These factors can be different or related. Each factor likely deals with a deep personal issue, possibly linked to the trauma you experienced as a child. Get down to the root of each root issue (yes, there are roots to roots) and understand how it came about.

Let’s say you have been using violence to get heard. Your reason is that if you don’t get heard, you feel that you don’t exist. Some questions to dig into are

  • Why do you have this belief?
  • What makes you think that you don’t exist?
  • When did this thinking start, and why?
  • How can you start “existing” in this world?

Or let’s say violence is your way to keep love by your side. You feel that you lack love and you cannot stand the thought of not having someone with you. Some questions to think about are

  • Why do you lack love?
  • What’s keeping you from feeling love?
  • What’s love to you?
  • How can you start loving yourself?

Tackling each root will likely open a floodgate of emotions: anger, bitterness, hatred, pain. It will also open up a flood of childhood memories and unhappiness. While uncomfortable, it’s necessary because this is the s*** that was not processed before, that subsequently led to your violent behavior today. What’s different is that you’re now an adult, stronger and more conscious of who you are. What was confusing before can now be properly analyzed as you are able to dissect and understand them.

The above will take time. You need time to work through grief, pain, anger, hate, and perhaps even loss. I recommend you to read my How To Deal With Anger (series), which is on removing anger from your life and identifying deeper issues that drive anger in us.

In any case, the self-healing must happen, first and foremost, before you can expect a fully functional relationship with your partner. You must work on your self-love before turning to your partner for love. You must work on your issues on “being heard” before expecting your partner to listen to you. You must work on neediness issues instead of turning your relationship into a needy one. Because unresolved internal issues will ripple out to your relationship with your loved ones — it’s not a coincidence that your inner struggles have impacted your life. When you heal yourself, you make it possible to have a meaningful relationship with others.

4) Use Coping Strategies in the Interim

As the healing will take time, it’ll be good to have coping strategies to manage the abusive behavior. I recommend the following:

  1. As there is an unhealthy dynamic between you and your partner right now, I recommend you limit physical contact, at least until you feel that you have made enough headway in your recovery such that the abuse will not recur. This is really for your safety and her’s (or his). With the internet and smartphones, it’s easy to still be in touch while not being physically by each other’s side. If you are spouses, consider living in separate places (like with your own parents). Time apart will also help you focus on solving your inner issues.
  2. Of course, it doesn’t mean that you must cut off complete contact. Keep your partner in the loop of your discoveries. Involve her so that she can encourage you and be a part of your healing process. 
  3. Should you need to meet,
    1. Meet in public spaces. If not, have at least 1-2 other people (adults) in your company.
    2. Have your partner save a few emergency helplines on speed dial and keep her phone on her at all times. She should call them should there be anything amiss.
    3. If you feel anger stirring in you and your abusive side surfacing, get as far away from your partner as possible. Leave the place. Journal the questions I provided in Step #2. Write as much as you need and let the angst flow through the words. Get to the root of why you’re suddenly feeling the need to be violent. Is it a new root? Or something you’ve already uncovered but have not fully addressed? Address it as per Step #3.
  4. Your partner should call a domestic abuse helpline to receive counseling as a victim, so she is better equipped to deal with abuse situations.

5) Recognize the Sacredness of Your Partner’s Body

As you work on your self-healing, I want to bring attention to the sacredness of the human body. One of the factors of domestic violence is that the abuser feels like they “own” the victim’s body and they have the right to do whatever they wish to it. This belief is subconscious rather than conscious, especially if the abuser does not consciously want to abuse.

Understand why there’s a part of you that is okay with hitting your partner. You may have these answers:

  • “Because she’s a part of me”
  • “Because I can do whatever I want with her”
  • “Because she’s my spouse/partner and hence she’s ‘mine’“
  • “Because she says she loves me and hence she’d be okay with that. She’d understand.”
  • “It happened before and she forgave me. So, she’ll forgive me again even if I lose control.”

Go through each statement one by one and ask yourself if it’s really true.

Because while she is your partner, that doesn’t give you the right to hit her or feel like you can “control” her. Your partner is an individual human being, as are you. Her body is sacred as is yours. Rather than subconsciously feel that you “own” her body because she is with you, you should recognize and treasure the sacredness of her body, as you would with any human being’s. Your partner is a separate human being and she deserves love, respect, and dignity as do you. To use violence on her would be to disrespect who she is and abuse your place as her lover and partner. This understanding is fundamental to breaking abuse patterns.

Wrapping Up

Abuse is a very deep topic and it’s not possible for me to cover everything in just one article. What I’ve done is provide some general pointers to put you in the right direction. I hope I’ve helped in some way.

