Navigating The Three Barriers with ADHD

Episode 97

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Shelly and Cam do what they do best, taking listeners on a journey through an ADHD-lived experience. Today they integrate all three barriers of ADHD as Shelly shares her own discovery and learning process. She digs into a recent dilemma around a breakdown with getting house chores done. Listen as Shelly and Cam explore Shelly’s journey as she bumps into and then develops workarounds for all three barriers, to new learning that she converts into new action resulting in systems and practices that reflect her current reality – the captain of her own abode.

The Three Barriers are as follows:
The First Barrier to Awareness
The Second Barrier to Informed Action
The Third Barrier to Learning

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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’re going to. Talk about the three barriers of ADHD. Now in typical neurodivergent fashion, we’ve already done an episode on the second barrier and the third barrier. We’ve alluded to the first barrier. So today we’re going to kind of bring those three together and we’re going to do that.

Using some real-life context of mine. But before we do that, a quick note about our group coaching offerings, we do still, as of this recording, have one slot available in the upcoming self-care coaching group that begins on October 20th. To apply, visit the website, translating adhd.com, click on the group coaching link. And if the application is still live, that means that we still have space. So go ahead and submit your application. Now we need you to apply no later than Wednesday. October 13th. So if you want to snag that last slot, and if the application is still up next week, when this episode airs don’t delay, go ahead and send your application in.

If you’re listening to this and you happen to have missed the opportunity to apply, and the application is no longer live, never fret. We already know what our next offering is going to be. In January, we will be offering a course on agency. So stay tuned for more details on that. And on the group coaching page, if the application is not live instead, there’ll be an email where you can reach out and be added to a list, to be the first, to know about our upcoming group coaching offerings.

So that is an option for you as well. If you did happen to miss out on this one earth, now it’s not the right time for you, but you’d like to engage with us in the future. So Cam, where do you want to dive in? As we start to bring these three barriers more fully together?

Cam: I think we alluded to this last week in the sense that our own learning and awareness about this whole process has been evolving as we’ve been doing.

Shelly: Yeah.

Cam: yeah we are two coaches that know a lot and help our clients, but we’re also on this path of bringing in new information, practicing exercising, and developing new content, new concepts.

That, as I said last week, it’s like thinking about learning, had the shifting about learning and the concept of that. And with the third barrier, that big breakdown around taking hard one experience. That wisdom from that and converting it into learning, going forward. That’s the fundamental thing that happens with ADD is breakdown points at any one of those places of those three barriers.

We’ve been talking about the three barriers ever since the conception of this podcast back in November of 2019, that universal question that we asked and I think episode ten Of why is it that we don’t do what we know we ought to do, so that alludes to that second barrier of, we have this information and it’s so hard to take the information we have or the intention and to. take action around that intention. The tagline for years has been matched action with intention. And so we’re just building out the complex of barriers that are all about change is that there’s the first barrier to awareness and to understand what is the thing we need to address, or we talked about identifying the dilemma and that’s what we do in. Clients come with their goals with their needs, but we come together and really look at what all do we want to address, or can we address, what is that emerging awareness that is not here yet? So naturally, curiosity, bringing curiosity can help to kind of. help us move away from that house of mirrors, distorted view on things, to alleviate the judgments, to separate the emotions they’re important, but they can really influence and distort our experience. Moving into action. And then again, the process on the backside, the last couple of weeks, Shelly, we’ve been talking about reflective practice. And that reflective practice is really that practice of gathering and noticing the learning on the backside of an experience.

It can also be just sitting and being mindful too. I’ve been doing my own research on the significance of. Giving the brain a break the brain builds so much and makes these connections that happen in two periods in two specific states one is sleep and another is non sleep deep rest, right?

That non-sleep deep rest is a reflective practice. So it’s sort of like doing work. No, we’re lifting weights and kind of on the front end of activating for task and bringing dopamine on board and adrenaline and moving into action. But then there’s the synthesizing of that learning on the backside, which is not a big, intense workout.

