We All Feel A Little Ineffectual Sometimes

May 6, 2021

I’ve never been a good story teller. We have some friends who are though. Their delivery is spot on. Their expressions, use of pauses. Their words & timing. Their use of irony.  Everything is perfect!  And I think it is just marvelous. And I so wish I could do that!


I’ve also never been a great writer. Organization has always been my “nemesis” as my high school English teacher said. Before he said that I hadn’t ever identified the problem before. I hadn’t been diagnosed with ADHD yet. Organizing my thoughts was a challenge. In my head, on paper, spoken. All of it. So when he pointed that out I latched onto it. Now that I understood the problem I could try to address it. 

So that was helpful through college and med school and in residency. I knew I needed to make an outline or even write down every word, and practice presenting a patient to the attending in my head and out loud before I called them. Especially if it was in the middle of the night.  

But there were still many times that I felt ineffectual. I talked too much or said the wrong thing. And even today I still get a little teary eyed when I remember the compassion that a few of my attending physicians showed me my 1st year. I was so vulnerable!

I remember Susie Dehnad saying she knew I could do it. It was my very 1st rotation my intern year. She told me to hang up and to regroup. And to call her back again in a few minutes. I still remember the gentleness in her voice.

I remember Lisa Ward precepting me in clinc. She helped me come up with a system (a simple yellow sticky note) to remind me to practice what I was going to say before I actually said it. 

They were on my side. We were a team working together to bring out the best in me.

We all feel ineffectual at times. And sometimes there are compassionate, generous people around us who help. And sometimes we build ourselves up on our own.

Regardless of the circumstances, all I ever am is the collection of stories I tell about myself.  To myself and to others.

So I decided over a year ago to stop saying I’m not a good story teller and that I’m not a good writer. That I was ineffectual. Those beliefs were holding me back.

So now I tell a lot of stories. And I write everyday.  

Are you ineffectual at something? Or is that just a story you tell yourself?

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