Cultivating Trust in Relationships with ADHD

Episode 113

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Shelly and Cam continue their exploration of the connection between positive emotions and positive structures. This week they focus on supportive people and cultivating trust in a relationship. Shelly shares a story where a client’s definition of trust evolves as she navigates hardship, setbacks and trauma to eventual learning and change regarding a desire to help her community in need. Listen for the client’s own ‘translating’ work as she redefines what trust actually is for her. 

In relationships, those of us with ADHD can lead with hope and intention, but without clear needs, agreements and active boundary work, we can find ourselves in the familiar territory of overextension, rejection and lost trust. Converting hard learning into new awareness can be a struggle, but in developing a reflective practice and accessing resources, one can move to a new place of awareness and engagement based on personal needs and values.

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Episode Transcript:

Shelly: Hi, I’m Shelly. 

Cam: and I’m Cam 

Shelly: And this is translating ADHD. Before we kick off this week’s episode, just a quick reminder that our next coaching group, which is on Project X, begins Wednesday, April 13th, and we meet at 8:30 PM Eastern time. If you’re interested in applying for that group, visit the website, translating adhd.com. Click on the group coaching tab and scroll down to the button that says, apply for Project X. Our classes are filling more quickly than usual as of late, so if you are interested in joining this group, we do encourage you to apply early and we look forward to seeing you there.

So, Cam, what are we diving into this week?

Cam: So this week, Shelly, we’re going to be diving into cultivating trust.

Shelly: Ooh.

Cam: Yeah. And this is keeping with this theme of looking at emotions. So sort of like you look at trust. Hmm. Is it an emotion? Is it something else? And it is, it’s an emotion. It’s also, again, what’s created between people.

So the working title here is around accessing supportive people. Those of us with ADHD though, we can have a purpose and positive emotions around. And take it to the world, but without those positive structures of say boundaries not having clear agreements we can be taken advantage of. And then those positive emotions and positive intentions turn into negative feelings. And so, as we think about bringing more positive emotion into our lives, it’s a mix of things here. Last week, we talked about positive structures, but it just got me thinking about that positive emotion is really hard to have in your life if you don’t have that connected to something else, be it a positive or supportive structure.

Like last week we talked about my value. I’ve been thinking a lot about my collaborative efforts and our collaborative effort here. There’s a lot of positive emotion that comes as a result of our work, there was that intention on the front of. But it really was a matter of getting clear on how are we going to work together and what are we trying to do here? And so, anyway, we’re going to dig in and you have a story about a client where it started out as this intention and a desire to help. And it didn’t necessarily go according to plan. And as we look at that story, we’ll look at how. Structures and people come into play and how we navigate with them and practice agency move through to this place of cultivating trust.

Shelly: Yeah. So this is a newer client. We are just now doing values and needs and discussing her big agenda. And when we started discussing needs, one of the things. What they brought to the table was this notion of trust as a need, which was really interesting by the way, because I don’t think trust is one of the words that appears on the exercise.

One of the words that I provide as a guideline, this is one that they brought themselves based on past experience. So this client is. And as they described it, being queer in a city with no resources creates desperation due to basic needs not being met. So her response to this for a time as somebody who does have some resources who has a home of her own was to invite people of her community in to allow people to stay with.

And unfortunately, this led to some breaches of trust. There were some people who did not treat their home with respect, who felt like it was something that they could trash or not take care of and even worse. There were some instances of people stealing from. And this was a big wake-up call because she’s passionate about helping this community. One of her big agenda items is taking her resources and doing more for this marginalized community and other marginalized communities that are part of their identity. Okay. And what she started to realize is, trying to help people.

One-on-one not only am I opening myself up to these constant breaches of trust. I’m also depleting my resources in a way that’s never going to allow me to do this bigger work that I want to do. As we talked more about trust, she started finding what it looks like. Hey, if you need money, ask me, don’t steal from me.

Don’t show me that our friendship is disposable and moving forward. I have to be able to trust both in my friendships and in my working relationships. As I start to get some of these big agenda items off the ground, I need to know that we can work together to get through things, not against each other, that we’re not going to give into desperation and start eating each other alive. And so you can see how we started to connect trust to this bigger agenda of what she ultimately wants to do with her resources to give these communities some agency of their own. That’s really a big part of her big agenda.

Cam: Um, Listening to that, I just, the language

Shelly: Yeah.

Cam: is crazy. just going to re reflect back friendship being disposable, eating each other alive.

Shelly: Yeah.

Cam: And I think the larger piece that I want to bring in here before you proceed is. Those of us with ADHD, we have those experiences and we get burned and we don’t necessarily take that hard lesson and move forward.

But my sense is that this is what’s happening with your client, is that you said, you know enough that she’s developing some from non-negotiable. You want to play these are my non-negotiables here and that the friendship can’t be disposable and that we’re supporting each other.

And not basically in her words, eating each other.

Shelly: Exactly. This came out in her need of community as well. And the sort of unfortunate part of this story is they went through some significant trauma. That was a wake-up call to some of this stuff, to the fact that these relationships weren’t ones in which there was true trust or true community. But the flip side of that coin is they are now doing their other work.

So this is a brand new client for me, but the reason that she was able to come and articulate this so eloquently and with such understanding of where she’s been and where they are now is because they’ve done their other work. She’s working with a therapist on the trauma side of this and that brought a lot of this to light.

So I always think that’s important to throw in as she’s doing her other work here, which brought some of this to light and made clear what was previously unclear about the relationships in her life, the friendships or. The things that she thought were friendships at the time that they’re now realizing you really weren’t.

Cam: And this middle part, right? Again, it’s like, what does this have to do with emotions or positive emotion right here? It started with in a sense, positive Helping going to help my community, those in need. So there’s that positive intention fueled by helping. And let’s just go to the other end through this hard learning. Is these positive outcomes of getting clear on what is true trust? The fascinating piece here is. In the middle, what was missing or not really attended to, and no judgment there that process. The process of again, sort of thinking my Goodwill and gesture, this is what’s going to work when in fact it was much more technical than that, people, unfortunately. Are not awesome all the time. And as you said, before, we pushed record today, it’s like people in a desperate place aren’t really discerning. They’re going to get their needs met. Their basic needs, but your client recognized, oh, this is not about me because what do people with ADHD typically?

Do we go to the, oh, this is about me. I’m getting burned. I shouldn’t have done this because I’m being taken advantage of going to the blame. Place your client didn’t do that. Yes, there was trauma and she did her work. But coming to realize it’s a boundaries piece, it’s figuring out how to negotiate and that we don’t always have to say yes to everything.

This has been a choice.

Shelly: Cam want to go back to that blame piece for a minute, could also turn into a story of, I deserve this. If other people are treating me like this over and over again, I must deserve this. Now. I don’t know whether or not this client ever had that story on board, but I’ve had other clients in situations like this, where that’s the story that manifests is I must deserve this.

And so looking at where my client is now, yes, there’s boundaries. There’s also being at choice. About who they let in and who they don’t moving forward. I need to know that my friendships, my working relationships, that we will work together to get through things, not against each other. Now I think she’s still working out what it means to know that, to be true with a new person in her life.

But. She knows what’s important in a relationship now. And she’s being at choice about who she lets in, who gets to be part of her inner circle and who does not. And in order to be part of that inner circle, there has to be trust. They have to know that they can trust the people around them period.

Cam: I think this is why in coaching when we meet with our clients and I’m in meeting with our group coaching class. We start with this being really intentional around trust and safety, right? So it, coaching competency is cultivating trust and safety. You can’t have trust without safety. And it sounds like that this is what your client is recognizing is it’s gotta be safe.

We can’t be eating each other alive. That we have to clear that we’re together on this working towards something versus working against the fascinating thing. I think that, going back to your client and asking her about how she went from the negative place and listeners, this is the work for this week is how do you take this sort of negative? This one down possibly I’m deserving of this, or here I am again, and converting that into opportunity into agency and choice right. you know, what she’s doing. She’s seen herself in the.

Shelly: A hundred percent. And I agree with you cam it will be fascinating. This is what’s so cool about this show too, is it shows kind of the experimental nature of this show. The fact that we’re kind of cooking in the kitchen as we record. This was only my second session with this client and we ended on this need of trust.

So I don’t know the answers to those questions. I think there’ll be really interesting to find out since this made such a great example to bring to this topic for today. 

Cam: Also, this highlights perspective work. And I don’t think we’ve ever done an episode on perspectives. I think we’ve done mindset, but this way of, you know, here’s an opportunity to pause, disrupt and pivot listeners when you have that negative charge. That big negative signal to just pause for a sec and see, how am I viewing this? Am I in the one down and my plain and old tune, right? An old narrative. Is there a learning opportunity here? I imagine that it wasn’t a one-time thing with your client, right? It was like, It kept happening. It’s like, okay. The common denominator here is me in the sense of how I’m showing up. And maybe if I show up differently, how can that play out?

Shelly: Yeah, that’s exactly right. It happened over time and again, it culminated in this traumatic event that caused this client to step back and reevaluate everything and come to some new awarenesses. About her community and the people that she thought she might be able to trust that weren’t there before.

See that ADHD thing of we can, be in the consequence of a thing over and over again, yet missed the learning of how we got there for what’s really happening.

Cam: You know, this also goes to this learning that I’m having of late around concepts that are. In the realm of feelings and emotion, right? Cause so she had a definition of trust. And again I’m not going to put words in her mouth or imagined, you know, what her situation is, but I’m going to guess because she has ADHD, it’s sort of, we have this idea of what something means. And that she led with trust, right? She was open and trusting from the get-go and it was like, no one had to prove anything to her. They didn’t have to prove any kind of honesty or integrity. They just had to show up. And she was just going to give that trust. Trust is something I give and there’s plenty to go over. Versus wait a sec. Now, this idea of what is trust, it’s more on the backside, it’s something we build. It’s not something that is a given, but something that is a part of this process of coming together and connecting and learning and growing and supporting each other. Now trust is something more, here’s the word?

Shelly: A hundred percent. And in fact, cam, you nailed it. So perfectly, let me read to you what she said, talking about her need of community, which tied right into trust. It was talking about community that brought up this trust word for her. I used to have an open-door policy in terms of my community, but personal and global events cause stuff to get real. And I drew a line in the sand. I went from having tons of casual friends. To dropping out of the social scene. I need to be a lot more intentional about how I make friends. So it wasn’t just what happened personally for them, but also the global political unrest that affects her communities in the last five to 10 years started shifting her perspective here. And in fact, right now she describes that community need as being in a transitional phase. She’s pretty clear about what she doesn’t want moving forward, and there’s still some work to do around what she does once and how she can put herself in the picture to get that.

Cam: All right. So as we finish up here, listeners, you know, we did an episode on clean slate, right? You could imagine that this client would kind of like, that’s it, I’m done. I’m not going to open my door to anyone. Right. Then what we do is we’ll have open borders or we’ll put up a castle wall for boundaries, again, that all or nothing.

And here’s something that matters to her and because of a hard lesson, Or getting burned. We just throw the baby out with the bath water. Forget it. I’m just gonna close up shop and be done. But remember that, we talked about those negative emotions. Cultivate our Grove from isolation and lack of connection.

So listeners, go back to something that matters to you and see if you can tweak it a little bit. Is it community? Is it trust? Remember for me last week it was education and I had my own work to do on that. Like it can’t be education. I’m a terrible student. That was my narrative. To wait a second. It’s something else. So allowing that definition to evolve, to consider, how can it show up in a different way where you are bringing elements in like healthy boundaries seeing yourself in the picture taking a stand and advocating for your own needs.

This is the last thing I want to say, Shelly, is that she took a stand and I think a lot of people with ADD are like, I can’t take a stand, right. That pleaser, or like that rescuer, who’s going to be in the service of others versus what is it that you want and how can you create that? Or let that be something that matures into something else. When I say mature, I mean like a grape on a vine, right? I’m not talking about maturity, I’m talking about letting it develop Become something that resonates truly with you. That’s the thing that I’m really blown away by with this client is kind of this ownership piece, as she defined, it became more of this ownership of yeah. True trust, true community. And as you said, she’s in a place of transition and evaluate. She’s not putting her thrown herself back out there with the next, big initiative, but really coming back. And I’ll say the last thing here is there’s a reflective practice play, 

Shelly: Mhmmm 

Cam: really thinking and being with that learning and how to convert the learning into new awareness.

Shelly: And the really cool thing is that is the work ahead with this client or at least a large part of it is cultivating that reflective practice together. And. Answering what is yet unanswered or unknown or working on what is still limiting or throwing up barriers here. So it’s going to be so much fun. I’m so excited.

And this episode just brought to light how fun and interesting this work is going to be moving forward with this client. Which is such a unique thing to bring that trust word to values and needs, particularly since it’s not a prompt, but I’m glad we got to dive into it today and tease it apart.

One more thing I want to say before we wrap is as an ally, I am sometimes uncomfortable using the word. However, in this case, I’m using my client’s language. That is the language that they brought to the session. That is how they describe their community. So just want to put that out there as the reason I chose to use that word to describe this community is because I’m talking about my client’s lived experience and this is how they describe their community.

Cam: That’s great. I love that. And one more thing, too, is today we talked about cultivating trust. So listeners. What are you wanting to cultivate? To see this as a dynamic process, something that evolves over time with kind of playing around with it, experimenting, reflecting on it, tweaking and fine-tuning. What is it? That’s in your world that you’re wanting more of?

Shelly: Great place to end, Cam. So if you like what we’re doing here on the show, a few ways that you can help us out. Number one, don’t keep us a secret. Share us with the other neurodivergents in your life. Particularly those that have ADHD. If you have an ADHD support group at work, that is an amazing place to share this resource. Number two is to leave a review or rating wherever you listen. This helps other people find the show. And if you leave a review, it helps other people know how and why we stand apart from the other ADHD content out there. And finally, you can financially support the show, which includes covering all of our costs on editing episodes and having our assistant do the wonderful work that she does by becoming a patron for $5 a month.

Visit the website, translating adhd.com, click on the Patreon link in the upper right-hand corner and for $5 a month. And not only are you continuing to cover all of those costs for Cam and I, which we’re so grateful for, you’re also able to join our Discord community, where our listeners are working together to do their own, understand, own and translate work. So until next week, Cam just disappeared. So I’m Shelly and Cam was Cam, and this was translating ADHD. Thanks for listening.

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Episode 113