BAE- STEPHANIE WONG
JOHN: [00:00:00] Welcome back to Big Asian Energy. Today I have with me Dr.
Stephanie Wong. ~Uh, ~she's an Asian American licensed clinical psychologist and entrepreneur. BT has Army and ~founder of, uh, and, and ~the host actually of the award-winning Colors of Success podcast. She works in private practice with tech professionals, most of which are ethnic minorities at a hospital, ~you know, ~serving military veterans.
And her training in clinical interviewing has led to fire side chats with diverse podcast guests about advancing their careers and addressing mental health and cultural identities.[00:00:30] ~Uh, ~her guests have been,~ uh,~ absolutely everywhere, and there's so many incredible human beings that are on the show, and she has been featured in Forbes, US News.
Shondaland, ~thank you so much for being on the show today. I am so excited before we even started this conversation, we already started jumping in. Uh, ~so let me start by saying thank you so much for being here today.
STEPHANIE: Thank you ~so, ~so much. I'm so honored to be a guest on this show, and your energy is amazing.
Obviously, big Asian Energy ~and Toper,~ shout out to Toper ~for Toper~ for connecting us. So I'm super grateful to have this synergy between us.
JOHN: Toper is,~ uh,~ one of our, team members and the [00:01:00] co-founders,~ uh,~ of many of projects that ~I'm, ~I'm working on and I'm so stoked to be with him. ~so jumping in here we were,~ before we ~kind of ~jumped into the podcast recording, we're having a whole conversation about a book that you are working on.
~Uh, ~can you just ~kind of ~repeat what you just said or just ~kind of ~give us a little bit, ~what is, ~what is this idea that you're working through?
STEPHANIE: The working title is Cancel the Filter, and it is a book about personal experiences, professional experiences as a working mom, a woman of color. ~Mm-hmm. ~And as you saw in my bio, which is a [00:01:30] very kind bio, ~you know, ~I work at a hospital full-time, private practice podcasting.
And I have two young girls who are just amazing human beings. ~Um, ~thank you to my husband for helping me with that. ~Um, ~but people ask me all the time, how do you do it? You're superwoman. ~Mm-hmm. ~And I say, I'm 20 seconds from losing my shit all the time. Like this. These eyelashes are my superwoman cape. ~And ~it doesn't look like this all the time.
~Right. Like, ~it takes me time to get ready. It [00:02:00] takes me time to get in the mental space to do all the things. Yesterday I was volunteering the day before I went to a sugar concert, b t s. ~So it was like, I,~ I have a lot of fun in my life. And then there are a lot of ups and downs that I think need to be normalized,~ um,~ among parents, not just working moms, but parents in general, to let them know that you are not alone.
~Mm-hmm. ~You are not, the one showing up to work with, ~you know, ~baby spit or milk or anything. You're not the only one. ~Mm-hmm. ~People do it all the time.[00:02:30]
JOHN: and I love that because I need to give a shout out.~ I, in my, ~in my experience working, especially with a lot of Asian American parents ~and, ~and their kids, I gotta say, You guys do not have an easy job.
No. ~Being a, being a working, I,~ I am legitimately sometimes wondering if you guys are wizard because it's almost seems like you have to have eight arms and a time machine just to balance it. ~You have a, like you said,~ you have all these different obligations and everything like that, and you're 20 seconds from losing.
the acknowledgement of and the vulnerability is so courageous, [00:03:00] but that aside, how do you do it? 'cause I think that a lot of parents do feel like they're almost underwater at all times.
STEPHANIE: I think one of the key things is really finding hobbies that don't have anything to do with making money.
I think a lot of Asian Americans, Asians think, how am I gonna monetize this? How am I gonna monetize this situation? ~And ~like I mentioned to you, I have so much fun in my life and part of it is I worked with someone who very early on, My career [00:03:30] passed away shortly after retirement. ~And I said, this was like over a decade ago,~ and I said, I'm not gonna wait till I retire to do the things that I want to do.
~So mm-hmm. ~Everything is very planful in that of ~like, ~sure, like making money is very important for the lifestyle that I wanna live. ~Like ~traveling and taking my kids to different countries,~ um,~ and my family. ~Uh, ~but it's not about just building wealth and doing nothing with it and waiting till I'm like 65 to go and travel the country when right now I'm mentally and physically able to [00:04:00] do those things.
~Mm-hmm. The sec,~ the second thing, which is probably more important is picking a partner. and choosing to commit to that partner that will support you, that is your ride or die. ~And~ it goes both ways. My husband and I are high school sweethearts. We're celebrating 23 years on the 30th together. Wow.
~Yeah.~ That I think that dated me and showed my age. But the point why I am bringing this up is because he is someone who is a feminist, but won't say he is. But he has two girls, lives with all [00:04:30] women, cooks for my mom, cooks for all of us. ~Wow. Um, ~does the pickups and drop offs, does the laundry ~like, ~to not care about strict gender roles is so important because it's teaching my daughters what a respectful partner will do.
It's not just the man is the breadwinner. ~Mm-hmm. Uh, ~and ~women can, ~women can work, women can do those things. ~Mm-hmm. ~But I wanna be very clear, it takes a huge support network ~mm-hmm. ~To be able to do the things that I wanna do in my career. ~So. Mm-hmm. Um, ~just so important.
JOHN: ~I, I, I wanna dive into that.~ And first of all, congratulations.
23 [00:05:00] years is an accomplishment in this day and age in and of itself. Yes. And,~ uh,~ I'm curious, as you said, gender roles are a big thing. I know,~ I,~ I deal with a lot of men's work. I have an Asian American men's group. Yes. And these kind of topics come up all the time and it's such a big thing. Was there any challenge or conflict that came up when you guys were having that early stage negotiation of ~sort of like, ~who's gonna do what?
