Person to Watch: Dr. Robin Smith
The Oprah psychologist brings her advice to SJ
By Cory S. Todd

When “Dr. Robin” (aka Robin Smith, PhD) talks, people listen – even Oprah. So when the psychologist, who spent years dispensing advice on Oprah’s television talk show, admitted she was suffering emotionally, her fans were shocked. Smith, 50, will share her revelations as NAWBO of South Jersey’s keynote speaker at its Beyond the Glass Ceiling Awards this month.

“In 2010, I was in a very severe car accident, and it changed my body,” she recalls. “I was strong and healthy and had not a worry in the world physically, and all of a sudden, my body as I knew it was no longer intact and hurting a lot. Then, on August 24, Kalle, my rescue dog who I loved, died, and that was traumatic.

“Six weeks after Kalle’s death, my home was burglarized, and they took every piece of jewelry I owned except for what I was wearing. There were things that were my father’s who died 23 years ago and pendants from my grandmother. And Kalle’s cremation ashes were stolen.

“Six weeks after that, the lower level of my home was flooded, and that was a horrible disaster. And that was just through July. After that, I went to shoot a television pilot and came back from LA, and physically, emotionally, and spiritually hit my own wall.

“That was the beginning of an amazing journey that felt like the end but was actually a wonderful beginning. Within my soul, my motor was just running and running so fast, and a message kept coming to me about being still and listening. I was exhausted on every level.”

Smith finally experienced her breaking point. “I was just food obsessed, and though I like to eat, I’m not one who thinks about what I’m going to be eating,” she says. “I had spent this whole weekend focused on eating, and I couldn’t get satisfied. I was thinking maybe I had some kind of iron or mineral deficiency, or maybe I was sick.

“I was driving to this party, and all of a sudden, I heard these words and I said them out loud: ‘I’m hungry.’ As soon as I said them, I pulled the car over and started crying. I wrote down the hungry litany. I was hungry to have a life that was really mine.”

Smith recounts her experiences in her book “Hungry: The Truth About Being Full,” which tackles what she calls emotional anorexia. Smith encourages women to say, “I want more – in my marriage, my friendship, my job” and not be ashamed.

“As women, particularly, we’ve been so focused on the issue of physical weight, but we don’t look at ways in which we are starving ourselves in relationships of all sorts – romantically, work wise, parenting – where we are eating crumbs and calling it meals. Where we sit at a table, whether it is the corporate boardroom table or a dinner table, and put on that placating, very airbrushed smile with the response that I’m fine, thank you; that I’m full emotionally, spiritually, relationally, when actually we’ve been very empty.

“Emotional anorexia is really a very compassionate awakening to the entitlement that all human beings have, but particularly women, who have learned to turn away from their own emotional hunger out of shame when they want more.”

Smith’s credits include guest appearances on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” a three-year stint hosting her own talk show on Oprah Radio and three best-selling books. The Philadelphia native is also an ordained minister. She counts on a strong support system of family and friends to keep her balanced. One of those friends is Oprah Winfrey.

“‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ was an organic place for me to offer who I was,” she says. “It was wonderful working with Oprah. People thought I lived there [in Chicago where the show was taped] but I lived in Philly and commuted. I was on the plane all the time, but when I would show up for work there it felt like home. That’s something I treasure and will always treasure. There are many blessings that came from that experience, but certainly being in a place where my gifts could be used, appreciated and help millions of people around the world was more than a dream come true.”

When she appears at the nawbo awards ceremony this month, Smith looks forward to discussing the glass ceiling. “As women, the glass ceiling has been so fortified and unbreakable in many ways,” she says. “Fearlessness is a huge part of what’s required to be able to navigate the glass ceiling. A large part of what I’m going to be sharing is not only the celebration of women who have accomplished and achieved, but also the self-care that is a very important component of that achievement. Really, what it means to break through is to be healthy and whole, not just in terms of your work, but also in terms of your whole life.”

That means making time to enjoy life, she says. Nature is Smith’s happy place, and she goes outside, even briefly, every day. “I look at trees, listen to the wind, watch deer run. My work is heavy at times and my schedule is demanding, so I make sure to have pleasure and play. I’m very much on the right path. I’m living my life in a way that is congruent and fluent with who I am. I’m really free in my own skin.”


Hungry

When Dr. Robin Smith was at a low point in her life, she pulled her car off the road to jot down how she was feeling. Below are some of her entries, which later became part of her newest book, “Hungry: The Truth About Being Full.”

I’m hungry for real love, not crumbs I try to call a meal.

I’m hungry for relationships where respect is the cornerstone of the connection.

I’m hungry to be in relationships that don’t require me to dim my bright light in order to be offered a seat at the table.

I’m hungry to have my gifts and talents truly appreciated by those I work with.

I’m hungry to not need to dumb myself down so that others feel smart.

I’m hungry to be beautiful and sexy and not a Barbie doll for a man.

I’m hungry to have a partner who doesn’t feel like a predator.

I’m hungry for passion and great sex that is worthy of my mind, body and spirit.

I’m hungry to not have to play small when my spirit and dreams are big.

I’m hungry to be brave and not let fear drive my life.

I’m hungry for an undivided self, soul, life, love and relationship.

I’m hungry to know I am loved and am irrevocably a child of God.

I’m hungry to be me.

February 2014
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