Speaker A [00:00:00]:
Mental wealth in our community is so stigmatized. We really started getting a lot of inquiries from Asian and Asian Americans talking about all the violence that they were witnessing on TV. And so then I think living with mental health for so long, but having that awareness that this This is something that is actually being reflected on a day to day basis. We believe that we're part of this movement right now where Asian mental health is becoming talked about and becoming more aware. This is the movement that we're part
Speaker B [00:00:33]:
You're listening to the big Asian energy show where every week we interview Asian experts, move makers, and ceiling breakers to uncover their secrets of success so we can help you reach your greatest potential. I'm your host, John Wang. Let's dive in. Welcome back to Big Asian Energy. Today, we have with us coauthors Soo Jin Lee and Linda Yoon, who are licensed therapists who Witness firsthand how mental health issues often went unaddressed in immigrant communities and in particular scenes, Asian and Asian American communities. Linda and Soo Jin are the co directors of the Yoater Collective who provide therapy to clients of a diverse background but with an Emphasis on serving the Asian American community. They also have a book coming out, which I'm so excited to talk about because I read it and, no joke, it brought tears to my eyes several times. The book coming out is called Where I Belong.
Speaker B [00:01:35]:
So first and foremost, I just wanna say thank you, and welcome to the show.
Speaker A [00:01:38]:
Thank you for having us. Thank you for having us.
Speaker B [00:01:42]:
And thank you for putting up with all the messiness today. Okay. So let's dive in. How would you describe yourselves and what you guys do, and Why should somebody listen to this episode today?
Speaker A [00:01:53]:
Yeah. So, again, my name is Soojin Lee. I would describe myself as a 1.5 Korean American. It's very particular. Right? We talk about this in our book. And we are co directors of Yellow Tree Collective as you introduce ourselves. Mental volta in our community is so stigmatized. And in the midst of COVID, we really started getting a lot of inquiries from Asian and Asian Americans talking about all the violence that they were witnessing on TV.
Speaker A [00:02:26]:
And so then I think living with mental health for so long, but having that awareness that, okay, this is something that is actually being reflected on a day to day basis. I cannot keep this to myself anymore. And so we believe that we're part of this movement right now where Asian mental health is becoming talked about and becoming more aware. This is the movement that we're part of.
Speaker B [00:02:48]:
Amazing. And, Linda, is there anything you wanna add to that?
Speaker C [00:02:51]:
I am Linda. Linda, you know, I use he, they, pronouns. I am the, founder and co director at Yellowchair Collective along with Soojin. Started in 2018, but We weren't sure we could focus on Asian American mental health. Although, Susan, my background always has been Asian mental health, We met a nonprofit that served Asian immigrants, refugees, or lower income, and that's where we met. And that's always In our passion to serve. But when we are going to private practice because of the stigma in Asian mega community, we've been told that it Probably be hard to have a practice focus on Asian American mental health because Asian Americans do not seek for mental health services. But that really has changed in 2020.
Speaker C [00:03:38]:
We had really increase of Asian Asian Americans seeking for Mental services for the 1st time, lot of inquiries said that they never thought about therapy, but they're really, you know, seeing the need. Not only The pandemic, anti Asian hate crimes that were coming out in 2020 to on, but also what they're witnessing was also bringing up a lot of Thomas, they might not have worked on. We thought about process because we are witnessing more of what What's happening in the world that brought up a lot of those internally. And that really made us to crow and be in the movement of Asian mental health.
Speaker B [00:04:20]:
This is a very personal topic to me because I love the discussion of mental health. I think you guys are absolutely right. Vastly underserved. A lot of people I feel like are going through struggles that I feel they think only they're really going through. And we have social media now where people are turning more to social media, where they're going, oh my gosh. Like, I'm not the only person who's going through this, and there's so many Great leaders out there who are talking about this. But I'm I have gotten so many friends who have asked me, hey. Where do I find a therapist? Especially working with somebody who understands Asian Americans.
Speaker B [00:04:52]:
And I know you guys have a collective, but this is a really hard thing to do. It's not Cheap to hire therapists sometimes for a lot of people. And sorry. I probably should find a better languaging around that, but it can be daunting to invest in somebody that you don't know is a good Fit. Do you guys have any suggestions? I mean, there's so many modalities and terms out there. It could be very confusing and intimidating.
Speaker C [00:05:14]:
Yeah. There's Directories now that are available that didn't exist just few years ago. Asians for mental health. That's a directory for therapists, both US and Canada, I believe. And there's also Asian mental health collective. They also have a directory. I believe they have at least 1 therapist in each state, and also Canada. That would be really good resources.
Speaker C [00:05:36]:
Speaker A [00:05:36]:
of the things when you're looking for a therapist, maybe even do an exercise of writing this down is, number 1, are you looking for online services or in person service? Because then that narrows it down to location because it'll be really Important if you're looking for an in person service that it's within your neighborhood, that you can commute to it so that that narrows it down naturally. If you're looking for online service, that widens the your choices. And then number 2 is what is your financial means? Like, what can I actually invest into financially, like, on a monthly basis perhaps or on a weekly basis if you're planning on seeing weekly or biweekly? Like those logistical things might be really important to figure out. And if I am having a hard time affording out of my own pocket, then the avenue that you will be looking into is going to be through your insurance. So that if I'm looking through my insurance and looking through these directories, 3, is there a check off box? Most of them do or most of them the therapist will note that they take certain insurance, but those information I'll be looking for. And then the third thing after that I would be looking for is what is my struggle? So kinda like general Care as well. If I am having stomach issues, I wanna go see a specialist for that. And so you can think of therapists as, like, these specialists as well or as a generalist.
