0 comments on “Am I sad or depressed?”

Am I sad or depressed?

US trained psychologist in Hong Kong counselling and therapy services

fantasy-2964231_640Sadness is an emotion that slows us down and teaches us that we made a mistake, or that something or someone hurt us.  Usually, when we are sad, we are still able to get out of bed and maintain our daily routines.  Depression is a deeper emotion that often feels like darkness or heaviness.  We find ourselves unable to go about our daily routines.  If you have been feeling depressed for more than a couple of months, help from a professional is a good idea.  Here are some warning signs that you might be depressed.

1. Your sleeping habits have changed:  You might find that it feels almost impossible to get out of bed.  You want to sleep for days because when you are sleeping, you can’t feel the pain.  Or you might find that you can no longer sleep at night.  You might feel tired all the time.

2. Your relationships begin to suffer: Your relationships might be suffering because you are so overwhelmed with pain that you feel like you can not deal with anyone else.  You might feel agitated with others and have little empathy for what they are experiencing.  You might withdraw because you do not want to burden anyone else.  This is exactly the time when you should reach out to others who are caring and supportive.

3. You feel hopeless: You begin to feel like you will be suffering forever and that there is nothing you can do to alleviate the pain.  You might feel like you will always fail, never reach your goals or always be stuck.

4. Your body aches for no reason:  You might find that your muscles are sore and stiff, but you haven’t been exercising.  You might also have a change in appetite, either eating too much or too little.  Your body might feel heavy.   Though you feel tired and unmotivated, exercise will help you.

5. You can’t focus: You might not be able to focus at work or school.  You might become easily distracted or feel like you are dreaming.

6. Difficult to find joy in anything:  You might not be able to enjoy things that you used to love, or have a difficult time enjoying anything.

7. Your hygiene has suffered: You feel like taking a shower, doing your hair or brushing your teeth is too much effort.

8. You think badly about yourself: You feel like you are worthless, and that there is little to nothing good about yourself.  You are stuck in a negative mental loop.

Depression can be difficult to overcome on your own.  It is not something to be ashamed of or hidden from others.



Dr Monica Borschel is a US-trained Clinical Psychologist  Reach out to Dr Borschel: m.borschel@mindnlife.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/drmonicaborschel

0 comments on “Forgiving yourself”

Forgiving yourself

Hong Kong psychological services

img_6508If you grew up being neglected or criticized, you might have the false belief that everything you do is wrong. You might believe that you have to be perfect to be loved. If you have the painful habit of blaming yourself for everything, these pointers might help.

1. Be responsible for your actions, but not overly responsible: An example would be if someone at work or in your relationships asks you to change a behavior and you think that they are not happy with you as a person. Recognize that they want you to change your behavior and not who you are as a person.

2. Use constructive criticism for your benefit and ignore destructive criticism: Constructive criticism is when someone asks you to change something for your benefit in a polite way. Destructive criticism is in the form of sarcasm or insults. It is to be ignored as it has more to do with the person criticizing than with you. Don’t internalize insults.

3. Be aware of how you speak to yourself: Speak to yourself like you would speak to someone you love. “It’s ok, you did your best. I learned my lesson and I won’t make that same mistake again.”

4. Differentiate between guilt and shame: Guilt is my behavior was wrong. I feel bad and I learned that I will not do that again. Shame is I’m a horrible person, I don’t deserve to be loved. Guilt is easier to forgive because it is about the behavior and not who you are as a person. Shame is not helpful.

5. Ask for forgiveness: Ask the person you believe you hurt for forgiveness. If they can’t forgive you, give them some space.

6. Write yourself a letter asking for forgiveness: sometimes it’s more difficult for us to forgive ourselves than it is to forgive others. If you are having a difficult time, write yourself a letter. In the letter write down your emotions, why you are sorry and how you will make up for it. You do not need to punish yourself as you already feel bad about the situation.

7. Stop blaming: Be careful of blaming yourself. Especially for things that are in the past and you can not control.

8. Accept yourself: Accept that you are not perfect. Create some space for yourself to make mistakes. Learn from your mistakes and become a better person.

9. Reach out for help: If you are having a difficult time forgiving yourself and you are feeling depressed. Reach out for help from a professional.

