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Monday January 14th 2019

Ten greatest emotional hiccups faced by Singaporeans

Ten greatest emotional hiccups faced by Singaporeans:-1. Loneliness – many Singaporeans I know experience loneliness at some point in their life but our inhibited Asian culture and self-centred nature mean we seldom want to reach out when we are in need of a listening ear. Our elderly folks experience this more especially when they face an empty nest or an absent spouse through death or estranged relationship. Probably the number one emotional killer right now – many people also feel lonely even though they are walking around in the midst of our 5.3 million population. Being in a crowd doesn’t mean you can escape from the loneliness – sometimes it amplifies the hollowness within us. The best way to beat loneliness is to learn to be at peace with yourself when you are on your own. Learn to enjoy your own company so that you don’t always have to rely on others to fulfill a very great social need. However, if you need to talk to someone urgently, email us at We are here for you…2. Boredom – the next most crippling emotional fear of most Singaporeans is boredom. In a place that is devoid of much space and natural physical terrain, many of us wander from one mall to the other and after a while we are consumed by boredom. One way to beat boredom is not to pack up your diary with mindless activities, but to volunteer your time with the less unfortunate for it is when we reach out to others in need that we can find some meaning in our life. Personally, I experienced much boredom growing up when I was a youth as it was just the books and nothing else. I am sure I speak for many of our youth here who have nothing much to look forward to except mugging and passing exams.3. Impatience – on the roads and in our daily walk, we can find many impatient Singaporeans who dash in and out of activities and places as if they are in a perpetual hurry but is there such a need to be always in a hurry? We honk at other cars who are slow and out-walk others who amble slowly in the passage walk or MRT station. Living our life so impatiently does not allow us to enjoy the finer things in life let alone smell the roses that fill our way. We are just too busy to notice such stuff anyway.

4. Meaninglessness – we also find Singaporeans experiencing a great deal of meaninglessness in their life especially when the mid life crisis episode hit men in their mid forties. That is probably the time when they decide to look for another partner, if they are married, or change job even though they are doing well. Our cooped-up city lifestyle also mean many people are living from the workplace to home and vice versa and after a while, people feel empty and meaningless inside. One way to beat that meaningless feeling is to be more involved with the family or community so that they remain plugged in to the society. Getting a new hobby also helps.

5. Suicidal thoughts – most of us go through rough batches in our life and in one of these tense moments, there could be fleeting suicidal thoughts that cross our mind. I flirted with such thoughts when I was jobless for 18 months in 2001/2 and again five years ago when the marriage broke down. Fortunately, I never brought such thoughts to fruition. Singaporeans experienced an increase in suicides during these past few years and people from the age group of 21-29 and 50-59 faced the steepest increase in suicides last year. If you face suicidal thoughts currently and need to talk to someone please email us at we can assign you with a counsellor asap.

6. Stressfulness – living in one of the most stressful work environment in the world, it is not difficult to find many beat-up Singaporeans facing stress from the time they enter school to the day they hit the bucket. In schools, our children face massive stress to finish up their home work and study hard for their exams. While at work, they need to compete with their foreign counterparts who seem to have an uneven advantage and when they retire, they find that working in the foodcourt is a frightening reality. You can find many Singaporeans turning to exercise not because they enjoy sports but more as a destressing activity. If your job truly provides you much stress, do look for another one as its not worth going to work unwillingly on a daily basis and personally I believe stress is a major contributor to many heart-related problems here.

7. Unhappiness – I have never met so many unhappy Singaporeans in my life before and during the past few years, you can see them everywhere complaining about almost everything. Incidentally, we are also voted the most unhappy country in the world and one can see that manifestation in our cramped-up MRT trains and workplaces. People hardly could smile nowadays. Many unhappy people of course are pointing the finger at our government who seem to be the center of most of their problems. Though there could be an element of truth in that, taking ownership of a problem and finding worthwhile solutions could be the real breakthrough for ourselves. Looking for contentment is also another way to get away from unhappiness as when we compare ourselves with others we can never be truly happy. Sometimes, what we have right now is enough…and one of the major reason why we are unhappy is because we are always looking at what others have.

8. Insecurity – Singaporeans also face one of the biggest national emotional hiccup of all i.e. their insecurity. Maybe we are always chastised by our government and also our parents that we are not good enough, we must always be number one for what we do – number two and three is just not good enough. After a while, we always clamour to be better even though we are already doing quite well. Its not wrong to strive to do better but when we are always telling ourselves we are not good enough then we may have a problem on our hands. That’s probably how our kaisu character takes root. We also try to be a perfectionist in many things that we do and lost the will to be a risk-taker as we are uncomfortable with failure when we feel so insecure with ourselves. It takes courage to try new things and fail while doing it and somehow our society has lost that edge to be better not by perfecting things but by trying new stuff. Talk to ten Singaporeans and you sense that eight of them are insecure with something in their life – their looks, their education, their speech, etc. We are just not secure enough to accept who we are are right now and constantly look for ways to improve ourselves – often failing to see that what we are right now is good enough.

9. Powerlessness – strangely after talking to many Singaporeans in distress, they often confided that they felt powerless in their ordeal. The unemployed would say that they couldn’t get out of the rut and those caught in other situations expressed dismay that they felt trapped in a cage where there is no escape. Is this the result of our stifling political situation whereby people are unable to freely voice out something against the system in public without the fear of being sued or persecuted by the law? Feeling powerless is a self-demeaning characteristic and perhaps we need to empower ourselves more by attending protests at Speakers’ Corner as unity is strength.

10. Hopelessness – this is something that plagued many Singaporeans and like powerlessness, it could be something that arose from our tyrannical system. There is not much hope it seems when we are up against abusive employers who are encouraged by the weak labour system. People don’t feel hope if they can’t see the light and right now in many situations, people can’t see the light at the end of their tunnel – the jobless, the retiring elderly and the struggling students. That is also probably why many people turn to religion which explains why Christianity experiences a steep rise in their church attendance. People just want to feel some hope for their situation…

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2 Responses to “Ten greatest emotional hiccups faced by Singaporeans”

  1. Jonathan Lee says:

    Great post… it truly reflects what singaporeans are feeling… especially loneliness and unhappiness…

    it is indeed the plight of our society now

    Thanks for mentioning it out, Gilbert.

  2. sal says:

    You must strong faith especially in Spore situation. Live a simple life, don’t take big mortgage or car loan and lastly be a good voter……for you, your children n future generations.

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