0 comments on “Mental Health Spa Day”

Mental Health Spa Day

Hong Kong psychologist offering counselling services

People are often intimidated by seeing a psychologist, counsellor or therapist because they think that they don’t need one or because of the stigma attached to mental health. Psychologists and other counsellors are there to provide a safe space that is free of judgement.  Trained professionals can help anyone become more successful in their career, relationships or promote overall well-being.  A trained professional can help you to understand yourself and others better, leading to increased peace and happiness.  Here are a few ways that psychologists, counsellors and therapists enable your success.

  1. They help you to understand and regulate your emotions.  Being able to remain calm under pressure and stress is a superpower.  When you understand your emotions better, you are able to regulate them which decreases stress and anxiety.
  2.  They help you understand your thought patterns.  Often times we are unaware how our own thought patterns are affecting our self-esteem, behaviours and relationships.  Our past relationships and experiences have dictated how we speak to ourselves.  Often times we need to retrain our thought patterns to be happier.
  3. They help you to understand your own strengths and weaknesses.  Often we are unaware of how we are underutilising our strengths and avoidant of our weaknesses. It is much easier to avoid our selves than to face ourselves.  When we begin to take responsibility and action, we become a better person.
  4. They promote resilience.  Trained professionals have spent years studying human behaviour and thought patterns.  This knowledge enables them to lead you towards resilience, grit and success.
  5. They help you to have better relationships. Trained professionals understand different personality types and how to communicate and interact with other personality types.  They can help you get along better with your boss, spouse, friends, and co-workers.  Better relationships often lead to increased happiness and success.
  6. You are able to be yourself without judgement.  Being able to speak to someone objectively who will not judge you can be liberating.  When you feel free to say and be your authentic self, you become aware of your passions, goals, and thought patterns.  Becoming authentic enables you to have increased overall feelings of well-being and happiness.
  7. They help children and teenagers overcome.  Teenagers and children are a vulnerable population that has difficulty verbalising how they feel.  A professional can use play and art therapy to help your child or teen do better in school and become happier.

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

Available for private or skype sessions

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

0 comments on “Overcoming Rejection”

Overcoming Rejection

Hong Kong counseling therapist services offers private professional therapy - Teenager therapy

Being rejected is a sign that you have pushed yourself out of your comfort zone and have tried to achieve something.  Rejection can sting and hurt our self-esteem if we don’t manage it properly.  We can use rejection to learn and gain what we originally set out for. Here are some pointers on how you can use rejection to your advantage.

1. Create some space to feel your emotions.  Avoiding your emotions by distracting yourself, using alcohol or drugs will eventually make you feel worse.  You can make space for your emotions by acknowledging and accepting the fear, loneliness or sadness that might come from rejection.  You do not need to let your emotions control you, but you can get comfortable with them by accepting that your emotions are there to teach you something.  Sadness allows us to slow down and analyze, fear pushes us out of our comfort zone, and loneliness enables us to reach out.

2. What did you learn? Rejection enables us to take a step back and learn about our priorities, goals, motivations and what we can do better next time.

3. Practice self-compassion.  Speak kindly to yourself.  Imagine you are speaking to a close friend who has just been rejected.  Would you belittle them or make them feel bad about themselves?  Or would you encourage them to try again and acknowledge that everyone makes mistakes?  Do something kind for yourself on a daily basis, whether it is meditation, reading a book, getting a massage, or just spending time alone to reflect.

4. Reach out for social support.  When we feel down, it is easy to isolate ourselves.  Social support reminds us that we are not alone and that others have gone through what we have gone through.  Sometimes just talking about it with your friends or family helps you to feel better.

5. You are so much more than this one rejection.  Remember that this rejection has nothing to do with who you are as a person.  The rejection does not mean that you are fundamentally flawed.

Dr Monica Borschel is a US-trained Clinical Psychologist  Get in touch with Dr Borschel: m.borschel@mindnlife.com for an individual or skype session.

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

0 comments on “Why is my teenager cutting?”

Why is my teenager cutting?

Hong Kong counseling and therapy services-teen-counseling

The modern teenager is under immense social and academic pressure.  Not only are teenagers going through rapid hormonal and brain changes, their social life is also rapidly changing with the advancement of social media.  Some parents struggle to maintain a healthy relationship with their teenager because teens and parents tend to view the world through different lenses.  Most teens want to be accepted and loved by their peer group as well as at home. Teenagers are seeking to find their self-identity amid the chaos.  Here are a few reasons why your teenager might be engaging in self-harm such as cutting.

