Surprisingly, this is the first episode dedicated to the topic of self-care. Shelly and Cam discuss self-care in the context of the coaching process. They discuss why they start with self-care in every coaching engagement. Clients often come to coaching looking for a quick win but they’re often seeking that win from an urgent state of mind or in an ARC perspective.

Shelly and Cam go on to discuss certain obstacles to self-care including “shoulds”, getting hung up in the “how”, diminishing or downplaying the value of a self-care practice and attaching extra meaning to the activity. Shelly shares an example of a client who put too much pressure on her own self-care practice but through her own reflective practice recognized the pressure and shifted the way she approached the self-care activity.

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Episode Transcript:

Shelly: Hi, I’m Shelly. 

Cam: And I’m Cam.

Shelly: And this is Translating ADHD 

This week, we are going to talk about something that neither one of us can believe we haven’t explicitly talked about before, even though we’ve covered it in a number of episodes and that is self-care. Before we dive into our topic of self-care this week.

Just a reminder that we have an upcoming coaching group centered on this very topic. This group begins on October 20th. And as of this recording, there is still space available. So if you visit the website, translating adhd.com, click on the group coaching link. If the application is still up, that means that we are still accepting applications.

We’d love to see you as part of this group. If you’re a fan of the show and you’re looking for what is my next step, one of our coaching groups is. An amazing next step is to take what you’re learning, be in a community with it and start synthesize it in a new way. Cam you and I were just talking about how you and I sitting down and having a conversation each week about coaching.

Has grown our knowledge and understanding about what works and what the evidence says and how to articulate that. And we see that same thing happening in our coaching groups is our listeners come, you already speak the language of the show, but getting to speak that language in a community of people who are right there with you and who get it.

 Can really accelerate that learning and synthesize some things in a new way.

Cam: And we’re doing a lot of synthesizing this morning. Aren’t

we, 

Shelly: We are like, how many times can I say the word synthesize?

Cam: Shelly’s like put on her hazmat suit, like she’s walking into the core reactor that is not to overheat here. Cause like it’s like cam comes with new information. I want to talk about. Self-care and the self-care class, because some people may be like, wait a second.

am I being manipulated here? Is this going to be a plug for your class? No, it’s not that at all. It’s really a period into our own creative process. We have this class coming up and we’re really getting curious about just like we did with resilience and project debt. We turn our attention to it.

So we’ve got this class coming up on self-care. So we’re really thinking about self-care and what it means. What’s challenging about it. Why it often is at the bottom of our list and we don’t get to it yet. We know it’s so important. So we’re digging into self-care. And again, as Shelly said, we realized, oh my God, we haven’t even done an episode on self. We’re at almost, I think this is 95 and we’re introducing self-care here. So we have introduced and talked about self-care in terms of excellent ADHD management and one of those essential cornerstones to being successful with ADHD. We really want to talk about self-care. And within the context of a coaching process.

And the question that we pose today is to share with you, our clients come for all different reasons. Why do we start with self-care with our clients as we engage in a coaching process? So that’s where we’re going to start. And Shelly, why do you start with self.

Shelly: Oh, Cam, let me count the ways. First of all, a client comes to coaching and what are they articulating? They’re articulating the behaviors that they want to be free from and the painful consequences of those behaviors. They’re often looking at or gravitating toward what is loudest or most urgent or most painful. And even though they cognitively might understand that coaching is a process of change that happens over a long period of time.

They’re looking for that quick. Show me change, show me something. And they’re looking for it in one of those areas of urgency. And so I like to detach from urgency completely in early coaching sessions, we’ll get to your task list and your emails and the backlog and the things that are really bothering you.

Let’s take a step back and look at who you are. And Cam, as you know, I start with an exercise centered on values and needs and there’s tons of them out there as a free resource. There’s nothing special about the one that I use. It’s just the one that I happen to have in. Because it allows me to check in on where my clients are not practicing self-care, where are they not meeting their own needs?

Or where are they out of sync with their values? And when we address things first in this realm of non-urgency, number one, it really allows my client to detach from. And that is a really hard skill for coaching clients to learn because they’re not coming for nothing they’re coming because they want change.

