Claudia Chan

Professional Certified Life Coach
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I finished watching the Brothers Sun with my husband this past weekend, and there are two big things I’d like to talk about: Choice and Creativity as a Chinese girl.

I’ll try to include as little spoilers as I can, but just in case you want to watch first before the discussion, then you may want to stop right here.

Verdict: highly recommend!!

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Let’s dive in.

1 Choice

“NO ONE HAS EVER ASKED ME WHAT I WANT!!!!”

This was a line that jumped out at me the most in the entire season.

Choosing. Or more specifically, the lack of choice.

The freedom to choose is a concept fairly foreign to me while growing up.

While growing up, all I knew was that my parents sacrificed themselves to bring us to Canada to provide the best for me.

So I had to be a good girl, do my best, and do whatever I need to do to prevent bringing shame to the family.

And when I was dating my now husband, I was forced to pick between my mom or him.

Because of this, I had to experience lots of anger, blame, guilt, shame, resentment, disappointment.

AND along with it, I had to learn to be courageous to face the possibility of being disowned, or making a wrong decision.

So watching each of the main characters become bold enough to choose what’s best for themselves was quite exciting.

2 Creativity

One of the gripes my husband had with the show was why didn’t Michelle Yeoh’s character send her second son to learn Mandarin.

And I want to applaud that decision from the creators.

Because taking Mandarin means he’s “in the system”.

When one’s not in the system, that’s when they can see the whole system from a different perspective, and bring in new ideas to “solve problems.”

I know I am going to get a lot of slash back from saying this.

For me, many times I was asked if I send my son to Chinese class. I don’t want to, because he is not interested in it.

And people would tell me, well you need to force them.

I asked.. is it really good to force them?

First of all, if my son says no, and I am forcing my decision on him, I am taking his voice away. He will feel that he is not able to speak up. I’m practically telling him that his voice has ZERO value.

Second, if I force him to “learn” when he has no interest to learn, his mind is going to associate learning as “boring”.

I want him to see that learning something he’s interested in is better than being forced into something he doesn’t want. So he stays curious, and has the desire to try new things.

It makes him want to learn more, be more curious, and willing to go through with the challenges when it gets tough. (Doing it for himself vs for mom)

For me, being able to speak up, share ideas, stay curious, are valuable qualities to cultivate to become a leader who is creative.

Creativity means you have different ideas, and you’re not afraid to share it.

As a Chinese girl, I am done with feeling like I can’t speak up for myself and I’m not creative. So many times I believed that I had no good ideas that were worthy to be shared.

NOT TRUE!

I feel how my parents raised me and the education system had forced me to become “one-way” thinking, and I don’t want my son to be limited in his communication and his creative skills.

So I try my best not to force him into doing what he doesn’t want.

Overall, The Brothers Sun is amazing! And not to mention Justin Chien is really HOT and is an amazing actor. I highly recommend it if you are interested to watch it!

And if you’d watched it, what did you think about it? What was one thing that really resonated with you? Would love to hear about that!

When you were growing up, did you grow up in an environment where your parents kept telling you how to behave and what to do, no matter how you feel?

Recently, I watched a South Korean show where the camera followed the lives of one Family. They showed the parents’ interactions with their kids and their kids’ reactions. Afterwards, a child psychiatrist offered feedback for the parents on how to build better relationships with them.

If you’re interested to watch it, here’s the link

This family has a mom, a dad, and 6 kids (3 boys, 3 girls. The parents were having a “difficult time” with the middle son.

The parents complained about how their son was behaving disrespectfully, not doing enough house work, swearing at them/to his siblings, or not following the house rules, etc.

But the camera showed a very different story.

The parents were constantly angry with him. No matter how much the son did, the parents would keep criticizing him, nitpicking at him.

When he felt really stressed out and wanted to go outside for some fresh air (since there was no room for him to have alone time), his mom prevented him from going (it was 7pm).

When the parents decided they need to have a “talk with him” to find out what’s going on, they kept asking “What’s wrong with you? Speak up!” And when he didn’t respond, they pushed him further, asking “Why aren’t you speaking? Look me in the eyes.”