This article is not meant as a replacement for professional help for addressing abuse. I highly recommend that both you and your partner get professional aid in addressing this episode. For your partner, it’s important because there is trauma associated with abuse. Letting this sit in her without dealing with it may result in a cycle of violence later in her life.

I did a Google search and there are many organizations that provide domestic abuse help. Here are some helplines to call; these helplines are 24/7:

Even if you’re not in those countries, I think you can just call them — I honestly do not think that they restrict help only to people in their locality. Skype lets you make international calls; just add the country code in front of their hotline number.

There are also domestic abuse counseling services in many countries and you can do a Google search for results in your locality. Just calling the helplines above will be a great start.

Please keep me posted on how this goes, okay?

If you’re a victim of domestic abuse, read: I’m in a Domestic Violence Situation. What Should I Do?

Also read: How to Let Go of Anger (series)

Are Looks Important in a Marriage Decision?

Guy smiling at his date, at a bar; Dating

“Hi Celes, I’ve read your soulmate series on how you met your husband. Would you have married him if you weren’t PHYSICALLY attracted to him? Personally I’ve encountered good/nice/okay guys who have expressed their interest, but I rejected them as I was not physically attracted to them.

My key question is, what if you only like someone’s character but don’t feel physical attraction towards him? Does marriage require physical attraction, or should looks be abandoned?” — Rachel

Have you ever thought if looks are important in a marriage decision? How highly should you value looks when choosing a life partner? Reader Rachel recently sent in this question and I thought to respond via a blog post.

Marriage is a very personal decision. Some prefer partners who are very good looking, while some don’t. Some like their partners to be fuller while some prefer their partners skinny. Add to the fact that beauty is subjective, it becomes impossible to give this question a definite answer.

But if you ask me, IMO, looks, in the grander scheme of things, should be a secondary criterion. That’s because looks are temporary, while our mind and soul, these are forever.

My Experience

By now most of you would know how I met my husband Ken; if not you can read my soulmate series where I detail our journey from how we met to how I knew he is the one.

So the first time I met him in school, I thought he was very good looking. Tall, well-built, and handsome, he was like a “dream come true” guy for me, though I was never looking for someone good looking. As a girl who was very self-inferior then, I didn’t think much of myself to think that I could ever have “a chance” with someone with such good looks.

When we reacquainted nine years later, he still looked good, albeit aged as he had been smoking and drinking so much in the years prior. He has since reversed the damages, looks-wise, after quitting smoking and drinking. And then when it came to assessing our compatibility in other areas, he turned out to be my perfect match, so it became a no brainer that he is the one for me.

My Husband’s Hair Loss

Now the thing is Ken suffers from severe hair loss. (I didn’t talk about this before as I didn’t think it was my thing to say, but I’ve checked with him and he says that I can write whatever I want.) Ken has premature male-pattern hair loss, a condition where men and women lose hair at their temples and/or the top of their scalps. The cause is unknown — funnily his dad is in his 60s and has tons of hair.

In Singapore, hair loss is seen as grossly unattractive, shameful, and embarrassing. If you look at the older male celebrities in Singapore compared to the ones in Hollywood, you’ll find that male celebrities in Hollywood have much higher hairlines (Leonardo Dicaprio, Nicholas Cage, Jude Law, Bill Murray) than the celebrities here. Here in Singapore, every male celebrity has lots of hair even in their 50s (Li Nanxing, Terence Cao, Thomas Ong, etc.), and their thick hair is more often than not from hair loss treatments rather than a natural thing. Many male celebrities here are also ambassadors of hair loss companies.

Add to the fact that many hair loss treatment companies here spend tons of money blasting their ads and create a lot of shame and negativity around hair loss, it perpetuates the idea that hair loss is unacceptable, shameful, disgusting. Among the general public, people generally feel that if you are losing the hair you need to fix this ASAP, even if you have to spend tons of money.

For Ken, the problem wasn’t just that he was losing hair but that he was losing it at a young age. Male-pattern hair loss hits 70% of men at some point in their lives, but for him, it started in his mid-20s and got really bad in his late 20s. By the time he was 30, he had lost over half the hair on his scalp. His hairline had a distinct “M” shape and the rest of his hair was very thin.

Male Pattern Hair Loss Scale

Male pattern hair loss scale. Ken’s hairline in his late 20s was somewhere between Pattern #2 Class 5 and 6. (Image: Alvi Armani)

Losing so much hair so quickly was naturally a saddening experience for him. This wasn’t natural hair loss over decades, but rapid hair loss in a few years. It made him look much older, like a man in his late 40s, rather than 29-30 which was his real age then. While he tried to take his hair loss into stride initially, he eventually saw a doctor who prescribed him medicine. This medicine seemed to work well as his hair started to grow back, and by the time we reacquainted (he was 31 while I was 28), he had regrown most of his hair.