It’s not big signal work. It’s more nuanced. And I love that today. We’re going to run really your own experience. Recent experience through these three barriers and what we’ve done or what you’ve done to overcome those barriers because that’s the big message here. It’s not that here are these barriers and live with it.

There are these barriers. They’re formidable, they’re real, but we can find ways to work through and around them.

Shelly: Yeah so over the last several months, I’ve been struggling to stay on top of routine tasks. So for those that haven’t listened to the podcast from its inception, which is getting harder and harder to do the longer we’re at this. So we recognize we’ve put a lot of content out there.

 I got divorced last year and I moved into the house I live in now about this time last year. And this is the first home I’ve ever lived in by myself. It’s my first place. That’s just mine and my kids. But as an adults, the first place where I don’t have roommates or a partner that I’m living with. And part of the disconnect between my ex-husband and I was that when he saw stress in me, he kept taking stuff off my plate, thinking that that would help. So when I first move in, there’s all this novelty and interest around routine, home tasks. Doing the dishes doing the laundry, mowing the grass, taking out the trash. I’m attending to these things with ease. I’m letting the easy things stay easy and things are clicking really well.

Cam: Can I interject real quick.

Shelly: Sure.

Cam: So just in the last couple of weeks, we’ve talked about agency and the master of your own ship, and it’s like, you coming into this house and it’s yours, no partner, no roommates. It’s like, you’ve got your ship, right? You’re the master. 

Shelly: Yeah. 

Cam: Anything that’s going to happen?

It’s going to happen by you or through you, whether it’s taking action or. Bringing someone in to help you. Right. But inception of the idea, The identifying of the dilemmas, and seeing it to a completion point really starts and ends with Shelly.

Shelly: Yes, absolutely starts and ends with me

and had to navigate some pretty big challenges. When I first moved in, if you remember, I had a roof leak, so I had to get that sorted out. Had a known sewer issue when I bought the house that also needed to be remedied. But over the last several months, I would say starting in late spring or early summer. I started to notice that I was getting back into the feeling of behind when I noticed that perspective in my clients. It’s something that I always call out. I’m so far behind because the magical thinking behind that perspective is that there’s some future time in place of caught up and that simply does not exist. Yeah, I’m noticing I’m getting into that perspective myself. I’m behind, I’m behind the laundry is behind the grass is too high. I forgot to take out the trash this week. Gosh, I have to take it out next week or I’m going to run out of room in my bin. Things are just slipping here, slipping there, and it’s like, Quite get a handle on attending to all of these things that in a vacuum or relatively little, but putting them all together, I’m really struggling to attend.

And I’ve got some big signal stuff happening. That’s really drawing my attention. So there’s also this other perspective of that stuff can wait. Because I’ve got to attend to this big thing or this big signal.

Cam: I love what you said, that this is a Shelly ism. Like, let it be easy. Right? The feeling of behind. You didn’t say I was behind, right. it was associating the emotion of behind

Shelly: Yeah. 

Cam: To pull that in. And that what it did was then, oh, I’ll get caught up and I’ll get caught up at someplace in the future.

That magical thinking. So what were some of the big signal things that had your attention that were nudging out, right? Your attention was here and nudging out these more nuanced signals of the things that you knew, where you had to be successful with taking care of the homestead. 

Shelly: For one, we had our summer break with the podcast, which was, and wasn’t a break. It really was an opportunity to step back and think about how we could come back even better. And you and I were doing a lot of big creative thinking type work in that time. We’ve also got these coaching groups going on, which are relatively new.

Our next offering is going to be what number three, 

Cam: Number three. 

Shelly: Good thing I can count. Huh. And so around this time, our very first one was underway. I had some speaking opportunities that I needed to attend to in terms of putting material together. I have some interesting threads that I’m pulling on in terms of what individually might I look to do next in my business.

 Gratefully busier than I’ve ever been in. As busy as I ever want to be. I’ve always got a waitlist running. I had to figure out how to develop a waitlist process that worked well. And that was several iterations of trying something coming back to the drawing board, trying something else until I found a groove that seems to have settled in and worked well for me. And so all the while. I have these bouts of sort of resetting or I’ll take a day and I’ll do all the laundry and mow the grass and attend to the small things and get them back to this place of stasis notice. I didn’t say caught up, but sort of stasis just for me to immediately start not attending again until it was big enough to be frustrating. And on goes this cycle for several months. And for the first few, I’m not even really aware of it because I’m on my big signals. 

