My name is Phua (Tashie) Xiong. I am a single mother of a sweet 3-year-old named, Rylee. I am a survivor of sexual assault, domestic violence and a suicide attempt.
I was raised in the Twin Cities and call it home, but I have a special place in my heart for sunny California— NorCal to be exact! I enjoy traveling to new places, eating new foods, and learning about the people and cultures I come into contact with.
Okay, that last sentence was starting to sound like it came from a dating profile. Can anyone relate?
I know that was some loaded information I just threw at you. But to help you better understand who I am, let’s go back to my earlier years.
A Brief Walk Down Memory Lane
As early as 10 years old, I’ve taken an interest in personal development. I remember frequenting the local Half-Priced Bookstore’s “self-help” section and picking up books on daily positive affirmations while my older sisters shopped next door.
Now you might be wondering why a 10-year-old is at the self-help section when they should be reading the Harry Potter series. I don’t have anything against fictional stories, I just needed practical advice
As a child, my parents weren’t home a lot. My adult siblings would watch us while my parents harvested their crops for the Farmers’ Market. They were gone long hours, from dawn until sometimes 10pm every night.
I don’t blame them though. My parents were refugees of the Vietnam War, and farming was a skill they brought with them to the United States. It was their only means to make a living.
My parents’ absence made me feel insignificant and forgotten.
I felt unworthy of their time, attention and love.
At the time I wasn’t able to articulate my pain, only that my heart ached for the security that could only come from a parents’ love. So, as a 10-year-old, self-help books became a refuge that gave me hope to push through each day.
The Search for Answers
Over the years I searched for ways
to be better,
to be deserving,
to be someone.
I connected with people, joined as many extra-curricular activities as I could, and took on leadership opportunities—and I excelled at it!
I felt like I was becoming someone. But it wasn’t enough.
I became consumed by my deficiencies and thought I could find happiness through others.
I found it hard to say “no” for fear that I would disappoint people, and to my own detriment, I became overly accommodating. As you can see, I placed a lot of value on my relationships with other people.
This self-sacrificing behavior started to take a toll on me, so I reached out to some of the people I admire most.
How are they moving through life so graciously?
What can I do to be more like them?
Through my observations, I found some common traits exhibited by these individuals:
They have a strong sense of who they are.
They are unapologetically themselves.
They have boundaries and stick to ‘em.
They know their values and passions, many of which they won’t compromise.
They make time for themselves.
They know their worth.
They practice gratitude.
I recently listened to an episode on The Life Coach School Podcast titled Gifts to Our Future Self, and I thought the most profound statement was when Brooke Castillo (the founder and narrator) said, “your relationship with yourself is the most important relationship.” I’m going to let that sink in for a minute.
My relationship with myself is THE most important relationship!?
It’s like the light bulb switched on: I’ve been so busy giving my time to others that the one person who needed my time the most was me!
What I Learned About Me
On a quiet Saturday evening instead of turning on Netflix or scrolling through Instagram, I put my phone on DO NOT DISTURB and picked up my pen and journal. I was uncomfortable at first thinking about how I’d miss the next notification on my phone, but I encouraged myself to sit there with my thoughts in silence. Over the next hour, they spilled onto several pages as I reflected on recent events in my life and how they impacted me. Surprisingly, this journaling exercise was very peaceful and meditative. Only as an adult did I understand that through my upbringing, I had developed an insecure attachment style. I realized in that moment of discomfort, I sought external validation through social media.
I think external validation is great, but validation needs to come from within and it must begin with me.
In an effort to nurture my relationship with myself, I’ve decided to incorporate journaling and putting my phone on DO NOT DISTURB at least an hour before bed as my nighttime routine. I feel more at peace and more centered because I’ve given time and space to the thoughts running through my mind. The practice of self-validation has also helped me to put my phone down and not wait for the next “LIKE”. I also approach my mornings in a calmer manner even if I’m running late to catch the bus to work. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a consistent and perfect routine, but I’m trying. And that’s what matters most.
I can be very hard on myself, so by saying that “trying is what matters most”, I am honoring my efforts, and I am being kind to myself. It’s already challenging enough out there– let’s be kinder and more compassionate with ourselves!
What About You?
The relationships we have with other people are important, but I think it’s equally if not more important to continuously work on our relationship with ourselves.
Take yourself out on a lunch date. Spend time with your own thoughts. Leave your headphones at home: exercise at the gym or take a walk around your neighborhood without the headphones. Pay special attention to the sounds around you and the thoughts that pass through your mind during this experience. You’d be surprised how liberating it is to be present and to not shut yourself off from the world.
What is something you’ve learned about yourself recently?
How are you getting to know yourself?
How are you rising like the sun today?
Love & Light,