Speaker A [00:07:01]:
And so am I looking for a specialist, or am I looking for a generalist? And so I wanna maybe write down, like, of the things that I really wanna work on and struggle with. If I'm not finding that in the directory or if I'm reading through the profiles, I don't know if this might be a good fit, then it's totally okay to just give them a call or to email to ask. Like, this is what I really wanna work on, or this is what I'm struggling with. Can you help me with this?
Speaker B [00:07:29]:
Perfect. That's super helpful. Thank you so much for that. That's exactly what I was trying to find out. But I'm really curious for you guys. At what point did you guys decide, let me focus on Asian Americans and why?
Speaker C [00:07:41]:
So we always want to focus on Asian Americans. Suji and I met at nonprofit that serve Asian American population, particularly immigrants and refugees. And when we moved to A more private practice that was hard. Many Asians had to stick them out around mental health, therapy, Or even didn't wanna invest in something they felt like they could talk to their friends or family or something that is shameful to talk about. With pandemic that really has changed, that was just the worldwide mental health crisis. Right?
Speaker B [00:08:17]:
I feel like everyone did. I think can we just take a moment and just accept that that's okay? Because I feel like even that to acknowledge that professionals And people who are seen as, you know, successful, we all go through it. It's a very normalized practice, more moralized experience.
Speaker C [00:08:33]:
And a lot of therapists also went through hard time too. Therapists will have support groups that we're just talking about how we're all also going through it and how we wanna support our clients.
Speaker A [00:08:43]:
So you asked about like what made us decide to work with Asian and Asian Americans.
Speaker B [00:08:49]:
Speaker A [00:08:49]:
And I think there was not a Pivotal moment that decided that for us. Like, we needed to serve ourselves. There was no space for us. So there was no modality or theoretical model when we were learning how to do therapeutic work. That really worked and Spoke to with the way that I was relating to my own parents. If there was no way that my parents would be able to be in therapy and understand what was going on and Actually, find healing from that experience. Like, my parents are suffering. My neighbors are suffering.
Speaker A [00:09:23]:
My relatives are suffering, and there's absolutely no therapeutic space for them. So, of course, we, as professionals, are gonna be the ones that are gonna be serving them. Right?
Speaker B [00:09:31]:
Mhmm. I love this point that you made, and I'll love to dive a little bit deeper on that. I remember I was watching the Netflix show, Beef. I don't know if you guys have seen it or heard of it, but oh my god. So good. I know that there is some controversy, but neglecting that that show was very powerful for me because I felt like there's a hidden love song to therapy Hidden away in there. And I think one of the main quotes in it was and I don't wanna misquote this, So I'm gonna try to to just make it up here. But I think it was on the lines of Western therapy doesn't work on Eastern minds.
Speaker A [00:10:06]:
Speaker B [00:10:06]:
And I felt like what you just talked about in there, which is that all the modalities out there, all the various books that are out there, they generally come from white faces. You know, I think about my favorite therapists I follow or my favorite thought leaders are white. It is true that we interact with mental health topics differently?
Speaker A [00:10:24]:
Certainly. In the western model where psychology derives from anyways. Right? The whole concept of psychology is a western model to begin with. And therapeutic models are arriving from that concept of psychology. Right? It's already deriving place comes from a separation of the mind and what's inside of our brains and our thoughts from everything else that's happening, like our spirits and our body, specifically. Even the starting place of psychology Mhmm. It's completely different from the way that our eastern medicine has Always been, which is holistic. Right? We went to shamans.
Speaker A [00:11:06]:
We went to, you know, Eastern medicine practitioners for a longest time throughout history for everything. And not to say that they know everything. They were the professionals of it all, and of course, science has developed since. But the whole idea of medicine, I think, derives from separations of the pain from everything else. That is our whole identity, whereas the eastern medicine really tries to observe the fact that we are a holistic being and that everything is connected together, that we are all connected together.
Speaker B [00:11:39]:
And when I share the word holistic, I interpret that to mean that it's the physicality. Right? Because when I think psychology and psychiatry, I think, like, there's the brain, and then there's this other thing of the body, And then there's this other thing of the mind, which is what I'm assuming you're referring to. So the holistic idea is that they're all interconnected. So my mom, who Loves talking about how I need to put on more jackets and drink more soup, might actually be talking about it from the perspective that that is Her way of looking at mental health.
Speaker A [00:12:09]:
Right. Exactly. And when we worked with older generation of immigrants, that's what we realized is when they were coming to see us for mental health issues. What they would start by talking about is like this guts, pain that just won't go away. Right? Or even like very tangible physical pain. Like, I've been having this ache in my head, like, lingering ache for a long time, and I know something is not right.
