S1E11: Depression Breakdown 2: Reclaiming your worth

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Transcript S1E11:

This is It’s Like This Podcast with your host Dr. Uejin Kim, a dual board certified child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist. If you want more understanding and control on mental decisions and options in your life, this podcast might be for you. By providing fun analogies, real stories, and empowering messages, I want you to have the tools to live your best life and thrive.

In this episode, we follow up from Episode 10 and discuss how can we undo the workings of self-doubt and insecurities and low self-esteem in our world. You know, in our last episode, we discuss three ways how our society, the world, and culture, makes us feel less than, not enough, and cursed. And how they do that was, we're constantly measured by popularity, productivity, and appraisals. And I use the analogies of real estate in the last episode. And when we get measured by these standards, we never feel that great about ourselves. And if we do it is so fleeting and it’s temporary. You know, if you’re popular today, guess what? You’re not going to be popular, you know, tomorrow or in a month. So, what if there is a new way to measure and view ourselves? An antidote to what we already discussed? What if we view ourselves and our lives, not in a snapshot version of failure or never enough? What if we start to see our life full of permanent substance, full of purpose and full of awareness? Does it sound too good to be true? Well, at the end, I'm going to give you exactly how to start this journey of being a proud homeowner of your life. So, stay tuned to the end. 

So, let’s talk about our first problem, popularity. So, when you're selling your house in this real estate market, there is a wise technique to change your house aesthetics to please the crowd. You know, you repaint the wall colors and cabinet doors to fit what is trending right now. So that you will get the best bids in the block. And this makes perfect sense if you're selling a house. But does it make sense if you're deciding to live in this house? Would it make sense to please the crowd outside of your home when you're just living in your home? What if you don't like that paint color? What if you don't like that furniture? The time and effort spent to change your house aesthetics, to please the crowd doesn't make sense if you're deciding to live in it. But that's what we do a lot of times, because we want to be measured by the popularity. 

An important thing about popularity and people pleasing tendencies is that it changes all the time. Trends are temporary. And it depends on who you look up to. What is trending for one group of people might not be trending so much in the other group of people. And I remember when I was an adolescent, I was insecure, just as much or even more than the next person. And I remember I had a goth phase, I had an emo phase, I had the preppy girl phase. And I really didn’t know what I was about. I was just going with a circle of friends that I was with. You’re swept by the popularity and trends when you look for validation outside of yourself. So, it’s just like, it doesn’t make sense to change your home paint color and buy new furniture and do all of this, if you decided to live in this house. It really doesn't make sense if you're trying to gain the popularity of the outside when you are you.

So, what is an alternative? What if we look into ourselves? Now, what does that look like? It means to have curiosity and awareness, authenticity, and genuine encounter with yourself. You’re no longer following the waves of trends outside of yourself, but staying true to who you are. And since trends and popularity come and go, but who you are doesn’t, we’re looking for something of permanence. So, it’s all about appreciating the charms and personal touches of the home, instead of spending lots and lots of money and effort trying to be a Pottery Barn or West Elm of today. Soon to spend more money and effort to change again. So instead of popularity, again, look for permanence. Look into yourself, because that will never change. 

The second problem is productivity. In the previous episode, I use the productivity in real estate as the things we do to be in the game. In the game of increasing your house value. So adding solar panel versus adding a pool, changing your carpets to hardwood. Which one of those things gets you further in this real estate game? You know, which one increases the home value? The most bang for your buck. But what was lost in pursuing “winning the real estate game” is your personal preference. What if getting a pool gets you more bang for your buck in the investment, but you can't swim? What's the point of getting the pool? 

So, productivity and real estate was compared to you being a productive, “citizen, son, daughter, a friend or Christian,” you know, “Are you graduating from college? Getting married by certain age and having kids?” We have all these milestones set for us to meet. But that were really determined by our society and the cultures around us. But when you wake up from that rat race and ask yourself, ‘Does any of this have anything to do with who I am and what I'm about?’ So instead of productivity, I offer you an alternative to view yourself and measure yourself. So instead of productivity, I want you to think of purpose. Now, this alternative is based on an assumption that you’re designed and created to be specifically you. At this point, if this is an assumption that doesn’t meet with what you believe in, that’s fine. But I believe that you have a set of strengths, and weaknesses, interests, and characteristics, and perspectives. I believe that you have a unique calling and responsibility in this world. And I believe that there's a place for you and a job for you. No one can say that one person's purpose is less than or bigger than another. Big or small impact, I believe that you have a purpose. So being productive in the society by the developmental milestone that is set up for you by the society, conventional life tracks and standards of living has some value to us, of course. But put that in the context of your life and your purpose. So now you're asking, ‘Well, Dr. Kim, how do I know what my purpose is?’ And how you start is we start to look at awareness. And awareness is my solution to combat the tendency of society measuring us and labeling us by appraisal. So, in the last episode, we discussed that appraisal is a common part of homeownership. So, we have appraisers coming into our home or around our home and spitting up comparisons. So, that they have a value to our home. And we put a lot of attention and value in the appraisal process because it affects our property tax, our assets measured, or kinds of legacy that we're going to give to our kids or the next generation. But we have to remember that appraisers don't really know our home. They don't really come inside and live in it. They still see it as a house, a number, or a comp. They don't know that you raise three kids in their house. They don't know that this house provided a shelter so that you can take care of your, you know, aging parents. The fights and makeups that you had with your spouse. They don’t really know the wholesomeness of your house, and the experiences and life events that happened in your house. 

So, while appraisers spit out a numerical value, they really don't know the experiential value. And just like this, people close to us make frequent assessments of us. Sometimes they let us know at the convenient or inconvenient times. Or sometimes you find out unexpectedly what they thought of us. And we do care a lot about what other people think of us because it does affect us. It affects us how we view ourselves and the world around us. It affects which career choice seems better to us, or relationship choices that we make. We rely heavily on people that are close to us to make these decisions. But as important to draw the distinction between appraiser and a homeowner is in respect to the home. So maybe you had a family member or friend or partner, you know, go around your property, go around you and judge you and made an assessment of you. With or without real curiosity to know who you are about and what your life is like. Maybe they made assumptions or judgments, what your problem is, only by what they saw on the outside. Maybe your behaviors or choice of words. Without really knowing your internal struggles in your heart and in your head. And because they're close to you than strangers, you can jump to conclusions that, ‘Maybe my mom is right about me. Maybe my friends are right about me.’ Especially if these appraisals were repeated over and over again. And you start to think that appraisal values are facts. And they're the only validation that you have. But again, appraisers never lived in this house. No one really knows what the internal struggle and celebrations are like inside your home, inside your heart, and inside your head.

So, what is an alternative to relying too much on these appraisals? So, what I recommend is get an inspection and get a true awareness of your home. So, inspection, first of all, what is that? So, when my husband and I were in the process of buying a house, before we secure the contract with the seller of our future home, we got an inspection done. An inspection was recommended and heavily encouraged by our wise realtors. And inspection is very different from appraisal. So, appraisal is like one level up from realtor.com search engines and Zillow, I guess, value of the home. But inspection like blows it out of the ballpark, when it’s compared to the appraisals. The thoroughness of the inspector puts, like, the best appraisers to shame. So, when we had an inspector come to our house, this guy went into the corners of the attic, climbed a roof, check the temperature, the AC vents of every single room, took pictures, and typed this 200-page inspection report. I mean, it was overwhelming, just the amount of detail that he put into just one home. 

And before we read through the inspection report, our realtor gave us a wise warning, ‘Don't get scared when you see the report, but use it as a guide to improve your home.’ And I'm so glad that he said that. Because when I first saw the 200-page inspection report, I was scared. I was starting to get cold feet about the house. And I thought, ‘Oh, my goodness! This house has a 400 page of everything that's wrong. Maybe we should, you know, pull out of the contract.’ But when I actually scanned the report, it showed me that the house was imperfect, of course. But it wasn't that bad either. There were a lot of things that needed to be fixed. But they were doable. And there were actually a lot of good things about this house too, that prove that this house was safe to live in. 

So, what does inspection report looked like in our lives? So, I would imagine that if you let an inspector into your house, they're gonna go to the skeletons in the closet. They're gonna pull out all the skeletons in the closet. All the things that you wanted to hide from your friends and family, that things that you only struggle with. So, what I'm talking about is that sexual trauma, when you're in elementary school, you didn't tell anybody. You dismissed as, ‘Oh, we were just young.’ That time that your teacher told you that you won't be anything and is haunting you for the rest of your adult life. Or that time that you got in a pretty bad fender bender, and you have to brace yourself every time you get in the car. Those times that you go to alcohol because you don't want to feel that feeling. And you don't want to be a burden to anyone else listening to all your worries and woes. Yeah, those stuff. An inspector is going to come in and ask you all these questions that are deep and painful. And they’re gonna bring it out and write a report. And that could be freaking scary. That could be overwhelming. But what that list is gonna do is give you a guide to where to go from here. Now remember that 200-page inspection report on my house. It was not all bad. There were a lot of, like, passes and checks like electrical and plumbing and condition of the roof, they were all fine. 

So, you’ll be surprised when you have an inspector of your personal life, not everything is going to be bad as you thought. You might be hearing some of the strengths about you that you never realized. So, when I went to a therapist for a relationship crisis, I was telling her about one event that was very public and horrible. And I was, like, bawling in public in front of my kids. And I was just describing to the detail, just kind of trying to process it. And she kind of pulled me aside from myself. And she said, ‘You know what, Uejin? I can't believe that your kids were still joking and eating when you were crying about this chaos that was going around. Do you see how well you protected your children through all of this?’ And you know what, I never realized that I did that. And you know what, I realized that me being able to do that was worth it. And it was more precious to me than what I was actually going through. 

