Jan. 30, 2022

Grounding Tips for Surviving Chinese New Year


Are you stressed during Chinese New Year? Hate the feeling of having to give a "progress report" of your life to relatives who want to know about your marital/family status, work, studies etc?

Here are some simple reminders to help keep you calm, grounded and prepared to honour your boundaries as you go CNY visiting!

Happy Chinese/Lunar New Year everyone!

- Ann Yeong

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Recalibrate and re-ground yourself, and re-anchor, and remind yourself, you know, that you're not – your worth is not defined by all these things – for example, that tend to be talked about a lot during Chinese New Year.

Welcome to Becoming Me, your podcast companion and coach in your journey to a more integrated and authentic self. I am your host, Ann Yeong, and I'm here to help you grow in self-discovery and wholeness. If you long to live a more authentic and integrated life and would like to hear honest insights about the rewards and challenges of this journey, then take a deep breath, relax, and listen on to Becoming Me.

Here are some grounding reminders for those of you who find Chinese New Year stressful like I do, or I have – for a long time. Things are getting better now, and I thought I would just share with you some grounding tips that have helped me navigate past Chinese New Year’s. Maybe this will help you too.

So, first of all, this is a reminder, right – that your identity and self-worth are not defined by all the different things that you tend to be asked about when you meet your relatives over the celebrations of the new year.

So, if you're single, remember that your worth and your value is not determined by a marital status, right. So, even if you're asked, "are you dating anyone", "when are you getting married" – you can respond to that question better if in your heart, in your being, you are anchored in the belief that, you know, I am who I am, and regardless of what my elders may think is good for me, or what I need for happiness, my value – my worth – is not determined by my marital status.

Right. You don’t have to say this out loud to the people who ask you about this. But if you believe it and you are grounded in this conviction, you're going to be so much calmer, you know – when you have to answer this question, probably over and over again if you're single.

And if you're married, your worth and your value is also not determined by the number of children you have, right. So, anyone who has grown up and celebrated Chinese New Year growing up will know that there are always questions that you'll be asked depending on what season of life you're in, and what state of life you're in.

When you're single, you'll be asked often by people, "are you dating anyone". If you're dating someone, you'll be asked, "oh, are you getting married this year", "when are you getting married". And if you've gotten married, you'll be getting the wishes for, you know – many children. And you'll be asked "no children yet?", you know, "how many children do you have?"

And sometimes, while that may upset us and frustrate us – but it upsets us more when we haven't grounded ourselves in this conviction and remembering that I am not the number of children I have. You know, I mean, you have to believe it, right. So, if you don't believe that yet, you'll probably will be stressed by this question more than if you believe it.

But remember, your worth is not determined by the number of children you have. Neither is your worth determined by your employment status. Now, this may be something that would be sensitive for a lot more people right now – for this year, right? Because people ask you "how is work going", "are you getting any promotions".

You know, Chinese New Year, we often wish – one of the traditional wishes is to “步步高升” (bu bu gao sheng), right. So, it is to – may you do better and better and get promotions at work this year. And maybe some of us are in transition this year.

Maybe some of us may have been let go from our jobs. And this will make us feel really, really not keen to visit, I think, at Chinese New Year – knowing that we will be asked about work. So, before you go for any visits, before the reunion dinners and all that, remember; for yourself first. For yourself. You are not – your worth is not determined by employment status, okay?

This is something that can change at different seasons of life. You are not what you do. We are not what we do. So, remember that. If you are younger and you're still a student. Oh my gosh – I mean where I am, in Singapore, especially; there is so much fuss made about the kind of schools you attend, what school you attend.

You know, when it comes to that point in time; after a major streaming exam and students have to choose schools – so much fuss is made about the ranking of schools and all that. And if you're a student, you probably will be asked – you know, "so, what school are you going to attend", right?

If you're going to a new school, I want you to remember, okay? – your worth is not determined by which school you attend. This is for you to believe in, first of all. Whether the elders who ask you this question think or not, that's their business. But I want you to remember that you're so much more precious than what school you attend, or how well you did in your exams.

You know, students also often get asked this. I remember being asked this. Especially after major exams – major streaming exams, people ask "how did you do". You don’t have to answer that question – and we'll get to that in a while. But remember, you are not, not, not determined – your worth is not determined by how well or how poorly you did in your exams.

So, like I just mentioned, you are not obligated to answer questions that people ask you. They have the freedom to ask – not everyone is very sensitive about the questions that they ask. But just because someone asks you a question doesn't mean that you are obliged to answer, okay. So, what can you do then?

You know, here's something that has really worked well for me: anticipate and prepare. Most of us – we already know, after going through this routine year after year. We know which are the relatives that maybe are going to ask the questions that we really don't want to have to answer. We know which are the characters, right? – that we don't want to have to spend time with, apart from the initial pleasantries and wishes.

Well, anticipate and prepare. When you know you're going to that household, that visit, or going to be meeting that elder or that person that you are more wary or uncomfortable to talk to – someone that you would feel unsafe with. It's hard to totally avoid during times of celebration. But it would help you to feel braver and calmer if you can get ready before you meet the person.

What do I mean? Well, you know, for example, that people may give you advise or maybe express concerns, right – about your marital status, or the fact that you're getting older and you're not getting children – I got that a lot, by the way, after I got married. Because I don't have kids, my husband and I don't have kids. And people would be telling me “Oh, don't wait too long", you know, "don't wait til you're too old before you try because it's going to be harder for you to conceive".

You know, they have no idea what the situation is, right? I mean, this is actually a very private affair. And nobody even knows why it is that we don't have children. So, when people ask you questions or want to talk about things that you really don't want to talk about, and they actually really have no business really having to know, you can come up with a standard script. Like, "I appreciate your concern, but I don't want to talk about this". You can say it nicely with a smile.

"I appreciate your concern, thank you so much for caring. But I don't want to talk about this", right. Or "I appreciate your concern and if I need advice, I will let you know" – because some people are really free with their advice. And just because they give advice doesn't mean that you have to stand there and take it, right. I mean, let them speak and be ready with a response – so you can anticipate and prepare.

You know, this works really well for me. I know some of us may be more skilled than others at changing the topic. But hey, you know what people are actually happy to talk about – if you want to introduce a new topic; people are usually happy to talk about themselves. So, you can just ask this question: "what about you", "what are your hopes for the new year". You know, "what's new and exciting in your life" – these are safe questions to ask that are not prying. It gives them the flexibility to choose what topic they wish to talk about.

And generally, people are happy to talk about what they want to talk about, right? Maybe sometimes they are asking these intrusive questions because that's what they learnt growing up, is the thing to do at Chinese New Year. You need to ask people about how they are, or how they are doing. So, you can model for them what is a kinder way of opening a conversation, right – without prying.

So, change the topic, and – okay, this has worked really well for me when there are little children around. When the little children grow up, I mean, maybe it's not so helpful. But even though I don't have kids of my own, you know, there are cousins' children, or my nieces, when they were much younger. And I would volunteer to be the one to keep them company, you know, so that their parents can talk to the other adults or get busy with other things.

And children are safe, I mean, for me. Generally, they're not going to be the ones to ask me unsafe kind of questions or questions I don't want to talk about. So, if there are young children in the midst and you're somebody that loves kids, you know, you can volunteer to spend time with the kids, and take them out of their parent's hair. I think their parents will be very grateful for you.

And remember to check in with yourself more often during this time. Sometimes, things happen very quickly. And when you have some time to be alone, remember to just kind of check in with yourself. How are you feeling; Are you sad, mad, angry? Are you stressed? What is it that is stressing you out? So, this gives you some chance to recalibrate and re-ground yourself, and re-anchor, and remind yourself that your worth is not defined by all these things – for example, that tend to be talked about a lot during Chinese New Year.

This is so, so, so helpful. Buffer and don't rush, okay? I mean, this is probably more valid for those of you who – if you get to call the shots in terms of scheduling; okay, maybe not so much if you're still young – you know, you're still a kid who has to follow your parent's schedule. But if you have some say, please try not to rush from one thing to another. So, buffer and give yourself breaks in between, or don't stay too long in one place, if that's possible – so that you have time to connect with yourself, time to rest, time to have some quiet before you go to the next event, or the next thing, right.

And that's it! Those are just some grounding tips for getting through Chinese New Year visitation, and dinners and meals with family and relatives – you know, with more emotional health, with more mindfulness, and more kindness and compassion to yourself. But not just to yourself – when you ground yourself this way, I think you will also be more compassionate and mindful about how you speak with other people too.

And remember, not everyone is having a good time, and a lot of people – everyone – feels obligated to smile and be happy, especially during Chinese New Year. Because it's like, inauspicious things are taboo, right? We are not supposed to talk about things that would make people sad, or you know, make people feel – that's going to set a bad kind of precedent for the rest of the year. So, take care, God bless, and a very happy year of the tiger to you. 新年快樂! (Xin nian kuai le)

[00:13:13] CONCLUSION
Thank you for listening to Becoming Me, where new episodes drop every first and third Wednesdays of the month. Remember, the most important thing about making this journey is to keep taking steps in the right direction. No matter how small those steps might be, and no matter where you might be in your life right now, it is always possible to begin. 

The world would be a poorer place without you becoming more fully alive. Don't forget to visit my website at becomingmepodcast.com and to subscribe to my newsletter as well as to this podcast. Until the next episode, Happy becoming!