Join author, educator, and learner, Annmarie Kelly as she laughs, cries, and kvetches with the writers, musicians, entrepreneurs, and wanderers who inspire all of us to reach beyond our divisions and discover what it means to be wild, precious, and brave.
When was the last time you did something that scared you? Not just bungee jumping or mountain biking, but even little fears, like talking to a stranger or asking for a raise at work? This week, Annmarie talks to author, educator, and executive coach Rachel Simmons about the importance of taking risks and exercising our “failure muscles.” Rachel reminds us that NOT being amazing is actually an important step on our journey to success.
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Annmarie Kelly: Wild Precious Life is brought to you in part by Visible Voice Books in Treemont, Ohio. With a glass of wine or a cup of joe in hand, readers can explore a curated selection of new and secondhand books. Wild Precious Life is also brought to you in part by MindFair Books located inside Oberlin's iconic Ben Franklin Variety Store. With an amazingly broad mix of new and used books, MindFair serves academic and general interest readers and collectors alike. Mention Wild Precious Life at the checkout counter and receive an extra 10% off of anything at MindFair Books and Ben Franklin. MindFair Books, an investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.
Annmarie Kelly: I'm Ann Marie Kelly. Welcome to Wild Precious Life, a podcast about dreaming big and making real connections. In each episode, I talked to prize winning writers, musicians, and entrepreneurs who teach all of us how to make the most of the time we have. One of my favorite books is Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day in which a boy and, in the recent movie, a whole family, has to deal with the curve balls that life throws their way. Somebody botches an interview, someone flunks his driving test, a teen barfs in public. That's a little bit what it was like trying to get today's episode out the door. First, we had to reschedule. Then my guest, Rachel Simmons, was in a mountain biking accident, we began late, then our audio kept cutting out. We were cranky. And we had to take deep breaths and start again.
Annmarie Kelly: Afterwards, my first instinct was to hide all those messy parts, just buff them out. Nobody needs to catch a glimpse behind the curtain. But then I got to thinking, Why do we do that? Why do we try so hard to hide our struggles? Why do we pretend that everything is perfect when we know deep down that it's not? Everyone has hard days. In fact, part of what Rachel and I talk about in this episode is failure and how what we do in the face of doubt and imperfection can actually lead to tremendous possibility and change. Sometimes it's only when things do not go our way that we discover what we truly want. Wild Precious Life is a show about making real connections, not just between me and these cool guests, but between me and you guys. So, I'm doing that today. I'm keeping it real. Let's get started.
Annmarie Kelly: Rachel Simmons is an internationally recognized educator and author of the New York Times bestsellers Odd Girl Out, The Curse of the Good Girl and Enough As She Is: How to Help Girls Move Beyond Impossible Standards of Success to Live Healthy, Happy and Fulfilling Lives. As an executive coach, Rachel guides leaders globally to lead with purpose, courage and emotional intelligence. As a facilitator, she is renowned for her ability to seamlessly integrate research with authenticity and humor. Rachel serves on the faculty of the Google School for Leaders and was until recently the director of the Lewis Leadership Program at Smith College. She is co-founder of the NGO Girls' Leadership and has served as an advisor to Oprah Winfrey and Sheryl Sandberg. Rachel appears regularly on Good Morning America as an expert on gender and parenting. Her writing has appeared in many publications, including the New York Times and Washington Post. She lives in Western, Massachusetts with her daughter. Rachel Simmons, welcome to Wild Precious Life.
Annmarie Kelly: Unlike the vast, vast majority of the guests I chat with, I actually have met you once. You would not remember me. But in the before times I attended one of your parenting seminars here in Cleveland. I did what I did back then, which is sign up with enthusiasm and then aggressively try to bail. The night comes and I'm F it, why did I say I would go? And then I just like sent texts, try to get out of it. And people were No, we're here. So, I spent a lot of time at the snack table and then slid in late, fully intending to ignore you and leave early.
Rachel Simmons: I like this already. I really like where this is going
Annmarie Kelly: Then, like bastard people that you are, you tricked me into listening with your wizardry ninja skills. I laughed at your jokes, I nodded my head, I felt seen. And get this... I bought your book and I read it, woman. Look, there's Post-Its in there and I didn't even do that.
Rachel Simmons: I see a little flags on the pages.
