The Second Barrier of ADHD

Episode 94

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Shelly and Cam pick up a thread from a past client conversation who was shifting from a knowing place to a place of action. Shelly shares more about her client in an active state of ‘cultivating safety’. This is significant because it is an excellent example of breaking through the ‘Second Barrier of ADHD’ – the first barrier is to new awareness, the second barrier is to new action and new behaviors. The Second Barrier is ubiquitous with the ADHD experience and likely the most maddening aspect of living with ADHD – we don’t do what we know we ought to do.

This far reaching discussion explores the significance of being the ‘captain of your own ship’ and moving to a place of resilience around receiving feedback and choice on our own terms. Information about ADHD is varied in its accuracy and too plentiful. In our “One Down” position we can feel like we are not in a position to discern information, accepting some and rejecting the rest. Being at choice with feedback or advice is a key element of breaking through the Second Barrier of ADHD.

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Episode Transcript:

Shelly: Hi, I’m Shelly 

Cam: And I’m Cam. 

Shelly: And this is Translating ADHD. Before we get started. Cam, do you want to talk a little bit about our upcoming group coaching course? 

Cam: Sure Shelly. So the resilience class coming up on September 29th, registration is closed for that. So we still have self-care and that is October 20th, at 8:30 PM Eastern. So self-care is really important. In ADHD management. I go way back to a friend of mine, Kate Kelly, who wrote the book with Peggy Ramondo you mean I’m not lazy, stupid, or crazy?

It was one of the Bibles, right? It was driven to distraction and it was Kate and Peggy’s book. That was it in the mid, late nineties. And so she always said, put your oxygen mask on first. That was her mantra, self-care is like that. And we know that self-care is on your list, but it’s often at the bottom of the list and what do we do?

We get two-thirds of the way through our list. And then self-care is that thing that gets kicked to the next day. So self-care is so important. It’s one of our cornerstones, our five cornerstones that we’re focusing on. in the second season of translating ADHD, And you know that we’re going to bring our approach to self-care.

It’s not just going to the gym or getting enough sleep. It is external work, but also internal work too. And that self-care is a launching pad for these other important things like agency and doing what matters and stepping into your purpose. So again, self-care, October 20th, go ahead and submit an application and please join us because we have tremendous fun in these groups.

Shelly: We do and that’s a great segue into what we’re talking about today as well. Cam, you want to say more about our topic here on the show today? 

Cam: Yes. A couple of weeks ago, you were talking about your client. And really again, shifting her awareness and moving into agency use that the river of her seeing the river and stepping from one side to the other, that agency was the, on the other side. And on the other side, she was in this place of cultivating safety and that got my attention. Because with ADHD, we have these two real barriers. We have barriers to awareness to know what we need to do. And once we get to that of recognizing, oh, I need safety, or I need this self-care, or I have this need that I need to address well with ADHD, we all know that there’s a second barrier to making that happen.

That’s the really frustrating thing with ADHD. We have that first barrier to getting to know what we need to do, and then that’s not enough. And that’s probably the most frustrating piece about having ADHD. So the words you said were. Cultivating safety. So there’s an action element.

That she was actually making that happen, versus it being something that she wishes to have happened. And so she’s finding that lever, she’s finding that switch and really making that happen. And I’m like, let’s push there. I’m really curious about how did she make that move? How did she go from this aspirational place?

Oh, this is what I need to actually make it happen. 

Shelly: Such a good question, cam. And I would say it started with showing up to coaching for this particular client being vulnerable with other people and putting trust in other people is really difficult. She’s got a lot of history that shows her that perhaps she shouldn’t do that.

And so that was the first big dilemma we were working on in coaching, which is interesting because we weren’t working on it head-on. It’s not that we were coming to coaching saying, okay, how are you going to trust me? We were doing other work. But just the act of showing up every week and making a good faith effort when it was difficult to be vulnerable in the coaching space, that practice was a huge deal.

And if you recall, this is the same client whose previous coach told her, you will be my biggest long shot. So even putting trust in a coach was not an easy thing for her to do. And so week to week, as we worked on other things, there’s this practice. Yeah. Being vulnerable in this space and because she’s showing up consistently and we’re able to be in this space consistently, she’s developing a stronger sense of safety as our coaching relationship develops as that partnership really starts to take shape.

Cam: And it reminds me of one of our coaching competencies of. Cultivating trust and safety, This is one of these cornerstones of coaching that you can’t create an agenda or create goals and start to achieve those goals without having an element of safety and trust. And so as coaches, this is where we begin.