What If Ken Was Balding When I Met Him?

Now the thing is, what if his hair never grew back? What if he was almost bald when we reacquainted? Would I have liked him? Would I have considered him romantically? Would I have married him, to quote Rachel’s question?

First off, this is a strange question to consider as Ken is my husband and we’ve been married for years now. I see him as a core part of my life just like PE is a core part of who I am, and it doesn’t matter if he has a lot of hair, no hair, or if he had a totally different face — I’d still marry him.

But if I am to imagine that I don’t know any of this stuff, that I am my 28-year-old single self with no awareness of what we’ve been through, and that Ken and I are just meeting for the first time again after years, then I’d say that I’d be shocked initially.

  • Firstly, I already knew him back when he had lots of hair and all, so to see him balding and looking so different after just a few years would be quite surprising.
  • Secondly, when you meet a date prospect for the first time, you’d generally expect him/her to at least look his/her age, sans good looks or smart dressing. I already knew that looks weren’t all that important to me at that time, but I did subconsciously expect that my dates would at least look their age — plus-minus a few years. Since Ken would look more like he was 45 rather than his real age of 31 with so much hair loss, this was something I’d have to “normalize” first.

However, beyond that, I don’t think it would have changed the outcome of our relationship. Why do I say that?

Firstly, the reason why I got together with my husband isn’t because of his looks. It’s because of his kindness, openness, reliability, and honesty. I remember being very impressed by him early on when we chatted as he was so selfless and giving. That he turned out to be very intelligent and conscious was a dream come true for me, so when it came down to whether to marry him, it was clear that he is the one for me. Perhaps his looks might have facilitated our connection at the beginning, as having someone who looks attractive to you would naturally pique your interest in a romantic way, but without all his other traits, our friendship would never have advanced to anywhere near relationship level.

The second and more important thing I want to say is something that I teach in Soulmate Journey, my course on finding love. During Soulmate Journey, I ask my participants to think about the kind of partner they’d like to have when they’re 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, and 100.

So imagine yourself at these individual ages. What qualities would you look for at each age? And what are the common qualities you would look for in a partner across all ages?

Couple dating in a coffee shop

What would you look for in an ideal partner when you’re 30?

Happy middle-age couple

…how about when you’re 40? …50? …60?

Elderly couple, kiss

…or when you’re 70? …80? …90? …or 100?

While there are traits that may seem important at particular phases of our life — for example, looks would probably rank higher when we’re 20 or 30 — chances are there are traits that continually appear throughout each age group, such as empathy, reliability, caringness, and so on. These are the real qualities to look out for in a life partner, vs. qualities that matter to you only right now. That’s because the latter group is transient, but the former reflects your real needs in a partner.

So when I thought about this question, I realized that the most important things to me in a partner whether I’m 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, or even 100 are someone who is (1) kind and (2) committed to his growth. These are qualities that matter most to me and that I strive to uphold, and hence qualities I’d like my life partner to have too.

My husband met this in every way possible, and after we got together, the way he would always be there for me, be patient and supportive towards everything I say/do, and be caring, reliable, open, and trustworthy in just about everything made it clear that this is the man I see myself with for life. That he’s good looking and all that were not even vague factors of consideration. Marriage is a life-long thing and physical looks will fade away with time, just as celebrities come and go when their looks fade. There will be a day when both of us will be old and wrinkly, but who he is as a person? This is who I’ll live with forever.

Engagement shoot: Reflection in the water

Now say if Ken was really ugly (as defined by society) or he was seriously balding when we met. Perhaps I might be hesitant to date him initially out of fear of how others would perceive me. I was 28 then and others would generally expect that I should date someone who looked my age. That I have a public profile due to my work didn’t help — many people were already scrutinizing who I’d date and whether that guy would be attractive (since that’s the most immediately observable part of a person).

However, as we interacted more as friends, I would inevitably feel more drawn to him because of the strength of his soul, his intelligence, and all his other great traits — kindness, compassion, generosity, authenticity, etc. I would gradually be warmed by his heart and kindness, which was what touched me about him at first. I’d start to see how attractive he is as a person, with or without hair, with or without conventional good looks. I’d start to realize that he is actually very attractive the way he is and admire his features and look for what they are. I’d also start to realize that my fears were more vanity-driven fears, borne from living in a material world like Singapore.

And I’m sure I’d start to fall in love with him anyway, just like how I did in real life.