Just from watching that video, I felt the suffocation and tightness in my chest, the anger of unfairness, the stifled voice that was dismissed. UNLESS the words were exactly what the parents wanted to hear, otherwise, it meant nothing.

And on the other end, I also saw how much the parents were struggling. I could only imagine the amount of pressure they were facing in order to raise a family that ‘meets societal expectations’.

I am so happy at the end, the child psychiatrist was able to work with the family, so they could have a happy relationship.

But this is the toxic cycle.

The parents' voices were stifled, they were expected to behave a certain way, even when they didn't want to.

So they forced their kids to act a certain way, by any means, get angry at them, kick them out of the house, nag at them, nitpick at them, force them to do things, etc.

Then the kids end up being rebellious and explode at the parents/other people, or they may go into depression. (and when they have a family of their own, they may end up yelling and criticizing their own kids)

The bad news is, if we don't stop it, the toxic cycle continues.

Sometimes, this could lead some families to have extremely poor parent/child relationship. For some, they may consider ending their lives because they couldn't handle the stress.

The good news is, something can be done about it.

We can heal our pains and learn new skills to break this cycle.

Imagine you can have a better relationship with your kids. Where they actually want to come to you to talk through their problems, they feel safe enough to share, and you have the skills to navigate through both your own emotions and help them navigate through theirs.

Or when your spouse, parents, or in-laws keep pushing you for more, or saying awful things to you, you can finally say, “This is inappropriate, you’re not allowed to speak to me this way anymore.”

It’s possible!

If you feel it's time for you to take the next step to break this toxic cycle, I can help with that.

I invite you to hop on a free 20-min consult with me. During this time, I’ll get to know you some more and we can see if we’re a good fit to work with each other.

I know sometimes we may feel really alone….am I the only one going through this?

And I know it can feel very scary to do this on our own.

I can assure you that you are not alone, and you don’t have to work through this by yourself. You can have someone walk through this journey with you.

Let’s do this together.

Book a session now. 

Last Friday, my accountability sister, Phoebe and I held our very first community hour.

In this session, we dived into getting to know how fear feels like in our body, and we also sent ourselves some loving affirmations.

The main reason why we did this was because most of us were brought up to ignore our body's signals.

You see, growing up, we might be forced to comply with our parents wishes (no matter how reluctant we were), or we might have continuously pushed ourselves toward something really scary, to the point where our bodies said, "Enough is enough! We stop here!"

So even though our brains still want all these wonderful dreams, our bodies became incapable of bringing us forward.

"I really want to do it, but I can't, maybe I'm not meant for this..."

So it's really important for us to start paying attention to it and acknowledge it. It is through awareness that we can make changes.

If you missed out on our session, here's a replay.

13:55 learn how to feel how fear feels like in the body.

37:50 learn to speak loving words to our bodies, brains and hearts.

I remember there was one time, I just talked to my own brain, where I said, “hey I want to love you some more, so the next time I get critical, I want you to make me aware of it.” And my brain started pointing out whenever I was being harsh to me.

It was powerful, not because I was judging myself, it was just so I know exactly how I was treating myself, so I can treat myself better.

Because we all deserve to be treated better, and it starts with us.

If you want get both of our freebies, here're the links

https://claudiachan.co/flip-the-table/

https://selflovewithphoebe.ck.page/

We will be hosting more of these free sessions in the future, if there is something you felt stuck and you’d like to address, send me an email so we can talk about them.

Have fun and enjoy!

In Nov, I brought my son to get his booster Covid shot. While we were walking into a building, there was another mom and her two kids. The younger one was a bit scared. The mom said, I’d done it so many times, I’m not scared. Your brother is not scared either.

Once inside the clinic, there was another girl who was screaming and crying, her dad was trying to calm her down, but she kept screaming. And at the end her dad said, “Don’t hit yourself.” Followed by her response, “What’s wrong with me?”

My heart broke 💔

This is one of the damaging effects of dismissing fear.