They want an outcome, but when it’s a non-urgent topic, we can let go of that and set it aside. Not that we’re not looking to create change, but maybe the change we need here. Isn’t what they think it is. So letting go of outcomes so that we can really get curious and explore. And so Cam, I’m going to stop here and toss it back to you because you talked about using self-care is a way to start teaching the coaching process.

And this is what I’m starting to get into here to starting with something non-urgent so that my client can detach from outcomes so that they can start to learn. This partnership, this dance of coaching with me. So I’m going to let you say more about that because I really liked how you were articulating that before we hit record today.

Cam: Yeah, love what you just said there, you know, in part, it’s giving that arc pony arrest. If you’ve been riding that arc pony, adrenaline response cycle pony, that urgency pony, and often they’ll come and thinking, oh, You’re going to make my arch pony more high performance. you’re going to just outfit him with retro rockets and he’s going to be awesome. And so often it’s when they come in, they’re like, oh, we’re going to start with self-care. But back to where you began with values and needs and identifying needs that are not being addressed.

 Last week, we talked about the second barrier, right? The barrier of, you know, what you know, and about putting that knowledge into practice. That’s the second barrier. The first barrier is knowing what you need to do. So the coaching process is actually, a change process that is based in the science of identifying a need that needs to be, or wants to be addressed, and then finding ways to put it into practice, right? E of rebel of exposure to time and new experiences. To have that experience of identifying a need going ahead and addressing that need. And then the backside of that is coming back, regardless of the experience, as you said, detaching from outcome and this final chapter, the backside of the engagement to let’s unpack what happened.

And all three of those are really critical parts of the coaching process. I go back to your client and again, last week it was about cultivating energy, right. And it was that she somehow made a jump from identifying that need. I’m sorry. Did I say cultivating?

Shelly: You did, and it was cultivating safety.

Cam: Whew. Okay. People. we’re simmering over here. Cultivating safety, right? It was about cultivating safety. And before she could cultivate safety, she had to identify, first of all, I need to have safety, this sense of a place where I can be myself. So I can look at this. That’s another thing that we provide in a coaching context is comment, you know, set the arc pony and all this effort team, all this expenditure of energy to rest for a moment and to consider what matters, right?

This is starting to see yourself in the picture. We all have a consistent. Grouping of needs. We have a consistent grouping of values that make up who we are. And part of add is not being able to appreciate that. Not being able to see that in the moment we need it most so back to resilience. And when we fall down into the valley, not having access to that information.

Always consistent yet. It’s not always accessible and that’s a key ADHD distinguisher it’s there. We just haven’t found the key to unlock that door.

Shelly: Cam I’m glad you brought up my clients and cultivating safety because that is a set of self-care practices for that client. And so here’s where I want to pause and do a little ranting and a little distinguishing self-care should never have the word should attach to it. So many of my clients come thinking well, my sleep’s out of whack or my diet’s not right, or this isn’t right.

And I should do this and I should do that. And I should exercise and I should clean up my diet and I should lose weight and I should be getting eight hours of sleep that has nothing to do with what actually defines self-care for them. Now, creating change around some of those practices will certainly make them feel better physically, but that may not be where the self-care journey starts for those clients. As ADHD people, we can almost turn self-care into a bludgeon. Another thing is to beat ourselves up with a list of things we should be doing or ought to be doing, and even worse, not giving ourselves permission to do the things that are actually self-care for us. I used to feel a tremendous amount of guilt about sleeping in tremendous amount of guilt.

Now it’s something I do every week Fridays. I don’t take clients Thursday nights. I don’t set an alarm. I wake up when I naturally wake up, that is a form of self-care for me. And I wake up feeling amazing. Why is that possible? Well, In part I let go of the story. I was telling myself it’s not normal to sleep in this late. If you got enough sleep the rest of the week, you wouldn’t need to do this. Other people don’t run their lives or operate this way around sleep. So there’s something wrong with you. So I know this is a bit of a detour from what we wanted to talk about, but I think it’s such an important distinction because my clients come. And even when we put the topic of self-care on the table, they’re coming at it from a should perspective rather than a who am I? And what do I need perspective?