This is where we start is. I love how you said that that distinction between kind of like, we always focused on the doing right of like our clients come in, they’re focused on, this is what needs to happen and us holding this space for them to like first, you can just be that’s vulnerability to be in this space that we’re modeling.

And from there, then you can start to find those. And those executive function levers to turn that into an activity, right? From an aspirational place to, how can I bring this more into my own experience? That’s agency 

Shelly: ha, and a few months back, she said something really interesting in one of our coaching sessions, she said, I need to remember that you’re on my team.

I’m not alone in this. I need to think of you like a sports coach. So what did I, do you see the hat hanging up behind me? Yes. I grabbed it and stuck it on my head started wearing that hat during our sessions. I’ll be your coach. I’ll be your, sports coach for a few sessions. If that’s what you need to recall that.

So, you know, Asking for help being challenged for this. And again, within the coaching sessions, she had an opportunity to practice that and it perhaps took her a little longer than the average client to access the support that our coaching relationship has to offer in a bigger way.

But that’s because this was work that she necessarily had to do. She had to do this work of really feeling safe and feeling okay with vulnerability in the coaching space before we could do anything else in a meaningful way, it’s what needed to happen for her. And once that happened, Guess what now we’re on the other side of the Creek you know, that rushing Creek that my client described that she and I crossed together.

And she now knows how to cultivate safety for herself in a number of other ways that she’s been practicing all the while. So it’s not just about safety in relationships and partnerships and collaborations. But also knowing how to cultivate safety for herself, how to go in with a perspective that’s going to serve her.

Well, even if things don’t go the way that she hopes that they will go. 

Cam: Can you share that example of that conversation she had, where it didn’t go according to how she thought it would, because I think that’s really a central theme of today’s podcast around asking for help. 

Shelly: Yeah. So this client is mid-career change and it’s a pretty aspiration.

 Career change. It’s not just going from a to B. Okay. She’s a photographer currently, but she went back to school and got two degrees because she’s very interested in sustainability and she started seeing the links between sustainability and finance and how one can use. Finance and financial vehicles, investment vehicles to improve the cause of sustainability.

Honestly, cam she’s so intelligent and so well formed on this stuff. I’m not doing it justice because I can hardly wrap my brain around it. 

Cam: Well, but you said something in the sense that she saw that sustainability. Really again, it’s not this thing. That’s exciting. And as you said, how do we make sustainability, more sexy, 

Shelly: Sustainability, sexy, and profitable. And. It’s possible. She’s not the only one with this idea. There are already thought leaders in the finance industry who are interested in sustainability, looking in these directions and. It’s realistic. it’s a lot of work over a long period of time, but it’s something that she can do.

And in a lot of ways, something that she, by virtue of who she is uniquely positioned to do. And so early on in our coaching work together, as we were working on. Transitioning this thing from idea backed up with credentials to how do I start to take a step on that path? She had a meeting with a former teacher.

 This former teacher told her that she couldn’t do this, that because she’d never run a business before she was in way over her. That she should start a small little business first and see how that goes before she would even think or dare to dream this bag. Now, if that would’ve happened, when we first started coaching when she was fully in that long shot perspective, it would’ve leveled her.

And that’s how she would have arrived to coaching for the session that was after that conversation. But where we were at this point. Yeah. She showed up. She relayed the story to me. I was noticing that there wasn’t emotion or fatness as she was telling the story. And then she told me, and I realized right then that he didn’t get me and he didn’t get what I was trying to do.

So I think Tim for his time, and that was that.

And she said it like it was nothing. And so of course, as her coach, I went wait, got to talk about this. Wow. What’s this? Who is this showing up here? Let’s dig into this outcome and how this went, because guess what she was doing there. She was advocating for herself. This is a waste of my time.

I can end this meeting politely there’s advocacy, and she was demonstrating agency and being at choice, meaning I don’t have to take this person’s word at face value. I don’t have to make that a part of my story. I don’t have to internalize that because I know differently. I know differently and it’s okay if you don’t get me, not everybody will, if everybody did this problem would already be solved.

And I wouldn’t be walking down this road in the first place. 