  1. To alleviate emotional pain.  Physical pain takes the focus off of the emotional pain. Your teenager might not know how to cope with intense emotions such as rejection, loss or loneliness.  If your teenager is cutting because of this, listen to them speak about their feelings without punishing them or criticising them.  If you are unable to listen because of your own emotions, seek the help of a professional for teen counselling or for your personal support.
  2. They feel numb. If your teenager has become overwhelmed, they might have chosen to shut down their emotions.  They might feel numb because of voluntarily avoiding their emotions or due to severe anxiety or social anxiety.  The cutting helps them to feel alive.  If your teenager is cutting because of this, professional help for your teenager should be sought after.
  3. They want to punish themselves.  Your teenager might have gone through rejection, break-up or other failure and they believe they should be punished.  Speak to your teenager and try to help them understand that they do not need to punish themselves and that you love them.  If you are unable to be calm in this situation, seek a professional to speak to your teenager.
  4. Social Media.  Your teenager might have seen photos on social media glamorising cutting and self-harm.  Make sure your teenager understands that they do not need to always follow what their peers are doing as it can be quite dangerous.  Because you are the parent, your teenager might not listen to you about this.  Teenagers might believe that their parents are outdated and don’t understand.  If this is the case, seek a counsellor for your teenager.

Read more about your teenager here and about depression and suicide here.

Monica_in

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 “Understanding your teenager”

Understanding your teenager

Hong Kong psychologist offering teen therapy

Parents and teenagers often get frustrated with one another because they feel as if they are misunderstood and unheard.  As a parent, if you understand some of the developmental needs of a teenager, you may feel less stressed when they act out.   Here are some key points on how you can better communicate with your teenager.

1. Social Pressure: Teenagers are under pressure to fit in with their social group.  They are constantly looking for validation from their peer group because they have not yet developed a solid sense of identity.  They might ask to do things their friends are doing, or have what their friends have so that they fit in. It is important to be flexible with this while still setting clear boundaries around what is safe and reasonable for your teenager.

2. Rejection: Teenagers often feel rejected if they have not found a peer group that they fit into.  They might also feel rejected by a love interest.  This sense of rejection can be horrible for your teen’s self-esteem.  It is essential that they come home to a safe space that is free of judgement.  As a parent, you might feel stressed by your teenager’s emotions and actions.  It is in these moments that you remind your teenager that you love them unconditionally, but you have to set boundaries to keep them safe.

3. Cutting: Sometimes teenagers feel overwhelming emotional pain, rejection or pressure.  They might resort to cutting to punish themselves, distract themselves from the emotional pain or to help them feel something other than numb.  If your teenager is frequently cutting, a professional should be consulted.

4. Self-Identity: Sometimes it might seem like teenagers are rejecting their parents.  This is in part because they are forming a self-identity.  This is part of their developmental process as they figure out who they are.  Try not to take this personally as it will increase conflict.  Instead, ask what activity you can do with them.  Set time aside to be with them.

5. Respect: Teenagers are often said to be disrespectful.  People in general, including teenagers, are more likely to respect those that they feel offer them respect.  If your teenager is disrespectful, be curious if you are respecting them.  Make sure to take the time to listen to their concerns.

6. Sleep: Teenagers need more sleep than adults.  Allow them to sleep in on the weekends.  Try to get them to sleep earlier at night.  Waking up and going to sleep at the same time every day will help with fatigue.

7. Impulsivity: Teenagers are more impulsive than adults because they are still developing the frontal lobe region of their brain.  This can be dangerous if they are having suicidal thoughts, cutting or abusing substances.

If you feel overwhelmed by your teenager’s emotions and behaviours, reach out to a professional.  Practice compassion and empathy towards yourself and your teenager.

Monica_94

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

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

0 comments on “Increasing Self-Confidence”

Increasing Self-Confidence

Hong Kong Psychologist Counselling Therapist

Standing in the train or lift can be a scrutinising experience in Hong Kong, as well as other international cities. We all like to look at our peers to socially compare ourselves to them, and them to us. This increases or decreases our false sense of self.  The false sense of self is the self that is attached to external validation, meaning the approval of others.

Our self-esteem rises and falls depending on our accomplishments, failures, and health of our physical body. When we are accomplishing things such as excelling in a sport, academics, relationships, or our career; we are on top of the world. When we experience failure loss or rejection, our confidence and self-esteem decrease.

The key to balancing our self-esteem, our confidence and our self-image is to realise that wins and fails are only temporary. Nothing lasts forever. Recognise that you are more than those circumstances, more than your accomplishments and your failures. Learn to recognise that approval and security come from within yourself.

Some of us may feel unsure of who we are because we’ve let our parents, our friends, authority figures or society tell us who we should and should not be. There may be points in your life where you are being pulled in many different directions by many different people.

Here are some key points to enhance your self-confidence along your journey to self-discovery

Recognise and reframe negative self-talk.

When we recognise that we have a cynical internal monologue – such as calling ourselves “stupid, fat, or ugly,” we can reframe that thought to constructive criticism. For example, “My boss is upset with my performance. I need to try to make it to work on time and make sure that I get more sleep.” Instead of “I’m a worthless failure.” The first phrase provides a workable situation that enhances growth, whereas the second phrase leaves you unmotivated.

Grow as a human being.

Set goals and challenge yourself. When you accomplish goals, you feel better about yourself. On the journey to self-growth and goals, we might meet some failure or rejection. Realise this is normal and everyone faces these challenges. Allow the failure and rejection to inspire you to try again or find another creative avenue.  When a child is learning to walk, he falls and then gets up.  He might cry for a minute, but he always tries again.  As we mature, we encounter more failure and rejection, we can either get up or give up.  Those who give up will never know what they are truly capable of.

Sit in non-judgement as much as possible.

Human beings are judgemental by nature. We have been taught since day one to be “good” and not “bad.”  When we label people, we fail to recognise that all of us are a unique blend of biology, culture, and beliefs. When you accept that people are living their reality based on their life experiences, you realise that there is nothing to judge.  This non-judgment helps you to feel more comfortable in your own skin because you will also stop judging yourself as much.  You begin to realise that it is a waste of energy and time to judge others, just as it is for others to judge you.  Focus on yourself and what you need to accomplish to become a better person.

Have boundaries.

Don’t allow others to take more of your time, energy or resources than you can give. Do not let others abuse you emotionally, verbally, or physically.  It is ok to say no.  When you give more than you want to, you become fatigued and drained.  Often times this may lead to resentment.  If you enjoy helping others, make sure that you are helping yourself as well.

Get rid of toxic people

Toxic people are people who treat you with disrespect or make you feel bad about yourself. Start to recognise your emotional state around others and be curious about that. Surround yourself with people who have similar goals and objectives as you. If you have a toxic boss or co-worker and you need to deal with them, don’t take their negative behaviour personally. Here is another excellent article on how to manage these sorts of people

http://www.entrepreneur.stfi.re/article/290372?sf=nxprpeg#aa

Remain balanced

When we are out of balance physically, emotionally, or spiritually, we feel down. To remain physically stable, eat nutritiously and exercise as well as get enough sleep. Connect with yourself through meditation and self-reflection to stay spiritually balanced. Remain emotionally balanced by recognising and respecting your emotions as well as the feelings of others. Emotions give us information about our behaviour as well as the behaviour of others.

Practice gratitude

Express appreciation to those around you who are kind or do kind things for you. Express gratitude towards yourself and your body. Expressing gratitude rewires our brain to feel and think positively.  When we feel positive, we attract positive people into our lives.  The majority of people in the world want to be appreciated and respected.  Expressing gratitude to others enhances relationships with others and yourself.

Monica_94

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

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

0 comments on “Perception is everything”

Perception is everything

Hong Kong counselling therapy services

Everyone views the world through the lens of their own reality.  In a sense, we all live in a different universe.  Though we may be experiencing the same events, the way we interpret the event may be different.  When we are depressed, anxious or grieving, we have a tendency to forget that things will get better.  When all you can see is darkness, you forget that the other side of darkness is light.

For example, you might feel rejected by a job, family, society or someone you love.  One person might see the rejection as an opportunity to learn and grow, to find another solution to what they want.  And another person might see the rejection as proof that they are a failure.  Everyone fails sometimes.  What counts is how you react to the failure or rejection.

