This is Your Anxiety Toolkit - Episode 200.
Oh my stars, you guys, Episode 200. So exciting.
Welcome back to Your Anxiety Toolkit. I am so thrilled to have you here for Episode 200. Oh my stars, you guys, this is a huge deal for me. In fact, let me set you up for today’s episode.
So, in Episode 100. We actually invited all the guests that we had previously had on the podcast and we had a celebration. If you want some fun, you should go over there and listen. It is such a wonderful episode.
I was thinking about what I wanted to do for Episode 200, and I’m not going to lie, nothing landed. Nothing. I just couldn’t bring myself to throw a huge party for it. And I think that’s what I wanted to talk with you guys about today in this episode, which is, who’s suffering? Who’s struggling? Who is having a hard time? Because I know I am, and I’m guessing you are in some way or another. I wanted to use this episode as just a time where we can talk about suffering and we can talk about what that looks like and what that means and what we can do when we’re struggling. And so, let’s talk about that today.
Before we do that, let’s first do two new segments. In fact, one is new and one is a return of an old segment we used to do. And the first one is where I would like to read you a review of the week for the podcast.
This week’s review is from Katie. Thank you so much for your review, and for all of you for writing a review. You guys do know that I’m giving away a pair of free Beats headphones once we hit a thousand reviews. We have a long way to go, but I am committed to getting there. And so, in the meantime, let’s celebrate each of you as we go.
Today’s review is from Katie and she wrote: “This podcast is a great resource that has helped me before I was brave enough to seek treatment. It’s nice to know that I am not alone. The tools and conversation are authentic, helpful, and hopeful. Grateful for Kimberley’s generosity in sharing.”
Thank you, Katie, for leaving a review, and thank you to all of you for leaving a review on the podcast. It helps me to get reach ultimately, and that helps me to help more people with this free resource.
Alright, so the second part of the podcast is a return to the “I did a hard thing” segment. Now, we have actually upgraded this segment. And what we’re going to do from now on is I have a form on my private practice website, where we launched the podcast. It’s called KimberleyQuinlan-lmft.com. If you go over there and you click on Podcast, right there is a way to submit your hard thing. And so, we used to do it on social media and we used to do it via email and it was very, very messy. And so now, you get to submit your “I did a hard thing.” We will take a look at them and we will do one per week. I am so excited.
I really believe that the “I did a hard thing” segment is literally the basis of this podcast. When people tell me or they DM me or they message me, or they tell me in person that they did a hard thing, they tell me as if this is a new concept to them that they’ve never, ever been encouraged to do. They tell me as if it’s life-changing. And that’s why I really feel like this is the core of this whole podcast, which is to come together as a group to do hard things. And maybe the hard thing isn’t something that’s hard for other people. That’s totally okay. That’s the whole point. If it’s hard for you, it’s hard for you. And I love celebrating that because sometimes, out in the world, we don’t have people to celebrate with. And I think that needs to be such a huge piece of the work that we do, and it is such a part of the work that we do here.
So, to get us started, I’m actually going to do the first one. Now, I want to encourage you to think of your hard thing as just something that’s hard for you. And then we can talk about here in a second what that may mean.
So, my hard thing for this episode is this, and I’m so excited to tell you this, is that Your Anxiety Toolkit Podcast hit 1 million listens. 1 million downloads, 1 million times people listen to this podcast and I could not be more excited. And this is why I think this is so important, is because as I went and I learned of this wonderful achievement, immediately, I heard a voice that says, “Yeah, but such and such got there in way quicker time,” or “Yeah, but I know that some people who have way more successful podcasts than you do, they’re going to look at that and they’re going to be like, ‘Oh wow, just a million?’” And immediately, that voice came in.
And so, what I want to encourage you to do is catch that voice when you recognize that you’ve done a hard thing. Because when you can catch the voice, you don’t have to then engage with the voice and go, “Yeah, you’re right. No point really celebrating that because other people got there easier and faster and better and all the things.”
So, here today, I am going to celebrate this milestone. Thank you so much for you guys for supporting me because I never would have gotten there without you. And I want to invite you to go over. I will put a link in the show notes below where you can submit your hard thing, and there will be no judgment here. If your hard thing is getting out of bed, that is a massive win. If your hard thing is going to therapy like Katie’s was, then that is amazing. If your hard thing is doing the 10 out of 10 exposure on your hierarchy list, then that is amazing. And I want to make sure every single week, we are celebrating one of you at least with your “I did a hard thing.”
Okay. So, those are the two segments we needed to get started on. Let’s talk about suffering.
So, here it is, you guys. I know you guys know a lot about my story and I was so lucky to have this beautiful summer where we got away, and I had so much time to heal and rest and be with my kids and it was magical. I’m not saying that to brag. I’m just sort of saying that if you have 10 minutes even to spend with yourself and rest, I cannot promote that enough. The resting is so important when it comes to our recovery.
And then when I returned back to LA, we had to come back and prepare for my children to return to school. The thing that really got to me is– let me just share with you really quickly about our vacation really quick – we decided to leave LA for the summer. We took seven weeks and we got in our SUV and our raft. We didn’t get in our raft. We towed our raft and we brought that around and we traveled eight states over seven weeks. We rafted 65 miles as a family. It was wonderful. We rested, we played, we sang a lot of annoying children’s songs. We listened to a lot of audiobooks, so that was wonderful.