STEPHANIE: No challenge when it came to me and him. ~Mm-hmm. ~But for the longest time, my mother-in-law, even when I had the [00:05:30] baby, ~you know, ~when we live with them, she was like,~ well,~ why don't you stay home? And ~you know, ~he go back to, ~I mean, ~he just works. ~Mm-hmm. ~And I say, mom. ~Mm-hmm. ~I make more money than him. ~Mm-hmm.~
That doesn't really fiscally make sense. ~Um, ~but ~in,~ in all seriousness, I think over the years she's really seen the shift and how important work is for me and how that really keeps a very healthy, happy family. ~Mm-hmm. ~And so I think sometimes it is about self-advocacy and standing up because we really have to unlearn a lot of these things.
My [00:06:00] mother-in-law was gonna be a lawyer in Vietnam, but when she immigrated over here, things completely changed. And she raised like so many children and ~Wow.~ Helped out every single, like all the siblings build their businesses and stuff. And ~like, I, ~I wonder if she had a different choice being here, would that still be the case?
So I think it's more about many people didn't have the options back then to even consider having flexible gender roles. 'cause that's again, cultural transmission of values.
JOHN: [00:06:30] Absolutely, and I think so many of these things we talk about today, ~you know, I,~ ideas of gender roles and such and ~that choice, ~that choice to take on and choose, these are the values I want to have.
These are my parents' values. Something wrong with them. ~No, nothing. They were, ~they were necessary and oftentimes like imposed upon them, but now I have the freedom and luxury, thanks mom and dad for providing me with this platform where I can now create my own values and choosing that. ~Mm-hmm. ~There's a word that you use just now, which is self-advocacy.
Can you dive into that a little bit
STEPHANIE: more? It is speaking up for [00:07:00] yourself and making sure that you're maintaining your boundaries. Because I think a lot of times, especially the way that societal messages happen, it's the meek Asian American woman who should just,~ and,~ and this extends beyond being an Asian American woman.
~Mm-hmm. ~Or person that you keep your head down. ~Yeah.~ And you just work. ~Yeah.~ And when people throw a whole bunch of crap at you, you should just take it. ~Hmm. And you know, ~we're trying to climb whatever ladders and, why stir the pot? Why rock the boat? ~And ~at the same [00:07:30] time I always ask ~like, ~what is the cost to doing that?
~Hmm. ~Emotionally, you're sitting there, you could build resentments. It can manifest in very physical ways, which it, we often see mental health issues,~ um,~ manifest in that way for Asian Americans when they go to like, er for stomach problems or ~mm-hmm. ~They feel like they can't breathe or they're having a heart attack when it really is a panic attack.
~Mm. Um, ~so I think it's so important to speak up when you feel like your boundaries are being crossed [00:08:00] or something is not sitting right with you. Again, this is very privileged from a very privileged perspective. Totally. 'cause we'll go into ~like, ~Times when I really didn't feel like I had that power to do that.
~Um mm-hmm. ~Based on where I was in my career. But I feel like as you get older, ~you give less of, ~you give less. Less of an f.
JOHN: ~Yeah,~ exactly. We just swear on the block. ~We could swear this is a swearing.~ Swearing except a podcast,
STEPHANIE: you don't give a shit about what people think about. ~Like, you, you're just like, 'cause~ and I don't,~ um,~ envy my kids now because ~I,~ when I volunteered, I heard some of the boys like talking and I was like, [00:08:30] oh God, this is annoying.
~Like isn't a different.~ What were you hearing? ~Um, well ~I asked the girls, ~you know, ~did you have fun? And they're like, ~yeah.~ And then there's ~like ~four boys in front of 'em are like, ~yeah.~ And I was like, oh my God. ~Like this.~ I do not miss this realm of my
JOHN: life. This is the teachable moment happening guys.
~Exactly. Pull over. ~And you said that earlier on in your career, you ran into these experiences. Can you elaborate a little bit more on
STEPHANIE: that? Absolutely. ~So ~when I was going through my PhD, ~um mm-hmm. ~One of my supervisors thought I had senioritis and really I was pregnant and [00:09:00] I didn't wanna tell anybody.
~And ~my first pregnancy was ~really, ~really hard. I was going through pre-doc internship, a residency, trying to study for my exams, you name it. ~Mm-hmm. And so~ it was a ~very, ~very stressful time and I didn't feel like I really wanted to disclose it that early, ~because many,~ and I didn't know this at the time, again, this was a long time ago, that many pregnancies result in miscarriage.
~Right. ~And that's why we wait that first trimester to tell people. ~Mm-hmm. Um, ~I wasn't so much worried about that, but [00:09:30] just like I was afraid of perceptions of how people would see me. I had kids,~ um, you know, ~way younger than a lot of my friends, I thought ~mm-hmm. ~Oh, they're gonna catch up in a few years.
Nope. They're having their second, third babies now. And I'm like, ha, I don't have to clean up diapers or shit no more. ~Um, ~jokes on you, but no. ~Yeah. Um, ~but that was a really difficult time and ~many,~ none of my cohort mates were having children at that time. So it was something that I felt very lonely about and I felt [00:10:00] forced right to tell that supervisor that I was pregnant and it was not a good feeling.
Now, if someone said that, I'd be like, dude, I'm pregnant. ~Like, ~gimme a break. ~Um, ~but at the time you really ~re ~relied on these folks to write you letters of recommendation. ~Sure. Like~ they held part of your future in their hands to progress and ~so, ~That power dynamic is just so important for managers ~mm-hmm.~
To be aware of because you may not think that you're,~ um,~ misusing or abusing your power. ~Mm-hmm. ~But it's [00:10:30] really,~ um,~ if you're stifling someone to be able to tell you something or work at that feral capacity, be more curious than ~mm-hmm. ~Like judgemental.
JOHN: Absolutely. That's great advice. And ~I mean, ~coming back to this, you were talking about, ~you know, ~what it feels like to be a working parent ~and, ~and trying to superman everything, right?