Cam: be careful what you wish for like your rant. I’m about to take it to a mega, take no prisoners rant

Shelly: Yeah, it’s double rads. Let’s go.

Cam: You know, we have this message and society the should and the how, how you do it is severely judged in our society. There’s a right way. And there’s a wrong way. And comes from the outside. It also comes from the right. We’re looking for examples of success.

And so we look and we see, and, we lose sight of the value of it, right. of getting good sleep. And we get focused on the technical aspects of well, I should wake up at seven 30 and get up and, get to the gym and the way we do it matters most. And so your own experience, thinking about how you came to your truth here around the real need.

I love this is the real need is sleep on my terms. How did you do it? You did it through that coaching learning process of trying, going out, breaking through that second barrier, and trying something. And learning it, you know what? This isn’t working, And then we can eliminate what doesn’t work, but also this being open to how it might work for you and listeners.

This is the thing about self-care. This is the thing about building your business, any kind of practice, the learning that I’m getting reinforced in my work with my clients and in my classes. Right. It’s not so much about how you do it, it’s that you do it and do it in a way that is authentic to you, right?

There’s conventional ways. And there are non-conventional ways I’m learning to trust that the way that I build my businesses, the way that I build programs, it is not conventional at all. It’s real for me, what is real for you? And to really let go of the, how am I going to do it? Because that’s an impart.

What the challenge is with ADHD is, how we get hung up on the house. And then we put too much attention there.

Shelly: And when we get hung up on the, how, what’s the story we’re telling ourselves, I’m not doing it right to do it right. Is to get eight hours of sleep to have a consistent bedtime to do it the way the quote-unquote experts say to do it. Cam, the more I coach people, the more I realize that the experts don’t know as much as we think they do taking what works on average for the average person is a poor way to learn what works for you as an individual. 

Cam: Just think about for a second, our listeners over there with their pen. Ready? The pen ready? Like, okay. this is about self-care how do I start this? Where do I begin? I think that, again, another thing we do is we sort of try to think of a complete self-care package.

Shelly: Yes.

Cam: Right Of, I know that these four or five different areas of, nutrition and sleep and meditation, there’s so many different things that fit into self-care. As Shelly said, don’t apply a conventional definition to self-care. When I changed my thinking about exercise, I knew that exercise mattered, but it was like, instead of focusing on being healthy versus protecting bandwidth, this is about protecting my bandwidth and it changed what exercise could be that I get outside for 20 minutes. Then it gives me what I need to come back and reengage in my day. So be thinking about what you’re trying to do in your day and what are those practices that are going to help there? The thing that I typically do again, coming back to it’s self-care, the reason why we start with something that’s not urgent is.

As Shelly said, we’re bringing it into the coaching process to think of the two things that are at play here is the actual activity and then bringing it into the coaching process. I’ll just say it’s sorta like, we need some grain to put into our flour mill and apply.

Shelly: I actually want to bring in a client scenario from last week because it’s so relevant here. Now, this client has been coaching for a while, so she is familiar with this process in a way that new clients do not. And I think it’s really interesting how that played out in a conversation that we had last week around self-care. She just moved into a new house. It’s her first house. First-time homeowner, it’s in the Pacific Northwest in the woods. It’s just the cutest most beautiful little place. It’s so perfect.

She’s enamored, right? And last week she came to coaching and opened with the fact that she envisioned when she first moved in, going out every morning on her back deck and having her first cup of tea outside weather permitting on this beautiful piece of ground that’s Her’s and then without my prompting, and this is the cool thing about coaching or learning, how to develop that reflective practice, bringing in that keen observer is when you practice it, you need less and less prompting for it to come up.

So with no prompting or question for me, I started the question. Why is it in the morning? Why is it a cup of tea? Why does it have to be every day? What is it that I actually wanted out of this practice?

 And what am I connecting it to that I don’t need to be connecting it to, and guess what she found out this is the thing that blew my mind. Again, no prompting from me, I’m just sitting, holding the space, and listening to this client. She said, you know, I think there was some magical thinking there that this was the practice on which I was. Build out all of my other practices and completely change my life and change who I am somewhere in the back of my brain by starting my day, this way, every day, that was going to change everything. And then she laughed because at this point, Hey, we’ve done a lot of work. She’s created a lot of the change she wants to create.

