Last week I posted the following quote on my Facebook page: “You’re allowed to be great.” As with many of my instagram posts, facebook posts, and even blog posts, I was writing this mostly for myself, while hoping it would speak to someone else. I have had a lot of success in the past few weeks. I overcame my imposter syndrome and delivered a monumental keynote address at a national conference. I had been extremely nervous about this talk for a year. It was a ton of work-lots of late nights, self-doubt, anxiety.
I killed it, y’all.
I am a very humble individual, but…I did. I ROCKED THAT PRESENTATION.
I was in the process of creating an Instagram post to catch my followers up on everything I experienced this summer, and was feeling particularly strange about “bragging” about the success of my presentation. However, given everything that I had overcome in achieving this monumental success, I had to have a discussion with myself. I had to tell myself that it was ok that I was sharing my success-not to brag, but to praise God and to show others that they can also be great.
So, I posted the Facebook post in order to minister to someone else, as well a myself.
My Facebook friends commented, liked, and loved the post. Many of them commented and seemed to really need to see this particular quote. A couple of hours later I received a text message from a friend who just started a new job as a pediatric hospitalist this year. She said that she was scheduled that very morning to give a lecture to the entire second year medical school class, but was feeling like she did not have the credentials to undertake such a huge task. She felt overwhelmed and that she was a total imposter. She texted that she saw my post on Facebook before the talk, and it helped her to realize that she was being negative with herself. She was chosen to do this presentation for a reason.
How many times do we second-guess ourselves? How many times do we doubt the greatness inside of us, even when other people tell us? How many times do we KNOW that we are great, but don’t actually allow ourselves to be great.
I am about to say something very controversial. Ready? Here it goes:
Are you still there, Beyhive members? Fighting the urge to click the “X” at the top of your screen?
Ok, hear me out.
I am not saying that I am an amazing singer and entertainer like Beyonce is. My singing is questionable. My knees won’t let my dancing be great.
What I am saying is…Beyonce allows herself to be great. She taps into her greatness. She decides to spend 8 months practicing for a 2 hour performance. Beyonce could have just as easily gotten on stage and pieced together routines from over the years, and we still would have called her the Queen. But, she knew she was capable of much more, and she put the time and effort in to push herself to the next level. Not only did she KNOW she was great, she then worked to show the greatness that she had inside.
I firmly believe that I have that greatness inside of me.
I firmly believe that YOU have that greatness inside of you.
How it manifests is up to me. It’s up to you. It won’t be putting on an epic performance, but it can be in my writing. In my speaking. In connecting with people and helping them to reach their potential.
Until I allow myself to be great, greatness will be dormant inside of me. I read a quote that said that is the ultimate sin-not utilizing the gifts that God has given me.
How dare I shake my fist at the sky and tell God, the Creator, “Sorry, I won’t be utilizing the gifts You have given me, because I am just not sure they will work out.”
What if I publish this blog post, and one person reads it and finds the courage to create a life-saving medical intervention of some sort?
What if I publish this post and one person gets inspired to start their nonprofit, and that touches the lives of many?
What if I publish this post, and one person feels inspired to push past their insecurity and make the sale in their company, and goes on to lift their family out of poverty?
Now…what if I don’t?
If I directly told someone not to save lives, not to start a non-profit, or if I actively hindered someone from making a sale in their business, that would definitely be a sin, correct?
So isn’t making the decision to not utilize my gifts just as problematic?
Today I am making the decision to own my greatness. I am making the decision to push past my insecurities and my imposter syndrome and live in my greatness. I am making the decision to do the work now, 8 months in advance, so that I can reap the rewards 8 months from now.
I am a wife to an amazing husband. I have two gorgeous children-and a boy and a girl at that.
We live in a beautiful community. I completed college, medical school, and trained at arguably the best children’s hospital in the country (shout out to Cincinnati Children’s!).
I have recently lost a significant amount of weight (more on this later, I promise).
I have it all. Seemingly.
Yet, deep down inside, I knew that I wasn’t giving it my all, all the time.
For as long as I have known myself, I have a very bad habit of doing just enough.
Now, my just enough landed me all of the amazing opportunities that I have outlined above, and for that, I thank my God and my family.
However, I lived with the constant realization that I could do So. Much. More.
It started off with big things.
I would procrastinate on assignments in school. I told myself that I “work well under pressure” or that “I only work well with deadlines”.
I would have an idea for something to write or a new idea for a cool new something, and I would put it off. “That’s a silly idea.” “I can’t do that.” “No one would buy that.” “I’ll wait until I learn more about X before I do Y.”
As I progressed in my career I noticed that it was no longer only “big” things I would put off.
Seemingly minute details became increasingly difficult to undertake. Not that the things themselves were necessarily hard.
They actually weren’t hard at all. Sending in paperwork for a new job.
Responding to an email from my boss, completing paperwork tasks on time, setting an out of office reply when I was going on vacation.
These are not hard things at all, but they were things that I learned to put off until the very last minute as a way to avoid the anxiety they caused.
This then morphed into not only not making it to meetings on time but also telling myself that I was being strategically late because everyone in Miami is late and I hate wasting time (there is some truth to this…especially the lateness of my fellow Miami peeps).