~Like, ~or superwoman, everything. Trying to take on all the stuff in your back and everything like that. A big part of what I see is ~this ~like inner perfectionism. There's this belief that [00:11:00] I have to do everything because one, ~and I mean, you are,~ you have an amazing partner, but ~I,~ a lot of time, ~you know, times I,~ I do hear ~from ~from parents who are like, who don't have that type of relationship or sometimes they're just doing it all ~or they feel like, yeah, if I don't do this,~ and this is something that I hear so often is if I don't do this, it doesn't get done.
there's this weight that gets carried. And I'm ~kind of ~curious, how do you deal with one. That sense of I gotta overachieve and be perfect or else I'm not enough so that I can self-advocate. ~Um, ~or even just that constant feeling [00:11:30] of ~like, ~I can't take a breath. How do you coach people through that?
STEPHANIE: I think part of it is understanding and having realistic expectations. ~So ~I talk about this a lot with my clients, about really assessing their values in multiple areas of your life am I doing things that are consistent with my values or inconsistent? ~Hmm. And I.~ These priorities and values shift all the time.
Values are aspirational, goals are achievable. ~So ~it's ~like, ~if you wanna have a loving relationship with your partner, you can't just say, I love [00:12:00] you and oh my God, we have a great relationship and we're done. ~No,~ I was hoping, I wish that was easy. I think I'd be out of a job if that were the case. ~Um, ~but ~the, ~the whole thing is ~like, ~it's a work in progress.
~Yeah.~ And sometimes these values,~ uh,~ in terms of prioritization change ~mm-hmm. I mean, ~I'm thinking, when parents have empty nest, for instance ~mm-hmm. It,~ you're not gonna be volunteering for everything at their school because ~that, ~that's not what it's about. ~Right? Mm-hmm. ~So other things may take precedence over that.
And ~so, um, ~It is a constant balance and discussion, [00:12:30] but I really go back to self-compassion. ~Mm-hmm. ~And empathy, because we're ~very, ~very hard on ourselves ~as you, ~as you mentioned.~ Totally. And~ we tend to be harder on ourselves than other people. And so just as you would talk to someone else, ~like ~try talking to yourself that way.
And it really does change the way that you see yourself and I have really had to let go of perfectionism over time and embrace that my life is chaotic and that's okay. I'm just trying to make it like everybody else. I don't think I'm any [00:13:00] different from anybody else. And,~ um,~ I think when people see that from others in the community, or people that they think are perfect or like ~mm-hmm.~
Really well put together,~ um,~ they can see that ~they're not, ~again, they're not alone. ~Yeah.~ People have their off days and ~it, ~it really is a difficult journey. ~Hmm. ~
JOHN: I love that being perfectly imperfect that wherever we're at, that's where we're at. ~Mm-hmm. ~I think even when we say something like the acceptance of that, ~I often ~personally, I [00:13:30] sometimes when I have to remind myself like, no, this is just where I'm at.
~I'm, ~I'm gonna be messy today. I'm gonna be imperfect today, and that's fine. There's a part of me, and I think that's my inner critic talking that kind of comes up and being like, this feels like giving up. And it's such a challenging thing. Like I have days where I ~kind of ~go ~like, ~but that feels like giving up.
JOHN: Or I have to remind myself that it's not,~ it's, it's just like, no, no. I just am.~ Everybody's a work in progress. ~We're always like creating this.~ I love the quote that you had, that values are aspirational, goals are achievable. ~Mm-hmm. ~I think that sums it up so beautifully.[00:14:00] And coming back to that,~ um,~ self-advocacy and a lot of people we talk to ~are, ~are in workplaces, offices.
~Mm-hmm. Um, ~corporate and self-advocacy is a big one. We aren't taught as Asian Americans to self-advocate. We're taught the opposite. Head down. Keep working. Stay quiet. How do you teach self-advocacy?
STEPHANIE: going back to that, I think establishing what your boundaries are. ~Mm-hmm. ~What are you willing to accept?
~What can you,~ we use a term called radical acceptance of what can you do, what can [00:14:30] you control in this very. Complicated environment. 'cause we can't control other people's behaviors or reactions. ~Mm-hmm. ~What is realistic for us to control our environment. ~So, ~especially when you're testing out your boundaries in self advocating, you wanna start very small in low risk situations.
You don't wanna go straight to your VP of a company and be like, you have overstepped your boundary with me. ~You know, like it's,~ you wanna build up to that if that's what you essentially wanna do. ~Yeah.~ But even trying it with loved [00:15:00] ones is really helpful. ~Mm-hmm. And you can,~ I tell them, blame me all the time, just say, Dr.
Wong told me to work on my boundaries. ~So that like, I mean, ~blame me less as time goes on, ~but yeah. You know, like really, you know, ~try to practice it in situations that don't feel like. I'm gonna lose my job or something like that, right? ~Mm-hmm. ~You can test it out with a coworker who you're close with, but maybe given you a whole bunch of work that doesn't feel that you need to attend to as opposed to someone else doing it.
Or, ~you know, ~maybe we don't have that meeting on Zoom or ~tele ~[00:15:30] telehealth or whatever we send an email. Those are like small things that you can do that can help you build up to making bigger asks. ~And ~I think a big misperception is just because you have a boundary ~doesn't always mean, and,~ and you try to enforce it, that people are gonna readily accept it.
~Hmm. Because if, ~if you have worked and operated in a way that you do, keep your head down and don't say anything. When you do say something, you might get pushback. They're like, what's wrong with you? ~You know? Um, ~and that's why sometimes it's helpful to say those process [00:16:00] comments. I'm working on my boundaries.
I'm trying to like work on my mental health and give myself space. ~Hmm. Um, ~again, if you feel comfortable.
JOHN: Wow. So ~you, ~you advise people to use those actual lines and saying, Hey, I'm just,~ I'm,~ I'm practicing my boundaries right now. This is what I'm working on and that's why I'm saying no. ~Mm-hmm. Hmm. I,~ one thing I really enjoyed that you just said was how it's okay to find scales.
Kind of ~like if, ~if a Zoom meeting is just ~like, ~I just can't cancel today, I can't hand that you're allowed to, ~you know, ~send an [00:16:30] email and be like, Hey, can we just get this done through email? Could we just get this done through a team chat? ~Um, ~a big thing I feel like for many of us is that feeling that we lack permission and,~ um,~ I don't know if you read the book, permission to Come Home,~ uh,~ also written by,~ uh,~ a fellow psychologist and Asian American psychologist, but I love the word in that title, permission.