And B she’s seen her strengths in her values. So she’s like, where’s this coming from? I don’t need to change. Everything about myself and my personality and how I move about the world. So then she was able to decouple the two things, just like for you reframing exercise, making it about bandwidth because that is what it’s about for you. She was able to look at this practice that she so strongly desired again, and really connect to what that means for her and what that means for her. Is having a quiet moment of reflection and enjoying the beautiful place in the world that she’s found herself in that’s it. But until she realized all of the other things, she was connecting that to all of the pressure she was putting on, which is sort of the paradox of self-care with ADHD.

Isn’t it. We can put all this mounting pressure onto a thing. And then it feels not like self-care at all. It feels like an obligation, something that we have to do, or yet another thing that we are failing to do. And I share that because they see that happened so often in my clients. You know, if I can just get sleep in order, if I can just get my diet in order, if I can just get my exercise in order, everything else will fall into place.

Cam: Right. There’s this performative perspective there, right? As you said, it’s adding pressure. I’m also struck by, this is another example of where in the coaching process, it’s being able to tell. That and doing it yourself You shared another example of client like doing your own coaching, right.

To kind of go out there and pause, consider that reflection piece and notice the. This is above the lunch counter of Mount Rainier at causation is we’re coupling all the time. We are making meaning If I do this, I’ll be able to do all this other stuff. Right. And then we run the expectation up the flag.

Creates too much pressure. And then how do you feel about doing that activity? It’s no longer this peaceful moment with a cup of tea out in the woods with nature, right? It’s lost its value. And is she going to do that? No. So this is again, really important work of her own lived experience to reflect in that moment and to adjust.

This is about adaptive behavior. Oh no, wait, Shelly. Guess what? Supposedly in ADD land, being able to drive adaptive behaviors really difficult. Like we can’t do that. Like That’s executive functioning, right? That’s about learning. We’re not supposed to be able to do that. And yet you and I see this evidence of our clients all the time, taking that experience. Reflecting on something. Oh, and oh, by the way, people that exercise of reflecting, guess what does not involve intense executive functioning, just let that one land, of you’re finding other parts of the brain to utilize here. So back to this idea of identifying as self-care and you see in that situation, It’s like you take it and you keep working with it.

What I tend to do with my clients is we pick one area, maybe two, but keep it light, keep it simple. And it’s about working it through this process of identifying the need activating on that, breaking through the second barrier. Into activity into action and then looking at it together on the backside.

And so keep moving it through, keep pushing the grain through that flour mill to generate our flour. Oh, it’s a little course, you know, how can we adjust things to bake better flour? And then that process is what they take out to other intentions. Whether it’s their professional intentions or their relational intentions.

It’s the same process. And ADHD just froze up barriers all along that way in that process. 

Shelly: Cam, I love that articulation. And by starting with something inherently, not urgent, like self-care, it becomes easier. To navigate more urgent things using this same process, because guess what? The client starts to have a different experience. There’s a trust in that process that maybe wasn’t there in the start or a knowing that approaching things this way can work. Which allows the client to take a step back from urgency, even if it is something urgent, and approach it in a coaching fashion. I had one more thing I wanted to say specifically about self-care. So we talked about ‘shoulding’. And attaching to with self-care. There’s another manifestation I see in my clients a lot.

And that’s the sort of discounting like this is important, or this matters to me, but this isn’t real self-care Cam if you remember, this came up way back in the good old days when you were coaching me around live music and fish tour, you called that. As a self-care practice. And I thought you were crazy. What are you talking about? But then we dug in and we coached about it and I realized it was. Similarly, for me, gaming is a self-care practice when I’m doing it. From a place of, this is something I want to engage in right now and not a place of avoidance. So that’s something I have to pay attention to, but gaming as a hobby, I enjoy very much.