But it was really interesting as we left Oregon down into California. The minute we crossed the border, all of a sudden, we were hit with smoke, and it was like driving into the apocalypse. Smoke was everywhere. We couldn’t see 100 feet in front of us. And the closer we got to LA, the more I noticed my anxiety rising and my sadness increasing and dread and all the feelings. And then I got back to LA and really wanted to spend some time readjusting with my family. But all I could think about was, wow, everybody is suffering so much – COVID numbers and the fires and earthquakes and political issues.
I wanted to really slow down for you guys enough to validate your distress to validate the suffering and struggles you have. Chances are, you’re dealing with all of that on top of some type of mental struggle or medical struggle. And so, I wanted to first just give you permission to take some time and validate that this is hard.
I find that when I speak about suffering with my patients and my clients, a lot of them often diminished their suffering by saying, “Yeah, but other people have it worse,” or “My thoughts are irrational, so I shouldn’t be this distressed,” or “I have a home,” or “Whatever it is, I shouldn’t be sad.”
But I want to remind you of this core important fact, which is, all forms of suffering are enough and are valid. Don’t get into the comparison trap of who’s suffering more and who deserves to suffer more and who deserves help and who doesn’t. You deserve help. This is a very difficult time and we must hold our suffering and our struggles in a warm, nurturing position.
You know, you guys, I always sort of make the joke of imagining you are holding a beautiful, yellow baby chicken and their little bones are like, oh my gosh, toothpicks, but not like toothpicks because they’re so frail. And if you were to hold them, you would be so gentle with the baby chicken. Your touch, your facial expression, your warmth in your voice would be so gentle. I want you to hold your struggles as silly as it seems like a baby chicken. Beautiful, tender, warm, kind, respectful tenderness. I really hope that you can do that.
The other thing I would encourage you to do – and I don’t know if this will help you, it was incredibly helpful for me over the last two years – is to continue to remind yourself that suffering is a part of being a human. Often I get caught – and this was a big lesson for me at the beginning of COVID, which was a part of me, and also when I got diagnosed with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, I know a lot of you have struggled with this when you’ve been diagnosed with a mental disorder, whether that be OCD and eating disorder and anxiety disorder, a depressive mood disorder – is we want to sort of stomp our feet and say, “This shouldn’t have happened to me.” And by all means, please stomp your feet. Please have as much time to grieve that as you need. Again, there’s no reason for us to invalidate our own suffering, but for me, it was really important to remind myself that humans do suffer.
As COVID happened, I had to keep reminding myself, COVID, while it’s a huge issue and as harming so many people, is-- and I noticed I was like, “This shouldn’t be happening. This is wrong.” And I had to keep reminding myself, like, who says, it’s wrong? Who said it wasn’t supposed to happen? Who said that we were supposed to have a life that’s only easy? Who said that we weren’t supposed to struggle with mental illness? When it comes to mental illness, that’s what we would consider internalized ableism, which is, this idea that we should always be in tip-top shape. We should always be thin. We should always be smart. We should always be able. We should always be capable and handle things well. That’s just not human. It’s never been that way. it should never be expected to be this way. You’re allowed to suffer. You’re allowed to have troubles and struggles and pain, and you’re allowed to stumble as you try to navigate that.
And so, what I really want to remind you out when we talk about suffering is really taking away expectations that it was supposed to be easy and that it was supposed to be a free run. Now, I put in a caveat here, which is, you don’t deserve this either. You don’t deserve this suffering. It’s not a form of punishment. I know a lot of people come with that belief that they are being punished for something bad they’ve done. You didn’t do anything wrong. You didn’t ask for this. This is painful stuff. And I really hope that all the compassion practices that we’ve talked about here on this podcast have given you the tools you need to support yourself as we continue to suffer and struggle.
Now, there’s one last thing I want to mention, and that is hope and faith. I have had to wrap my head around these concepts during the last three years. How can I be hopeful when we have global warming or pandemics or hate against minorities? How can we be hopeful about this? This is where I’m going to encourage you to find hope in you, find hope in the community and the support around you. This community, if you haven’t got a supportive community, look and focus in on this community and the people who are doing the hard things and who are searching and struggling and working through what it’s like to have a mental illness. Bring your attention to those who’ve done what you are wishing you could do. There are so many advocates, you guys. I look to them every day. People who have lived experience, who have been through really difficult things and have come out on the other side – I look to them for hope and I use them as a little lighthouse for where I may need to go next. And I hope that I can be that for you.
But I really encourage you. As you’re navigating your suffering in this time, I really encourage you to look to the people who are doing things the way you wish you could and just use them as your shining light. You don’t need to do what they’re doing. You don’t even have to stop there but use them as a beacon of hope that together we can get there and that you will get there, and that together we can hold space for each other’s pain tenderly, compassionately, respectfully. That is my hope for today.
So, that being said, Happy 200th Episodes. I always end the episode by saying: It is a beautiful day to do the hard thing. And I know you’re all struggling. I’m struggling. I get teary just talking about this with you, but every day I say to myself, this is a beautiful day to do the hard thing. I’m just going to do one step at a time. I’m going to ask for help. I’m going to find my community. I’m going to celebrate my wins. if you can maybe put your attention there, I hope you can – maybe that will make the day a little lighter and the suffering a little less difficult to bear.
Have a wonderful day, you guys. I love you. I will see you for the next hundred episodes or more, the next million listens or more. I really am just honored to be on this journey with you.
Have a good day.