Dr Monica Borschel is a US-trained Clinical Psychologist  Reach out to Dr Borschel: m.borschel@mindnlife.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/drmonicaborschel

0 comments on “Identifying Toxic People”

Identifying Toxic People

Hong Kong counsellling therapist services

KaloksSkullco-author Paul Logan (www.basicreflex.com)

Artwork by Kalok Ng

Email: thekalokng@gmail.com

Identifying toxic relationships and abuse

Toxic relationships often harm our self-esteem and leave us feeling drained of energy. When we learn how to recognize toxic relationships and abuse we can move away from them. If we have a history of being abused, we may not recognise that we are caught in a cycle of abuse. After reading this article, people ask themselves, “Am I toxic?”  This article is meant for you to understand that sometimes we can all be toxic, for example, if we are in a conflict or in a dangerous situation.  However, toxic people are often more times than less, toxic.  A toxic person does not usually ask themselves if they are toxic because they believe they are always right.  Some warning signs to watch for are:

You feel unheard 

You have told the other person how you feel or think, yet they do not seem to hear you.  When you speak, they may often talk over you or not allow you to get a word in edgewise.  They may speak as if they are the expert on all topics, therefore what you have to say is irrelevant.

Your words and emotions are used against you

The toxic person watches your emotions and listens to your words carefully so that they can use this information in the future to get a reaction out of you.  Toxic people often draw energy from other people’s negative reactions.  If the toxic person is feeling angry or depressed, they want those around them to feel the same way.  You may often feel as if you are constantly walking on eggshells.  You are never sure what pleases them or makes them angry.

The toxic person tried to isolate you from friends and family

This is a huge red flag that should not be ignored.  If the toxic person wants to separate you, beware that this might be an indication that abuse is around the corner.  If you are isolated from others, they can abuse and control you with the interference of others.  Some people who have social anxiety might also want to be with you alone as well.  They are not toxic, they are just nervous around others that they do not know.  Some people might also want to enjoy your company alone.  However, it becomes a problem if you are in a relationship with someone who does not want you to have contact with anyone other than them.

The toxic person criticises you or shames you in private or in public

The toxic person is often concerned that they are going to lose you.  To keep you they might try to use this tactic to make you feel bad about yourself.  If you feel bad about yourself, you will be easier to control. Beware if you often feel humiliated or small around this person.

When toxic people enter your life, they want you to believe that you can’t live without them. They use manipulation tactics to keep you hooked on them. These tactics may include:

Acting hot and cold. 

One minute they are love bombing you, sweeping you off your feet and the next minute they want nothing to do with you.  They may profess their love to you, and the next to disappear for days at a time.


Gaslighting is used to make you feel like you are going crazy.  For example, they might say, “I didn’t do that, you’re crazy.  Have you completely lost your mind.”  When in fact, you saw or heard them do this particular action in question.  They will use this tactic to make you doubt your own judgement.

Playing victim to get your sympathy.

This tactic works on those who are high in empathy.  Often toxic people are attracted to empathetic people because they can use the empath’s willingness to help them.  Once they have your sympathy, the toxic person will hurt you to control you or make you feel bad about yourself.

These are just a few of the tactics that toxic people use.  Leaving an abusive relationship can be difficult because self-esteem has been damaged. Often the help of a counsellor or therapist can be useful to make sure that you are safe both physically and emotionally. It can take some time to rebuild self-esteem and self-identity after abuse.


Dr Monica Borschel is a US-trained Clinical Psychologist who specialises in loss and attachment.  Get in touch with Dr Borschel: m.borschel@mindnlife.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/drmonicaborschel

0 comments on “Connecting Through Play”

Connecting Through Play

Hong Kong psychologist counselling services-child therapy

girl-1641215_1280People are social creatures that long for human connection.  This connection includes the feeling that you are seen and heard, and that you are respected and appreciated for who you are.  Children also need human connection; we can connect with them through play.  Play is a child’s way to innovate, problem solve and relax.  When we play with our children, we can teach them how to interact and play with other children on the playground or at home.  Here are some quick tips on how you and your child can connect and build a strong relationship through play.

Always ask first

This models the kind of behaviour that you want them to have with their siblings and other children.