Speaker B [00:12:34]:
Oh my gosh. For several years, I had ulcers, and I went and I did my own, like, mental health record. It was like, I started working with a therapist, and that, like, Cured it? That was my moment of recognition. So you're saying is that that wasn't just in my head, that that wasn't a coincidence that I had made up, but there's a very strong connection there.
Speaker A [00:12:53]:
Right. Exactly. Our minds and bodies are always connected. And for me, I talk about this in the book too of my own story. I'd struggled with migraines for a really long time, and my mom has struggled with migraines all her life. And so I always thought that that was just genetics. And it partially part of our physical things, of course, is genetics. But really, when I began therapy, I recognized that it had to do with a lot of underlying pain and internal emotional issues that we were just shoving down our guts and into our bodies and letting it just sit there and brew there, and it would just come out into the sensations of, like, Migraines that were really I couldn't get out of bed or I couldn't really make it to work on time or I would cancel things last minute because of this migraine that I would have.
Speaker B [00:13:46]:
Are these the most common symptoms that you have heard from your clients and your patients? Is is migraines that I heard Stomach experiences or any others that you see come up quite often?
Speaker C [00:13:55]:
Pain can be anywhere in the body. I think I heard it all, like Back pain, head pain, shoulder pain, wrist pain. Right? But particularly one that stands out, something that I also had Was painting spells something that when they feel a little stressed, overwhelmed, they had this unexplainable painting spells. And doctors don't know why everything looks fine. And then we really look into depth into, like, what's going on. And it has been more of the Stress and trauma that hasn't built up, your body tried to protect you from having more stress on your body. So in that, entire body make you lose your conscience. A lot of times, like, oh, you're experiencing anxiety.
Speaker C [00:14:36]:
They're like, no. No. No. I'm not experiencing anxiety.
Speaker B [00:14:38]:
Wow. So, like, they don't even know how to identify those words. Like, I know that there's there are words that carry a lot of stigma like anxiety, depression. I feel like we have this, like, reservation of Claiming words like that, but even emotions like sadness, I feel like we kind of reject. We're like, oh, I'm not sad. No. I'm just going through things or just there's a dismissiveness around any emotional words.
Speaker A [00:15:01]:
Right. In our culture, we grew up being told and learned that There's negative emotions, and there's positive emotions. Right?
Speaker B [00:15:09]:
Speaker A [00:15:09]:
There's joy, and there's sadness. And sadness is that negative emotion.
Speaker B [00:15:14]:
Speaker A [00:15:14]:
Depression, oh, heavily negative emotion, but nobody's gonna describe themselves. Like, if you're really not getting out of bed and having a hard time. I don't see a lot of Asian and Asian Americans being able to say, and I was feeling really depressed yesterday.
Speaker C [00:15:30]:
There's a favorite story I like to tell people. When I went to outreach event for senior housing, it's it was all Korean. You know, there was About 100 Korean seniors, and then I'm doing a presentation on depression. So I asked anybody knew about depression, like, what that was. And I remember these 2 confident ladies that they raise their hand really fast and they say out loud that, oh, it's crazy people.
Speaker B [00:15:56]:
That is such a common thing. Oh, they're just crazy. They're broken. And it's this idea that they're, like, born crazy. Like, if you're going through a tough time, you kill yourself, oh, that's just because he's born crazy. His genetics is broken. Especially, I think, older Asian people in particular. The that stigma is really heavy.
Speaker B [00:16:14]:
You know, I just think about this. Like, how do you introduce that to them then? Do you introduce the idea of what mental health is and that it's not that big of a deal to experience, quote, unquote, negative emotion because there's no such thing? How do you help them understand that? And then how do you help them?
Speaker C [00:16:31]:
We see this a lot with older generation. Like, I feel like younger generation, of course, are more open, more open to talking about therapy, emotions. But older generation, especially first gen immigrants, like, That was that's really hard. Even when they come to therapy, a lot of times reluctantly or it wasn't their choice, is that family member, like, made them come or even they come they come as a last resort. And they're so careful what they can say, what they wanna say. So for us, the 1st step always has been validating, you know, acknowledging and validating their emotions that chance that they feel and that is normal and that is okay.
Speaker B [00:17:11]:
What do some of that validations be?
Speaker C [00:17:13]:
Just acknowledging that that's how they feel and validating, normalizing that a lot of people do feel this way. And then once we feel like we are heard, We start to feel safe, and we start to be able okay. I don't have to put a defense to connect with another person in front of me. Right? So That's the beauty of therapeutic process, feeling validated, seen, and knowing that you're not alone, and you can choose a person
Speaker A [00:17:38]:
who gonna be taking this journey with you. Oftentimes, we get the next generation, the 2nd generation or the children of immigrants, like adult children of immigrants that are calling on behalf of their parents. Right? Like, my mom really needs therapy. Like, yeah. Yeah. We all do.
Speaker B [00:17:56]:
Speaker A [00:17:56]:
And so we get adult immigrants in the door first. Right? They acknowledge that there is mental Both issue that is happening in the family and that they feel it too. And so we get in them in the door first and talk about how those conversations can occur.