When you were growing up, have you ever been told, don’t be scare! Why are you scared? There is nothing to be scared of!

When we keep telling ourselves and our kids that there’s nothing to be scared of, what happens is, when we feel scared, our brains believe that we’re the only one experiencing it!

Others are not scared! Why am I scared? Something must be wrong with me!

But it gets a bit more complicated than that.

When we want to do something and feel scared, our brains quickly dismiss the fear but our bodies still feel the fear, so our bodies hold back from moving forward.

We feel very uncomfortable in this conflict, so our brains will try to get us to do something else to make us feel better

CUE the food searching, social media scrolling, Netflix binging, game playing, email checking, etc.

Then after some time, the critical part of our brains starts:

Why aren’t you doing this? You should have done this earlier!

Guilt.

You’re such a procrastinator, you don’t have it in you. You’re not cut out for it.

Shame.

Repeat it enough times, and we believe we are the problem..

Dismiss fear, and we get stuck believing that something’s wrong with us..

To undo this.. we’ve got to became aware of the fear.

Face it.
Hold it.

Rather than dismissing it, we teach our brains it’s ok to be scared.

And that’s what my friend, Phoebe Maina and I will be doing this Friday during our free community hour.

Giving our bodies a chance to come face to face with fear. Learning to hold it, love it.

Two days ago, I was thinking about what to post on Instagram, my inner critic was strong, so I thought, OK, I'm going to make it easy for me. I'm going to post a photo of me holding my Christmas present, Kuromi (one of the Sanrio characters), given to me by my husband.

Guess what? Once I posted it, my brain started coming down hard on me.

Look at you! You're 43, and you're showing yourself holding onto a doll?

Look at all the grey hair on your head.

Why do you have to show that? You're too childish.

I kid you not, it went on and on in my head. It got really uncomfortable.​

And at the same time, I was really proud of myself, because if I can't even share this simple photo of myself, how could I share other things?

It once again showed me, all the rules and expectations that I had created in my brain, how there is an "appropriate" way to behave, how to act, what to do.

And this is the thing, there may be things in our lives that we want to do.

Maybe we want to try out belly dancing.

Maybe we want to post more on social media.

Maybe we want to write that book.

But our minds may start criticizing us, laying the rules on us.

You're too old to bellydance!

Who do you think you are? There are people who are more qualified than you!

Don't make me laugh, you? Write a book?

On and on and on (and on and on).

And they are extremely uncomfortable. So we end up making excuses, procrastinating..

For me, I had to face my fear, so I could separate out myself from that voices that doesn't belong to me. It's only through this process, I could then pry each finger off, one by one, so I can let myself go and be free.

And I have to get to know it first, in order for me to pry them off.

Today, I came upon an interview by Elaine Lin Hering. She is the author of the book called "Unlearning Silence: How to Speak Your Mind, Unleash Talent, and Live More Fully".

In this recent interview, she said that "The advice “be more courageous” or “have more confidence” fails to consider the many of our choices are a result of careful calculation.

Calculation of the blowback we can stomach.
Calculation of the relational costs.
Calculation of the emotional labor required.
Calculation of whether I get to keep my job.

These calculations are so engrained in us from the times we've been burned that it makes silence make sense.

Want people to speak up?

Change the calculus, not the person."


So as a Courage Coach, I was wondering where does Courage really fit in.

And this is my take on this: for me, the “calculations” is the awareness piece. Understanding what are the costs, what could potentially happen, and how much a person can take on, so that we can shift. Because we can’t shift without becoming aware in the first place.

And of course! When we come upon really difficult situations, our brains will always remain silent! Because our brains’ primary function is to protect us, keep us from getting hurt.

And yet I believe that when I talk about courage, it’s not just in the end part where we “speak up”.

Because for me, courage is a necessary ingredient to help me face any and all discomfort.

To allow oneself to SIT with the feeling of helplessness takes courage.

To accept the fact that I am unable to do anything about my situation RIGHT NOW takes courage.

To endure the hardship, humiliation, suffering, for a long period of time takes courage.

AND it’s only after understanding why I’m holding myself back and accepting where I am right now, THEN I can make a decision.

These things are happening right now, AND I get to choose what’s best for me.

I can either choose to speak up, and risk getting laid off.

Or choose to remain silent for 6 months (or 1 year, or however long), so that I can search for another job, or I can go out there and create better relationships so I have better opportunities.

I get to decide how long I want to endure something for.

Both of these choices take courage.

It is not mutually exclusive, courage is needed along the entire way.

Because let’s be real, the water is extremely difficult to swim in.

For an Asian girl living in a white dominated, male dominated society.

I feel it in my bones (all the judgement, all the stares, all the put downs) when I go out there, put myself out there.

Courage allows me to acknowledge that my hands are tied right now, and it helps me to decide HOW I want to proceed for myself.

Taping into the courage to face the uncomfortable and making the difficult decisions, which gives the power back to ME.

Thank you, Elaine, for your sharing! (Really looking forward to reading this book! I pre-ordered it!)

Now that the holidays is over, maybe you got a chance to reflect back on how it went.

Did you find yourself…

-doing everything to make sure other people are happy?

-making sure everything is running smoothly?

-catering to everyone’s needs before yours?

I remember growing up, I was always one of the few girls who would plan for all the gatherings. Because if I didn’t, the gatherings wouldn’t happen!

I’d make sure we stay connected, make sure everyone is available, make sure no one is left behind.

And there were a few occasions where someone couldn’t make it, and I’d suggest to keep the date.

But the immediate feedback would be, “Should we change it to another date? Because so and so can’t make it…”

REALLY???? That would INSTANTLY set me off.

Yet, I would cave, and continue to try, to make sure everyone was available and onboard.

But eventually, it sucked up all the fun for me!

I became resentful.

There were even a few times where I reacted childishly, made sarcastic remarks, to the point where it made other people uncomfortable.

And I stopped planning for gatherings.

Through the years of inner work, I learned that I caved and catered to others, because I didn’t want to be seen as lazy or inconsiderate.

Because growing up, my mom would use those words to describe me.

So even when I don’t want to do it, I would go the extra mile to prove to others (and myself) that I am not lazy and inconsiderate.

And at the same time, I learned that, EVEN IF I am a lazy and inconsiderate, it’s ok.

Because in order for me to give more of myself, I have to take care of me first.

So it’s ok for me to be “lazy” and “inconsiderate”. I learned to love me for them.

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Two nights ago, I created a visual to help other people understand the basics of how people-pleasing tendency started. So I want to share them with you.

No surprise at all, we obtained most of our behaviours while growing up with our parents/care takers.

Our interactions with them could be too painful, too traumatic, so we changed ourselves to avoid the negative.

And the behaviour remains as we get older.

So even though our bodies get angry or resentful, we continue to do it.

But we are not our younger selves anymore. We want to be able to stand up for us, and decide to do things that are best for us.

And in order to break the people-pleasing cycle, to stop being responsible for other people’s feelings, to stand up for ourselves, we have to look at the ugly stuff.

We do so by processing our fears, heal our pains, build our courage and love ourselves.

If you are at a point where you are too sick and tired of feeling resentful and upset at everyone around you, I want you to know that you’re not alone.

I’d like to invite you to join me on a one month journey called Liberation. It’s a 1:1 sessions with 4-1hr zoom calls ($200 CAD for 4 sessions)

After working with me, you will feel freer to make the best decisions for you.

You will know exactly how to deal with the negative emotions when they come up.

You’ll find yourself doing things because you want to, not because you are forced to.

You also get to have peace and fun back into your life.

If you’re interested to learn more about it, I invite you to hop on a ​free 20-min consult ​with me, so I can get to know your situation, and we can see if we’re a good fit to work with each other!

If you don’t see a time that fits you, send me an email, and we can arrange.

That’s all from me for today!

Claudia Chan

Professional Certified Life Coach

TORONTO, ONTARIO CANADA

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