Ask your child if you can play with them.  If they say no, do not be offended.  They might be in the middle of figuring out a solution to a problem they have been working on.
If they say yes, ask them which toy they want you to play with.

Let them lead the play

This shows your child that you care about them and that you are willing to step into their world.

Do not tell them what you two are going to play.  Follow their lead.  Ask, what do you want to play?  What do you want me to do?

Make eye contact and excited facial expressions

This helps your child feel seen and loved.  When you act excited, they will be excited.

Sit on the floor with them; get down on their level.

Children have little control or power.  This is a way to show them that the two of you are on the same level leading to a deeper connection.

Set boundaries, rules and expectations. 

Let them know that hands and feet are for playing and not kicking.  Explain that if they throw toys, they will be taken away.  Rules and boundaries keep a child feeling secure.  This way he understands what is appropriate behaviour and what consequences will be if rules are broken.  The rules and boundaries set are also for parents to follow.  Parents also should not hit, kick or throw.


Dr Monica Borschel is a US trained Clinical Psychologist who specialises in loss and attachment.  Get in touch with Dr. Borschel: m.borschel@mindnlife.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/drmonicaborschel

0 comments on “How my greatest loss led me to the deepest appreciation”

How my greatest loss led me to the deepest appreciation

When I was fifteen, I met another teenager who would change my life forever. We were both a bit different from the rest of our classmates, and we often felt isolated. We were always there for each other, she would drive me to school when I had a suspended license, and I would drive her to school when she got her car keys taken away. Between the two of us, we were always having some adventure and finding ourselves in all kinds of trouble. We were pushing all the boundaries as teenagers do.

After high school we remained close and emotionally connected. We saw each other or spoke to each other every single day. Then in my late twenties, I decided that I was going to move to New York to work on my Masters Degree. We had never lived so far apart from each other and we were both heart broken. I didn’t know what I was going to do without her. She cried and said, “What am I supposed to do without my best friend?” I felt horrible but I knew that I had to go. We spent the night cuddling with her dog and agreeing that we would be friends forever and one day we would retire together and take care of each other.

That August I left for New York. She called me every night and we laughed until one of us fell asleep. That Christmas I went back to Utah to see her and my family. She came over to my parent’s house and she was laughing and joking with my family about all of the trouble her and I used to get into as teenagers. I was surprised that she was giving away so much information. The next day, I went over to her parent’s house and she did the same thing, almost like she was confessing. She had lost a lot of weight, and she was much skinnier than I had ever seen her. I was worried about her, but I didn’t know what too do about it.

After Christmas, I went back to New York. Two weeks later, I received a phone call from my dad. He told me that my friend had died in a horrible accident. I screamed, hung up the phone and dropped to my knees. I was so shocked, I couldn’t stop crying.

I got on the first plane home and fell asleep on the plane almost instantly from exhaustion. When I woke up, the man sitting next to me was telling me that he was excited to go to Utah to ski. I told him why I was going, and from that point on he made sure that I had a whisky in my hand. I was so appreciative of the kindness of this stranger, it was something that she would have done for me. Whenever I was upset, she would say let’s feed you and give you a drink. She always knew when I was hungry because I would get grumpy.

Over the course of the next week, I stayed at her parent’s home. I began to lose my voice and I had a hard time sleeping. Though her parents were grieving, they took good care of me. They made sure that I was eating and drinking enough water. We would sit around and tell stories of her, laughing and crying. One night, while I was sleeping in her old bed, in her old room, I felt her holding me. I felt overwhelmingly peaceful. I had the most beautiful dream of the universe. There were so many stars and I wondered if she had sent me that dream.

Her funeral was beautiful and calm. I was relieved that she didn’t have any pain when she passed away. I was besides myself with grief, I felt like I had abandoned her. Why did I make it and she didn’t? I went back to New York a complete mess. I had a hard time focusing in school and I became physically ill. For years I had a difficult time letting anyone get to close to me. I was scared that if I let people in I would get hurt again because I would lose them too. I began hugging my friends and telling them that I loved them whenever I saw them.

The more that I worked through my loss, the more I appreciated life and those in my life. It was the most tragic thing I had ever been through. The beautiful part was that people began to step up and take care of me. This led me to appreciate the little things in life, the things that money can’t buy. Little things like a friend calling to say hi out of the blue, or making me dinner, I started to notice when strangers smiled at me and when children waved to me. I began to feel lucky to be alive and I appreciated each day. Ten years later, I still miss her like crazy. I remember the unconditional love that she showed me and I have tried to give it to myself and others.

0 comments on “Grief is a natural process.”

Grief is a natural process.

Artwork by www.instagram.com/crowded_studios

Grief is one of the most tragic and beautiful experiences that one can go through. Our heart aches, and we yearn for the one that we lost. We see them in crowds, we remember their scent and dream about them. We might feel confused and mentally slow. We might become angry or distant. Just as a snake sheds his skin to grow, grief can lead us to become more resilient and compassionate. Pain is an opportunity to analyse where our priorities are, and recognise who we love and appreciate. Here are some tips to move through the bittersweet:

Appreciation: Appreciate what the other person taught you and use that to help you become a better person. Appreciate those that love you and that you love.

Love: Tell those that you care about why you love them and why they are important to you. This helps you to stay connected and also receive social support.

A time to grieve and a time to focus: If you have lost your focus or motivation for life, set a time to grieve. For example, if you have children to take care of, allow yourself some space at night when they are sleeping to cry, journal, feel your emotions or reflect on the loss.

Be patient with yourself: Loss might slow down your brain. You might not be able to get things done as quickly or as efficiently as you used too. Be patient with yourself through this process. Go slow throughout the day and prioritise what must be done and what can wait.

Meditate: Close your eyes, slow down your breathing. Focus on creating a space around your heart, let your heart be as big as it needs to be. Breathe into that space. Allow your feelings to be there.

Don’t feel ashamed to reach out for support from friends, family or a professional.


Dr Monica Borschel is a US-trained Clinical Psychologist who specialises in loss and attachment. Contact her at m.borschel@mindnlife.com or schedule an appointment at +852 2521 4668

0 comments on “The Little Details Of Parenting”

The Little Details Of Parenting

Hong Kong psychological and therapy services

dadParenting is both a rewarding and challenging task.  There is no such thing as a perfect parent; just a well informed good enough parent.  Certain parenting behaviours that have been passed down from generation to generation have dire consequences.  The current generation has pressure from all directions, academically and socially.  It is important that the home is a safe place for everyone in the family to retreat too as parents are also tired and stressed.  There is some key point to remember that will ensure a safe and stress-free environment for parents and children.  Most of you reading this article, I am sure, know not to treat children as such.  However, understanding why we should not engage in certain parenting habits is critical for our children’s future.  Here are some typical examples of practices that parents may do but may not realise its effect on children;

Physical punishment is not a good idea.

Children are smaller and weaker than adults, and often feel powerless.  When you hit your child or punish them physically, you teach them that the world is not a safe place.  This can lead to difficulties for children to develop relationships with peers and other adults.  It may also lead to depression, anxiety and in severe cases PTSD.  Physical punishment also teaches children that it is ok to physically punish others.  This may also result in more aggression at school.  Bullies are a prime example of children who are victims of domestic violence.  It does not just end at school, in fact, researchers have found a link between men who abuse their wives or girlfriends were most likely exposed to domestic violence as children.  (http://psychnews.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/pn.47.1.psychnews_47_1_12-a)

Consequences of neglect.

When you neglect our children physically or emotionally, they are more likely to develop symptoms of depression. Neglected children fail to thrive and have a difficult time finding meaning in life and other relationships. This is because they believe that they are not good enough to be loved. This has severe consequences for a child’s self-esteem.   Neglected children tend to achieve less in school, and lose motivation.  Neglected children will have a slower brain development, which can lead to poor physical health later in life.  When neglected children become adults, they tend to show signs of problems in social skills, learning and cognitive disabilities, and they struggle maintaining relationships.

Consequences of verbal abuse.

Children have an inner dialogue that is a reflection of their parent’s voices.  When you tell a child he is lazy, fat, stupid, etc.; he will believe he is lazy, fat or stupid.  When a child believes this, they act that way.  They lose motivation and their self-esteem drops.  Negative self-talks that result from verbal abuse often leads to symptoms of depression and lowers your child’s ability to be resilient.  If your child needs to change behaviour, such as grades in school, provide constructive criticism.  For example, “You have been doing well this year in English, but we need to figure out how we can improve your math skills.  Let’s sit down together and work on your addition.”  What many parents may not know is that verbal abuse has long-lasting effects on a child and it can take decades to overcome.  It can also affect the child’s brain development.  “Born into a safe, attentive, and attuned environment, the child’s brain develops normally; when born into one which is either unsupportive or hostile, the brain does not.  Studies show that various parts of the brain are affected by a hostile situation.  (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/tech-support/201611/the-long-lasting-pain-childhood-verbal-abuse)

Children model behaviour; they will do what you do.

Children learn how to cope with emotions by watching you.If you want your child to speak about their emotions instead of shouting or throwing things, you need to show them how to do this. If you want your child to show you respect, you need to also show your child respect. Children are little people and should be treated like little people. Children are kinesthetic and often feel what you are feeling. When you are angry, they will feel angry. A good rule is to breathe and speak in a calm voice. Children are a blank canvas on which their world would be shaped and seen depending on what you choose to expose them to.

What we can do as parents:

A child will be more resilient and motivated when he feels safe.  To create a safe environment, predictability is required.  Predictability happens when the child is aware of all of the rules and consequences.  If you know that your child will want to pour glue on the table, before you give them glue say, “If you pour this glue on the table I will take it away, and you will have to clean up the mess.”  Ask them if they understand before you give them the glue.  This way there will be a less likely chance they pour the glue on the table, and if they do, they are less likely to have a temper tantrum when you take the glue away.

A child’s play is his work.  When you need them to stop playing, always warn them that they have five minutes left to play before they clean up.  This way they are not surprised when it is time to put the toys away.

It is also a good idea to let children know what will be happening that day.  Try to keep surprises and unpredictability to a minimum.

Practice self-care and compassion.

Parenting is difficult when you are tired and stressed.  Make sure to take time out for yourself; you deserve it.  Parents often feel guilty for this, but timeout leads to a more patient and understanding parent.


Dr Monica Borschel is a Clinical Psychologist who specialises in loss and attachment.  Get in touch with Dr. Borschel: m.borschel@mindnlife.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/drmonicaborschel

0 comments on “How to talk to your child about divorce”

How to talk to your child about divorce

Hong Kong counselling therapist services-child therapy

child-blackandwhiteDivorce is a difficult situation for adults, let alone children and teenagers.  Parents who are separating might be experiencing their own grief, sadness and anxiety.  As the adult, it is important that you are able to be the secure base for your child or teenager during this time.  Children are intuitive and can sense the mood of their parents.  To hold a safe space for your child, make sure that you are calm.

Key points to remember while speaking to your child about divorce:

1. Unconditional Love: It is important that children understand that none of this is their fault.  A child might side with the parent who they feel is hurting or the same sex parent. No matter who the child lives with, or spends time with, it is important for them to know that you still love them and that they will not be punished for this.

2. Do not involve the children in the conflict.  The children should not know about the financial pressures or constraints of the divorce.  This is one more stress they do not need, they should not be involved in adult situations.

3. Expect to answer a lot of questions.  Your child or teenager might be hurt and confused.  Be prepared to answer the same questions over and over again as they try to process the situation.  Do your best to remain patient through this process.

4. Don’t interrogate your children.  Don’t ask them about the other parent or what the other parent is doing.  Do not make your children take sides.  When you say something negative about the other parent, the child unconsciously feels as if you feel the same way about them as they are genetically half of the other parent.

5. Listen to your child’s emotions.  Acknowledge your child’s emotions patiently.  You might say something like, “I know this is scary and you are sad.  It’s ok to cry and talk about it.  Your mum and dad will love you no matter what.  Even though you don’t live with both of us anymore, we are always your mum and dad.”

6. Be honest and sincere.  Children do not need to know the adult matters, but it is best, to be honest about the living arrangements.  Children understand more than adults often give them credit for, and lying upsets and angers them.  It is best not to introduce a new partner to your child or teenager for at least six months.


Dr Monica Borschel is a US-trained Clinical Psychologist who specialises in loss and attachment.  Get in touch with Dr Borschel: m.borschel@mindnlife.com

Private or skype sessions available

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/drmonicaborschel

0 comments on “What boxing taught me about unconditional love and confidence”

What boxing taught me about unconditional love and confidence

Boxing found its way into my life when I had hit rock bottom emotionally, physically and financially. I had just lost my closest friend to a tragic accident, graduated with my master’s degree during the housing crises in New York and was living in Harlem on food stamps. I was desperately looking for employment when I met Al, who told me that I had a boxers skull and that we could make some money boxing. He had an elaborate plan; we would build up my confidence and skill set by fighting in Asia because they do not keep records, we would then come back to the USA and try to go pro. For a few months, he trained me to fight and helped me to pay my rent. He was quite strict and would make me do one thousand jabs a day.


During this period, I started dating my now ex-husband, D. Al, told me that champions don’t fall in love and because of that he could no longer train me.

I was beginning to appreciate the physical and mental challenges that came along with boxing. So, I decided to find a gym that would train me for a reasonable amount. That was when I met Darryl Pierre at Kingsway Boxing gym in Chelsea. He took me in and taught me all day every day. This was a difficult task for Darryl because I was unfit and unskilled. He was patient, pushed me through fear, and built my confidence. Daryl made me feel like a champion, and he never gave up on me.

A few months into training with Daryl, D asked me if we should move to Hong Kong with his work. Though we had not been dating for long, I took it as an opportunity to start over in a new environment. We decided to get married so that I could work while we were in Hong Kong. At this point, I was waiting tables and bartending in New York. The only thing that I had to look forward to during that period was boxing. I cried when I had to leave Daryl and move to Hong Kong.

The first thing I did when I arrived in Hong Kong was to find a boxing gym. I had visited a few; the gyms were closed down or falling apart. Then I came across Impakt MMA. I walked into the gym, and the owner, Alain Ngalani, a world champion kickboxer smiled at me from ear to ear. His smile said, welcome to my gym and to my family. I knew right then that is where I belonged. I told Alain that I wanted to be an amateur boxer and he took it seriously. Alain introduced me to a Thai trainer named Ekapol who had had over 300 professional Muay Thai fights. Alain and Ekapol were not there to make me feel good; they were there to kick my ass and get me fit.

Alain told me that there was going to be a white-collar charity fight that was to take place and that I was going to fight in it. I was intimidated. I was drinking too much, eating bad food and my cardio was horrible. Alain pushed my fitness levels until at the end of every day I thought I was going to die. I would go home with every muscle and bone aching. My face felt continually swollen. Alain would not let me give up.

Two weeks before the fight, Ekapol asked me to find another trainer. That’s when I met David Hergault. He would be my trainer for six years and twelve fights. It was during these six years of training with David and Alain that I learned what unconditional love was. As an ex-Mormon, I was used to being judged, shamed and having love be very conditional. Alain and David stood by me and told me they would help me with whatever I needed.

Alain and David went all in with me for every fight, win, lose or draw. They have seen me bleed, vomit and sweat, and it was always ok. David and Alain saw me fight my way through my divorce, my PhD, and poverty. During my divorce, David said, “I don’t care what you’re going through. When you are in the gym, you train, and you focus.” These were the words that made me realise that staying in the moment and focusing on what needs to be done makes you a more resilient person. If you are not focused and in the moment in boxing, you will get hurt.

After my losses, David would be upset with me because I wasn’t living up to my potential. He could see that I was losing because I wasn’t confident and because I didn’t believe in myself. He saw something in me that I could not yet see in myself. He wanted me to fight more so that I was comfortable in the ring. Alain saw my struggle and tried to build me up, pushing me through every intense workout and hugging me when I cried. I would cry after every loss, every time I felt that I disappointed David and Alain. I didn’t want to disappoint them because I felt that they were the two who always believed in me.

Along the way, I met strong women who would spar with me. Push my emotional and mental abilities. I would take a big hit and want to kill them. In boxing, this is dangerous. In boxing, every time you get mad or scared, you waste energy. When you are angry, you make mistakes. A turning point came when one of my sparring partners introduced me to her trainer Paul Logan. It was Paul who taught me to keep my cool, to respond and not react. He taught me that fighting is more than aggression and being tough, you also have to be calm and in control. Paul taught me how to meditate so that I could become more in tune with my body and emotions. He told me that temper was giving into your three-year-old. Paul created a safe space for me to embrace my dark side and become a calmer person and fighter.

The more I trained, the more I fell in love with boxing. And the more I fought, the more confident I became. The more confident I grew, the harder my fights were. That’s when I met Sandy Lam, the best female boxer in Hong Kong. I was set to compete with her at one point. David wanted me to go for it, but I could tell that he was nervous about it. He would make me run 20 sprints, and then run with him up hills in Hong Kong. I would lie on the floor sweating and dying after every session. The competition for me to compete with Sandy was cancelled right before the date, but we became sparring partners after that. Every time she kicked my ass, I became tougher and more skilled. It was moments like these that I realized that you have to push yourself beyond what you believe you can do to get where you need to be.

I will forever be thankful for the people who have helped me along my boxing journey to become more confident, resilient and to understand the meaning of unconditional love. In boxing, it doesn’t matter how educated you are, how wealthy you are or how well dressed you are. What counts is that you show up and put in the work. Every man is equal in the ring.

0 comments on “Shame, the darkest emotion”

Shame, the darkest emotion

Hong Kong Clinical Psychologist

baldwin IV



Art work by Kalok Ng Email: thekalokng@gmail.com



Shame is the darkest emotion as it makes us feel like everything about us is wrong.  The difference between shame and guilt is that guilt tells us that our behaviour was wrong, where shame tells us that as a person we are horrible.  Guilt helps us to treat people better and stay out of trouble with society and the law.  Guilt is the feeling we get when we regret an action.  Shame is the feeling we get when we think we do not deserve to be loved.  Shame can be fleeting and teach us that we deeply regret something that we have done, or it can be long lasting.  Long lasting shame might stem from abuse from someone else or from ourselves.  Shame can start when we are children if we have been neglected, rejected or abused by our parents.  Shame can also happen if we abuse ourselves.  Shame can happen if we self-harm or criticise ourselves constantly.  And if we self-harm and criticise ourselves the shame deepens.

Shame can be dangerous if we feel it so deeply that we can not connect to ourselves and to others.  If the shame is painful enough we might try to avoid our emotions and shut down.  When we shut down we lack empathy.  If the shame is intense, we might become depressed or anxious.  Crawling out of the hole of shame can be tricky, but it can be done.  Here are some pointers:

1. Speak kindly to yourself.  Notice when you are abusing yourself and rephrase.  For example, “I’m an idiot,” becomes, “I am capable of fixing that mistake.  I can handle this.”  Speak to yourself like you would speak to someone that you respect and admire.

2. Understand that if you were abused, it has nothing to do with you. When you are abused, you might begin to believe that you deserved it, or that you are worthless.  Understand that people who are happy and comfortable with themselves do not abuse others.  Abusers tend to be people who are hurting deeply and want to control by devaluing others.  Break the cycle of abuse by healing your emotional wounds and treating yourself and others with respect and compassion.

3. Differentiate between guilt and shame: Guilt is my behavior was wrong. I feel bad and I learned that I will not do that again. Shame is I’m a horrible person, I don’t deserve to be loved. Guilt is easier to forgive because it is about the behavior and not who you are as a person. Shame is not helpful.

4. Ask for forgiveness: Ask the person you believe you hurt for forgiveness. If they can’t forgive you, give them some space.

5. Write yourself a letter asking for forgiveness: sometimes it’s more difficult for us to forgive ourselves than it is to forgive others. If you are having a difficult time, write yourself a letter. In the letter write down your emotions, why you are sorry and how you will make up for it. You do not need to punish yourself as you already feel bad about the situation.

6. Stop blaming: Be careful of blaming yourself. Especially for things that are in the past and you can not control.

7. Accept yourself: Accept that you are not perfect. Create some space for yourself to make mistakes. Learn from your mistakes and become a better person.

8. Write or talk about your pain: Sometimes the shame is so deep that we don’t dare to tell anyone about it.  If this is the case, write it out.  Notice what you feel in your body, and then let the pain go.

9. Reach out for support: Speak to those who support you or reach out for professional help.  The effects of abuse can be unconscious and hard to detect.



Dr Monica Borschel is a US-trained Clinical Psychologist who specialises in loss and attachment.  Reach out to Dr Borschel: m.borschel@mindnlife.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/drmonicaborschel