Speaker B [00:18:10]:
Speaker A [00:18:10]:
And for me, often, I might also give them the tool of saying instead of pointing out what they are feeling or they might be feeling. We talk about how we are feeling. Right? It provides them with a model to talk about it too and be okay with that right? Like, mom, I'm feeling pretty depressed today.
Speaker B [00:18:30]:
Speaker A [00:18:30]:
And that looks like and that means, like, I really had a hard time getting out of bed, or I was feeling really sad that this had happened. Maybe it's a family grief that they're dealing with. Right? But for me to be able to express that, I'm feeling sad. It's just for us to provide them with the language and know that this language can exist in our space together.
Speaker B [00:18:56]:
Wow. That's beautiful. So this is super helpful for anyone who I imagine wants to get their parents into therapy. Older Asian parents who might be like, I'm not a crazy person. I don't need therapy. I love that. So starting with modeling our own experiences and talking over with them, Is there anything that you have noticed has helped aside from doing that?
Speaker A [00:19:16]:
I always also let people know that the goal isn't to get them into therapy though. Sometimes the model of healing as we talked about way in the beginning looks really different for them. And talk therapy, especially because a lot of talk therapy is happening in an online space. That really does not land for my own dad. Like, they barely will get on a call with Me. How am I gonna expect them to sit in front of a computer and talk to this human face that's over a computer Great. With how we think about therapy, I think that needs to change. And the way that we Think about healing and what mental health healing looks like.
Speaker A [00:19:59]:
I think that conversation really has to change. And so I tell them, what do they enjoy either in the past or in the present. And oftentimes, when we say, what are they enjoying now? That's a really hard conversation to it's a really hard answer to have, but what did they enjoy in the past? And there's something. It's is there music or, you know, my mom used to be a dancer. Or, you know, before we came for immigrants, right, before we came, she used to cuck a lot and she couldn't because she had to raise us. Whatever the story. There is a lostness of part of their identity that had been lost through along the way of becoming parents or becoming an immigrant or whatever. And so I think we try to find a part of that identity that's the loss, and we try to regain an experience of that or a version of that.
Speaker A [00:20:48]:
We already understand that that's never gonna come back exactly the same way, but it can look And one of the question that I've asked somebody because they really could not think of anything, I had said, well, do your parents like to play mahjong? He's like, yeah. They do that all the time. Well, that's a healing space that we can create then. Like, right there, we start from there.
Speaker B [00:21:06]:
So what I'm hearing is If we're seeing our older parents who are maybe struggling with, let's say, what looks to be sadness or possibly even depression, One way we could start introducing that is just by introducing support for them is really just is it inviting them to go and do more of the things that they enjoy and Modeling that conversation and just having that acceptance?
Speaker A [00:21:28]:
Speaker B [00:21:29]:
So we talked about mom and dad, which is great. Let's talk about us for a second. Especially as, the 1st generation, I think that's the right term, or people who are 2nd generation, 3rd generation Asian American or Asian Americans in general. Do you notice that the way we process or experience mental health is different from non Asian American clients?
Speaker A [00:21:51]:
Yeah. But the reason why we started talking about our parents is because we grow up with that. So, what kind of message are we receiving growing up that Mental health can't be talked about. There's a lot of stigma. This is for crazy people. So then how we process our own emotions, there's negative emotion that we're not supposed to express to anyone else. So if we are taught to grow up with that, then what are our internalized values around mental health, around the emotions, around the way that relate to people, around the way we believe. Well, oftentimes, I feel like for a lot of Asian and Asian Americans, We are very fear driven people.
Speaker A [00:22:29]:
Oh. We are very by motivated by fear.
Speaker B [00:22:32]:
Interesting. Tell me more.
Speaker A [00:22:34]:
Yeah. I don't know if you grew up with punishments, but punishments was part of my life. Yeah.
Speaker B [00:22:39]:
Is that still fairly common? Do you still hear about that From a lot of your clients. It got so common for a while that it became almost a stereotype. And I'm quite curious these days, are you still hearing about it? Is this still normalized?
Speaker A [00:22:49]:
That's definitely not allowed. Right? The next generation, the younger generation, we think very less of that. That's, like, legally
Speaker C [00:22:57]:
at this point. Legally. And I feel like many Asian Americans growing up here, you know, they make the choice, conscious choice not to pass that on. Also, there's a little label in vocation in the US. And then the nurse also have been changing in Asia too. Like, I in Korea, Still need some work. The laws are a lot more strengthened. There's department dedicated to report those, which wasn't really existing when we were growing up there, when we were younger.
Speaker B [00:23:25]:
So when you're referring to punishment, it's not just physical punishment. It's like scolding?
Speaker A [00:23:30]:
Yeah. The way that we were brought up, I mean, there was definitely some physical punishment too. But there's a lot of sense of shame when it comes to punishment. And shame is Really different and we talk about this in the book as well. Shame and guilt is really different because guilt is The way that we are saying that what you did, your actions, you broke a vase. So what you did was wrong. Shame, on the other hand, is your being is wrong. So then internalize those messages.