I feel like many of us don't feel like we have the permission to ask for that boundary ~or ask for that. Right. ~Do you have any idea of where that's from? Is that something that's particular more so particular [00:17:00] to Asian Americans? Or is it across the
STEPHANIE: board? ~Well, ~I think there's a cultural transmission of Who would you ask permission to?
We are brought up to, I wouldn't even say obey, there's a Philio piety, right? ~Yeah.~ This respect that's built in of like your parents are the authority figures, whether or not they're authoritarian in ~mm-hmm. ~They are still your authority figures. You respect them, you respect the elders. ~Um, ~and sometimes like they're very wacky suggestions that they're giving you, but you can't [00:17:30] say that to them just because culturally it's very rude.
~Yeah. Um, ~and to them it might be very hurtful. ~Mm-hmm. Um, and so, I think if you're,~ if you grow up with that, if you're giving those messages, it's really hard to then go to corporate America where someone has this like bigwig title or, ~you know, ~a doctorate or whatever you wanna call it ~mm-hmm. ~To actually challenge, folks in those situations.
Because again,~ I,~ I found it very weird. Not weird, but I found it different. we can edit out abnormal, [00:18:00] but,~ uh,~ very different when some of my colleagues called each other by their first name, even though we're all doctors. ~Hmm. Um, ~now it's a little different with patients. We do that, just in general to be able to communicate like professionalism and things like that.
But I was never taught that, like when I approached adults in my life ~mm-hmm. ~It was those auntie, uncle, cousin. ~Mm-hmm. ~If they're like older, even though. They're probably not my blood relatives, ~but you know, ~and if it's not [00:18:30] Mr. Mrs. Doctor ~Yeah.~ Whatever. ~Right? Yeah. So yeah,~ that permission is not built into how we were brought up anyways, myself.
JOHN: ~No, no. It's, I mean, ~growing up I think that ~it, ~it's such a top down cultural teaching. ~Mm-hmm. That, ~that's such a core teaching. Is that like you're here, ~there's a, ah,~ the world I was looking for is duty. ~Yes.~ There's a familial duty, not just to your own immediate family, like your parents. It's almost like upwards to the greater community as well.
And that could be so heavy to carry for us. ~Yeah. Yeah.~ Aside from topics like this, is there any other,~ um,~ [00:19:00] struggles that you find that many of your Asian American clients that you've run into have? ~There's, like,~ is there a trend that you've seen? ~Well, ~
STEPHANIE: there are a lot of. Imposter syndrome, and I know you're big on that.
There's so much Let's ~talk about, ~talk about, ~yeah.~ There's so much imposter syndrome, right? And like I think that's a barrier too, to having those boundaries because it's like, who am I to speak up about this? Or do I even have the skills to be a manager or, ~you know, ~even if I'm an informal manager to ~kind of ~[00:19:30] direct
~People that are newer because, you know, ~a lot of people in the Bay Area, they come right outta college and they're thrown into these team leads, manager positions and ~mm-hmm. ~I can't even imagine being thrown right out of college and having to manage people. It takes years of practice and missteps to be able to effectively manage people and build relationships,~ so, mm-hmm.~
~Um, that's,~ that is a huge one.
JOHN: I'll bet. ~Yeah.~ Because you have to, and suddenly ~you're, ~you're in a role where you're managing people who are older than you. ~Oh, yeah.~ And ~like ~that's also a cultural value for us [00:20:00] too. ~Right. ~It's the idea of ~like, ~oh, you have to always respect your elders and in walks in, ~you know, ~Bob, who is 20 years, your senior, 15 years more experience, has a PhD, and you're having to delegate work to them.
And that could become a very challenging thing in a team meeting when they're ~kind of ~going, ~yeah,~ no, this is not how we used to do it. So ~like ~there's a dismissiveness. ~Mm-hmm. ~And it ~kind of ~comes back to what you were talking about before of like setting the boundaries ~and, ~and clarifying that. ~Mm-hmm.~
I love that.
STEPHANIE: ~And, ~and you don't wanna erase people's experience, right? ~You're,~ and coming [00:20:30] in. ~Tons of blazing, like,~ I'm gonna change everything because this is what I've seen in my, ~you know, ~PhD, M B a, whatever title ~people, uh,~ degree people have. ~Um, ~it's all about the strength-based approach. ~Right. ~What do they have, what lived experiences or professional experiences do they have to add to this holistic,~ uh,~ health ~mm-hmm.~
Piece? This approach? ~Mm-hmm. ~My biggest mentors in residency were ~two, two.~ One was an addiction therapist, the other one was a health technician. And they had to [00:21:00] live experiences of being recovering addicts. ~Um, ~they were homeless before, had mental health issues. ~You know, ~one of 'em served in Vietnam. ~Wow.~
~Um, and~ they were talking to, ~you know, ~people in a very straightforward manner and even cussing sometimes. And I was like, whoa. I wasn't in the psych books, but it taught me a very important value because they would always ~say, ~say it very plainly, ~why, you know, ~why are these psychologists coming in? ~And, and having,~ they didn't use the term psychobabble, but in a [00:21:30] way that's what they were alluding to.
~It's like, ~it's not gonna sink in. You have to figure out a way to marry the theoretical and then the practical. ~Mm-hmm. ~
JOHN: ~Right. Great. Uh, can we take a quick, uh, turn, wherever ~
STEPHANIE: ~you wanna go. ~
JOHN: ~Um, ~I'm ~kind of ~curious,~ um,~ at this stage, ~you know, ~you've accomplished so much in your career and you're balancing so many different things.
~Um, ~what would you say have been some of the biggest victories in your life so far?
STEPHANIE: I thought a lot about this question and I really think I. First and foremost. ~Yeah.~ Raising my girls to be strong, being verbal [00:22:00] and reminding me ~what ~it's that I need to take breaks. ~Um, I've, ~I've thought many times, Hey guys, I think I should quit the podcast this season.
