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Creating a safe space for worries

Updated: Mar 4, 2023

A piece of heartbreaking news went viral among Hongkongers in the UK just a few days after Lunar New Year. A 27-years-old Hongkonger came to the UK from Hong Kong via the BNO visa route took her life in September 2022. She arrived the UK in April 2022, and got an offer as a humanitarian worker in an international organisation. It was reported that she struggled from the high rent, worried about being laid off due to work performance, and skipped her meals to save money before her death.

Sadly, there are blame-the-victim comments from Hongkongers, such as 'if you don't have enough money, don't consider migration', while some people would try to encourage others to have 'positive thinking', such as quoting the famous slogan from the Social Welfare Department of Hong Kong Government campaign in 2016, 'There are always more solutions than problems.' There are also some comparisons among Hongkongers, because many of us could not, or not willing to resume our career as same as in Hong Kong when we are in the UK. As a result, many professional and educated Hongkongers become working class in the host country. People would fall into the assumption that 'she was lucky to continue her career and had a descent job in the UK!'

I am not going to discuss it is a wave of migration or fleeing among Hongkongers. It is a fact that the cost of living crisis was not expected one and a half years ago, when many Hongkongers started to move to the UK. There are many factors from social contexts making Hongkongers insist to come to the UK under the high inflation. I just want to share what I have recently learnt from one of my clients with their permission.

Firstly, having a descent job does not mean we are carefree from financial pressure. Our family situation complicated things, and not all of us are willing to share what we are going through inside our house.

Also, when people are worrying, they have spent a lot of energy to sort out solutions, and are tired of it already. However, most of the people would react with solutions when someone shared their worries to them. It would drive the person to keep worries to themselves, especially when it is related with money, to avoid the perception or assumption of asking or borrowing money.

When worries are dominating a person's mind, a safe space to let the worries out might be helpful to create room for the person to explore assets and choices in the life.

When we decide to speak up to a beloved and trust one, and want to protect our frustration from listening to more solutions that burden ourselves, we may need to open the conversation in this way, "I'm not asking for solutions; I am talking to you because I need someone listen to me." Hopefully, it could help create a safe space to express ourselves. By sharing this, we hope this could also be a good reminder for us, as a listener to our beloved family and friends.

*I would like to acknowledge persons who invited me to listen to their genuine sharing of experience, knowledge and skills with trust.*

Hongkonger Counselling

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