Speaker A [00:24:03]:
Because I'm thinking about, like, a great example is, like, when something was wrong, when a child does something wrong, I remember the first thing that my dad would say, what's wrong with you? It's What's wrong with me? Not what I did was wrong. You see? So that we continuously hear these subtle messages saying that something is wrong with me. So we're very fear driven in a way that something's wrong with you. I gotta correct it.
Speaker C [00:24:27]:
I gotta do something right. I gotta make it up somehow. Just to add to that, like, common parents say for Asians, especially East Asians, like, why can't you be more like Your cousin. Right? Why can't you be more like my friend's son? So there's comparison that, like, why can't you be more, like, not action oriented, but, like, you as a being.
Speaker B [00:24:48]:
And this is still common that you're seeing?
Speaker C [00:24:50]:
We still see that. I mean, it has decreased. I think the parent education Chen definitely has more access to it, and there's more outreach and people are more aware. But, yes, we still see them.
Speaker B [00:25:01]:
I grew up definitely being compared, and I I know a lot of My friends did where it's like, look at your cousin. You know, you just got into Stanford, and you're like, okay. How does that impact us in a more realistic way in our adulthood?
Speaker A [00:25:11]:
So what we commonly see as a symptom of growing up with all of these internalized messages is our oath as a big being and the way that we see ourselves tends to be on a low scale. And so we say we have low self esteem. Right? And one of the things that we also talk about is having self compassion. But we really don't know as Asian and Asian Americans how to have self compassion. Compassion doesn't seem to exist a lot in our spaces. I think we are really good at being able to say I empathize with somebody. I have a lot of pain that is experiencing somebody else's pain, and I can go through that. But when it comes to our own, the acknowledging of that pain Is it really there? We dismissed it.
Speaker A [00:25:58]:
And that's because we have been dismissed all of our lives that we continue to dismiss that internally for ourselves too.
Speaker B [00:26:05]:
Right. So how do we learn to cultivate that self compassion? Because I've noticed, like, growing up, even after I started doing the inner work, a lot of times you hear things like, oh, love yourself. Love yourself. And I got a little tired of hearing that because I'm just like, I love me. I love me. And I'm like, I'm I'm self caring. I'm doing all the things. I'm, like, drinking my latte.
Speaker B [00:26:24]:
I'm trying, but I don't know if I'm doing it correctly. And, actually, I feel like I'm not even sure what self compassion is supposed to look like.
Speaker C [00:26:33]:
Yeah. That's a common question we get because self compassion has been such a core Guillaume in a lot of our support community groups that we run as well. And one thing I wanna point out is self love is not self compassion. I mean, I think self love is very important topic as well. But self compassion can still exist without self love. This tip simplifies this level, full, like, self hatred and self love on the other side. I'll say self compassion in the middle in some ways that you're just accepting who you are, all your Thoughts. Even it's negative, but it's okay.
Speaker C [00:27:03]:
Like, oh, I feel less than and that's okay. It's kinda having compassion, validating So letting all the emotions and thought to know that they are okay. There's no bad or good thoughts, Good emotions. It is just it is. And that's just experience of being a human being. So just kinda acknowledging your humanity is the where it will be a self compassion process.
Speaker B [00:27:27]:
So starting with just accepting that whatever I'm experiencing, it's like, oh, hello, judgment, And just accepting that it's there without trying to make it wrong.
Speaker C [00:27:35]:
Yeah. And it's a human experience. And as I referenced earlier, when you You feel like you're feeling heard and you're seen. Those emotions, sometimes they subside because they are heard. They don't have to hide anymore. And they don't have to try to push to be out anymore because it is heard and seen.
Speaker B [00:27:52]:
When when you said that those emotions don't have to try to be heard anymore, it sounds a little bit like parts work. Is that the kind of direction that we're heading to?
Speaker C [00:27:59]:
Yes. Parts of work is definitely a part of big self compassion work because Mhmm. 2 of you definitely having part that has a judgment, Part that feels not good enough, a part feels confident. There's gotta be different parts that we need to be able to embrace each Emotion, each part, self compassion for us to really heal and bring us to wholeness.
Speaker B [00:28:20]:
So what tools do you give clients Who are going through because the opposite I why I think of is the self compassion or self love. It's the inner critic. Right? It's the self judgment, the self hatred. What tools do you usually give clients who are going through that so that they have better vocabulary?
Speaker C [00:28:35]:
Well, I love approaching self critic with self compassion.
Speaker B [00:28:39]:
So What does it look like in practice? Like, what's the 5 steps here?
Speaker C [00:28:43]:
One way to start is to know, like, hey. Like, let's try to recognize where is this self critic really coming from. Because we do not believe that voice was born with us. We learned somewhere. We heard somewhere. And we internalized it. We made it our own a lot of times. And that's okay.
Speaker C [00:29:00]:
Like, that's also being part of human being. Right? Reflecting on your experiences, your background. Like, You internalize self critic for a reason, to survive, to succeed, whatever the reason is. And then we can start extending self compassion to the self critic. Like, you had to be here to protect me. You had to be here so I can survive, go through this. So kind of really extending that understanding and self compassion or your self critic and letting us know that you hear them. Doesn't have to work so hard to push you all the time and see if you're able to have that conversation without judgment, which is a hard ask for a lot of people.