Annmarie Kelly: Right? Those aren't even random. Those are legit.
Rachel Simmons: Are you sure you didn't just stick those in, this is a prop, right?
Annmarie Kelly: Here's the thing. I couldn't even find those if I wanted, I don't even usually have Post-Its. I use torn Kleenex is usually how I roll.
Rachel Simmons: I like to prick my finger and underline in blood when I don't have what I need.
Annmarie Kelly: So, my thought was, if you were able to trick me into listening, then surely you could trick listeners into listening. Right? Because that seems easier.
Rachel Simmons: Sure. I wish I could trick my daughter into listening. I would trade all my people wizardy skills in exchange for 50% listening time at home. But, all right.
Annmarie Kelly: For listeners who didn't attend the Slackerfest parent that I am, or was, who didn't attend that, tell us who you are and what you're about and tell us your story.
Rachel Simmons: Okay. Sure. Well, I'm sitting in a red chair in Western Massachusetts. I was supposed to be a lawyer and maybe go into politics, but had a... What do they call it? A quarter-life crisis in my twenties, where I realized that I had been obsessed with achievement for all the wrong reasons and the product of a lot of aggressive programming by my parents and community. So, I took a hard left turn or right turn, I'm not sure which direction one goes when one says, Sorry, I'm not going to what I said I was going to do. Withdrew from some very fancy and prestigious experiences that I had been accepted to and decided to write a book about how girls are mean to each other, because I couldn't shake the feeling of why did this girl in third grade make my friends run away from me after school?
Rachel Simmons: I wanted to remake my life at that age. I wanted to do what I cared about, not what other people thought I should do in order to be fancy and high achieving. And so, I wrote the book Odd Girl Out, never expecting that it would make me fancy and high achieving. But it did, but in a better way than I was before, because at least I was pursuing what I cared about.
Rachel Simmons: And that launched me into a career of both writing about and speaking to girls, and then their families and their teachers, but then later co-founding a non-profit called Girls Leadership, going to work for Smith College and then eventually, in the last few years, discovering the joy of working with adults and becoming a designer of corporate leadership programs, primarily for women and men working in tech. So, I have gone all over the map. And during that time, I discovered that I was going to be a very late bloomer in the romance department.
Rachel Simmons: And so, I had a baby on my own when I was 37, I have a nine-year-old daughter, who's fantastic and who every day it feels like karmic revenge for all of the times I gave speeches before I was a parent. I have two rescue dogs and feel really grateful to live in a small town where nobody gives a shit what I do for a living. And that is the end of my story. How was that?
Annmarie Kelly: I love it. That's so funny that they don't in your small town. What? She's what? I don't care.
Rachel Simmons: It's really amazing. It's such a great response to the way I grew up, which was that was the only thing people seem to care about.
Annmarie Kelly: It's a good antidote. So, I'm glad that you mentioned what you did about parents because your most recent book that I read, Enough As She Is, purports to be about how to help daughters move beyond society's impossible standards. And it totally is. It is chock full of tips on that. But, I was astonished how much, as a 40 something year old mom, that all of these tips that were for my daughter's fulfillment were actually tips for me. And I learned all sorts of new words to explain my bonkers things, my defensive pessimism, my rumination, my role overload, my pursuit for effortless perfection and catastrophizing. So, I had all these new words to describe my crazy, in a good way. So I'm glad to know that I am not alone. That it turns out that many, many adults... I guess this is true, right? You've heard from other parents who found therapeutic value in your book.
Rachel Simmons: It's the number one thing that people say to me is "I know you wrote this for my daughter, but actually, thanks. I read it. It was for me."
Annmarie Kelly: So I'm glad to be super common and ordinary there. But that exactly -
Rachel Simmons: I didn't mean to make it sound like that. Let's reframe that and say that you really have your finger on the pulse. Okay?
Annmarie Kelly: I love it. Instead of average and ordinary, I'm cutting edge.
Rachel Simmons: You just know stuff, you're pressant.
Annmarie Kelly: Excellent. Very good. Because, I mean, most of us is parents... I have three kids. My oldest is in high school. I also have a nine-year-old he's a boy, but I know the joys of the age of nine. And I have a middle one. Like most of us, we just want the best for our kids. We want what's best for them. But I learned about this slippery slope from you where our cheerleading morphs into something with unintended consequences. So, for people who haven't read your book, what's wrong with telling our kids to be amazing at everything they do?