Cam: Excuse me, I’m just going to place the barrier. That first barrier of you’re not aware of this. And I apologize for interrupting there, but just to place that this is synonymous with the add experience is that we’re engaged and we’re not connecting the dots.

Shelly: Exactly. So that was the first point of awareness was just noticing, Hey, this hasn’t been a one or two-time thing. This is now becoming the pattern of letting things go. Catching back up in a frenzy. and then repeat the cycle. And so when I noticed that, then I had an opportunity to start to get curious about it. And that’s been what’s happening, I would say over the last month or two, what is this what’s going on here? Is that not working for me? Is it that I’m working too much? Is it that I need to engage some more help here? little by little pulling on these different threads. And then when it hit me, I felt so silly because it seems so obvious in hindsight and our clients do that a lot when it hits them when they have that aha moment, it’s like, wow, it’s really that our volunteer for the live coaching demonstration last week had a moment like that when we got there.

She kind of laughed and said, that’s so funny because I thought it might be that, but that, seemed too simple. The difference was on the backside of that coaching conversation that we had. She had a lot more clarity around what that was. Hence the aha moment. Oh, it is this, but there’s a deeper understanding there about what this is and how that’s creating a barrier. I had that same moment. And what I realized Cam is I really haven’t revisited my methods of attending to the routine stuff of life since before my divorce, which is nuts.

Cam: you’re talking about 18 months there, right? I mean, that was spring of 2020. 

Shelly: Summer 2020, but yes. 

Cam: Some are 20, 20, yeah. over a year. 

Shelly: So let’s think about how different my life is now than it was. Then. First of all, my coaching schedule has changed more than once since the divorce. Meaning what days I work with clients. What other things are on my calendar? Things like our group coaching that now are a part of my schedule.

What days I work with clients and what days I don’t, that has changed several times. Also. I’m the captain of the ship. I don’t have a co-captain anymore. If I don’t think about what I’m going to have for dinner. Nobody else is going to magically put a plate of food in front of me at seven o’clock at night and say, here, eat this. I have to plan for dinner. So upon realizing that I just, first of all, had a good chuckle at myself like listeners, if you think Cam, and I just had this on lock, were still doing our own work here. I would say the biggest difference between us and most of our clients is we’ve been at this long enough that we embody this approach.

So what you’re not hearing here is a lot of valley stuff, a lot of guilt and shame, and piling on myself because I never really went there. You know, it was annoyed by it and annoyed by this pattern and frustrated that I couldn’t figure out what the heck was going on with me. But I never really went to the shame and guilt place.

And it was always in the realm of, I’m just going to keep noodling on this problem until I get somewhere new. So once I got there, it’s like, okay, first of all, I have no mechanism for daily planning because my previous system. I knew which things I attended to on which days for those things that I would fix on a day.

So for example, paying the bills and doing my budget was always on Tuesdays. And I knew that, and every Tuesday, like clockwork, I would sit down and do the bills and do the budget until I wouldn’t see also the pile of bills sitting to my left or right now that I need to attend to. And then I knew which things.

I needed to attend to at some point during the week, but that we’re somewhat flexible about where they landed. And that was enough at that time. It didn’t need a stronger mechanism than that because I had developed habits around it. So it could live just in my head and I could function that way. But now there’s a lot more variables at play. Because I’m responsible for all of the tasks of how running. So with no mechanism for daily planning, what happens? Well, we get to Friday morning and I realize, well, crud Thursday was trash day and I didn’t take the trash out because I never took a moment to pause, to be aware that it was Thursday.