Speaker C [00:29:42]:
And it is hard. So compassionate work, it's not a easy work, but it gets easier as we practice more.
Speaker B [00:29:47]:
So it's literally imagining a conversation we're Having with that feeling and going Yeah. Hi. Let's chat, which sounds kinda awkward at the moment, but it can actually talk back.
Speaker A [00:29:59]:
Exactly. Yeah. So one of the things that I I love introducing is this concept of roundtable. And what a roundtable is is inviting all of the different parts of us that have just been activated right now. And so the critical part of me and then the bold part of me and then the shy part of me, like, whatever part of me that I know exists inside of I mean, right now in this moment, I'm inviting you to this roundtable. You all come. And we're each gonna take turn kinda talking to each other about why I'm here in this space. I've been activated for a reason.
Speaker A [00:30:32]:
The shy part of me is being activated right now in this very moment as we're talking because that inner child in me is saying, well, I don't think that a woman should be and speak up because that is something a learned belief that I grew up with. So that I'm just gonna allow that to exist as well right now in this space. That there is that large belief that is still in me that needed attending to. And then there's Well, the confidence inside of me and say, no. I don't have to be here. I don't know. It's hard.
Speaker B [00:31:06]:
Tap a little bit of the anger a little bit.
Speaker A [00:31:08]:
Even the way that I'm talking about, like, this is all internally in me. So even the way that I talk switches, there's different tones that come out And just gonna allow all of them to come together in this table, and we're gonna talk. And that's a starting place of building that self Compassion is saying, we all exist and we are gonna have a chair in us.
Speaker B [00:31:28]:
I love that. It's the allowance of each part instead of shaming or judging Any of those individual pieces and being like, oh, I'm feeling anger. I can't I shouldn't be angry right now. Just like pushing it down. We kinda acknowledge and be like, okay. Well, you're here, And you're here because there's a reason why you think you need to be here. So let's Great. Chat why are you here? This is very advanced work.
Speaker B [00:31:48]:
This is very powerful.
Speaker A [00:31:49]:
It is. So let me just say this is the later part of our chapter of the book. In the book, we take you through the journey of getting to this place of being able to have these conversations within yourself.
Speaker B [00:32:01]:
Yeah. So I wanna talk about this book because I'm quite excited about it. It's the book is about Belonging, which I thought was really interesting because it's a mental health book. Why is it called Where I Belong?
Speaker A [00:32:11]:
They think we're all suffering in isolation. If I can just wrap it up in 1 sentence, I would say for what I've noticed as I've spoken with so many people in the mental health world. We all feel like we're suffering alone. We suffer in isolation. And we feel like our story, our suffering, our pains, whatever it is, it doesn't belong anywhere.
Speaker B [00:32:36]:
Can you elaborate a little bit on that? Do you mean we're suffering in isolation?
Speaker A [00:32:40]:
This roundtable that I've introduced, before going through this journey of healing also, For many people, they tell me this, that it still feels like it's still inside of my head. It feels like I'm being this alone. I'm doing this work alone that I'm talking to my So literally. Right? And so then I lose the sense of belonging in an actual physical connection. We started it off as not a book format really. We didn't intend on this becoming a book, But we started off as a community group space. And it was a curriculum from week to week for 6 weeks. Initially, 6 weeks of what we were going to talk about as Asian and Asian Americans that were dealing with these pain points of our lives.
Speaker A [00:33:29]:
Like what it meant to witness so much violence on TV that were against people that look like me and how to process that was part of this curriculum. And what we realized is the 1 on 1 talking points that we were having weren't enough. Like, it had to be this group effort where I'm sharing your voice and your story and you're listening and hearing my voice and others somebody else's voice. And to be able to all collectively say, yes. I understand. Yes. I hear you. That had to be part of the healing.
Speaker B [00:34:07]:
Right. It's a recognition instead of the rejection. It's loud noises and that others share my experiences.
Speaker A [00:34:13]:
Right. The uniqueness of our book is that there are actual personal stories. As a reader, you don't even have to read through the psychoeducational portion. Like, if that feels too heavy, You can just read even just go through people's stories and read those because that's how you feel connected. That you acknowledge your own story amongst as part of this bigger collective of story.
Speaker B [00:34:40]:
One thing I really loved about What I was going through was exactly that. It's just that I could see myself in the experiences of others and from different cultures, from a background, different nationalities, but I'm like, Yeah. I've I've also felt that. I've also experienced that. It was like looking in a mirror almost of seeing yourself and your experiences through that. Thank you. Linda, you had another point. I wanna hear that.
Speaker C [00:35:00]:
No worries. As Asian Americans, we grow up hearing from mainstream media or community, especially if you live in a community that is not predominantly Asian or diverse is that you don't belong. Oh, then job when we are growing up, where are you from? Or Uh-huh. Oh, you speak really good English. When I moved to Texas, I grew up in California. So I was more diverse here, but when I moved to Texas, which I became city that was smaller, I was very Minority. And I will be asked all the time, where are you from? What's your name? And then I'll I'll say, Linda, because I have English name. They were like, no.
