Tag Archives: confidence

Queer Asian Confidence

Sometimes I struggle to honor my strengths. I have pretty high self-compassion and self-esteem, I just don’t like acknowledging what I’m good at. For example, I’m starting my fourth year of training as a psychologist. In my most recent therapy evaluation, my supervisor commended my “ability to connect with clients and make them feel safe with [me].” She also wrote that I have “an intuitive approach that is bolstered by [a] strong theoretical orientation… influenced by a multicultural lens, feminist therapy, ACT and CBT, and interpersonal process,” as well as an openness and genuineness that helps clients feel connected to me. Though I recognize my clients’ growth, I still think: am I actually good at this?

Even though I can grow in honoring my strengths, I like my modesty a lot. I think it stems from Asian values of humility, as well as not wanting to be like other men who have an inflated sense of their abilities. Instead of searching for the spotlight, I can spend more time honing my empathy, social justice advocacy, and mentoring. Still, internalizing modesty to an extreme may have its downsides. My supervisor also wrote in her evaluation, “I think Thomas is always a bit surprised at the progress of his clients, as he sometimes doubts that he is a good, actually excellent, therapist. I encourage his humility, but also think he would benefit from receiving the fact that he is very skilled and capable.”

Upon reflecting about my supervisor’s comments for the past several weeks, I feel like a lot of my hesitancy to own my strengths stems from my queer Asian male identity. Continue reading

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Three Deadly Words: I’m So Fat

You’re remembered by the things you do, the things you say, and the things you believe in. Here’s what I mean:

Friend of mine #1: Did you hear what happened to Thomas?

Friend of mine #2: Thomas? You mean the one who reads 24/7, supports gay rights, plays tennis, blogs, and calls himself fat all the time?

Hold up. I know what you’re thinking. Thomas doesn’t have friends in real life. Why would Thomas’s friends say that he calls himself fat?

Maybe because he eats one of these every day... just kidding!

I have a problem. I self-deprecate. A lot.

I’m not saying that self-deprecation is a bad thing – in fact, it’s quite the opposite. In his book Thank You For Arguing, Jay Heinrichs states that self-deprecating is a good way to indirectly compliment yourself. By downplaying yourself to others, you can brag that you only have 25,000 subscribers and that you only make $200,000 a year. It’s like a socially acceptable form of arrogance.

That’s not the type of self-deprecation I’m against. Well, it is, sort of. But the form of self-deprecation I’m referring to is much worse. It’s when you actually believe the bad things you’re saying about yourself are true, even when they’re not. It’s poisonous, a mental parasite that takes over your mind and kills your self-confidence.

I own three scales. It's a long story.

According to this BMI calculator, I’m not overweight or obese. My weight is normal. So why do I keep calling myself fat? Why do I think that that’s true when it’s not? To those of you who are like me: please stop. You’re not stupid, ugly, useless, or fat. It’s not appropriate to deride others, and it’s definitely not acceptable to ridicule yourself.

I’m stopping now. I’m listening to all of my friends and family that insist on arguing with me every time I insult myself, even though if I were them I would’ve given up a long time ago.

Small steps. Like a recovering smoker, I won’t go cold turkey; I’ll allow myself one self-deprecating comment per day until I stop completely. My goal will be to be rid of this curse by September 6, 2011 – the first day of my junior year. And to all of you who are trapped by your own insecurity, your own hurtful criticisms: you are not alone.

What do you think of self-deprecation? Is it beneficial or damaging? Do you self-deprecate?

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