And to consider, do I need to take the trash out to the curb this week, which has never created that pause for myself, getting to seven o’clock at night and being ravenously hungry. What happened? Well, I never paused to consider What am I going to eat for dinner tonight Five or six loads of laundry that needed to be done again, not pausing to consider what needs to be done today. And so what did I do? I put together a mechanism for daily planning for myself, and I hesitate to go into too much detail. Because I’m not here to prescribe you my system, but what I really needed, I’ve got my calendar on lock. If I’ve got a client appointment, if I’ve got a group coaching session, if I’ve got a speaking gig, if I’ve got plans with a friend and it is on my calendar, that’s on lock and has been for a long time.

And I also know that if I start putting other things on my calendar that are not meetings appointments, Promises, or obligations that I have to other people to be present, that I will start missing client appointments. I can’t use my calendar as a task list. It does not work for me. I get notification fatigue real fast.

So what I did do is I put together a master list, a today’s list, and then a weekly list. everything that’s outstanding goes, especially those one-off things. My today list being where I plan and my weekly list is there to remind me of all the things I need to think about in a week. Do I need to take the trash out today? Do I need to do laundry? What about the grocery store? What am I going to go to the grocery store? If not today, let’s start thinking about when I’m going to go to the grocery store. When am I going to do the budget and bills this week? When am I going to mow the grass? that weekly list is really there for me to remember, to remind my brain that these things exist on a weekly basis.

And so that I can start contextualizing. Okay. If I’m going to the grocery store today. Then tomorrow when I have a bigger gap, let’s look at the weather. Oh, I could maybe mode tomorrow. I have a light day and I can start putting all of that into my week. And I’ve been at this now for about two weeks, still tweaking, adjusting. But feeling much more grounded in terms of having a handle on what needs to be done.

Cam: So listeners, I want to point to something here as Shelly shared. All of this, notice her language, right? she already talked about like, not getting pulled down into a big emotional experience or the valley of managing the valley, not going to Hoff. Right. But it’s, an annoyance and getting curious and so. This is translating. When we talk about translating, this is what we’re talking about, because listen to the words she’s using, mechanism methods, variables, These pieces that are not necessarily in place or got put aside. And there was a moment there before. Stopping and pausing and reaching back to her experience.

I think that, again, Shelly, you said this last week of this is not a linear process. You start with barrier one, go to barrier two, then barrier three it’s that you were at barrier one. And there were some shifts there that I want to talk about in a moment. But then what did you do? You went back. To previous learning. Okay. What’s different, right? How is my life different? And you went back, 12 months back to sort of look at this whole picture and that, oh, it’s on me. If it’s going to happen. It comes through me. And that pivot that I was talking about last week. Right. So there’s one way that we go through our week is it’s the walk by organizing, right?

Oh, the grass is getting too long. I got to mow it. Oh, the trash is overflowing. I got to resolve that situation. And then I, you know, I got to wait, six days because I missed the trash date versus this looking around and anticipating what is the opportunity for this day? So these categories, I do like that, and that is something to put in play for our clients is there’s the master list.

And then there’s the weekly and there’s the daily because the trash truck doesn’t come any random day, right? There are systems and mechanisms that are out there external to us that are beyond our control. So just that sort of paying attention, you’re exercising that pivot. To look back on your experience, let it inform where you are, what the need is, and then to make a plan. And I imagining that in those two weeks, that ease of stepping into the action is easier because you’re formulating a motivation. Oh, you know, well, if I get the trash out, they’ll take the trash and I will be free of trash. Right. That’s a good point. 

Shelly: Cam I actually want to add to this drawing on previous learning because it goes back more than 12 months. When you heard me talking about what I did do the actions I did take those didn’t come from nowhere. You heard me talking about how I cannot use my calendar as a task list. Because then I start snoozing notifications that are important notifications for appointments, that visual clutter and that notification clutter make everything worse for me, my task lists my things that are mine to do, and my things that I am doing with, or for others need to live separately.

And that’s something I figured out a long, long time ago. Another thing that I figured out a long time ago was I need freedom of choice in a day and in a week. So if I plan too rigidly that every Monday I do a, B, C, and D. That is a deterrent for me that creates its own barrier or to borrow Brendan’s wall of awful around those tasks.

And it doesn’t account for the fact that my schedule is not the same every week. I have weeks where I am meeting with every single client on my roster. And those weeks are intense And Monday through Wednesday are really not the time to attend to anything else other than what is most critical. I have weeks where a lot of my clients seem to have their break week all at one.

That’s a great time to grab a window that doesn’t normally exist on a Tuesday to mow the grass and knock that out if I’m paying attention to it. So that’s why for me, those attend to these sometime this week or at least check in on whether or not they need attending to tasks, live on a weekly list and on the list itself.

I wrote each one with a question mark behind it. So trash recycling yard waste question mark. What day is it? Does one of these need to go out today? Is there any of this to even go out this week? On this day, shower question, mark. Do you need to shower or not? It’s like phrasing it in the form of a question is like, Hmm. Okay. Here’s the landscape of my day today. Here’s what I know needs to happen this week. What’s possible today versus it’s Monday. So I have to do X, Y, and Z.

Cam: And I bet it really counters that whole idea of quote-unquote, feeling behind. 

Shelly: Yeah. 

Cam: Right. With that question. There’s a curiosity. And as you said, you’re infusing this with a principle or a personal value of freedom, and so listeners, you’re getting a sense of this innovative approach, right?

It’s not rigid and there’s, dare I say little element of playful or fun here, Shelly.

Shelly: Oh, for sure. So I didn’t even tell you about the other list, which I call soon TM. And that’s a running joke between my partner and I, you know, when something is near or like soon TM with the little trademark symbol. So my soon TM list is things that are not on the daily list, meaning this is not for today. But I should attend to these things before I pull more off the master list. So in addition to these weekly things that I’m attending to, in addition to my work with my clients and recording the podcast and sort of the routine things of my business in my life, these are. The important things and these are the things to attend to first.

And once you’ve attended to those, then you can go back to the master list and see what else needs attending to. And so if I’m going to commit to one for the day, I pull it onto my daily list. 

Cam: and so there’s also a great lunch counter work here in the sense of. you said earlier about distinguishing your daily from your calendar. And I do the same thing. I am not going to put my task list on my calendar. I have to pull it apart and see that my appointments are separate from my intentions because my appointments are now locked into a time.

 I have freedom there of how I do them and when I do them, right. So that’s knowing how your brain works and how it doesn’t want to work right. To, really manage internal clutter. Right. The other thing is that. To battle that now and not now on time is that soon TM is really a sense of what’s over the time horizon to consider what’s over that, that I’m not necessarily paying attention to, that might come up and again, anticipating.

So that anticipating is executive function-rich. And if we turn our attention to it with curiosity, still have one question. I want to come back to 

Shelly: Yeah. 

Cam: at the beginning, in the sense of the story here there was a not noticing and then this emergence of, oh, wait.

Right. It was, you got curious, but right before you got curious, there was something else that happened, right. You’re going along and you weren’t aware of the impact. And then there was a pause there to sort of shift and look at it in a different way. and I’m just curious about that moment there because I think that can be something very helpful for our listeners. Right. It’s you’re in a mode to shift and kind of get curious about something to nurture and cultivate the new, awareness here. So I’m just wondering what happened there? What was the switch you flipped or perspective change that had you go from feeling of behind to wait a second?

Shelly: Such a great question, cam and I also think a great place to wrap this episode for today is on this answer and what our listeners can do with it. So that moment was mounting frustration. That moment. Was a moment. where in the past I might’ve gone to the valley or the pool or Hoff, would’ve gone to the limbic brain. It’s like becoming aware of it in a bigger way. This isn’t just an every now and then frustration. This is becoming a pattern of behavior. Now five years ago, that realization again, might’ve sent me to the valley and it might’ve had to start there and do my work from there. But in this case, it was like, okay, it’s a pattern of behavior. I know how to tackle patterns of behavior. So what’s the pattern. What am I noticing? we talked about that pause, you know, Disrupt and pivot that’s exactly what I was able to do. Pause long enough to actually notice it in a bigger way, rather than just that daily frustration of like, why am I feeling so out of sorts in terms of keeping my house together, because I’m also hypersensitive in the visual modality.

So visual clutter is crazy-making to me, I’ve very much prefer. A house that is neat and clean and minimal in its visual clutter. So pausing to notice the pattern of behavior and being able to disrupt before I got in the valley, like, okay, we don’t have to go there. Let’s just start to get curious and guess what?

That’s where the pivot started to happen. Not immediately, but it poised me to think. More intentionally about what is it? Do I need here few more days? Go by it. I missed the trash again. That’s when it hit me. I’m not even aware of what day of the week it is most days of the week, which didn’t occur to me because I see my clients on fixed time slots.

So for the most part week to week, my Monday clients or my Monday clients, my Thursday clients, or my Thursday clients. shouldn’t that be enough to know it’s Thursday, therefore it’s trash day yet? It wasn’t, it wasn’t enough. And so that’s when I went, I need a daily planning, ritual. Not only am I not anchoring to my intentions for the day beyond what I’m obligated to do. I’m not even anchoring to what day of the week it is. So no wonder these things that are fixed in time and place to a day of the week, feel the most elusive and frustrating right now. So, listeners, I invite you to take. This story of mine that we’ve shared is this recent in-time story ongoing right now and apply your own context to it. what are you noticing? That’s still just below the surface. That’s still just a feeling of frustration or noise since. And what can you get curious about them? To step over that awareness barrier the first time. And I want you to notice, I had two steps over the awareness barrier. One was noticing the feeling of behind and scratching at that a little bit more. and then the second was realizing the need for a daily planning mechanism. So. Take that see what you can do with it. And it’s okay if you’re just an awareness, that’s where it starts. The other two don’t happen without doing your awareness work. So if you have that piece of awareness and it still doesn’t feel like you can get to action on that, you may not have everything you need. Stay curious, stay in the awareness portion, see what you find 

Cam: So I’m just going to piggyback on that for just a moment. Cause I know we’re out of time, Shelly. 

Shelly: We’re super out of time. 

Cam: Come on, cam. Okay. I’ll just, I’m just going to bottom line. This, the word that Shelly used there was disrupted. Right. Is that negative feeling that ah, I’m behind. And when she talks about disrupting, it’s disrupting the habit of continuing down that path into deeper negative places.

That’s the disruption of like, wait a second, I’m noticing this negativity or this low feeling, but let’s disrupt. What I typically do here, what we typically do, stop be curious, and she’s actually redirecting the neural network into positive realm. this is why we don’t subscribe to big signal stuff because this is more nuanced.

The positive neural network is not as powerful and big as the negative, those intense emotions that you feel your brain is getting a positive feedback on that because it feels alive, but you’re getting taken to the woodshed. So there’s that point of disruption. I love what you said about the awareness is where we start.

And yes, to distinguish the awareness from the activity we’re going to come back to very soon. 

Shelly: Well said, Cam. So listeners, if you’d like what we’re doing here on the show, there are three big ways that you can help us out. Number one, don’t keep us a secret. Share us on social. Share us with other neurodivergent in your circle. If you have a neurodivergent group at work sheriffs there. Number two is to leave a rating or review wherever you listen, reviews, in particular, help other people find the show and let other people know that our show is worth giving a shot. So thank you to those of you who have taken the time to do that one. And I see that we have a new one as of September 28th. I appreciate that. And the last one is to become a patron. For $5 a month, not only are you helping cam and I cover the costs of running the show and bringing this free content to you each week, you also get a couple of key perks.

The first is access to our discord community, where our listeners are working together to do their own understand, own and translate work. It is a forum for you to gather with like-minded people who speak the language of the show and who are there to support. Other in this coach, like way of helping each other foster curiosity and have personal growth. The second is we have coaching demonstrations that we do once a month, either cam or myself, where you get to watch us coach one volunteer and we discuss before and after the coaching session, how you can take what you’re seeing and learning in that coaching session and apply it to doing your own, understand, own, and translate work.

So to become a patron, visit the website, translating adhd.com, click on the Patreon link in the upper right-hand corner. And you’ll be able to sign up for five bucks a month. So until next week, I’m Shelly. 

Cam: And I’m Cam. 

Shelly: And this was the translating ADHD podcast. Thanks for listening.

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Episode 97