Physical Attraction

Guy smiling at his date, at a bar

To set the record straight, I’m not negating the role of physical attraction in a relationship. It’s important to be physically attracted to your partner. It’s important that you find your partner attractive as he/she is. If not, there may be issues later on not wanting to be physically intimate with your partner after marriage, being physically repulsed by him/her as you see him/her day after day, and so on.

However, I’ve found that initial physical attraction is usually the result of conditioning since young. For example, perhaps you were taught to perceive X look as beautiful or handsome, and hence you gravitate towards guys/girls who look that way growing up. Perhaps you were taught to perceive Y look as attractive, and therefore you gravitate to guys/girls with Y look.

Yet, physical attraction isn’t something set in stone. In my experience, I’ve found that physical attraction (or non-attraction) towards someone can change over time, and it’s usually molded by the person’s character, heart, and soul.

I have in various instances found very attractive men repulsive looking after discovering a very ugly trait about them, such as them being very materialistic, judgmental, or fake.

I have (in the past) also met guys whom I felt were totally unattractive but later on grew to like them and actually found them very good looking — more so than conventionally attractive guys.

Of course, those connections didn’t work out, and I’m glad they didn’t because I’d never have found my true soulmate otherwise.

To You

Now I understand some of you may have a preference for a certain type or look and you won’t find someone attractive unless he/she matches this type or look. That’s perfectly understandable.

All I ask is that you be more open-minded in how you perceive someone’s looksBeauty comes in all forms, shapes, sizes, and colors, and the reason we would perceive someone as attractive or not right away is because of how we’ve been conditioned to see beauty. However, if we would be more open in how we perceive beauty, I’m sure we’ll start to see beauty in all kinds of looks: tall or short, muscular or “scrawny,” sharp chin or round chin, double eyelids or mono eyelids, tall nose or round nose, sharp face or round face.

If you currently know someone who has a nice personality but you don’t find him/her attractive, don’t rule out this connection just yet. Here’s what I recommend:

  1. Get to know him/her better as a person. All great romantic connections tend to start off as friendships. As opposed to judging this person by his/her looks at the onset, I suggest you look at him/her as just a friend you’re trying to get to know more first. This way, you can focus more on the connection as opposed to focusing on his/her looks. Spend some time to chat with him/her. Hang out as friends. Get to know him/her better.
  2. Invite him/her to group outings. If you feel awkward going out solo with the person too often, invite him/her to group outings where both of you can meet other people while hanging out together at the same time. This will allow you to see other aspects of him/her too as he/she interacts with other people.
  3. Explore areas of commonality. Do you have any common interests? Explore them. If you have any new goals, activities you want to explore, share with him/her and invite him/her along too. You want to build on your commonalities together and see if there is potential for this connection to go further.
  4. Broaden your definition of beauty. As I mentioned, true beauty comes in all forms, shapes, sizes, and colors. If you really don’t find this person attractive in any way, then try and see the person for who he/she is and how he/she looks, without mentally benchmarking him/her to certain images of beauty. There is beauty in every physical feature and look. We just need to learn to see that. Read this article: The Beauty of Self
  5. Assess your connection over time. After some time together, assess your connection. Do you see the potential for this to develop, be it as a friendship or romantic relationship?

    If yes, then continue to nurture it and see where it goes. There’s no need to put a timeline such as, “I’m going to cut this person away if I don’t feel attracted to him/her in 3 months.” Even if you don’t feel attracted or romantically interested in this person, keep him/her as a friend. (Unless you’re not even interested to have him/her as a friend — then let him/her go.) Many great relationships develop organically. I know a couple who only fell in love with each other after 1 year of being good friends. Before that, they were always only going out as friends, enjoying each other’s company, and never thought of each other as romantic prospects at all. In fact, they were the opposite of what they were looking for in a romantic partner.

    On the other hand, if this person is not even compatible with you as a friend and you’re not interested to stay in touch at all, then let him/her go. There’s no need to force something to happen. Think of it as a necessary step to attract more of the right people into your life.

All the 10 tips in 10 Steps To Attract Authentic Love will apply as well.

As for my husband, his hair loss has slowly returned as we agreed for him to stop taking his hair loss medication. That’s because I don’t think that it’s healthy to take any medication on an ongoing basis, especially if it’s voluntary vs. being medically required. It doesn’t matter as balding is just a different look, just like having a lot of hair is another look. Either way, he’ll always be attractive to me. 🙂

Much love to your love journey, and let me know how everything goes! 🙂

(Images: Dating, Young couple, Middle-age couple, Elderly coupleGuy at bar)

‘I’ll leave love to fate.’ 5 Myths Keeping You from Finding Love, Debunked

Heart in a bowl

For a long time, I wanted to set up this friend of mine. She’s attractive, smart, and an overall great catch. But every time we talked about love, dating, and possibly setting her up, she’d respond with,

I’ll leave things to fate.