When we are grieving, depressed or anxious, we can’t understand how we will move past our intense emotions.  We can’t understand how other people can be so happy when we are suffering so.  Each feeling that we have gives us information.  Grief teaches us to appreciate the ones that we love, depression lets us know that something is out of balance, and anxiety tells us that we do not feel safe.  We can use these emotions to become introspective and more aware of who we are.  Here are some points to perception and how it can hurt or heal us:

1. We are a product of our genes and environment: When we fail to understand that other people see the world differently than us, miscommunication and tension develop.  We can have healthier and happier relationships in business and in our personal lives if we take the time to listen to someone else’s perception without judgement.

2. Focus on abundance and not lack: Sometimes we get stuck in the negative cycle of longing for what we don’t have.  This might make us anxious or depressed.  If we focus on what we do have, we become calmer and more focused.  Appreciation and gratitude is an easy trick to be a happier person.

3. Take criticism with a grain of salt: Sometimes people criticise us in a way that helps us to grow and develop.  This sort of criticism is coming from a place of care and love.  Destructive criticism comes from a place of jealousy or judgement and should be filtered out.  Do not internalise other people’s negativity towards you as it tends to be a projection of how they feel about themselves.

4. Be patient with yourself: Sometimes we might feel annoyed with ourselves because we think that our emotions are a sign of weakness.  This is not helpful.  When you feel down, give yourself some space.  Space to respect and grow from your emotions, and space from self-judgement and criticism.

5. Know yourself: Understand your emotions and what triggers them.  Knowing yourself helps you to avoid conflict and understand what you need to meet your goals.

6. Social support: Spend time with people who offer emotional support and support your growth as a person.  Stay away from people who are motivated by jealousy and anger.

7. Reach out to a professional: If you feel unmotivated, and can’t find joy in anything, it is a good idea to ask for help from an expert.  A professional can help you to understand yourself better and help you reach your full potential.

Monica_in

Dr Monica Borschel is a US-trained Clinical Psychologist

Reach out to Dr Borschel: m.borschel@mindnlife.com for a private or skype session

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

0 comments on “Forgiving yourself”

Forgiving yourself

Hong Kong psychological services

If 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. Destructive criticism 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, I did my 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 “The Little Details Of Parenting”

The Little Details Of Parenting

Hong Kong psychological and therapy services

Parenting 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 are some key points 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, certain parenting habits are critical for our children’s future.  Here are some typical examples of practices that parents may do but may not realise the effects 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 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-talk that results 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 is ensured 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.

Monica_in

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

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

0 comments on “Psychologists, counsellors and therapists are for everyone”

Psychologists, counsellors and therapists are for everyone

People are often intimidated by seeing a psychologist, counsellor or therapist because they think that they don’t need one or because of the stigma attached to mental health. Psychologists and other counsellors are there to provide a safe space that is free of judgement.  Trained professionals can help anyone become more successful in their career, relationships or promote overall well-being.  A trained professional can help you to understand yourself and others better, leading to increased peace and happiness.  Here are a few ways that psychologists, counsellors and therapists enable your success.

  1. They help you to understand and regulate your emotions.  Being able to remain calm under pressure and stress is a superpower.  When you understand your emotions better, you are able to control them which decreases stress and anxiety.
  2.  They help you understand your thought patterns.  Often times we are unaware how our own thought patterns are affecting our self-esteem, behaviours and relationships.  Our past relationships and experiences have dictated how we speak to ourselves.  Often times we need to retrain our thought patterns to be happier.
  3. They help you to understand your own strengths and weaknesses.  Often we are unaware of how we are underutilising our strengths and avoidant of our weaknesses. It is much easier to avoid our selves than to face ourselves.  When we begin to take responsibility and action, we become a better person.
  4. They promote resilience.  Trained professionals have spent years studying human behaviour and thought patterns.  This knowledge enables them to lead you towards resilience, grit and success.
  5. They help you to have better relationships. Trained professionals understand different personality types and how to communicate and interact with the personality types.  They can help you get along better with your boss, spouse, friends, and co-workers.  Better relationships often lead to increased happiness and success.
  6. You are able to be yourself without judgement.  Being able to speak to someone objectively who will not judge you can be liberating.  When you feel free to say and be your authentic self, you become aware of your passions, goals, and thought patterns.  Becoming authentic enables you to have increased overall feelings of well-being and happiness.
  7. They help children and teenagers overcome.  Teenagers and children are a vulnerable population that has difficulty verbalising how they feel.  A professional can use play and art therapy to help your child or teen do better in school and become happier.

Dr Monica Borschel is a US-trained Clinical Psychologist

Get in touch with Dr Borschel: m.borschel@mindnlife.com

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.