But, really, it was just an excuse for me to procrastinate.
It was easy not to be too hard on myself. Honestly, for as long as I can remember, things in our lives have been crazy.
Medical school apart from my hubby, residency with a baby, Adrian’s health scare while I was in residency, fellowship in a new place with Adrian unable to find a job initially (an entire blog post!), me getting pregnant, my mom almost dying and getting sick, Adrian starting a new and amazing job, multiple hospitalizations and rehab stays and eventually my mom’s passing, my cousin dying, and subsequently my mother’s brother dying as well.
Of course I had anxiety!
I was used to doing just enough and justifying it by all of the craziness that I was dealing with on a daily basis.
Can anyone blame me? I certainly didn’t think I had a problem. Life was just crazy and things were stressful. Right?
I always knew. I always knew that, deep down inside, I was using these things as justification for my terrible self-sabotaging habits.
Deep down I was scared for peace.
Because, when things calm down and hectic tumult evolves into the daily grind of a normal life, I knew that I would crumble if I did not tackle the habits that lead to self-sabotage in my life.
I didn’t know how to do anything other than procrastinating and self-sabotage.
The thought of being on top of my day-to-day tasks gave me major anxiety.
Working with my therapist helped me to realize that for some reason I didn’t believe that I deserved to not be scrambling at the last minute.
I didn’t know how to not be in chaos, so I was creating chaos for myself in every missed e-mail, in every missed deadline, in every pre-meeting scramble.
Every time I walked in late and rushed to submit an item before a deadline, I was reinforcing my flawed internal dialogue: “That’s the way it is in my life—things are just crazy.”
But things were no longer crazy, and I had no more excuses. Life was peaceful, or at least it was no longer insane. So what was my problem?
I did lots of emotional work that included prayer and meditation. I remember the morning that I committed to change.
I told myself that I am worthy of so much more, not because of anything that I have done, but because I am a child of God.
I truly, for the first time, felt free of the weight of uncertainty and self-sabotage. I had a renewed energy drive and focus to Get. Stuff. Done.
So, what did I do first? NOTHING.
A whole lot of nothing.
Because I didn’t have the TOOLS that I needed to get anything done.
I made a commitment to change but had no idea what the next step was.
When you’ve done something your entire life it is possible to summon the courage and conviction to change, but unless you have concrete steps to take, you will end up falling back into your old ways.
So here, I was with a ton of energy and determination, but feeling totally lost and confused as to what I should do next.
So, as the creature of habit that I am, I turned to the one place that I go to when I can’t figure out what to do next.
When I turned it on, one of the suggested videos was something from Amy Landino.
I had just started watching Amy a few months before and felt that her tips for productivity and being an overall girl boss resonated with me.
So, I clicked on her video, hoping that I would gain inspiration on what to do to shake my old ways. I watched a few of her videos in the background as I began preparing dinner in the kitchen. After a while, a video popped up that piqued my interest.
Amy was going to be talking to Mel Robbins.
Now, I knew I should know who Mel was, but I had no clue. Amy solidified that when she exclaimed how EVERYONE was now reading Mel Robbins” 5 Second Rule book. Having always been a book worm, I ventured over to watch the video.
And that’s where my life changed.
OK, I know how dramatic that sounds, but I cannot understate the impact that learning about Mel’s 5-second rule had on my life. It has truly been a game-changer.
Interestingly the 5-second rule is wedged in toward the end of the video, but what compelled me was Mel’s story.
I felt that she truly had been in a place that I was trying to crawl myself out of.
Stuck, mired by life’s worries, knowing that you need to change what you do in order to change where you are, but not knowing how to do it or where to begin.
Could it be that I was receiving the answer to my prayer at that very moment?
I truly believe so.
After watching a few more of her videos, I decided to put the 5-second rule into practice with something I had been procrastinating on for weeks—calling my therapist.
See, I missed my last appointment, and I had been avoiding calling her because she called me a few times and I didn’t call back.
So, I took a deep breath and did exactly what Mel taught me to do moments before.
Before I even had a chance to think, I was on the phone with my therapist.
Just as I knew she would be, she was pleasant and kind.
And, just as I always do, I immediately thought to myself “Why did I wait so long to call? That wasn’t hard at all!!!” It’s never truly hard, but I get stuck anyway.
I tried to figure out the best and fastest way to get my hands on her book. I knew that if I purchased it from amazon, I could get it in 2 days, but I needed this book NOW. So, I figured out how to download the book from Audible so that I could listen immediately.
(Talk about stuck-I had an audible membership for at least a year at that point, and that was the first book I ever downloaded and listened to!)
I did several other things that I was dreading that day after counting from 5 to 1: I logged in to my student loan account and updated the amount I owed for my records, as well as confirmed my loan forgiveness (this was a HUGE undertaking! I had been avoiding that for MONTHS); I checked some old emails and responded to them; I started working on one of my many procrastinated projects; I PICKED UP THE PHONE WHEN SOMEONE CALLED
(Y’all. Being an introvert AND a procrastinator with high-functioning anxiety truly made my voicemail inbox a place where messages went to DIE.).