At first I thought, Okay, maybe she’s just not ready. But then one year passed. Three years. Five years.

It’s been six years, and she’s still single. While there’s nothing wrong with being single, my friend does want to be with someone, but she does nothing about it, instead always saying, “I’ll leave things to fate.” As she’s closed off to being remotely proactive in love, I’ve stopped broaching the topic. Instead, I’ve moved on to set up other friends — one of whom has since entered a stable, happy relationship last year, due to Ken and I.

How much of a role does fate play in love? Do we truly have no role to play when it comes to love? Today, I’d like to share five common myths that may be preventing you from finding your “one”:

Myth #1: I’ll leave love to fate

While I was reading your responses to my recent survey on finding love, I noticed some of you adopt an external locus of control when it comes to love. “External locus of control” means having a worldview that things are out of one’s control and one doesn’t have a role to play in said outcome. In this case, views like…

I’ll let God decide if I should find love.

I don’t think one should take a course to find love. Feels abnormal.

I’m not sure if love is something you can force. I’m not interested to go out there and date. I rather let love happen to me by itself.

In these cases, these individuals do want love, they do want to be in a blissful relationship, but do not see themselves playing any role in making this happen.

Yet, the question comes to, “How much of a role do we play in finding love?” I can’t give you a definite answer, but it’s definitely not 0%. It’s also not 10%. From my experience, it can go anywhere from 40~% (myself) to as much as 99% (where my friends and clients have made pivotal moves that led to them finding their partners today).

Quantum Entanglement

Have you heard of “quantum entanglement”? It’s a physical phenomenon first revealed in 1935 in a paper by Albert Einstein, Boris Podolsky, and Nathan Rosen. They discovered pairs of photons, or “entangled” photons, connected by a strange link.

Apparently, when you separate individual photons in a pair, you can always infer the polarization of one photon by measuring that of its counterpart. So meaning if you have two photons (A and B), and photon A changes in polarization, the polarization of photon B will change too, to match that of A’s — regardless of how far apart they are.

It’s as if B knew that A has changeddespite the vast distance between them, despite there being no known way for them to communicate.

Quantum Entanglement

The invisible link between paired photons, unexplainable even by physicists today [More on quantum entanglement: 1, 2, 3]

When I saw this, I immediately thought of soulmates: Two beings with an unexplainable link with each other. Just like you’re a unique individual with your idiosyncrasies and talents, somewhere out there, there is someone who complements you in his/her own special way. Your parallel. Your yin/yang match. Your partner, to soar with you in life.

Now, when it comes to soulmates, there is this invisible link they share — all the way from birth (even before that actually; that’s how they were born as soulmates). Even if you don’t believe in soulmates and all this “woo woo” stuff, think of it this way: when you vibrate at your highest consciousness, one where you’re your highest self and ready for your highest love, you radiate your brightest energy that invisibly attracts people with similar energy. This includes like-minded souls, potential mates, and… your soulmate. Your ultimate relationship. Your true match.

Example: How I “Attracted” Ken into My Life

Since my early 20s, there were many things I did that helped prepare me for my best relationship. Firstly, living true to my path, quitting my job to start my business, and doing what I’m meant to do. Secondly, constant work at living true to myself, being my highest self, and being aligned inside and out. Thirdly, going into a serious deep dive into love and dating when I was 27–28, even entering into some romantic connections, which then helped me to be ready for my eventual relationship with Ken.

By the time I was “done,” my energy was radiating so brightly that Ken — we were just strangers then — got my “signal” loud and clear. One fine night, at 4:30am, he got a sudden inkling to organize his phone book when he should be sleeping. (Note that I was in South Africa and him in Singapore, so we were literally 5,400 miles apart.) This was the action that put us back in touch and led us to be together.

Did he need to organize his phone book? No. Why did he do it then? That’s anyone’s guess, but there were several clues that pointed to this being a synchronicity vs. an “accident”:

  1. He never organizes his phone book. Ever.
  2. He was deleting some names and sorting some names. Then he saw my name under “C” and thought of messaging me, even though he wasn’t organizing with the intent to message anyone.
  3. Up till then, we had never messaged each other. My number had just been sitting in his phone for the past 4.5 years, probably from my business card.
  4. Even though we last met 4.5 years ago (passed by each other on a street), he could remember me very vividly. (No, he wasn’t reading my blog then.)
  5. After he messaged me, he stopped organizing his phone book and went to sleep. I was the only person he messaged that night.

His innocuous “hi” led to thousands of text exchanges, to us becoming a couple, to proposal, to marriage. And thus beginning our journey together.


If you ask me, we were drawn into each other’s lives because our consciousness was at the right match. If we weren’t, we wouldn’t have re-acquainted; even if we did, we also wouldn’t be together since we wouldn’t be ready to receive each other yet.

Your Role in Love

While I think most people tend to assume a 0% responsibility in love, I’d like to suggest the opposite: You have a much bigger role to play in love than you think.

After all, when you’re inert in your love path, you naturally close yourself off from others. You project a closed signal, or even, no signal. You say you want to be in a relationship (or you wish to deep down), but on the outside you have this huge signboard that says, “Sorry, not interested [in love]. Go away.” This confuses the universe and leaves her wondering, Errr, what exactly does he/she want?

Since your intentions and actions don’t tally, you manifest misaligned results — jagged, sporadic encounters with men/women that don’t culminate into anything. For some: toxic, unfulfilling relationships. For others: a barren dating life, as they refuse to be involved in creating their love destiny. Which is really unfortunate, because deep down, you may be a terrific guy/girl, ready to meet your true love and create the relationship of your life!!

On the other hand, when you take ownership of your love life, suddenly, possibilities open up. Men/women you’ve never met before appear. People ask you out on dates, more so than usual. (This happened to me when I opened myself up, a year before I met Ken.) You meet more and more compatible men/women.

Because you are conscious of your role in love, you also take proactive, positive actions to attract your “one.” You start doing things that you don’t normally do, that seem random but are really leading you to your “one.” In turn, leading you to your “one.” ♥ 😀

To quote the site Twinflame Soulmates:

Synchronicity is a common occurrence between twin flames and soulmates (Celes: twin flames = soulmate lovers). There is synchronicity in the mirrored actions that occur within their lives […] that seem highly unlikely to have happened by chance.

Twin souls tend to meet when both are at the stage to accelerate their learning and growth. When one is ready for awakening, so will be the other, but it often comes down to the free will of each individual whether they are ready to look inward and take action […] or remain in the ego or shadow self.

Truth: Sometimes fate is busy; you need to give her a helping hand. By being proactive in love, it helps to set you on your love path, attract the right people, and open you up to new possibilities in love. 🙂

Myth #2: “Live your life” and love will come

People often harp on the saying, “Live your life and love will come your way.” After all, “live your best life” is one of my tips on finding love. In my soulmate series, I also shared how I was focused on “living my life” when Ken appeared.

While important, there are other parts to the love equation than just “living your life.” For example, removing your inner blocks to love. Processing emotional baggage (such as from past relationships). Uncovering your singlehood blocks, including fears about love, which many of us have. Processing said fears. Uncovering limiting beliefs about yourself. Addressing said limiting beliefs. Really opening your heart to love.

Until these are done, these blocks can hinder you in your love journey. Worse still, they may even attract toxic matches, because energetically you’re at the wrong place!

Before Ken re-entered my life, I was single the whole time. The key reason was because I was very choiceful about who I wanted to be with. I didn’t see a point in being with someone unless I felt a strong connection and saw potential together. (This person turned out to be Ken.)

Now, there was something else driving my singlehood: my subconscious blockages to love. Note that these blocks were deep blocks, meaning I didn’t know they existed until I did a deep dive into myself and love. If I hadn’t taken the time to seriously explore myself and love, I would never have uncovered them. These included

  • Fear of being with someone
  • Fear of not being good enough
  • Feeling unworthy of love
  • Innate desire to remain single, despite claiming otherwise
  • Sexuality issues
  • Lack of confidence in my worth as a woman
  • Unclarified image of my ideal partner (I thought I had it smack down since 22–23, but no, I didn’t)
  • Fear that I couldn’t find anyone
  • Body image issues (Up till my mid-20s)
  • Lack of confidence in my true beauty (Up till my mid-20s)

Energetically, these blocks dimmed my “light.” They “clouded” my aura, making it murky. As a result, they prevented me from radiating at my highest self, and even brought along a toxic bad connection (which I quickly chopped off). It was after I processed these junk and cleared my “stuff” that my aura could radiate at its highest level and draw Ken in (see Myth #1). If I didn’t clear these blocks, I don’t think I would have been able to attract Ken back into my life.

If you’ve been single for a while, or you consistently attract bad connections, it’s possible that you’re dealing with such blocks. Now, everyone’s blocks is different, specific to you and your story. You want to ask yourself, “Why am I attracting X people? / Why am I not attracting my desired match?”, “Is there anything blocking me in love?” and “How can I address these blocks?” These will help you get started in uncovering these blocks.

(In Soulmate Journey, I’ll be working with you to uncover your individual love blocks and address them, so that you can exude your best energy and attract the right one for you.)

Truth: “Live your life” is only part of the equation of finding love. If you’ve been single or attracting incompatible partners for a while, you likely have blocks blocking you from your highest love. Until these blocks are addressed, simply “living your life” will not change anything.

Myth #3: Love should happen naturally

The desire to find love “naturally” is very Asian (probably elsewhere too). Many people in Asia have a romanticized notion of love and refuse to take a proactive stance in love because they feel it’s “unnatural” and “abnormal.”

What is “natural” though?

  • Not taking deliberate action to find love
  • Finding someone in your “normal” environment, like work, school, church, or existing social network
  • Not online dating, not arranged dating, not blind dates, not singles events
  • Not taking courses to find love
  • Pretending you don’t care about your love life when you do
  • Even if you do take deliberate action, masquerade it such that it doesn’t look deliberate. For example: Pretend to accompany your friend to a party when you really want to meet girls/guys. Go to an event and feign interest when you’re really there for dates.

The problem with “naturally” is you’re a goner if you don’t meet anyone compatible in your “natural” environment.

Say you haven’t met anyone in school, and your current workplace has no compatible matches (e.g. everyone is already married or it’s flooded with males/females against your favor), that’s the end. Most people spend 10 hours in their jobs each day, rest and spend time with family / old friends in the weekend, rinse and repeat. Unless you switch jobs every six months or your job inherently lets you meet a flock of new people regularly (most jobs don’t), you ain’t gonna meet anyone by sticking to your routine.

Example: Female in Accounting, Surrounded by Females Every Day

I’ve a good friend in accounting, and that was what she faced.

I don’t know about other countries but here, accounting is a female-dominated career. Whatever few males are usually married, while there are a ton of females. Every year, there’s a new batch of young (female) graduates who enter the accounting field, so basically there’s a never-ending flood of women. (To give you an idea, 75% of Singapore ACCA members are female! ACCA is the global body for professional accountants.)

So, my friend started checking out random singles events with a fun, open attitude. She started this in her mid-20s, whilst most people only do so in their late 20s / early 30s (when social pressure weighs down on them). Didn’t meet anyone, but hey, it was good for the experience!

When her friend suggested setting her up with her other friend, she thought, Why not? Just meet as friends. Doesn’t have to lead to anything. And that she did. She and the guy hit it off, and became a couple after a few weeks. Then three years of dating. Last year, they got married.

If my friend hadn’t moved out of her “zone,” she wouldn’t have met her husband. If you ask me, they are one of the most compatible couples I know. And it all started from venturing out of her “natural” space to meet new people and possibly find love.

Truth: Your (future) partner isn’t going to jump out of your television set. If you haven’t been meeting anyone compatible, it may be time to change things up. Getting out there to meet new people, exploring personal interests (that let you meet others), and checking out new dating channels are places to start.

Myth #4: All good men/women are taken

While I was single, sometimes I wondered if all the good men were taken. I never held this thought for long though, because I believed in the abundance mindset. Just as there are great guys who are married, there are many great guys who are single too.

And then I met Ken, and I thought he is the best guy I could have ever met. However, before Ken, I kept meeting incompatible guys. This proved to me that there are amazing people out there who are single, and just because you don’t see them (yet) doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

If you think about it, there are seven billion people in the world. So assume you’re 30~35, female, and looking for a guy between 35 and 45. Assuming 50% gender split, proportional distribution between ages 15 and 64, and 38% singlehood rate for guys in your target ages, that leaves you with 0.18 billion guys in your range.

Let’s say you have some specific criteria (personality, religion, race, height, whatever) and only 0.01% of these guys match the criteria. (0.01% = 1 in 10,000.) That leaves you with 0.018 million guys. Or 17,556 guysSingle, compatible guys. That’s a lot!

And in today’s global world, where everyone is connected and physical space is no longer a real separator, that means it’s easier to meet new people than ever. So it’s no longer an issue of not having a right match, but rather, how can you ready yourself for your right one? And where can you start finding compatible people?

Now, this is the same for you even if you’re a guy looking for a girl. (If not relatively easier, because guys do have an advantage vs. women in dating, especially after the age of 30.) In fact, my recent client (male) just got into a stable relationship with a very nice lady — and it looks like she may well be the one! 🙂 Here’s an email he sent to me two days ago:

For [X], very well! I think it’s the first time I’ve been attracted to someone as much in both their personality and looks. I mentioned that I like a quirky sense of humor and we both got that. She’s big into nature and doing things outdoors which I’m sure you’ll remember is what I really like — but don’t do enough. She eats really healthy and tasty food which is a good influence on me.