And again, here’s where the conventional wisdom says gaming and ADHD. Don’t mix. You’ll always game too much. You’ll always get addicted. You’ll always have problems, gaming and ADHD can mix yeah, there’s also the stories I would tell myself, in my late thirties and I gaming that’s, my thing. That’s how I decompress and unwind how other people read or go on hikes or go for runs or learn to knit or learn to create something. And my thing is gaming. Yeah. My things game. And that’s okay because gaming like the fish tour is something that quiets my mind for a period of time. And that is the need for me. The need for me is something so engaging that I’m immersed in it. And my ever-racing mind is able to quiet for a period of time because I’m super engaged in what I’m doing.

Cam: Two things. There’s great. Cause and effect work there. Recognizing what is the need. I need to find a way to address the racing brain, number one. Number two, there’s another element of gaming and fish, which is the social aspect. It is a context is a way that you can engage socially to create those positive connections, which is another basic need. As we wrap up, I’m just thinking about a couple more things here again like, okay well, I don’t have a coach and I’m not quite sure where to begin. And what we’d invite you to do is you don’t need to have a coach. You do, however, need to find a way to state an intention and practice it, and then look at the results in a nonjudgmental way.

How can you do that? I think there’s a lot of different ways we talk about you don’t necessarily have to start with a coach, start with a community, start with a community, start with taking a class and a coach is down the line there, but within a community, finding another individual, who’s not going to be judgemental.

Who’s not going to say, oh, you’re doing it all wrong. Hung up in the how is that you share the intention with somebody and developing some positive accountability with that individual or that community right in the discord. Every Monday I’d been getting to the practice of, hey, what’s going on out there, folks, What do you get this week? And when we state our intentions much more likely that we’re going to follow. But the key there is, there’s no harsh judgment in doing so it’s a safe place where you can share. And the focus is on the learning, right? That success is really about unpacking the learning from that experience, exercising, that reflective practice muscle.

often with ADD what we do is we go to the max, it’s sort of like, okay, I’m going to go to the gym five times. I’m gonna meditate 30 minutes a day. And what I invite my clients to do is, set the minimum. Right? You can kind of develop a range there because again, we try to pinpoint a picture of success for self-care.

What does that specific picture look like? No, develop a range. Okay. You know what? I’d love to go to the gym five times, but the bare minimum is. I’m going to go twice in seven days. What’s the feasibility of that So let that be a start with a baseline to build up from, you get good at that. Make your adjustments and build on that, but sharing in some way, developing some reflective practice. I go back to the six Cs. You brought this up before the call, the six Cs, and that celebration. To celebrate, to really notice what happened there. What do I have now that I can apply forward? When you do that, you’re overcoming the executive function breakdowns of ADHD.

Shelly: Yeah. So listeners, what’s the need? Where are you ‘shoulding’? Or applying magical thinking to practice. Where are you discounting something that works for you? Even if it’s not conventional, start there, identify the need that you’re trying to meet for yourself and then play around with it.

It’s not all or nothing. It’s not pass, fail, try something, engage with it. See how it goes.

 Take that learning and adjust as needed. Notice the limiting beliefs and the magical thinking that come up along the way that turns this practice, something you want to do something that is for you into something that feels like an obligation what’s going on there. And how can you start to let go of that?

Cam: And as you do remember our card catalog, right? The index cards of our card catalog. this is hard, fought learning, and being able to capture that learning just the nugget and to put it in a safe place that you can access again. This is a key part. Capture the learning so you can then have it as a resource going forward.

Shelly: Oh, well said, Cam, So if you like what we’re doing here on the show, a few key ways that you can support us. Number one, don’t keep us a secret. Share us on social. If you have a neurodivergent group at work sheriffs there share an episode that is really resonating with you.

Number two is to leave a rating, a review, wherever you listen. This helps other people find the show and lets them know why this show stands apart. And number three is to become a Patreon. By becoming a Patreon you help us cover the costs of running the show so that Cam, and I can keep bringing you this free content every week.

And you gain access to our discord community, where our listeners are working together to understand, and translate work. You can join that by visiting the website, translatingadhd.com. Clicking on the Patreon link in the upper right-hand corner. And for $5 a month, you are helping us keep the show going and you’re in the community.

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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