Cam: This is reminding me so much of our past episodes on seeing ourself in our picture. Cause I wanted to start with a question around like again, so here’s this agency and kind of like being that this place of choice of, you know, what, okay. This person has their opinion and I can dismiss this opinion. I don’t have to own this opinion. The interesting thing with ADHD is we will take information, hook, line, and sinker. And any kind of slight or opinion or insult, or you’re doing this wrong, don’t do it. We will just grab onto that and sink us.

 so she came differently and it all comes back to the safety element, right. to be vulnerable when we can be vulnerable, but also to raise the Drawbridge. At the right time. Got you. No, no, thank you. That’s really fascinating. 

Shelly: Yeah. And there’s another demonstration of being at choice. She gets to be a choice about the help that she engages.

And that too was a perspective shift. No, she came to coaching. In the long shot perspective. And I didn’t see it that way. And I told her that. I said if I truly believe that as a coach, I wouldn’t work with you because I’m not serving you or me by holding that kind of perspective in our work together. part of my job is to believe in you and believe in what you’re capable of.

And I do. But just reaching out and accessing coaching again, after the experience of being told that she was a long shot, that is a demonstration of resilience.

Cam: Where I go with this is this bigger dilemma that those of us with ADHD have. So I love what you just said there. Well, two things I want to go back for a second. In the sense of the reflective work, you did with your client. When she came back after that experience with that old teacher and she came back.

And had perspective on that experience. She didn’t own that or let that just sink her. They’re like, okay, that’s their opinion. I don’t need that. And as coach to see, Hey, something’s changed here. Let’s look at the change. What is this? Who is this? Who are you being here? These are these questions where you don’t need to have a coach listeners, This is about reflective practice. You just need the questions. Who am I being here? Who do I get to be? Who can I be? Number one, number two, this is the theme of today’s episode around help and with ADHD because. Again, it’s so hard to understand from the observer’s perspective, there’s so much offered advice of what you should do, what it is, where you need to go, and being able to sift through and sort help.

I love what you said there, where she was with being at choice. With the help that serves her, she’s being at choice with the help. Does this serve me? Is this in line with what I’m trying to do? And I think that’s one of the biggest dilemmas with ADHD is we go to seek help. Right? This is the lunch counter-up on Mount Rainier.

We’re looking for answers. And we’re given a wall of answers and we have to sort through and find what works for us to get to this place of agency and choice, but it comes back to the sense of I’m worthy. I’m worthy of a powerful partnership. I’m worthy of. Having safety and trust that there are connections out there who can support my agenda.

It is, it’s a process and it’s a painful process, the payoff of this is so valuable and if you’re struggling to be heard and people keep offering you free advice, it’s just not landing. Come back to finding your community bits. That’s something that I’ve been talking a lot about.

We’ve been talking a lot about, in the sense of, do I get a coach? Do I start with a coach? No, don’t start with a coach. Start with a community. Find a community that supports you, sees you for who you are, right. And start to develop connection. And it’s this understand own translate piece of before we can take action, we need to understand what we’re up against this distinction between what the thing is and the aspiration, and then putting it into practice.

This distinction between knowing what safety is and your client of actually cultivating safety out into the world.

Shelly: Cam, I want to go back to the lunch counter briefly and talk about what we mean here, at that place, even if you haven’t listened to those episodes, what we really mean is you go looking for help for your ADHD. And what do you get? You get a lot of behavior-based prescriptive solutions, write it down, set a timer, put it in your calendar, et cetera, et cetera.

And what happens when you get frustrated? When those things don’t work. And most of my clients for that matter, come to coaching, in that mentality. No. I want to work on task management and time management. And, these are the big ugly problems that I want to solve. And not that we don’t coach about those things we do, but it’s not where we start because there’s this bigger thing of perspective, especially as an ADHD person walking around without one down perspective if there are bigger things at play here that can hold us back, not pausing.

Not having agency because we don’t have a practice of pausing to be at choice. So our days and our decisions happen to us more than they happen to them. And that makes this particular client unique as well because she came from day one saying the biggest obstacle to me doing this thing to this thing, becoming a reality is me.

And it wasn’t her in the sense of I’m a failure or a long shot or I’m one down or this ADHD behavior or that ADHD manifestation. It was, I know I’ve got this heaping bundle of limiting beliefs and perspectives and low self-worth that aren’t serving me and that I need to do something different here and I need to be different.

 In order to realize this stream. 

Cam: And I need to figure out this ADHD because it’s impacting it is playing a part, right? And this is the interesting thing. This is where we focus in coaching is looking at this interplay between the individual and these executive functions that don’t fight. On a consistent basis that it impacts us in these very specific ways.

I love that you brought in that perspective on the lunch counter, because everyone’s like, what is this lunch counter you’re talking about? Remember people it’s just a wall. It’s just a barrier. And so I love how your client was not satisfied with the prescriptive, not satisfied when that person said, you know what?

You should try this instead. I’m going to bring in a quick Cam example. I may have shared this. I don’t know, but it’s like it’s resonating right now is I was struggling early on, very early on in my code. And someone said you need to go see this woman because she’s a guru and she’s going to tell you what you need.

Okay. Because I respected that person and they said, go see this person. So I went to see that person and she’s an energy person. She was doing. She had her hands out, Shelly, hands out. She’s like, Ooh, you got a lot of blue. There’s a lot of blue and you. Not much. Have we talked about this? Have we not?

Oh, good, great. I’m like I’m in my back of my head. I’m like, have I done this blue, red thing yet? No, I would certainly remember that. So it’s like the feminine side is really, there’s a strong, feminine sense in you and the red masculine, the I’m just not sensing the. And again at the end well, what you need, this is what you need.

This person has spent 37 minutes with me and they say, you need to go out and you need to develop your warrior side. You need to go out and develop your masculine side. How do you think you can do that? I was like these guys are asking me to get back into uh, adult club lacrosse league.

So I played lacrosse when I was younger and I was pretty good. Right. I played lacrosse in Baltimore people, right. that should resonate with some folks what that means. And so here I am 30 and people are wanting me to come into Asheville and play lacrosse and I get in there and I’m just like looking through this helmet, like what the hell am I doing here? This is just not it. I’m sure this is not it and getting hurt. And pulling a, I brought a hole in my leg because of muscle that just popped and went up like a, window shade. This is 20 years later, but it was like, again, this prescriptive thing oh, I know exactly what you need.

And I went ahead and did it, cause I didn’t know any better. I didn’t have that sense of work. That sense of, I know at some level, so it took some time to get to that place of it’s in here. I just need to figure out how to pull it out. And that’s when I started working with of all people, Peggy Ramondo and hope Lagner and Russell Culver, and my coaches to get a sense of what is my purpose, where can I create some agency?

And make my difference in the world 

Shelly: Cam I’d like to actually offer a counter-story to your story. And that is, I have my taro cards spread on occasion. Now I’m a pretty skeptical person. I wouldn’t say that I believe in mysticism or disbelieve in it, but. I find it to be a useful exercise because it adds new context.

However, the person that reads my cards, you know, what they don’t do, they don’t do the prescribing at the end. it’s like a different way for me to get some new context to grapple with, what are the cards say around this particular situation? It’s like a way for me to tap into. In herself that’s subconscious level where whatever it is that I need to know or need to see that I’m not currently seeing, it’s another way to help Jimmy that loose.

 And the difference between your experience and mind being no prescription, just information for you to take and grapple with. And do what you will with. And so listeners, if you take any moral away from today’s episode, it’s that prescriptive solutions do not work. They do not work for you. They do not work for the people around you in our coaching groups.

The very first thing we do when we talk about building this community together, Is we teach our participants how to talk to each other, like coaches instead of giving advice or answers. Ask a question. It doesn’t have to be the perfect question. Just what are you curious about as you’re hearing this other person articulate their experience or as you’re seeing it in the.

Group coaching community throughout the week. Ask a question about that, right? Evoke some curiosity, help this other person gets some new context in which to grapple with their old dilemma. That is how change is created. And especially for those of us with ADHD, that is how change is created. 

Cam: I love what you’re saying there.

And I love the, again, this distinction between kind of seeking input and resources, but not letting it inform your experience. So with the card reading and to hear that, and yet it’s not necessarily, prescriptive. But it just lets you inform that big brain and perspective on how you proceed.

 when I’m working with my clients, I often cite resources outside of the realm of ADHD because I find that it’s fairly limited. I love Susan David’s stuff around emotional agility. I love the podcast, hidden brain. Because it addresses these issues that are right in line with ADHD, but it gives a perspective beyond, right. to be informed so that you can build this knowledge and understand. Then you decide where you own, you know, part of the Understand, Own Translate is to own what is yours and not own? What is yours? All right. So back to this idea of people are wanting to offer help. You don’t have to take it just at face value to be discerning, to listen and say, thank you, and then move on.

And how you put it into play is completely up to you. That lacrosse whole thing of the going out and being a warrior. That was a hard lesson of learning. But what I did turn to is mountain biking, which is a whole nother area of challenge skillset. And following my kid, who’s like a world-class rider down drop.

It took a lot of warrior, but it was on my terms and I didn’t have these Neanderthals trying to beat me up with a stick.

It was the case. Anyway. 

Shelly: So I’m noticing a theme here as we come to the conclusion of this episode and that theme is being the captain of your own ship. Being at choice, being able to take in leverage good advice or useful context and have agency about how you use that advice or that context, being able to distinguish bad advice or unhelpful context, and letting it go without letting it take you to the valley.

 Where you’re judging yourself for who you are and what does this all come back to? It’s that letting go of that one-down perspective and stepping into ownership. This is the place where I see my clients showing up differently. There is a real thing that happens with every client I work with who stays with coaching long enough to get there a real shift in which they have their coaching foundation.

And ownership is one piece and reflective practices, the other, and they go hand in hand. So when my clients start showing up to coaching as this client did, guess what? She had a whole dilemma that she addressed and resolved outside of coaching, and one that she wouldn’t have been able to address and resolve.

Prior to engaging in coaching and learning how to pause and have that reflective practice. She had a different experience there. And part of that different experience was the confidence and competence to stand on her own two feet as a person with ADHD and to not be in that one down perspective and to not hear bad or unwanted advice from that one down perspective.

So, listeners, I invite you to consider what do you need to get to that new place where you are at choice, where there’s agency, where you can advocate for yourself, and where you are the captain of your own ship? Not that you’re not looking for support and resources, that’s resourcing and sources of support are huge aspects Of the work that we do with our clients, but you’re the captain, you’re the one at choice. You don’t have to let every person or every bit of advice grab the wheel from you. So maybe start there, notice where you’re letting other people or other resources crab that wheel for me. And make you feel less than what’s going on there.

Cam: Love that. And I’ll just say, in addition to that, there can be this magical thinking around this sort of I’m on the verge of finding the answer I’m on the verge of someone has the answer out. And I’m on the verge of finding it. And this bit of information is going to make all the difference in the world.

So your practice this week is to insert a pause right here, as you’re gathering information to notice. Do you have a little bit of that thinking going on? And can you put some perspective around this nugget of learning? To slow it down a little bit. Just sort of like, okay, how much do I want to take in and accept and own?

And maybe how much do I want to dismiss here? Because it is a matter of sifting through and journey thinking here it’s a journey. It’s not a destination. It’s not likely that someone is going to have some nugget of information that will flip a switch. I can absolutely guarantee you that there’s no information out there that will do that for ADHD.

We have our aha moments, right? And this sort of epiphany moments, but just slowing down, they’re creating a pause. And as Shelley said, create some perspective and presence around this opportunity of seeking. And absorbing new information. 

Shelly: Yeah, well said, cam. So this is a good place for us to wrap, but before you jump off, For our patrons, our next live coaching demonstration will be on September 23rd at 12:30 PM Eastern time.

And that will be with me. So as a reminder, Of what this is, we’ve replaced our monthly Q and A’s with these coaching demonstrations because one of the most asked for things when we put our survey out to our patrons was demonstrations of coaching. We talk about coaching. We talk about the work we do with our coaching clients, but here on the show, you don’t get to hear a lot of coaching unless it’s cam coaching me.

So this is an opportunity to show up. To hear coaching. And if you volunteer to be coached, this is a benefit for our patrons. So let’s talk about how you can become one. Visit the website,, click on the patron link in the upper right-hand corner, and for $5 a month, not only do you gain access to the yeah.

Live coaching demonstrations. Once a month, you also gain access to our discord community where listeners are working together to do their own understand, own, and translate work. You can ask questions directly of cam and I as well. And. You’re helping support the running of the show and helping us continue to cover the costs of bringing this show to you every week.

So thank you to all of you who contribute monthly for that. It’s truly part of why we can keep doing this work. If you’re looking for other ways to support the show, number one would be to leave a rating or review wherever you listen. Number two, don’t keep us a secret. Share us with. Someone else who has ADHD share us on social.

If you have a neurodivergent group at your workplace, share us, they’re growing. Our listenership is helping us grow by sharing when you can, is the best thing that you can do for us hands down. So until next week, I’m Shelly 

Cam: And I’m Cam, Shelly: And this was translating ADHD. Thanks for listening.

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