So all in all, very happy! She’s a keeper. 🙂

We’ve got a trip planned soon. I’m not usually the type to book holidays so quickly when first going out with someone but it just feels right so we booked them after a few weeks together.

Thanks for being a top-notch coach.

He’s usually really deliberate about who he dates and getting into a relationship, so for him to say the above, that means he’s really serious. I could also feel the difference from how he described her as early as before their first date, and later after their second date, so I’m super happy to see them together and him so happy in the relationship now. 🙂

My point here is no matter who you are, your age, or your background, there are compatible matches out there for you. There are tons of great single guys and girls out there, and you can’t say that “all good men/women are taken” when you’re probably basing this on a sample strata that’s no more than 0.001% of the real world.

What next then? It’s then about aligning yourself inside and out to attract your right one, and subsequently taking positive action to draw him/her in and put things into motion. 🙂 (See above.)

Truth: There are many great singles out there, wanting to meet their right one. If you think otherwise, that’s just because you haven’t met them yet. Get out there and meet new people! 🙂

Myth #5: I’m never going to find someone

I hear this from so many of my single friends, readers, and clients. And I totally understand where they come from. Love can be hard. It can be dejecting. And it can be downright frustrating.

Just to lay this straight in case this is the only article you ever read here:

  • You don’t need to be in a relationship to be happy.
  • You are complete as yourself.
  • The reason you would want to be in a relationship is because it’s a new experience in life, it’s part and parcel of life’s growth, and being with the right person will help you to evolve in your path (and from you to him/her too).
  • Being in a healthy, conscious relationship elevates your life to a whole new level. Ken and I were completely happy prior to meeting each other, and after getting together we found new dimensions to life that we never knew existed. You may have seen this in other couples as well.

That said, I want to let you know that to you reading this, it’s likely that I don’t know you (yet). It’s likely that I don’t know your romantic situation (yet). It’s likely that you’ve been fraught with many difficulties in love, been at the brunt of negative relationships before, or have simply not dated before as you’ve not met the right one.

But — don’t give up! Know that love is a beautiful thing, and it’s something that all of us have in store for us. You, me, everyone.

If you’re jaded or skeptical about your love path, just look at the success examples in this post. (There were actually more, but I had to cut them as the post was getting too long. For example, PE reader Rhonda, who’s 50, divorced, but is in a loving relationship now and heading towards marriage. My friend N, 40, divorced with two kids, but is in a loving relationship now too with a great eligible man who’s ready to take her kids as his own.) Look at the people in your life who have found their “one” after many years. These are people who were once jaded about love, but found their “one” eventually. The same goes to you too!

All of us are on our individual love paths, so don’t compare yourself with others. Instead, use others as examples of how you can find love too. Focus your energy on aligning yourself and attracting your best love, as opposed to being skeptical, which will only exude negative energy and attract bad connections. Clear your love blocks, take proactive action to match your intent for love, and live your best life true to yourself. Then, you will draw your right “one” in.

Truth: Love can be frustrating. It can be confusing. However, you’re not alone in your struggles. Just like how others have found their best love, you can too. Focus on owning your true power, clearing your love blocks, and taking proactive action to match your intent for love. Then, love will come your way.

Soulmate Journey: Ready to Take Charge of Your Love Destiny? ♥

I’ll be closing registration for Soulmate Journey, my upcoming course on attracting your highest love. I’ve been communicating with some of the registrants and am SUPER excited about working with you guys. 🙂

Soulmate Journey is a LIVE group coaching course, where I’ll be working together with you (and other participants) to move forward in your love journey. It is NOT a self-study course, meaning I won’t be throwing you a bunch of videos to watch on your own. It is NOT a course where I mold you into some cookie-cutter template to attract a big bunch of guys/girls — rather, it’s an authentic relationship course in self-alignment and conscious action to attract your highest love of all. To attract your highest love for YOU.

I’ve already blocked out my time for the next 10 weeks to work with you. I believe you deserve a truly awesome guy/girl, not incompatible dates/partners you may have been meeting (and force-fitting yourself to). I hope you give me this opportunity to support you in drawing your real love.

This is the FINAL CALL. The GOLD tier with personal coaching is sold out, but the standard course ticket with community access is still available. Get your ticket NOW to secure your spot. I am keeping the group small so everyone gets quality attention. I won’t be running this for at least another year.

Read more about Soulmate Journey here, register your ticket here, and I’ll see you guys soon. 🙂 First class starts Feb 28, and I can’t wait to get started with you! 🙂 

Registration will close once we reach quota.

Update 28 Feb: Our class is now FULL and registration is now closed. To be informed of the next run, subscribe to free PE newsletter. Thank you! 🙂

(Image: Heart in a bowlLinked photons, Galaxy)