Speaker C [00:35:39]:
What is your real name? What is your Chinese name? Like, this little micro requestion saying that you don't belong here. So we want to Capture that in some ways by our title, Where I Belong, because the book is for Asian American experience. And, hey, we belong here. We can reclaim
Speaker B [00:35:57]:
So where I belong is it's kinda saying is that it's within this book that we find belonging. I love that. So this book, as as Sushin said, As it began as a curriculum, what was the intention? Like, when somebody reads this book, by the end of it, what's the transformation that they're looking to get?
Speaker A [00:36:14]:
So we go through this journey of recognizing and understanding intergenerational trauma. Kind of the core key element of this book that we're taking you through, an element that we thought we needed to write about because that became kind of a core conversations that we were having when we had this curriculum for the community groups. We all share in this intergenerational as Asian and Asian Americans, we all have history of war and displacement that we've gone through. And that brings us to this place in time right now. And what does that mean? And we start off
Speaker B [00:36:53]:
I was just about to ask because I feel like The term, like, it's becoming more and more known, but there's so many different layers to that. Can you explain what you mean by intergenerational trauma?
Speaker A [00:37:04]:
Yeah. So if I can just do it in, like, 1 to 2 sentence, it's trauma that hasn't passed on through generations. For sure. Like I said, we start off with the historical elements of war and displacement, and that might be directly like our parents have. We experienced this a lot with, like, the 2nd generation and immigrants, like, they were refugees or I was a refugee. Right? I was in Thailand. I was in Canada before I ended up here or however that displacement took place. And through those placements and through these generations of different elements of what we had to survive through.
Speaker A [00:37:40]:
There's great resources that we have gathered internally alongside strengths. We've also gathered a lot of trauma, And those trauma really lives with us the way that we internalize our values, right, about some of our struggles. All of it is really just Depression, we've, like, lived through generations of depression that's been down or just anxiety. But it can also be the way that we relate to the world. Like we talked about kind of like fear driven. So this is the journey that we're taking. So we understand where is it coming from, like, why are we behaving the way that we are with each other, and how do we exist in this space, carrying this trauma? How do we heal from it is part of this book.
Speaker B [00:38:26]:
And what I'm understanding is that when we talk about intergenerational trauma, there's different layers. There's, like, the epigenetic layer, which is the actual trauma that gets passed on physically. And then there's the conditioning and the hot trauma, Kind of like what you talk about, the fear based. So that's also a part of the intergenerational trauma that we see that might get have gotten passed down from Our grandparents, our parents, and then to us. This book is not just that we're doing the healing work for ourselves. It's actually also we're doing the healing work so that it doesn't get Passed on. Is that right?
Speaker A [00:39:00]:
Speaker B [00:39:00]:
Is there anything that you feel like when you guys were doing research on writing for this book that you felt like this is a very Particular to Asian experience. We talked about some of the cultural conditioning, all that already. But I just wanted to see if there's anything else in the process of overcoming That you feel like this is something that's very unique to us. Because I think that's what connects us because as Asian American, that's a big term. Right? There's Cambodian. There's Indian. There's Korean.
Speaker C [00:39:26]:
One big topic we had to address is definitely moral minority myth. Yes. Okay. Whether it served as advantage or disadvantage, each ethnic group Within Asian American umbrella, have mixed feelings. Some people benefited more than others and some people, it really made them feel invisible. But because we are in this Asian American category, one way or another, a lot of Asian Americans are definitely impacted by it.
Speaker B [00:39:56]:
Yeah. The way we've been kind of like Turned into sometimes even say a a political chip as a result of the way we looked, which is complicated and Kinda icky. Okay. Hyun, one thing you talked about just now kinda reminded me of thing. You talked about the experience of The shy part of us that sometimes can show up. And now I know the guy experience really, really well. And I did executive coaching, so I work with Asian Americans. And that is the number one thing that always comes up, which is how do I stop feeling shy or, like, turn off the overthinking? Now I have a bunch of communication tools that I usually give them.
Speaker B [00:40:32]:
But I do see that this comes up a lot, and I do wanna point out that this comes up a lot more so with, I feel like Asian women in particular. When you hear clients going through this self minimizing or self censoring, What do you usually bring up for them? What do you give as advice?
Speaker A [00:40:48]:
I think we don't really give advice.
Speaker B [00:40:49]:
That's right. Yeah.
Speaker A [00:40:50]:
Because of the journey of the healing process that we would be able to take with them, which is different than an advice that I can provide for you, is the thing that we were talking about before. Right? It's this tool of able to recognize, like, where is it really coming from. And is that my voice or somebody else's voice? Is this a learned experience?
Speaker B [00:41:12]:
Are there anything that we could kinda guide us to?
Speaker A [00:41:15]:
Let's start with, I am shy. When I say I am shy, what is the emotion separating from those words that is coming up for me right now. And I might feel so the thought that I'm having is I am shy. The emotion that I might be having is anxiety. And then I'm going to ask them, okay, what is my body doing right now? My heart is racing. My Palms are sweaty. I am smiling, running wide because I tried to hide something. So these are 3 separate elements that I will take a look at first as an exercise.