Rachel Simmons: Well, I mean, where could I start? So, I think it's really hard not to over-identify with our kids. Let's just start there. Anybody who's "Your kid is not an extension of you. You're different people." It's Screw you, you've clearly never had a kid. Yes, she is an extension of me. I am over identified with her. How am I not over identified with the creature that has completely swallowed up my whole life whole and spit it out in her own image? So I think first of all, we have to recognize that one of the hardest parts about being a parent is self-regulation, meaning learning to kind of control ourselves and keep our stuff together when our kids trigger us in particular ways. And, of course they're going to trigger us by falling short of whatever fantasy we have for them around excellence.
Rachel Simmons: What's wrong with pushing that excellence on them? Well, first of all, it's impossible to be amazing at everything you do. And if you feel like you have to be, in my experience, you walk around just feeling like you're never enough as you are because the goalpost is always moving. You always have to be amazing. So, you can't ever stop and go "This is enough." So you have a pervasive sense of always feeling that you need to be more. And I also think it makes it hard, as I just mentioned, to be in the moment, to be grateful, to center on what matters, but instead to be chasing the next win. It also makes it hard to enjoy your wins. People who feel like they have to be amazing at everything they do rarely take the time to celebrate what's good. They become fetal for 15 days, if something bad happens, but they don't even feel it when something good happens because they're just onto the next thing.
Rachel Simmons: And then, I'm just going to give you two quick reasons. Clique-ish, why being amazing at everything you do is not so great or telling our kids that is because our kids won't take risks. Our kids won't entertain experiences where they might fall short of amazing if they think that what we want for them is constant excellence. So, to take my own nine-year-old daughter, I want her to try things where she's not sure what's going to happen. I want her to experience comfort with uncertainty. I want her to experience the joy that comes with, Oh my God, I did that and I didn't think I could. There is nothing like the feeling you get when you do something that you thought was going to kill you, but didn't kill you. And I want that joy, but that comes at a cost. And that cost is being willing to be less than amazing. So, it's a pretty toxic pressure that we put on kids. And that is why I think we have to stop.
Annmarie Kelly: I was so grateful for this because, again, I went to your parenting seminar at read your book and then we were canoeing... This was years ago when I did this, but we were canoeing with the kids and we paddled up to a jump rock. The guy who was leading our leading our thing said, "Hey, we're at the jump rock." I pictured the jump rock, a rock you're going to jump on. Instead, we paddled up to this cliff of death, where my kids are scurrying out of the boat to just jump off this cliff of death. And I know we're all going to die.
Annmarie Kelly: And my then probably seven year old looks at me and says, "Hey mom, aren't you coming?" And I knew that I wasn't coming because I was going to grab them and we were going to paddle to safety or hike to safety, but we were not going to jump off the cliff of death. But they're looking at me and with his little eyes, and I'm remembering this idea that the children are watching me. And they're watching me for these cues you described in your book. When they were little babies, when they fell down, they look to you. And if you're Oh no, then they cried. Or if you said, Oh my goodness. And then they walked again. And so I got out of the boat, I could tell you nothing about the walk up there, except I tried to block it out, I took my son's hand and we jumped off this thing and we didn't die.
Rachel Simmons: Yeah, you did.
Annmarie Kelly: Right? And we didn't die.
Rachel Simmons: Yeah, you did.
Annmarie Kelly: And we jumped off the cliffs of death and I've never been back, but that's a different story. But we did it and I taught my girls to be brave and to do this thing that scared them. And I've done many things since then because they're watching and risks are good. And I had forgotten that.
Rachel Simmons: Do you want to have an air high five? Can we have an air high five high?
Annmarie Kelly: Right? Air high five.
Rachel Simmons: I'm air high fiving you right now. That's badass. Your kids are lucky. Good job. A plus.
Annmarie Kelly: Let's dig into a couple of ideas from this book that just kind of blew my mind. So, defensive pessimism, I can barely say and didn't know what that was, but I totally do it. In your book, you call this defensive pessimism planning to fail. We've all done this. Told ourselves I probably won't get that Or they're going to probably reject it. What is wrong with lowering our expectations a little bit?
Rachel Simmons: Another way of putting it as expecting the worst. And we do this as a form of protection. It's sort of if I expect the worst and I get myself ready to fail, then I am protecting myself from the surprise. I'm getting myself ready to survive the pain by just telling myself that that's what's going to happen. So, why is that a problem? Well, the reality is, let me first say that it does work for a lot of people. People do tell researchers that it makes them feel calmer. But, the cost of that calm that you get is that you spend quite a bit of time talking to yourself in this very self-defeating way, because you're sitting there saying, No, this piece of writing that I wrote won't be accepted or I probably won't get this job or I probably won't make it over this pile of logs on my mountain bike.
Rachel Simmons: And I think we all know that thinking things can affect the way we feel about those things and can affect what we feel about ourselves. Thoughts are not happening in a vacuum, thoughts, affect how we act and how we feel. And so there's some evidence that repeatedly telling yourself you're going to fail can lower your confidence and can elevate your anxiety. I have found that the more comfortable I get with failure, the more I stop expecting the worst. So, I'll give you an example. So, I submitted probably around 10 op-ed pieces to the New York Times over the course of, let's say, two years. And every time I would send one in, I would be "It's never going to be accepted." That was why I gave you that as an example. I'm "It's never going to be accepted. They're going to reject you." And I would tell myself that to make myself feel ready and better for when it happened.
Rachel Simmons: Well, what I found after the fourth or fifth time that I sent in an op-ed was I kind of already knew what it felt like to be rejected and it didn't kill me. So, instead of imagining what would happen when I was rejected, I actually would send it in and start picturing it on the Sunday newspaper. I'd be Wow, what would it be like to have an op ed published? Because it was as if I didn't need to spend any more time or energy on protecting myself from failure because I knew it wasn't going to kill me. So, what am I trying to say? The stronger your failure muscle gets the less time you have to spend cushioning and preparing and getting yourself ready for the pain of failure.
Annmarie Kelly: As a writer, I love failure. I think it makes for an interesting character in a work of fiction. And I loved this idea that failure is a muscle, that practicing failing is a muscle. And practicing sharing stuff we've failed at... We all go out of our way to not tell you about the boyfriend who dumped us or the thing we didn't get because we think somehow that will make us more interesting. It's way better when people tell you that, in fact, and then they just list off the failure. Wait, I should do that. Let me, okay. All right. So, I graduated from college with no job, no plan, no desire to get a Masters, no nothing, no graduate school. So, I applied for two and a half jobs. The half job only kind of lacklusterly because I really was going to get one of the two and I didn't get either of them. They were both teaching jobs in inner city schools, which I felt like no one wanted, and so I would get, and I didn't get either of them because, I'm sure, for reasons that were myriad.
Annmarie Kelly: So, I moved back home with my parents after college and I applied for a waitressing job to just have some money to go out. And I didn't get the waitressing job. That actually was worse for me than the two. I just bottomed out just into a puddle and just knew that life would never be good again, because I couldn't be a waitress. I had never told my kids that, but my daughter didn't get something recently. And I was rereading your book for this, and I told her that I graduated from college without a job and then couldn't be hired as a waitress.
Annmarie Kelly: And she's "What you? You're amazing." And she had this completely skewed idea of who I am because I had never told her about the times when I failed. And I told her about the job... I answered a job in the newspaper to go work in central Florida, which turned out to be a job that changed the course of my relationships with kids and with myself as an educator and would never have answered that job if I hadn't been rejected from a waitressing job. And I told her all about this and it was this amazing moment where I see my kid and she still sees me, but most of us don't talk about failure because we don't want people to judge us.
Rachel Simmons: Yeah, but what does it do for your daughter to hear that? Oh, wow. Even though I see my mom is amazing, it's okay to not be amazing on your way to being amazing. In fact, not being amazing is a really important part of the journey to being amazing. I feel like a lot of people who are our age, you're in like your late twenties, right? Okay.
Annmarie Kelly: Yeah, you too. We're both in our twenties.
Rachel Simmons: 100%. A lot of people our age are Oh, that's obvious. Of course my kid knows that I've failed. Or Of course my kid knows I'm not perfect. Look at how they rank on me all the time. My kids rank on me, so, of course, they know I'm not perfect. Unfortunately, that's just not the case.
Rachel Simmons: We, in a very well intentioned but misguided effort, expose our kids to narratives about amazing people. Films and magazine profiles and look at these amazing role models. And unfortunately, those stories often omit the less than amazing moments that these people experienced and had to pass through. We are our children's primary teachers. So, whatever relationship we have with failure and how we talk about it, or by the way, don't talk about it, is very likely to be who our children become around failure. And, that's why I love Brene Brown.
Annmarie Kelly: Love her.
Rachel Simmons: She's has this audio book about parenting that I highly recommend. And in it, she says "We can't give our children what we don't have." I like that quote so much, I think I named a whole chapter after it. But the point is, if you haven't dealt with your shit around failure, don't think your kids are just going to like magically wake up and be like, Oh no, I'm cool, I'm good, like the failure fairy sprinkled some dust on me and I'm all set. No, they inherit a lot of what we are dealing with or not dealing with.
Annmarie Kelly: And, I think that for a lot of us growing up, speaking of things that we were taught, we had different values growing up. So, obedience was a big one, listening and following instructions. I think as a girl, I was taught to just be quiet a lot of the time, be small, certainly not be ambitious or big or large. And, this idea that sometimes it's okay to quit... We were raised in a generation where there were no quitters. And I thought of this when I was reading your book because my middle daughter loved to run. So, I signed her up for a cross country team. This was in the before times, maybe two years ago. And she didn't like it. And I said to her, Well, we made a commitment to this team, so we're going to stick it out.
Annmarie Kelly: And she hated it. She hated the practices. The meets made her sick to her stomach, but I made her finish the season because we weren't quitters because that's what I learned that time from my parents and they learned from their parents. And she listened to me and she finished the season. And she's probably not run again since because she obeyed me. And I thought about that. I'm like, what is this? This is a great example of something I, as a parent, you do the same things that your parents taught you. My daughter wanted to know when she could get her ears pierced. And I'm 16, because that's what my dad told me. But our job is to unlearn some things, right? I have let my children quit any number of things since then because quitting is not failure. Quitting is trusting your gut. You quit something big.
Rachel Simmons: I did, I did quit something big.
Annmarie Kelly: What was that like?
Rachel Simmons: Pretty rough, rough times. In 1998, I won a Rhodes scholarship, which is a prestigious scholarship that 36 people in the United States win every year and 70 some win from around the world to go and study for free for two to three years at Oxford University. And it's a highly esteemed and accomplished group of young people who are around 22 to 24 years old. And it has sort of a storied voodoo around it. A lot of famous accomplished people have been Rhodes scholars. And when I won the Rhodes scholarship, I received quite a bit of fanfare and attention, in part because I was, at the time, working in New York City Hall for the mayor. And so, there was extra attention given to me. And as I mentioned earlier, achievement was a real heady drug for me.
Rachel Simmons: And so, the Rhodes in many ways was the absolute pinnacle of that intoxication because it's kind of harder to get a more prestigious award at that age. And so, I snagged it. And, when went off to Oxford and went to where I lived my little flat and started going to classes, I suddenly had this terrible sinking feeling. And over time, I grew depressed. I felt very irritable, I couldn't connect well with other people. I was just miserable. And it eventually dawned on me, even though I was trying to be this super accomplished Rhodes scholar, because, of course, that's what I knew how to do. What I knew was to work really hard and put my mind to it and be the best, always be the best. And suddenly, it's like trying to turn on a lighter with your finger and it's making that noise and no flame is coming out. You're spinning the little wheel and spinning a little wheel and nothing's coming and nothing came.
Rachel Simmons: So, eventually after therapy and crying and all of these agonized decisions, agonized thinking, I made the decision to leave. And the president of my college called me to tell me I had embarrassed my college and my father, yelled at me that I was throwing away this incredible opportunity. But I knew that I couldn't make it. And I was really depressed. At the time, there were certainly wasn't a lot of conversation about mental health in the way that there is today. But I also had to quit because it was so clear that I was not in the right place. It was a mismatch. And to your point, it's precisely in the mismatch that I was pushed to figure out what do you really want to do? It is often only when we make a mistake that the universe shakes us by our shoulders and forces us to see and do something that we were not willing to see and do before.
Annmarie Kelly: Totally true. The experience in my life that have meant the most to me have been absolutely off the hamster wheel of this is what you're supposed to do, yes, this is what you're supposed to do. I didn't go to graduate school at 22 because I didn't want to go. And, I went again when I was 31 and I had a baby. And so, I was so much better as a student and the times when I didn't follow a prescribed path or the times when I've learned a lot. And I loved that you shared your story because you're right, who says no to that?
Annmarie Kelly: You have a chapter in your book also about self-compassion and full disclosure. I was going to skip that part because it sounded super hippie dippy and non-scientific, and I was she must've needed to fill out the book, so I'm going to skip this part. But then I was listening to it on a walk and I couldn't figure out how to skip ahead. So, I did actually listen to that part and it actually has really good stuff because it turns out we're super mean to ourselves and our children are super mean... The ways that we talk to ourself are kind of terrible. So when you talk about self-compassion, what do you mean by self-compassion and why is it important?
Rachel Simmons: Well, first I just want to totally validate your reaction that it was so woo. That's exactly how I felt. I was Pass the kombucha. Really? Self-compassion? I grew up in a family that would've completely ridiculed it in the way that I'm doing it now. So, I think there are some people who hear that term and just go, That's not for me, that's for weak people. And I already forgot your question. Was the question why is it bad? Or why do people do it?
Annmarie Kelly: I guess, why is it in the book? Why is self-compassion so necessary? And, how does it help our kids? How do you teach them to be self-compassionate?
Rachel Simmons: One question at a time, missy. One question at a time.
Annmarie Kelly: I asked you like 17. It's a multiple choice.
Rachel Simmons: Listen, I have a delicate brain right now. I'm in perimenopause, so I want you to be gentle.
Annmarie Kelly: Anytime you need to break for a hot flash or a kombucha or a shot -
Rachel Simmons: I just want you to know a sidebar. I want to start a menopause registry where I can register for menopause and have my friends buy me the things that I need. Like shorty pajamas. I just bought this for myself for my night sweats, a dictionary for word retrieval, a hair loss shampoo.
Annmarie Kelly: Oh my gosh. Look at my bald spot.
Rachel Simmons: So much hair loss.
Annmarie Kelly: What is happening here? I have a bald spot here. Seventeen Magazine said that if I parted my hair in the same way for all those years, I would get a bald spot. I never did. But I hit my forties and had to buy those pajamas you're describing and...
Rachel Simmons: The 40s are filled with surprises, on the self-compassion front, it is so ingrained in so many of us to get motivated by being mean to ourselves. And, I think the first thing to know about this is that the research shows that being hard on yourself does not make you more effective. It does not make you more motivated. You can accomplish things when you're beating yourself up. But what also is likely to happen is that you're going to have elevated feelings of anxiety, you might overthink a lot and ruminate because you're kind of worrying about stuff. And what self-compassion does, and this would be a good moment to share that there are over a thousand studies done on self-compassion, so you can hopefully let go of your fear of woo woo because there's whole lots of empirical research.
Rachel Simmons: But what self-compassion shows is that you can have very high levels of motivation and very high standards for performance and still believe that you are worthy. And so, what is self-compassion? It basically means treating yourself with the same kindness that you would treat someone else when they suffer. So, when you are feeling inadequate, when you fail, you give yourself the same warmth and kindness and understanding. You are an ally to yourself the way that you would be an ally to someone else who is suffering, too.
Rachel Simmons: How we do it with our kids is we really model it. We do it in two ways. So one is when we experienced let downs, when we experienced moments of inadequacy, we speak aloud, we process it out loud. So, our kids hear us processing it. I'll give you a mountain biking example. Since, I'm trying to show my daughter how to mountain bike, too. If she sees me fall or kind of clip a tree, instead of saying to myself, Oh, you're such an idiot, I might say, Ah, that was kind of scary. But you know, it was the first time I tried it, so at least I took a risk.
Rachel Simmons: And I bet a lot of people have had that experience. So, I'm doing three things. I'm saying how I feel without judging myself. I am talking to myself the way I would talk to someone I love and I am reminding myself that I'm not the only one who suffers, that other people suffer, too, and struggle, too. And if you can adopt that stance, when you're talking about a challenge, a failure, a source of inadequacy in front of your kids, that's huge, huge, huge, huge.
Annmarie Kelly: I've used that in situations where I would be the kind of person who never asked for help. I don't understand why self-reliance and independence and perfectionism. I think as a woman, I assumed it was my job to handle things. I'm good at handling things. But since thinking about self-compassion, I've also thought about what does it mean to ask for help? It means you feel like you are worthy of someone else's time and care.
Rachel Simmons: Yes. I do think there's an element of that worthiness that we have to, on some level, believe that we are worthy enough to be helped more than we believe that we are a burden to others by asking. In other words, I don't think you ever stop worrying that you're a burden because I don't, anyway. I shouldn't say, I don't sit there for no one else stops, but... In other words, what I'm trying to say is I don't think that we ever get to the point where we feel completely a million percent fine about asking for help, but we can at least moderate the fear. We can moderate the anxiety that comes with it by reminding ourselves that even if we might be putting someone else a little bit out, they want to be put out or you really need the help and it's okay to put somebody out briefly and you would do the same for them. And so you sort of talk yourself through the responses, recognizing that it's still going to be complex.
Annmarie Kelly: Leaning on other people is actually a sign of strength and not weakness.
Rachel Simmons: 100%.
Annmarie Kelly: And I think as women, especially, we were raised to believe that to lean on someone means I'm admitting I can't do it alone and I am weak.
Rachel Simmons: Or, I am burdening someone or I am incompetent. And I think men go through a really similar cycle of fear. And I think the pandemic really pushed a lot of us out of our comfort zones in this space and pushed us to be vulnerable in ways that we haven't been before.
Annmarie Kelly: I didn't notice. You guys had a pandemic up there? There was -
Rachel Simmons: I heard about it. I read some stuff on Twitter about it. We are resilient. I do know that human beings pivot, they fight back, they rise up.
Annmarie Kelly: That's true. And you talk about confidence as coming from you survived a thing. This thing happened and you're okay. Yeah, maybe it didn't go the way that you want it, but you're okay. And you can get through this, you can get through everything. I've been amazed at how much my kids have been able to do without. As things come back, as things start opening up and being back online, we are being, I think, a little bit more discriminating about... We always hated T-ball, we were never any good at it. But we signed up because I like to chat with the parents, which is an okay reason, but maybe let's figure out a different way to chat with the parents and stop signing up for T-ball. Stop making the kids do things they don't like to do. You have a hippy dippy exercise in your book, which I thought we could do together.
Annmarie Kelly: I feel like you're going to be up for it. It's an I Love exercise, which again -
Rachel Simmons: Oh yeah, let's do that. Let's do that.
Annmarie Kelly: I was going to skip it because I was putting it in the category of what'd your dad call it? Piffle?
Rachel Simmons: Piffles. Did you like that word? That was good.
Annmarie Kelly: I love that word. So, this is a Buddhist psychologist, Tara Brock, I think you say you credited to.
Rachel Simmons: Yeah.
Annmarie Kelly: And the exercise is I Love. So, can you list some things... You want to go back and forth? Is it like a game of Pong or do you want to do a few and I do a few? You talk -
Rachel Simmons: Shout out to Pong. Shout out to Pong. So, the way that Tara Brock does it is you say it for 60 seconds, as many things as you can think of that you love for 60 seconds and then you go. So maybe what we should do is do 20 seconds so that listeners aren't just Please stop. And then you could do 20 seconds if you want.
Annmarie Kelly: All right. You do 20. I'll do 20. And then we'll do a little bit of wrap.
Rachel Simmons: You have a timer?
Annmarie Kelly: No.
Rachel Simmons: All right. Let me get my phone. Hold on.
Annmarie Kelly: Oh, you're serious. I was going to just -
Rachel Simmons: Oh my God, my shoulder hurts so much. I had a crash yesterday biking. I'm so old and stuff. Hold on.
Annmarie Kelly: Good for you for mountain biking, anyway.
Rachel Simmons: I don't know, man. It's probably -
Annmarie Kelly: Sounds like a massage and a hot tub are in your future.
Rachel Simmons: Yeah, definitely the hot tub part. All right. I got 20 seconds. Are you going to start or am I?
Annmarie Kelly: Sure, well, you're going to start because this is your game.