So just like that she noticed my strength when I couldn't even see anything positive in this specific situation. So, when you meet with an inspector, which is your mental health provider, a therapist or psychiatrist, you might be surprised at what they can pick out that's actually going well, what you're actually doing well. And at the end of the day it is all about awareness. It doesn’t matter what other people say. But, you're aware of your inner strength and inner weaknesses. 

So, in summary it’s like this. The world society and the culture has programmed ways to assess our worth, by popularity, productivity, and appraisals. They are temporary, incomplete, and external. Also, not to mention that it leaves everybody feeling like crap about themselves at one point in their lives. So, I'm offering you a solution. An antidote to this toxic way of measuring ourselves. And it’s by permanence, purpose, and awareness. Just know that your worth is permanent. Your essence has permanent substance that cannot be shaken by popularity. 

Two, your worth is not measured by how “productive” you are in the society, or family, or community. Your worth is based on how you are fulfilling your purpose, by embracing your whole self; strengths and weaknesses, past and present and future, and interest and gifts. 

And finally, your worth is not limited by other people’s opinions of you, however close they are. Your worth is only revealed and appreciated by your own awareness of yourself. So, what I envision what your life would look like, in the near the end of this journey, is not perfection, it’s not popularity. It’s not productivity. It’s not, you know, getting compliments by your friends and family like appraisers, okay? So, let's imagine. 

So, let's say that, you know, you're no longer selling this house right now. But in in 10 to 15 years down the road, you're going to sell your house and you're touring potential buyers in your home. One scenario to say that is, ‘Oh, come on, in, come on into my house. And this is the best part of the house. Oh, don't go there. Don't open that closet. Yeah, not there either. Honestly, I never opened that closet in a few years. But look at the best part of the house, right?’ That's scenario number one. Or scenario number two is, ‘Hey, welcome to this house. Every corners of this house has been inspected, and has been worked on. My house isn’t perfect. It has some signs of wear and tear. But I can guarantee you that there are no safety concerns.’ 

So, see the difference in two scenarios. One, there are the best parts of the house. It could be polished. It could be Pottery Barn. I don't care how good it is. But if there's an unexplored area of this house, it brings up insecurities and the buyers are going to question like, ‘Do you even live here? Like, what's wrong?’ But in the second scenario, it might not be perfect. Of course, there might not be a touch of Pottery Barn in this house. But it's been inspected. It has been guaranteed of safety. There's wear and tear. But you're gonna be safe living in this house.

This is what I want for you. It is the second scenario. I want you to be able to inspect your life, be fully aware of the good and the bad. And be confident and aware and working on it diligently. So that you could be able to say, ‘You know what, I struggle with irritability. And with my triggers, especially when it comes to loud noises or feeling stuck or helpless because of my trauma. And I'm sorry that I yelled at you out of context. And I'm working on it.’ That kind of authenticity, awareness, and confidence, humility, and diligence. That is so much more powerful than trying to seem perfect on the outside and failing to admit it. And that's what I want for you. 

This is what the podcast is about. This is what my life as a psychiatrist is about. Sometimes there will be growing pains. Of course, that inspection report is not a pretty thing to look at. But it'll be worth it to be a confident, diligent, and humble homeowner. And I don't know about you. But maybe you aren’t like me, or you are like me. I wasn't taught or modeled to see myself other than by popularity, productivity, and appraisals. I reached a point in my life where I didn't know what else to do. But I knew that living like this really sucked. So, if you're listening to this episode, and we're going through, you know all these alternatives, and maybe you're thinking, ‘Dr. Kim, you don't know who I am. You don't know where I've been. You don't know what I've done. You don't know what people close to me say about me.’ And my answer to that is, it really doesn't matter. In a way that it doesn't have a dent in your worth, or preciousness. Your life is this home on Earth. And has a value that is permanent. That does not get swayed by trends and popularity. It has a purpose that is unique to you and never conventional. And the beauty and scars of your life can be utilized to its fullest potential. When it is inspected in a wholesome way. Not just labels by cheap assessments of appraisers. You're born and created and designed to be you. And only you get to be you. 

So, if you're interested in how to get an inspection for your life, I would recommend that you listen to Episode 03 and 04 of this podcast. There I discussed the role of a therapist and a psychiatrist and how they can bring in their expertise to your mental health journey. And it's so freeing for me to share my own life with you guys. And just really practice what I preach and becoming, you know, a humble and diligent homeowner. 

Thank you so much for your awesome feedbacks. And good and bad, I read all of them. They mean so much to me. If you have some extra time today, subscribe to this podcast and leave a review. This will really help me to spread this positive message to people who need the most. Also, I recently gave a talk at a church and it was about God and mental health and how they can both coexist in the same world. So, I'll post that link to the description box. And love you guys and thank you for staying until the end. I'll see you next time.