SGPsychStud: Fear and Hope in Life

I have been thinking about it.  What are the inner motives  and reasons for the things we do?  I believe this is the question that all psychologists ask.

Here's my answer:  I believe that two of these unconscious motives that hinder our behaviours are Fear and Hope.

How much of your life is controlled by your fears and hopes that you have? Are you able to control your fears and hopes?

In my opinion, our fear causes us to do things.  If we fear that we will not do well, we practice more and harder at what we are doing.  Fear causes us to stay at our comfort zone, in the fear that if we move out of it, we may lose what we currently have,  People often lose sleep or decrease their quality of sleep due to fear.  Fear can be a result of your past experiences, your current feelings and emotions, or even the unknowns of the future.  But regardless of where it is from, it does hinders us from performing at our best.
I have written two posts on the topic of fear in the last 12 months:

Some people believe that hope is the propelling force for people to do amazing things, things that they will not believe that they are capable of.  With hope, we have a goal, something to aim for and to work towards.  But what if these goals are not achievable?  Are you going to continue working towards them?  Even worse, what if they are achieved?  What else are you going to work towards?

One common goal or hope of some Singaporeans are to earn as much money as possible.  That's barely achievable, for the pure reason or question of "How much is enough?"  If the hope was to buy a landed property in Singapore and you slogged many years to finally reach that goal, what is the next hope then?  Being aimless in life is worse than working hard towards an impossible dream, as we would be going through life like a zombie, without any aim.      

Having fears and hopes are parts of a normal human cognition, i.e. it is normal that people have fears and hopes.  However, this may lead to people having external locus of control in your life, attributing unwanted events and results to external reasons like luck, the unreachable goal, or other people hindering your progress.

In my opinion, always believe in yourself and your abilities.  When performing or doing your work, do not fear or worry about your progress and/or hope that you will perform well.  Just focus on what you should be doing at the moment.  Be in the moment and experience flow.  Only by focusing on the current moment, you will perform at your best.

Miss Psychobabble: Positive Psychology - How to Live a Healthier and Happier Life

Much like the world news, most of Psychology’s branches tend to highlight the negative side such as the roots of abnormal behavior and the effects of dysfunction. This separates Positive Psychology from the rest. Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, its forefathers, used positivity to flourish one’s well-being by focusing on how human beings can live a healthier, fulfilling, and meaningful life.

Instead on focusing on what’s wrong with you, celebrate what can go right and become the best version of yourself! These are some of the ways that you can lead a healthy and happier life...

Simple Ways to Live a Healthy and Happier Life

1. Know and live by your character values and strengths.
(Image from

Authentic strengths (e.g. curiosity, bravery, creativity, persistence, kindness, leadership, or humor) are very important because these are in lined with your behavior. Identifying your core values will direct you to your personal strengths (Peterson, 2006). Using these strengths can improve your well-being and performance in all aspects of life.

2. Be the master of your own emotions.
According to Daniel Goleman, the Psychologist who developed the emotional intelligence appraisal test, having emotional intelligence or being the master of your own emotions help you to become effective in various aspects of your life including work.
Watch this short video (1:52 mins.) to find out more.

3. Try to be as positive as possible in a negative situations.
As the great Mahatma Gandhi once said:  
"Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony."  

Thoughts lead to feelings which lead to behavior. Talk more about your blessings than you do with your problems. Better yet, share your blessings and make others smile. Studies showed that happier people give more and later experience higher levels of happiness from doing so (Piliavin, 2003; Thoits & Hewitt, 2001).

4. Never compare yourself to others.

On one hand, aspiring someone else's success and knowing more about how they got there can become a great motivation. But, unrealistically desiring and measuring your self-worth on what others have can lead to depression. Beating yourself up for not being exactly as famous celebrities is irrational. Instead, get off the couch and work your way up to your goals!

5. Finally, make the most of what you have even in a seemingly unfortunate situation.



Instead on focusing on what is wrong with you, Positive Psychology helps you to celebrate what is going right and improves that even more. It highlights your strengths and use it to your advantage. Following its principles, here are some ways you can lead a healthy and happier life...
  1. Live by your character values and strengths.
  2. Regulate and master your emotions.
  3. Have a positive outlook when faced with negative situations.
  4. Never compare yourself to others.
  5. Finally, make the most of what you have.

Piliavin, J. A. (2003). Doing well by doing good: Benefits for the benefactor. In M. Keyes & J. Haidt (Eds.), Flourishing: Positive psychology and the life well lived. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Thoits, P. A., & Hewitt, L. N. (2001). Volunteer work and well-being. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 42, 115–131.

Miss Psychobabble: Busting the Myths of Counseling

I had a great opportunity to attend an insightful Counseling talk by Ms. Priscilla Lee at The School of Positive Psychology.  It opened my eyes to how counseling is viewed in Singapore or Asia for that matter.

The stigma that our society attached to counseling hinders individuals (especially those who need it the most) to seek professional help.  People do not want to go to counseling because they are afraid to be labeled as mentally ill or called crazy by others.  This fear of being judge impedes healthy recovery.

It’s important to highlight that counseling sessions are private and confidential unless your behavior harms yourself or others.  In fact, counseling records are protected by law and are separate from academic records. Here are other myths that need to be busted:

Myth #1  Counseling is for the weak and crazy people only.
Admitting that you need help and taking the needed action takes a whole lot of guts and strength.  Counseling can be helpful not only for people who are conquering their mental health conditions but also for everyday problems that we all face.

Myth #2  Counselors are like magicians --- they can magically cure all your problems.
Counseling is not a quick fix for all your problems.  It's a gradual and in-depth process that may even years to produce change.  The counselor needs time to build the relationship and uncover unresolved issues that can be difficult if the client is unwilling to share significant life experiences.

Myth #3  The counselor isn’t with me everyday.  He/She doesn’t know me and cannot help me.
One reason why counseling by unrelated professional is successful is because people who surround you every day such as your friends and family might have biases, attached emotions and other intentions that can affect their judgement.  This is why surgeons cannot operate on their relatives.

Myth #4 The counselor cannot understand my problem because he/she doesn’t have the same culture and experiences.I can’t deny the fact that even if we all live in one country, Singapore has diverse cultures.  This is why racial harmony is highly valued.  Counselors are trained to be empathic and sensitive to the views, religion and culture of others.

Myth #5  Being a counselor is an easy job.
Counseling is a challenging yet fulfilling job that involves both listening, thinking and observing simultaneously (more of that here:  It is very tiring to multi-task everything while conceptualizing the case in one’s head.  Also, counselors will not tell you what to do, but they will guide you to your goals.  If you are interested in starting your journey as a counselor, here is the list of schools that offer diploma in counseling:

So having known all these, what is counseling?
As a client, counseling is a provision of professional assistance in resolving one’s personal or psychological difficulties.

As a professional, counseling involves countless hours of rapport building, listening, comforting and being there for your client in every step of his/her journey towards his/her solving a personal problem or reaching a realistic goal.  Counselors shall be non-judgmental, sensitive, and experienced.  Also you must keep in mind that no matter how hard you try, you cannot save everybody!