Rachel Simmons: All right. I'm going to start in 20 seconds. Ready? Go. I love my daughter. I love my dogs. I love my girlfriend. I love to cook. I love to entertain for people. I love making cocktails. I love mountain biking. I love exercise. I love Peloton. I love reading. I love to talk. I love when my daughter makes me laugh. Oh, that was it.
Annmarie Kelly: Oh my gosh. That was so quick.
Rachel Simmons: That was really, yeah. But, imagine doing that for 60 seconds. Are you ready? I'm going to time you.
Annmarie Kelly: Oh, my God. I'm so nervous.
Rachel Simmons: Ready? Go.
Annmarie Kelly: I love my kids. I love ice cream. I love chocolate. I really love chocolate. I love my husband. Don't tell him he was after chocolate. I love water. I love the feeling of being underwater. I love swimming laps. I love watching water. I love walking along the beach. I love the crunch of seashells under my feet. I love writing, I love reading.
Rachel Simmons: Oh, you're done.
Annmarie Kelly: Oh my God. There was so much more. The 60 seconds would make you get into it.
Rachel Simmons: I was actually just starting to lose my momentum.
Annmarie Kelly: That's what I was thinking.
Rachel Simmons: So, I'm really glad the thing went off. But what a lot of people find when they do this exercise is they kind of run out of things and they're Wait, I don't even know what I love. Oops, the timer went off again. So a lot of people, when they did this exercise are just Wait a second. I don't even know what I love. Is that weird? Is that okay? I can't think of anything. So, it can cause people to think, for sure. It's a good exercise to do at dinner, going around the table.
Annmarie Kelly: I liked that idea. Hey, we do a wrap up. I know you have to go, but let me do a quick wrap up with you. So we always end with icebreakers because I don't like to begin with them.
Rachel Simmons: So funny.
Annmarie Kelly: Do quick multiple choice for me. Just pick one, dogs or cats?
Rachel Simmons: Chocolate chip. I'm really boring, though I do like pistachio from Van Leeuwen Ice Cream in New York.
Annmarie Kelly: If we were to take a picture of you doing something that you love, you're really happy, what would we see you doing?
Rachel Simmons: Mountain biking.
Annmarie Kelly: Even though you've hurt your shoulder.
Rachel Simmons: Yeah, but that's the essence, right? I mean, you want to see my wounds?
Annmarie Kelly: I do. Shoe me.
Rachel Simmons: I had a spill yesterday. You can kind of see that.
Annmarie Kelly: This is a podcast, but we're going to imagine it.
Rachel Simmons: The things that we love are also often the things that can be really hard.
Annmarie Kelly: I love weightlifting and it kicks my ass every time I do it and I have a bum knee and I'm in my forties and I don't know how much longer I can do it, but I love it.
Rachel Simmons: Let me see the guns. Let me see the guns.
Annmarie Kelly: Right. Well, actually, my thighs are better, but...
Rachel Simmons: Yeah. That's what I'm talking about. Nice pipes.
Annmarie Kelly: Thanks. All right. Rachel Simmons, I'm going to do my exit, which is thank you for coming on the show today, thank you for writing an educational family and relationships book that I actually read. I think we sometimes get this silly idea that once our kids are school-aged and out of diapers and in the world that the hard work of parenting them and raising ourselves is done. And, it's not.
Annmarie Kelly: What I learned from your book is that I have a lot to learn about how to raise my kids and how to raise myself. Folks, the book is Enough As She Is: How to Help Girls, and I would add all of us, Move Beyond Impossible Standards of Success to Live Healthy, Happy, and Fulfilling Lives. It's a book that's helped me redefine what success and happiness should look like for my kids and for me. You can pick this title up at any independent bookstore near you. For folks here on the west side of Cleveland, that might be the bookshop in Lakewood or Visible Voice Books in Treemont. To everyone listening, we are wishing you love and light wherever this day takes. Please remember, you are enough just as you are. Until next time, be good to yourself and be good to one another. And we'll see you again on this wild precious journey.
Annmarie Kelly: Wild Precious Life is a production of Evergreen Podcasts. Special thanks to executive producers Gerardo Orlando and Michael DeAloia. Producer is Sarah Willgrube and audio engineer, Eric Koltnow. Be sure to subscribe and follow us on apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.