Speaker A [00:41:55]:
I'm shy, I'm anxious. Okay. My body is reacting this way. And then I'm gonna tackle each one of these maybe a little bit separately so then my body with my body my hands are sweaty I'm smiling really wide my heart is pumping Alright, what do I want to do about that? I'm going to take some deep breaths. I'm going to get some cold water. I'm going to have some ice water. It's going to ease up that heartbeat. The anxiety portion, right, that what I'm feeling goes together like we talked about it's holistic care.
Speaker A [00:42:26]:
So it goes together with the way that I might interact with my body. But what are my anxiety tools that I can utilize? Having something physical, Sensational for me can work really well. It doesn't have to be anything that is too big, but there's this mark that I have in front of me. And it's got this really wonderful strands of, like, almost hair like threads. So I might begin kinda like touching this. It kind of me a little bit of calmness with that anxiety that I'm feeling, right, that emotional element. And now with the thought, I am shy. That portion I'm gonna leave to you because you're the coach Right? The alternative way of talking to yourself.
Speaker C [00:43:15]:
I have something I would like to add on that. I am extroverted, but I'm shy. So it just sounds very opposite, but it makes sense knowing my childhood experiences. I've been taught that girls, women don't talk back to men, authority, or you stay quiet. And I was Awarded for being quiet. I was growing up. Like, oh, that's such a good kid because she's quiet. That's why women get a lot unless when we were going up.
Speaker C [00:43:44]:
So there's a societal isolation of being quiet. Doesn't always mean shy, but that can lead to shyness, that you're not supposed to show yourself. You're not supposed to speak out. So that can lead to shyness. So recognizing where those emotions or belief may come from It's 1 step and then being able to think about how you wanna release it. It can be through visualization or acknowledging and writing letters And then letting go, there can be many different ways to release that old belief that you wanna let go about shyness perhaps. Another thing is That could be practical that I use with my clients is we talked about parts work earlier. So you find a part in you that feels confident.
Speaker C [00:44:23]:
Think about that one time you felt really confident and then you felt really proud of yourself. You wanna embody that feeling in your body And go with it. If you need to do a presentation, you need to speak to your boss about something, that you need that energy that energy you have and you're so proud of yourself, Think about the memory, embody that, and try to bring the energy to wherever you need to go. Or if you cannot think about that, think about someone that you feel like Embody that confidence that you want. Kinda not in that person. How would that person would feel in their body or speak and Try to channel that person's energy to do what you need to do. I don't wanna say overcome shyness because I do think self compassion also needs to extend to shyness. But be able to confidently do what you are hoping to do.
Speaker B [00:45:10]:
I love that. This is such a great balance of the Two perspectives that you guys came that the 2 of you gave have been such a great balance. I think us choose separate tool sets that are very useful. These are probably one of the things that I imagine a lot more people who experience this is this feeling of confidence That we wanna kinda go into, of course, that is you're absolutely right. It's not really the kind of the work that is really about therapy, but I think is very A surface level that we can address and hold on to and then allows us to start gaining awareness and gaining discernment. When we first started this episode, one of the core questions that I really want to uncover was, why Asian Americans? Why is there a need For looking at mental health differently. And I think that the answer, Soojin, that you gave was so perfect was We culturally have always looked at ourselves differently. So why wouldn't we look at mental health differently? Why wouldn't we look at our health differently? And why wouldn't look at the way that we relate to one another and building that sense of belonging be the foundation that allows us to look at our own individualized healing? And I'm just so grateful this book is coming out.
Speaker B [00:46:21]:
I just wanna make sure I'm pretty sure that the date is January 9th is when the book officially goes out. I'm so excited. Pretty sure it's everywhere that books we found. Thank you, Soojin and Linda, so so much. Is there anything else that you wanna add before we wrap up?
Speaker A [00:46:36]:
I think I want everyone to know that we explored this so much in our conversation today, but there's a space for every single part of our experience, and there needs to be a space that we create together so that we can all belong. Every single part of us should have a space to belong.
Speaker B [00:46:52]:
I absolutely agree. It's such a simple thing that at first glance, the word belong feels so easily dismissed. Like, of course, I belong. And I think there's a difference. I think that sometimes we mistake belonging to be nobody has outright rejected us. We assume Assume that just because nobody says you're not supposed to be here, therefore, we belong, but the feeling between belonging is actually very different. There's a true acceptance That is different, and it needs to be brought out. Aside from the book, is there anything that listeners can do to find out more about your work And possibly work with somebody within your collective as therapists.
Speaker A [00:47:30]:
Yes. If you visit our website, it's yellow shirt collective.com. There's tons of information about the work that we're doing as well as all the list of therapists that are accepting clients at this time. We also have a blog as well as a podcast that informs everyone about Asian and Asian American mental health topics. And so feel free to roam around on our site and contact us through there.
Speaker B [00:47:54]:
So once again, thank you so much, Soojin and Linda, for your time today and all of your wisdom. Everyone, if you want to check out Their book called Where I Belong, Healing Trauma and Embracing Asian American Identity, this is coming out in January 9th. And I'm personally going to be ordering copies, not just for myself, but also for my own friends. Thank you so so much, guys.
Speaker C [00:48:16]: