Opening the Door to Positive Emotions with ADHD

Episode 111

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This week Cam and Shelly pivot from the recent focus on negative emotions to positive emotions. Emotions are the on-off switch for action. Understanding how emotions come into play is key to motivation and taking action. Those of us with ADHD tend to over-utilize our fear neural networks or negative emotions to get things done. How often do you hear yourself prioritizing or taking action through urgency or on the greatest consequence? How often does worry, fear or anxiety inform what you are trying to do?

Accessing this negative neural network too much leads to stress and health issues. Starting to access the positive neural network can help to reverse this process. Cam and Shelly start by introducing the ‘gateway’ emotions of hope and curiosity. These are the emotions that can lead to other positive emotions like trust, gratitude and love. Cam reads a letter from an appreciative listener and discusses how developing community and understanding of the dilemma can instill a sense of hope and possibility. Shelly discusses how the skill of normalizing can make someone start to understand their ADHD experience and why in coaching it is important to articulate a picture of positive success.

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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 this week, quick announcements, our next group coaching course, which will be on Project X is going to begin Wednesday, April 13th at 8:30 PM Eastern. All of the details are on the website, translating If you’re interested in applying for this group, we do encourage you to apply early as our groups have been filling more quickly the last couple of times.

So if you know, you want to join, go ahead and get that application in. Obligate you to join the group. You have the opportunity to be at choice when we extend an invitation to you. So get the application in now so that you have the opportunity to be in the group. And again, there’s something changes. You have the opportunity to be a choice down the line.

So, cam, what are we talking about today?

Cam: You Know, it’s been a bit of a downer around here in the offices of translating ADHD, because we’ve been doing these big signal, negative emotions, blame and shame and rejection, the fear center of the brain. It’s been necessary because those are in play We have to look at emotion when we’re looking at trying to get things done, trying to have agency in our lives.

So we’re going to flip over into the positive emotion arena starting this week. And the working title for today is starting to open the door to positive emotions. and as we do that we have our sort of a running list of a few of these emotions. And the one at the top of the list is hope. We talked about in the last couple of weeks around not having hope and the absence of hope. So how do you foster hope and open the door to other really significant emotions that come into play to create the change that you want to create. So it goes without saying that. It’s pretty tough to have agency or create change around, the areas you want to have change without hope.

So we’re going to share today what that looks like. Where do you start? How do you instill hope and then make space for these other emotions? Like curiosity, empathy and gratitude. I want to start by actually reading a letter. And so listeners, could be considered like a pat on our back like, oh, here’s a letter from a listener where we’ve made a difference.

That’s not the intention at all here. The intention is. To elicit your emotional response to this letter, listen to this letter and notice your own emotional response as you hear this. Okay. So this comes from Sarah R and again, it’s really her sharing with us, her gratitude in being able to find this podcast. Hi, Cam and Shelly. I wanted to reach out and say a big, thank you for doing the show. It can be so hard to find real help with living with ADHD among all the unhelpful or even harmful advice. I started listening to the show in February of last year, driving home from a trip. I asked Google to play me a podcast about ADHD and it pulled up yours.

It is not hyperbole to say, I immediately recognize that your show is different than many things. I’ve tried. it sounded like something that might actually help me versus organizational tips that work for a couple of weeks. I started listening to it on my commute and shared it with my brother.

Who I’d been trying to convince to get tested for ADHD. He listened to a few episodes and then shared it with my dad who was very quickly all about your show. I’ve been talking to my dad about the likelihood that he had ADHD, but it was this long process because of all the misinformation about ADHD.

But when he listened to the show, it gave him insight, looking back on his life experiences all the way to very young childhood, and he’s found it very helpful in making changes that improve his life. That’s what I want to thank you for your show has been a good resource for me, but I love that I’ll be talking to my dad about an issue I’m working through and he’ll say what would Cam and Shelly say. I’m really happy that I introduced him to something that’s helped him so much. And I wanted to share with you that what you put out into the world with this podcast can have a huge gift to people you’ll probably never even meet. And in this case has even become something very meaningful, shared within a family.

Thanks, Sarah R. Thank you for that. And listeners as you’re hearing this, what emotions is that eliciting for you? So this is where we’re starting today is opening the door to these more nuanced emotions. It’s not the big signal, necessarily curiosity and empathy. Hope they’re not big signals. They’re more nuanced, more distinguished. Shelly. What, was elicited for you as you listened to that Story?

 Cam thing I hear. And the thing that I think is so important about the work that you and I do is the power of normalizing and what that can do for a person or in this case for a family that now has a new way of talking about their struggles together in support of one another. Early on in my client coaching relationships.

It is not uncommon for a client to answer a question I’ve asked in that sort of lengthy ADHD way, where they are making a couple of detours to add context. And they’ll wrap up and say to me, did that make any sense? And I’ll say well, yeah, I’ll start picking apart their story and I’m simultaneously letting them know I can follow those twists and turns in your story.

I understand why they’re there because my brain works very similarly to your brain and the response from the client. It’s always emotional early on the first time that happens. Oftentimes there are tears, not always, but there’s always sort of a pause and a wow. Just this moment that you can feel in the room of.

Okay. You do really understand me in a way that I’m not understood in the broader world. And that elevates the trust in the room. And guess what happens when we elevate the trust in the room a little bit, that client, even if they’re not super hopeful yet all on their own, they’re more willing to buy into my hope. And my belief and knowledge that if they stick with this, they will be able to create the change that they’re seeking to create and lean on me for that a little bit, because now there’s an element of trust that wasn’t there before. They’re seeing that this is different than anything that they’ve tried before, and that becomes something to anchor to.

That’s great. I’m going to go back to the last couple of weeks is we’ve talked about Dan rejection and shame and blame and how, as we walk through the world being dismissed either willingly or not willingly, and in an inability to articulate our dilemma, creates that isolation that has us operating out of our fierce center. Our negative neural networks. So what you said right there is to have a community, to have a place to share and not be dismissed, listeners. If you want to start to open the door to positive emotions because Cam Shelly, why are they so important? I got stuff to do. I’ve got a long list of things to do. Neuroscience says you can’t create positive change through just negative means negative motivation, negative emotions have to have some hope. We have to have some positive emotions on board to create the agency that you want to create. To move in the direction that you want to move in. 

Shelly: Cam I think one of the most unexpected and amazing things for me about our coaching groups is seeing this in action in a community because it’s one thing. With one-to-one coaching for me to normalize for the client or for me to even share other client experiences across my clients, sort of cross-pollinating stories as a way to normalize, to share my own experience.

But it’s another to have 10 people in a room who are all in the struggle. Who are in the struggle in a way that you and I aren’t. And not that we don’t struggle, but we’re not in that place anymore. We’ve done a lot of work to get to a new place. So putting 10 people in a room who are in their own struggle and seeing them start to realize that everyone else in the room gets it kind of takes that first person being really vulnerable. But as soon as that happens, the whole dynamic changes. listeners I don’t want this to sound like a pitch for our group coaching. It’s not, but what I do want to say is I’ve had one-to-one clients. Who I think would benefit from this who i think are early enough in their process.

They need more normalizing. They need to be among other people who get it. They need to really see and understand and embody that they’re not alone here, who I’ve referred to a group coaching course for that reason, because that’s just a better fit for them. At that time and it’s neither here nor there.

I make less money on that client in a group coaching setting. And I share that simply to say that that’s what’s best for the client and that’s, what’s important to Cam and I, and so we share this not to say, what you need to do is to take a group coaching course, but rather to say that finding that positive community.

Can be a game-changer. I think the word positive is really important there as well because ADHD communities can fall down into a negative space. One that is sort of mired in victimhood. You know, One person shares how they’re feeling like a victim and everybody else sort of piles on, oh, me too. Or can fall. Sort of the other way of the suggesting, right? Have you tried this? Have you tried this app? Have you tried this tool? Have you tried it this way? This is what works for me. And while that’s well-meaning in both cases, right in showing up for the victim and in empathizing, giving suggestions, wanting to help. These simply do not work.

Cam: And there’s another one too, in the sense of the toxic positivity 


Shelly: Mm Yeah. Thank you, cam. I forgot about those.

Cam: And so it’s like, you don’t have a problem. You just have a superpower

and then to come in and admit you have a problem as a weakness. And so it’s this all or nothing either, or we’ll either drop down a very negative place or the super positive you have. No problem. It’s just a superpower and just lean into your superpower.

We know that it’s something more in the middle. we’re not talking about shedding all your negative emotions, negative emotions inform they’re so important. And so it’s like having full access to all of your emotions and to look at all. Are useful. The negative emotions, fear and anger, are important emotions, but to start to open an access, these other neural networks where change really occurs.

Shelly: And having a place to articulate your experience can be one way to do that. A really powerful. Whether it’s in a one-to-one coaching relationship, whether it’s in a coaching community, whether it’s in another community, like our general discord, even in our general discord, people are having these types of conversations and Cam, I kind of want to share with listeners What we try to embody and our discord and what we teach our coaching group members right off the bat, which is how to show up for each other with curiosity, meaning it’s okay. If someone else is in their pool and you can be witnessed to that and you can try and help them be curious and get to safety, but you don’t have to get in the pool with them and you need to try to avoid rescuing. It’s not your job to save them. It’s not your job to have the answer for them. And it’s okay that they are aware. They are, even if it’s an uncomfortable place just by sitting on the side of the pool and being present with them and acknowledging that you’re listening, that is the most powerful thing that you can do.

And if you can help evoke curiosity. You know, If there’s something you’re curious about that you’d like to know more about crate, that’s helpful too, but really that most important piece is just acknowledging and being with and letting it be okay that that person is where they are. It’s okay that you’re here.

I don’t have to jump in the pool with you. I don’t have to be uncomfortable that you’re in the pool. I can just be here with you as you work through this experience, as you articulate, as you start to figure out what’s going on here for you

Cam: we talking about coaching. We’re talking about group coaching and communities and our discord. I want to go back to the letter and Sarah R. So she’s not in the community, but look at what she’s doing in her family,

Shelly: Yeah.

Cam: here. She’s got her dad saying well, what would Cam and Shelly say, that is curiosity.

So how do you get to that curious place? I see, we see curiosity as this, door jam to hold the door open to positive emotions. And you said something really important earlier Shelly we were discussing this pivot to positive emotions. You said well, what precludes curiosity, right?

How do you get to this curious mindset? And so we talked about, this is, you’ve already mentioned this, cautious optimism of having hope that something can happen. Trust to come in. And I think suspend those negative beliefs enough and allow for vulnerability and some trust in this process. Can I trust this to share and not be dismissed that normalizing aspect of to be able to share and not have.

Immediately judged that is so powerful. just becomes abundant and open. We’re not in that defensive crouched position. Like you’re coming in. You’re kind of like, in that crouch defensive posture, and it’s like, oh wait, I don’t have to be in this crouched waiting for the next attack or aggresion. I can now breathe and be curious about this process here. So as coaches, we model curiosity from the get-go and we always point to, Hey, there’s a process here. Part of that process is anchoring to a positive outcome, To imagine and envision. What could be a positive outcome here? That’s the fascinating thing, Shelly is when we do that, it lights up the positive neural network in the brain.

When we start to think about what could be the opportunity, the possibility here, the positive change, why we always stress that in our coaching, in our group coaching and here with our listener. To imagine that positive outcome that you want to have, whether it’s next month, next week, the end of the day in the next hour.

Shelly: Cam I love that you brought it back to that letter. And the fact that Sarah has created community within her family 

to do this type of work, that doesn’t have to be an online community. It can be people you already know, and I’ve had clients do that as well. So when we talk about normalizing or having others around that understand, you know, being in a community of people who get it, that’s not just for articulating the negative.

Or working through something can also be standing in celebration with someone else. And so I had a client who engaged her adult daughter, who also had ADHD in this practice of giving confetti. And the way that that worked is at any given time, one of them might text the other and say, Hey, I did X.

Knowing that the other one would understand, even if X seemed really small or really inconsequential with ADHD on board, that completion mattered. And so I did X and the response is confetti a GIF of confetti, Just positive accountability practice between the two of them. I did the thing and now I want my confetti that’s positive accountability, It’s not, Hey, I need to do the things. So hold my feet to the fire so that I can get my confetti it’s. Hey, I did the thing now celebrate with me. Give me my confetti. Give me that moment.

Cam: And this is a different form of pause, right? We’ve talked about pause, disrupt and pivot. This is a pause here where again, we can feel so behind and it’s like this, I got so much to do, and I’ve just got to get into this mode, but this being able to pause for a moment and acknowledge a completion, this is the sixth seat.

Around completion and that last bit of celebration to celebrate where I am just to acknowledge. And it gives your brain and the task network, a moment to just breathe, pause, then you can pivot to something different. want to come back to, our understand own translate. And the significance of those first two, because with Sarah and many of our new clients, as they come in, or new listeners, they come in, it’s like, oh, all the misinformation and all. Different ideas and suggestions that are out there, that if you can come back to this place of, oh, I see what I’m up against.

And now I see what is add and what is not distinguishing understanding what is the actual dilemma? It’s not this full catastrophe thing. I am the mistake. It’s not that shame piece. It’s oh, there’s a thing we call it and this is what it is. And this is where I can start a place to begin understand.

And then the ownership thing, that’s the other thing we were talking about Shelly, right? Is that kernel of hope, but also a little bit of ownership, that it’s like, okay, I’ve got some work to do acceptance piece that can be so hard with add, right? If only I can just go back in time and, right the wrongs, people, you just can’t imagine how many times I had that conversation with myself. That embarrassment, that thing that happened, it’s done. All I can do is learn from it. How can I learn from this, that third barrier? The learning from this going forward. So as we finish up today, be thinking about how you can instill some hope and bring some curiosity on board.Those are our kind of gateway emotions here today. People from that we can foster trust and vulnerability. And we’ll get into other emotions like empathy, gratitude, and love.

Shelly: And listeners, here’s a great gut check for yourself. Are you ready to put yourself in the picture of this process in some way, even if you have no idea what that looks like, do you recognize that you’re at the helm, that you’re the one who can create change or not here? Or are you still looking for someone to show you the way?

Because while Cam and I are very good at what we do, there is nothing. Mystical or magical about our work and our work necessarily requires that our clients are ready to be in the driver’s seat. So if you’re hoping that we have the answer or the way that we can throw you a life raft, I invite you to examine and reconsider that belief.

Because we can’t help from that place. As much as we’d like to, there has to be a willingness to step into ownership, no matter how small, no matter how tentative. Yeah. I’ve had clients say try, I’ll, I’m willing to try this new way of looking at this, of putting myself in the driver’s seat and I’m willing to try and put a little trust in you. And that’s where we start. And that’s where I invite you to start is be willing to try, because I can assure you that there is nobody out there that has the right answer for you, or that can quote-unquote, “rescue you” from your ADHD and anybody who is. Claiming to have the ability to do so is likely selling you a bunch of snake oil. Let’s be real.

Cam: Love that’s a great place to finish up today.

Shelly: All right. So one more time. As a reminder, our next group coaching course will begin April 13th. That will be Project X. Visit the website, translating for more information, click on group coaching, and you will find the application for that group. Otherwise, if you like what we’re doing and you want to support the show three big ways you can help us.

Number one, don’t keep us a secret. Share us in ADHD groups that you are already in. Share us with others, who have ADHD again, look at our listener, Sarah, and how she was able to cultivate a family conversation using our show. So cool.

Number two, leave a rating, a review wherever you listen. This helps other people find the show. This also lets other people know how we’re different than the other ADHD content out there.

And finally, you can become a patron and financially support the show by visiting the website, translating and clicking on the Patreon link. For $5 a month, you are helping Cam and I cover all of the costs of running the show, including our editor and our administrative assistant.

This means that we will keep doing this because we are able to do it in a way that works in the context of the rest of our lives, by paying for the support that we need. Thank you very much. It also grants you access to our discord community, where our listeners are working together to do their own understand, own and translate work.

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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