I now hold the title of a recovering self-sabotager (Hello, my name is Kim…).
It is a daily battle and work in progress, although I will say that it seems to be getting easier.
I am making new habits and replacing old ones.
I am getting things done and having the daily courage to make little steps toward my goals so that I can have the life that I know I deserve.
Check out Mel Robbins’ book “The 5-second rule” for yourself! If you find it helpful, I would love if you would share your experience below or email me at productivepurpose.com.
As I sat at my computer desk in December of 2017, I remember an overwhelming feeling of tiredness come over me. No, not tiredness: sheer exhaustion. I felt physically spent and mentally drained. I couldn’t think straight, and it was hard to muster the energy to complete the one of the mounting tasks on my to do list. As I sat, I briefly opened my Facebook app and wrote a quick status update: “Have you ever felt so tired that you just sat down and cry?”
I received 33 comments that day. Many of my Facebook friends stated that they completely understood. Others offered prayer. Some scolded me that I needed to rest. That post marked the last time I was on Facebook in over 6 months. I realized that I needed to step away. I don’t drink, smoke, or do drugs. I have been attempting to eat right and lose weight, so I was no longer using food to numb my pain. I realized at that time that social media had become my drug of choice.
Instead of prayer; instead of picking up the phone and calling my husband; instead of reaching out to a friend; instead of journaling or writing it down; heck, instead of actually just sitting down and crying, I chose Facebook as my outlet when I was feeling despair and anguish. Grieving the loss of my mom, feeling overwhelmed with the day-to-day tasks, and not having a system in place to tackle them, and feeling like I needed to have it all together was an enormous mental and emotional toll.
I remember talking to my husband shortly after, and I mentioned to him that I think it is time to try out therapy. I had been contemplating the idea of therapy for a few years, but never pulled the trigger. Even though I am a physician, the stigma was not lost on me. I, Dr. Kimberly Reynolds, a board-certified pediatrician who has referred hundreds of patients for therapy over the course of my career, had serious second thoughts about attending therapy.
If you’re shaking your head right now, I understand. I’m SMHing myself right now, also. However, I recognized that I was reaching a breaking point and that I needed to get help ASAP. I will do a separate blog post on how I found my therapist, and how to know that the therapist you find is the right fit, so look out for that. For now, let’s just say that I was VERY nervous about my first visit! I walked in with extreme trepidation and dread. There was a bit of excitement that I was finally prioritizing my mental health.
Why in the world did I wait so long to see a therapist?! She got my entire life on the first visit. She just GETS me. She focused in on my lack of prioritizing self-care on the first visit, and now we are focusing on why and how to overcome it. We have also been touching on the grief associated with the death of my mother.
The what of our sessions is probably less important than the how. The best part of meeting with a therapist is that I am able to be vulnerable with her and not feel that her perception of me has any impact on my life. She is a neutral 3rd party. Her entire existence (as far as I am concerned) is to help me be a better version of myself. That probably sounded VERY selfish. It is! And that, my fellow working professional, is the beauty of therapy. It is truly the only time that I get to be selfish. For that entire hour, the agenda is ME. If we are talking about my husband or my kids, it is about them in relation to me, the way I deal with them, etc.
This has been a game changer. The biggest thing my therapist has taught me so far in my time with her is that you cannot pour from an empty cup. If I think about it, almost my entire life is spent pouring into others. Not only my husband and children, but all of the children and parents that I treat at work, as well as the medical students and residents. In fact, I would often feel very guilty about taking time for myself to get my hair done, get a massage, or even to go to the gym! I am still working on this as part of my goals for self-care, but just the concept has been a huge blessing for me. And you know what? My family is better off for it as well.
If you are a working parent like I am, you likely also spend your days pouring into others. Your significant other, your children, your clients, your boss. Everyone demands a piece of you and you happily give it, but find yourself left at the end of the day with an empty cup. Some people then try unhealthy habits to refill their cup. I mentioned my choice refill options were carbohydrates and social media. Now, I utilize healthier options such as exercising and journaling. (I still occasionally eat a donut! But now it is a treat as opposed to a treatment.)
I have no doubt that there is a subset of you who are now thinking something along the lines of “ Only the love of Christ can fill our cup!” I agree 100%. However, my guilt and discomfort with prioritizing myself was hindering me from reading my bible, journaling, and even praying. It felt self-indulgent and wrong to pray to the Almighty about my needs. My therapist has helped to reroute that faulty thinking, and in my prayers I am able to pray for myself and others, including my family. Besides, God gives us people and professionals to help us, so I have decided to use them.
Are you a working mom or dad who is feeling that your cup is running dry? Have you ever considered therapy? Would you like a post on how to select a therapist? If so, please leave a comment below! If this post inspires you to seek out a therapist, I would love to hear from you! Please email me at email@example.com.
Disclaimer: This post is not geared toward people with depression, anxiety, or any other mental health diagnosis. If that’s you, you SHOULD work with a therapist: There is no probably about it. You may or may not also be on medications. Speak with your physician and healthcare professional about your treatment plan. This post is not a substitute for consulting with your physician and should not be taken as medical advice.