We're already in season five. Wow. So you know how that went. ~Yeah. But the,~ my oldest was like, mommy, why you love the podcast? And the best part of the podcast was being able to talk to her third grade class about mental health. ~Wow.~ And I tell this story a lot, but one of the girls was like, is Indian, so you know, Asian, Indian.
~Yeah. Asian. Yeah.~ And ~you know, ~my [00:22:30] mom says that she's very sad that she left home and all this,~ um,~ And I was like, that's really hard. And she was like, I also started a YouTube channel. I only have four subscribers. And I was like, they're in third grade. John. ~Like, wow, I,~ you don't recognize in our day-to-day lives ~that these kids,~ what these kids are truly dealing with.
~Hmm. Um, and so ~that was one of the best experiences that this podcast has done for me is being a special guest. I got to,~ uh,~ surprise my daughter because [00:23:00] the teacher said, oh, come on the Zoom, would you like to, ~you know, ~speak to the class? And my husband had her on and I was on the other computer at home and she was just, she lit up.
She lit up. And so those moments are very important to me. ~Yeah. Um, ~not personal achievement, more so like. How can I contribute to make this world, it sounds cheesy, but a better place for my kids. 'cause there's a lot of messed up stuff that are go, that's going on right now, right? Oh, ~yeah. Um, ~and I think getting my PhD, ~because of course, um,~ and it's still, [00:23:30] actually, I'm very proud of this.
It's still in the cardboard envelope that I got it in years ago. but why it's important to me is because none of my family went to a four year college. My mom, my dad, my brother. I was just like ~kind of ~a weirdo, right? Like in comparison. But the point ~is, ~is that it took a lot of learning.
~Mm-hmm. ~Even about the process of education. ~Mm-hmm. ~How to fund my education. ~Um, uh, ~I didn't come from a wealthy family, so they couldn't just pay for my college. I [00:24:00] worked,~ um,~ at the same time as going to school. ~Mm-hmm. ~I moved to another state,~ um,~ again with my now husband, but,~ um,~ which was so key, but those difficulties that I went through and to be awarded that paper, that kind of symbolized all the stuff that I went through, it was a miracle that someone like me and my background was able to navigate those systems and be awarded that..
JOHN: , I love those stories. Thank you for sharing those,~ um, that the, having your,~ [00:24:30] the third week class on the podcast. I love that one, but ~yeah,~ absolutely. ~The, ~the challenges that you ran through and of course being able to pay for it, would you say that was the biggest challenge that you ran through? ~Is, ~is find the balance and, ~I mean, ~that's an incredible accomplishment for anyone to get a PhD of that caliber, ~but.~
STEPHANIE: I would say passing my national exam shortly after having a C-section and giving birth. ~Yeah.~ I was studying on my hospital bed. Wow. And ~this is, ~this is the stuff in the book, so I'm giving you a sneak peek. This is awesome. ~Yeah.~ This is, ~yeah.~ This is why [00:25:00] it's so important to me to share these things because again, you hear all these things in the news like, oh, this woman won a marathon.
~Yeah. Um, ~or placed first place while she was like six months pregnant, whatever it is. ~Right? Yeah.~ But really, how hard is it to run every day being pregnant and practice and,~ um,~ I thought that I had a plan. I was gonna take my test before the baby came. ~Yeah.~ And be all good to give birth, take time. Nope.
She wanted to come early,~ so, ~Had to [00:25:30] study on a hospital bed. ~So, you know, it is what it's, but you know, ~during that time I didn't think, oh my God, this is so hard. I just ~like ~white knuckled it. ~You just gotta do it. Had grit, you know? And so, ~but those are the things that need to be normalized is that this is what we face when we're going through these situations.
JOHN: Oh my gosh. ~Well, you know, ~what they say is the universe gives the only challenges that,~ uh,~ you can handle. ~But you know, ~sometimes it's ~kind of like, ~come on, universe.
STEPHANIE: ~Yeah, right. ~Come on. But I was very determined. I was like, we're doing this. Like when can I ~get, ~get back out there? You know what I mean? ~Um, ~but looking back, I think it was absolutely [00:26:00] insane.
JOHN: ~Yeah,~ it sounds insane. ~I mean, ~as a parent, especially now and working on this book about parenting, what would you say are some of the biggest challenges that modern parents, like parents of today,~ or, or, ~or would be parents are facing? Maybe previous generations didn't. ~Well ~
STEPHANIE: one, social media is huge.
~Mm-hmm. ~In the past, yes. Bullying has been around for ages and ages, probably since ~the, you know, ~the aggression is ~kind of ~one of those things built into human nature. ~Yeah. Um, ~but now with social media being so widespread, [00:26:30] kids are bullying each other on social media and adults too. ~I mean ~Oh, ~yeah. Um, ~you name it.
~Right. ~And so that adds an extra layer. ~Um, ~the other things are the state of the world that we live in. ~Mm-hmm. Um, ~as, ~you know, uh, ~Asian hate crimes ~mm-hmm. Um, ~have been skyrocketing. ~Mm-hmm. Uh, ~the way that people are overtly and obviously covertly, being racist against people of color, hitting different communities against each other, and People don't necessarily know all the history, [00:27:00] but for as long as our history was in coming to America and ~it's, ~it's been that way, we're pitted against different ethnic groups to fight for resources. ~Mm-hmm. ~When really we should be figuring out how to have some distribution of those resources and help each other build communities that are very integrative helpful.
~Mm-hmm. ~Regardless of any demographic. But that's a dream that, ~you know, ~myself, you [00:27:30] toper and everyone else ~mm-hmm. ~Will continue to fight for. ~Mm-hmm. Um, ~but I fear for my children to be honest,~ um,~ to grow up in an environment where they see so much hate. ~Mm-hmm. Um, ~and we have these conversations all the time because kids are like, why would someone do that?
Just because they're Asian. ~Yeah.~ And that also shows a level of privilege that my children have. 'cause they've, they grow up in the Bay Area and they have a lot of Asian classmates. ~Mm-hmm. ~But for those that may be in more isolated environments where they're the only Asian American [00:28:00] child and people are making fun of them for their lunch ~mm-hmm.~
It could be ~very, ~very difficult. Even more difficult. ~Mm-hmm. ~Because I still think people say really mean things ~mm-hmm. ~To people even in the Bay Area. And there's been a lot of attacks here, but I really think that we need to be more kind to each other. ~Mm-hmm. ~It seems so simple, but people just say the nastiest things.
~Yeah.~ And it's harmful. ~Do, ~do
see that with,~ um,~ either ~you know, ~the classmates of your kids or even just in general or the patients that you see? Have you been hearing more about [00:28:30] this type of anti-Asian hate that's happening?
STEPHANIE: one classmate. For my youngest daughter, I made a little video about that of they said her jook looked weird and blue on it.
And it's not like Jook is weird here. Or, I would say let's delete weird. Let's say it's not uncommon. People eat jook here all the time. ~Mm-hmm. ~Versus ~like, ~if, again, if you're in a town with ~like ~no Asian people, it might be,~ uh,~ something different. ~Mm-hmm. ~And they just don't know about it. But there's [00:29:00] plenty of people that know about Jook curry, all those things.
So it's these little microaggressions that happen. I had one of my mentors I told you about that I was an addiction therapist had said, ~oh, you know, ~oriental people. ~Oh wow.~ And I turned to him and I was like, Dude, what the f did you just say? ~You know, ~we're that close? And he was like, what? ~You know, ~he was in his sixties, so that, that was like a very normalized word to him.
And so when I explained the historical pieces of it and the [00:29:30] racist undertones to it ~mm-hmm. ~He said, you should really present this to the team. And I did. Wow.~ Wow. Um, ~but we have to make those decisions about teaching moments and ~like mm-hmm. ~Is it going to be internalized or am I gonna have to have this fight or battle ~mm-hmm.~
Where people aren't going to be receptive to it.
JOHN: ~Right. ~So what I'm hearing is ~like ~set more boundaries. Definitely communicate them. making sure that we have ourselves and give ourselves the space that self-acceptance [00:30:00] and then educate. this is gonna be a big part of it. Yes. Are there any other trends that you're seeing right now, especially around, ~you know, ~you mentioned bullying or raising kids.
What other things should parents ~kind of ~watch out for? Especially parents who want to do everything right? ~Mm-hmm. You know, ~and, ~you know, ~be able to take care of their kids, host a podcast, and also go to the BTS concert.
STEPHANIE: ~Yeah.~ Priorities. I said hashtag priorities. ~I, ~I'm going to this concert ~hashtag, so, um, ~makes sense.
I exactly. I come back to my clinical training. ~Hmm. ~Really pay attention to your kids' mental health. Ask them [00:30:30] how their day is, ask them what their favorite part of their day is. Maybe what was something that wasn't so great. Just having conversations with your kids can have a whole world of difference.
The other thing is, I will say on air, I have a really hard time volunteering because it's not my thing, ~but. I,~ my mind changed when my coworker, who has older children than me said, I used to sign up for every volunteer opportunity, Uhhuh, because I get to observe the kids, I get to see who their [00:31:00] friends are, what they're talking about.
She made it sound like a spy, but,~ um, I really, ~I really have enjoyed those times. ~Yeah. And, and it's~ again, changed my perspective. ~Yeah. About like, ~I'm really learning about my kid in a very different way than if I just asked them how their day went or how the event went. ~Mm-hmm. ~Showing up for them is so important.
And I know as parents even, and especially single parents deserve ~like, ~medals, trophies, But try, just try even, and even if you can't really have conversations about how it went, [00:31:30] 'cause it could go a long way. But one of the big things I really wanna emphasize is, suicide is, A huge leading cause of death among the youth.
~Yeah. Um, ~adults, et cetera. ~Yeah.~ And you should not suffer in silence if you are feeling anxious, depressed, suicidal. ~Um, ~and we have to be very careful that we know what's going on with their kids. ~Mm-hmm. ~And emotions and mental health, because we want to really reduce the risk ~that ~that would be where they would go to.
[00:32:00] Or even not just suicide, just,~ um,~ self-harming behaviors. ~Yeah. ~
JOHN: ~Yeah. Um, so I remember, I think there was a, the recent, the,~ one of the more recent C CDCs,~ um,~ reports on leading causes of death found that actually for Asian Americans,~ um,~ I think it was 14 to 24, the leading cause of death was suicide. ~Mm-hmm.~
~And, and it was, ~this was different from all the other groupings. I remembered hearing that and ~I was, ~I was almost shocked. I had to go and look up the actual stats and read it, and it absolutely was true. And it was the second leading cause of death for those, I think age 24 [00:32:30] to ~30,~ I think 34. Don't quote me on that, but go look up the study.
We'll post it under the, in the show notes. ~Yeah. It, ~it was a shock. ~And I, yeah. Um, ~any advice, ~I mean, um, this, that's,~ that's gotta be a parent's worst nightmare ~to, ~to find out that their child was either self-harming or had even ideation.
STEPHANIE: Try to approach it with curiosity. Again, I think I keep coming back to that and really,~ um,~ look at your beliefs about mental healthcare.
~Mm-hmm. You know, ~someone had a cavity. You're not gonna be like, just bear with it. It hurts, but whatever. Suck up. ~Yeah. Yeah.~ You can have candy puffing up, [00:33:00] whatever. ~So, you know, I, ~I liken it to the medical field. ~Mm-hmm. ~Again, and finding and shopping around for a therapist that you feel approaches,~ uh,~ treatment in a culturally humble lens.
And there's a difference between ~com ~cultural competency and cultural humility. Cultural competency has really been emphasizes ~as, like,~ it almost feels like a checklist. Like you should know how to treat Asian Americans and how to treat Latinos or whatnot. But cultural humility is saying, I will never know about every single [00:33:30] culture, every single group, ~of course,~ every single person from various,~ um,~ sexual orientations, religiosity, but I'm going to be curious and treat the person as an expert in their own experience.
~Mm. And ~it's a mutually. beneficial learning experience for both therapist and the client sitting across from you.
JOHN: I love the sentence. It is such a big topic that has been coming up recently for me because so many people I do talk to is in that place where they're like,~ we're,~ we're [00:34:00] trying to understand Asian Americans, but dude,~ like,~ I don't understand.
We're such a huge
STEPHANIE: group of people. ~Yeah.~ There's so many differences and histories and
JOHN: ~Yeah, there, there's,~ I've never met somebody who I could really say is ~like, ~you can be a true expert. 'cause what even defines Asian American, as you said before, there's Indian and then there's, ~even India is a, is a, is~ a universe of cultures and backgrounds and experiences.
Languages, ugh. Languages, practices, beliefs, ~yeah. Man.~ So I think ~the, ~the way you put that, I love that, which is treat the person that you're talking to, is that [00:34:30] you're the expert. I don't need to be the expert, but let me have in the cultural humility and curiosity to understand that. Thank you for that. ~Um, ~in the book that you're working on, and I mean whatever you're comfortable sharing, but I'm so happy that we go talk about this, that you're working through.
Are there any kind of like frameworks that you're working through to help parents ~understand, ~understand this? Because ~let's be, ~let's be fair, let's be honest here. ~I mean, ~I know you're coming and you're saying that you're 20 seconds away from, but you got a lot that you've got down. ~So, you know, for parents who are kind of like, ~dude, if she is going through [00:35:00] messiness, I'm not sure I'm ~Yeah,~
STEPHANIE: that's a really great point.
~Yeah. Um, ~yes,~ I,~ I emphasize a lot of the things that we've talked about and ~yeah.~ Even the very messy times, how ~mm-hmm. ~I have mother's guilt, And passing up maybe some opportunities. I think you've seen a lot of people on social media going to that White House event. ~Mm-hmm. ~And,~ uh,~ my thought was like White House event or open house,~ uh,~ at the schools I chose open house.
~Wow. Just putting it on the record. Mm-hmm. ~Because I will never be able to go back in time [00:35:30] and see my kids' classrooms. ~Like ~Sure. You could zoom me and stuff like that. But ~like, ~like my mom or my husband can zoom me in, but ~like, ~they will remember that I went to their open house. ~Yeah. You know, w ~whereas I would be in a sea of people that I'm sure I'd make meaningful connections ~and I, ~and I have friends that went.
~Mm-hmm. Um, ~but again, goes back to values. ~Mm-hmm. ~What's the priority right now, ~so. Right. ~
JOHN: ~Wow. Good. F wow. That's, uh,~ that's huge. I love that. ~Um, ~Do you have a golden rule or golden rules that you oftentimes hold onto in your beliefs? Aside from some of the stuff you share, [00:36:00] like priorities, like focusing,
STEPHANIE: you can cut me looking to the right, because I wanna emphasize that ~I, ~I read Mark Randolph's book,~ um,~ that will never work about ~fi uh, ~founding Netflix.
~Um, and~ he talks about his golden rules and or ways of operating. ~So, uh, ~I think in addition to all the things that I said, I would say one, don't ask people to do things that you wouldn't do yourself. ~Mm-hmm. Okay.~ This is more from a managerial learning that I've come to, because a lot of [00:36:30] times people that work with supervisors and bosses that tell them to do things that you're like, person has no clue how to do this.
That's why they're asking me. And so really to build trust with people, you have to be able to show that you would take that responsibility on. It's just more ~like, ~I need help. I would say don't be afraid to tell people when you've made mistakes. Again, in a managerial position, the person with the most power [00:37:00] should be the most vulnerable first when you're having conversations about mistakes.
~Mm-hmm. ~Because then it gives people ~like the ~permission ~mm-hmm. Uh, ~to then talk about how they messed up and that,~ well,~ my boss is talking about it, why do I need to hide it? ~You know? Mm-hmm. Um, and, ~and that's why it's so important to me to talk about these stories ~and, and, ~and self-advocacy and things like that.
~Um, ~because. Being to be vulnerable is a key part of building relationships. I think the golden rule is people need people. You cannot do it [00:37:30] alone, no matter how much we are programmed to take on everything. And it doesn't have to be a partner that's part of your community. Start networking and building relationships with other parents.
~You know, ~it's those fireside chat, so to speak. ~Um, ~or ~you know, ~you're at an event and you're like, holy cow. ~Like, ~it was so hard to get here this morning. ~You know? ~Or ~like, ~this is ~like, ~I don't know how you shuttle people from practice to practice. ~Like, yeah. Um, ~trust me. ~Like, ~even though like you said, people are like, oh my [00:38:00] God, how can I do it if she doesn't?
When you really open yourself and talk to people about things, ~right. ~That will all disappear. ~Like, they won't, ~they won't look at you as ~like, ~Above them or anything. ~Mm-hmm. ~And ~so, um, ~I guess back to that, like you don't have to present this perfect looking life all the time on social media. ~Like Yeah.~
Really have boundaries for yourself about, social comparison and ~mm-hmm. ~Because it will always look more glamorous. I'm like, when people post all these things, I'm like, but what did it really take for you to get there? ~Oh yeah.~ And [00:38:30] even wake up to take that photo shoot, like you probably were up at 4:00 AM having bags under your eyes and ~like ~having to do all these ~like ~FaceTimes hundred
STEPHANIE: ~Um, and I, you know, ~one more thing is ~like, uh, ~really prioritize your mental health. ~Mm-hmm. ~And just as much as you value your physical health because they're so interrelated. ~Mm-hmm. ~And,~ um, you know, ~again, I liken it to the medical field. You wouldn't go up to an ob, g y n, just any OB G y n and start talking about your issues.
~Right. ~Same with therapists. Really find [00:39:00] someone that you feel comfortable with, and just because you go to one and don't feel comfortable doesn't mean that therapy or help is not for you. ~So, Hmm. ~
JOHN: ~Right. ~I love that. And that's such a key thing. ~Yeah. In, in my, ~in my personal experience, ~I've, you know, I, ~I love therapy.
I think, I feel like I talk about this ~like ~four times a week because I'm such a big believer in it. ~Um, ~and I think I went through ~like ~five different therapists before I found one that I was like, yes, ~this is, ~this is working and being okay with that. I think that's such ~a, a, ~a challenging thing for a lot of people and they don't realize that.
They think that therapy is one [00:39:30] thing and ~like ~one size fit all, so they don't work the first time they're gone. So ~yeah,~ go and explore that. ~Uh, I, ~I, this is my favorite question, which is what question do you wish people would ask you more often?
STEPHANIE: Are you 25? I'm kidding. ~Um, ~I, that was ~my, ~my joke answer when I was coming up ~and, ~and looking at the questions, but my real answer is how do I become a psychologist?
~Oh, yeah. And, uh, I, ~I really think that if more Asian Americans can come up to me and approach me and ask me that question, [00:40:00] that means they're slightly interested in it. And I have to tell people it's a viable career option. We need therapists of color more than ever right now. ~Oh yeah.~ And we need to see,~ um,~ us represented, and I say us collectively.
Again, I'm not gonna erase that everyone has ~in, you know, ~individual experiences, but we need to see faces that look like us, not only in media. I think that's so key and important, but also in our providers. There's a sense of trust that [00:40:30] happens with many when they see themselves reflected in their provider.
It's not to say therapist matches everything. However, if you can relate to your therapist, it may help with engagement and sticking with it ~and, ~and reduce early termination. ~Hmm. ~
~uh, well, I , ~I think one of the biggest challenges to the mental health industry is that many people think that AI can solve the major issue.
~And I, I know we're gonna,~ I don't wanna make your head explode 'cause there's so many things and controversy around that, and I'm [00:41:00] sure you could probably go back and forth for hours, but I wanna say that AI cannot. take over human interaction when you're in a therapy situation.
JOHN: Absolutely. Oh my gosh, ~I, uh, I, ~I think I had a conversation with a friend about this and it's a funny thing.
I think that because they're hearing or reading about stories of ~like, ~oh, there's somebody who was in a relationship and she had nobody to talk to, so then she went to AI and ~like ~had someone to
STEPHANIE: talk to people. I, it's not funny, but I think ~yeah,~ like [00:41:30] people are extrapolating this to,
JOHN: ~but of course, I mean, I I that,~ I remember when I was hearing about that, I was like, this is ridiculous.
How can you replace seeing ~that, that ~the understanding tonality, subtlety, context,~ the,~ the tiny little things 'cause a single pause after a question and what that pause could mean. What that breadth of knowing of ~like ~could represent, none of that can be conveyed, but ~yeah,~ absolutely. ~Um, We're, ~we're living in a strange transitional time right now.
Yes. Where AI is everywhere. So ~I, ~I definitely [00:42:00] think that's something we gotta start talking more about
I love that. Final question, are you 25?
STEPHANIE: See, this is why you're good at ~your, ~your situation here. ~Um, ~no. It's Korean skincare.
~That's my, ~
JOHN: ~uh, yeah.~ Seriously, people,~ uh,~ if you're listening to this on audio,~ uh,~ check it ~out on, on, ~on YouTube because. Man, that is an absolutely relevant question. ~Uh, ~
~. Um, listeners, uh,~ for listeners who wanna find out more about you ~or, ~or work with you, what's the best way to do
STEPHANIE: that? ~Well, ~the podcast is color of success podcast.com. You can find all of our socials, all of the episodes there.
There's tons of content [00:42:30] there. ~Um, ~which includes our YouTube channel and dr. Stephanie J. Wong dot com is the private practice. But,~ um,~ I am full for, and I have been for a little bit, but I do have great. Resources, referrals. I have some friends that have just opened up their private practice that are fantastic.
I would send my family members there if I, ~you know, ~needed. So the, that's ~my, ~my list is, and my metric of like, when people ask, would I really send a loved one over [00:43:00] to that person, so I don't just give ~like, ~random recommendations because ~like, ~my practice is full. So please,~ like,~ feel free to reach out to me and if you want, you know that, to ask me that question about, ~you know, ~what is it, what do you have to do to become a psychologist?
I'd be more than happy to answer that question.
JOHN: Amazing. ~For, ~for newbie listeners,~ uh,~ do you have an episode that you're like, go, if there's a one episode you want to ~kind of ~start with or just go and Google, is there one episode you usually recommend?
STEPHANIE: Wow. ~Well, it's hard one if, ~[00:43:30] if you're looking clinically since we talked about ~the, um,~ The risk of suicide.
~Right. ~There is a suicide prevention and assessment with Dr. Tate Zo. ~Hmm. ~And,~ uh,~ that I think it's in season three or whatnot. ~Um, ~and a very interesting one for folks is,~ um,~ a episode on needle phobia. Oh, wow. And it's very interesting because a lot of people think that people are not getting vaccinated because they're anti-vaxxers.
~Well, that, that is, you know, ~that's some people. ~Um, ~but there are a [00:44:00] lot of people that are afraid of needles. And so this protocol of ~like ~being able to have exposure therapy to help people,~ um,~ combat this so that they can get the needed care and immunizations was just such a really interesting topic.
And then if you're really into ~like, ~entertainment and kind of wanna a fan person, there's, ~you know, ~partner track cast,~ um,~ Margaret Cho, ~you know, ~all those. ~I, I, yeah.~ I joked with my mom,~ like,~ and Margaret that like, oh, I think my mom's finally proud of me because I'm interviewing you. [00:44:30] My mom's proud of me.
My mom had such a cool relationship, but I, it was like just one of those situations where you Oh, she's old school.
JOHN: ~Yeah,~ exactly. ~Yeah. Yeah.~ Amazing. Thank you so much once again,~ uh,~ for being on the show. ~Uh, ~Dr. Stephanie Wong. ~Uh, ~go check out her show and we'll make sure to have all those links in our show notes there.
And once again, thank you so much for your time. Thank you.