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The Demons in My Mind

 April 25, 2022   Return

INTERVIEW HANNAH WONG MAY-LEE WORDS LIM TECK CHOON cathie-wu Cathie Wu MA Coun Psy (CAN, USA) Director and Counselling Psychologist   “Broken people don’t hide from their monsters. Broken people let themselves be eaten.”− From Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia Nobody’s perfect. We all have our own insecurities, jealousies, disappointments, and regrets. Sometimes, they manifest outward, turning us into the type of people that we don’t wish to be. In the first of a special two-part feature, psychologist Cathie Wu shares with us her thoughts on the inner demons that can lurk in our minds, and how we can cast off these inner demons to become someone less fractured— someone that we will be proud to be.


Marissa has problems forming long-lasting relationships. She claims that it’s because no one understands her; she’s a very giving person who is always being taken advantage of by unscrupulous people. Her issue becomes evident when one knows her better. Marissa always has a major life crisis, which becomes the focus of every conversation with her. She also shares her insecurities, fears, and concerns with the people around her, all the while brushing aside suggestions from others on how to improve her situation. Her friends quickly distance themselves from her because her company leaves them feeling emotionally drained. People like Marissa are known as emotional vampires—those who feed off attention and emotions (both good and bad) from the people around them. Some will call them drama queens, while others may use the term ‘narcissists’ and ‘professional victims’.
“Are you an emotional vampire? Here’s how to drive a stake into the issue. ”
Be mindful of boundaries. “It’s your right to share and want to be heard,” says Cathie Wu, “but others also have a right to not have their personal space constantly be invaded.” Walk a mile in the other person’s shoes. Empathy is a virtue when it comes to forming and nurturing emotionally fulfilling relationships. Cathie Wu shares that empathy can be cultivated when you take a moment to imagine how it may be like if you were in the other person’s position. With empathy, you will be able to become more aware and responsive to how the people around you perceive you. It also helps you to connect with these people’s feelings. Learn to suspend judgment. Don’t be so quick to assume the best or the worst of a person or a situation. Instead, listen and pay more attention; avoid making impulsive sweeping generalizations and coming up with drastic solutions. Realize that it is never okay to diminish another person for your own gain. Many, although not all, emotional vampires suffer from self-esteem issues, hence the continual craving for validation and attention as well as the frequent need to be right. To overcome this, it is important to also consider the needs and interests of the other person. It will take some time to make the above mentioned tips into a regular habit, and there will be some lapses along the way, but with empathy and a determination to improve your relationships with other people (as well as some assistance from a therapist if necessary), you will eventually arrive at a more emotionally rewarding place in life. shutterstock_4886189...

THE INVISIBLE PERSON                   

Maryam thought she was happy. Her life was perfect. One day, however, she notices that she spends her time during mealtimes in the kitchen getting the food ready, while her family chat happily among themselves. When she joins them, everyone eats and drinks, giving short dismissive responses to her efforts to start a conversation when they are not messing with their phones. Maryam starts tallying up the various little instances when she is treated more like the efficient domestic helper by the rest of the family. Resentment mounts as the tally grows day by day. She has become invisible to her family—they only recall her existence when they want her to cook, clean or fix something. If you believe that you have become an invisible person, here’s some tips from Cathie Wu to be heard and seen again. Acknowledge your own inherent value. It is human nature to tie the perception of success and happiness to external achievements such as financial success or acclaim from other people. When these external markers are not present,resentment and a sense of inadequacy may arise. Instead of relying on these external markers, you should realize that you always have value as a human being. You are worthy to be appreciated and loved, regardless of how successful or beautiful you are. It is important to recognize your own strengths and weaknesses, so that you will be able to feel good about your accomplishments even should they go unrecognized by other people. By doing this, you will be able to maintain a more balanced, realistic measure of your own happiness and success. It will be easier to manage the negative emotions that can come with the perception that you are being underappreciated or overlooked. This doesn’t mean you should stay silent and let things be, though! See the next two points. Voice your needs and desires. Waiting in silence to be heard or be invited to speak only bring more feelings of powerlessness and/or helplessness. To break this unhealthy pattern, find the strength and courage inside you to speak up and make your feelings heard. Who knows, maybe your loved ones have no idea that you are feeling this way, and when you speak out about your feelings, they may be more willing to be more considerate to your needs. Set up a more balanced structure. If you choose to do everything for everyone, you will be associated to that role over time. This may lead to you being taken for granted by everyone! To prevent yourself from ending up in this situation, delegate responsibilities so that everyone has a reasonable share of the duties involved.


Created with the mind of a simple, loving child, Frankenstein’s monster quickly discovers the fear people have of his large, hideous appearance, and how this fear quickly turns into violence. Eventually, he snaps… with tragic consequences for both himself and the ones he cares for.
“Much of the ‘lashing out’ is often due to prolonged suppression and denial of one’s own needs,” Cathie Wu explains. “Negative feelings build up like gas in a bottle. When we force ourselves to swallow these feelings down for too long, we are basically screwing on a tight cap on the bottle. It’s bound to explode.”
Reflect on the issues that are bothering you. Then evaluate how you can speak up and be heard. Things can only improve when you have the space and opportunity to openly discuss your emotions and circumstances. Realize the power of forgiveness. Lashing out can be cathartic—it feels good to be finally standing up for yourself— but this pattern of suppression and explosion is ultimately destructive, because your resentment will build over a prolonged period.
Some mental health experts believe that the best thing you can do for yourself is to learn to move forward from these negative emotions. Forgiveness is a powerful force. Only by being able to forgive will it be easier to find inner peace, and with inner peace comes the ability to move past the festering darkness in your soul, to a happier and healthier place in life. Hence, you should begin to forgive those who have hurt you, as well as yourself for any perceived sense of failure or weakness on your part. After then, you will find the resolve and the strength inside you to move forward and do better.

“Perhaps you identify with Frankenstein’s monster. Maybe you believe that the world has abused you so much that it is only right that you retaliate in kind. Cathie Wu believes that there are other, more fulfilling ways to manage your emotions and find contentment in your life.”

It won’t always be easy to forgive, but a combination of some or all of the following options may help: having a confidante, anger management, meditation, spiritual or religious beliefs, and support from a qualified mental healthcare professional. HT

“Even broken in spirit as he is, no one can feel more deeply than he does the beauties of nature. The starry sky, the sea, and every sight afforded by these wonderful regions, seems still to have the power  of elevating his soul from earth. Such a man has a double existence: he may suffer misery, and be overwhelmed by disappointments; yet, when he has retired into himself, he will be like a celestial spirit that has a halo around him, within whose circle no grief or folly ventures.” − from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

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