Cultivating a Practice with ADHD

Episode 115

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Hosts Shelly Collins and Cameron Gott pivot away from their exploration of emotions and emotional dysregulation and introduce a central coaching element – Cultivating a Practice. They lay out general concepts of developing a practice, distinguishing universal practices from more selective individual practices. Cam and Shelly introduce the idea of a practice mindset and discuss how perspective work in coaching is a good place to start when wanting to introduce a new practice. 

Cam and Shelly integrate their Pause, Disrupt, Pivot model and share stories about how their own clients develop a practice of first shifting their thinking prior to creating downstream change and agency. Cam shares a theater metaphor as a way to get perspective or distance on a feeling or a narrative. Like locking into an emotional mode, those with ADHD can lock into a familiar narrative or story that then influences outcomes. Finally, Shelly shares a few of the upcoming topics including mantras or affirmations.

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Episode Transcript:

Shelly: Hi, I’m Shelly. 

Cam: And I’m Cam. 

Shelly: And this is translating ADHD. Quick reminder that we are now accepting applications for our next coaching group. The topic is project X And the group begins Wednesday, April 13th at 8:30 PM Eastern. This group is filling quickly. So if you are interested in joining, we encourage you to apply as soon as possible.

We look forward to seeing you there. Cam, I’m really excited for this series of topics that we are about to embark on here in this show. We talk a lot about cultivating a practice. What’s the practice. What can listeners take from this particular episode and employee? So we’ve been talking about practice for a long time, but we’ve never looked at practice as a topic unto itself.

And what it really means to cultivate a practice, not just around an individual topic, but as a different way of living and being, because that’s really what we’re helping our clients shift toward is embodying this practice mindset. Today, we’re going to talk about practice at high level and over the next several episodes, we’re going to talk about different ways that we help our clients embody this practice mindset and adopt practices that work for them, where they are in the coaching.

And I think the most important thing to say before we embark on this journey is listeners. This is not intended to be a guidebook of if I adopt all of these practices, I’ll be on my way. Take the practices that make sense for you, where you are, coaching at its heart is about creating a life that fits.

But every client’s in a different place. Some of my clients were still very much working on individual dilemmas. This dilemma over here, this dilemma over here, if that’s where you are, take the practices that work for that dilemma that helped move you forward in some way, as we continue to do this work, we start to get this bigger picture.

Of the, who we get away from the what a little bit in, toward the who. And there’s an opportunity there for different type of practice. So all of this to say, take what makes sense for you, where you are right now, these practices are not going anywhere and don’t be afraid to leave behind what simply doesn’t work for you at all.

Not every type of practice that we bring to the table is right for every person. And that’s okay. 

Cam: Yeah, this is, such a big area of coaching, so one of the things that we want to do here is share more of what we do as coaches. And um, I like to say to my clients, you know, there’s 167 other hours in the week. And one of my beefs with the whole coaching industry is this focus on the magic of the coaching session.

And all this stuff happens in the coaching session. The coaching session is a fraction of the client. Experience for the week. And there’s a couple key elements here at play. these competencies that are in play in the sense of evoking awareness and cultivating learning and growth. how does one do that?

Right? Talk is cheap. So we’re discussing things, but we have to have a place to test some of this new thing. These perspective shifts a strategy, an action a conversation with somebody, a way to test this. And I love how you put it. Shelly is it’s not just becoming competent in these actions or being productive.

It’s this idea of a practice mindset because ADHD can really throw a wrench. In that arena, right? To have us kind of lock into a certain way of thinking.

Shelly: Cam, I think it’s so critical that you bring up the other. hundred 67 hours in a week because oftentimes my new clients, our first order of business is to figure out how to link. the work that we’ve done in a session to the rest of their week, how to cultivate a practice of being aware of the coaching work outside of a coaching session.

And back it up one step, further podcast listeners who come to me as new clients are often experiencing a similar dilemma where so much of what they’re hearing here on the show is making sense. It’s resonating yet. They’re not getting Getting to a place where they’re able to create and sustain change, because they’re not yet able to take what we’re doing here and turn it into a practice.

And on the flip side, the listeners who are able to take this show and use it as their coach and do their own work with it, what they’re doing is practicing they’re employing that practice mindset.

Cam: And in doing so they’re exercising this executive function area of the brain. To be able to move back and forth between this reflective contemplate of right. We’re discussing these issues and then engaging And action to move from just a plan into the actual activity and back out again, we’ve talked about the three barriers of ADHD, right?

It’s that first one is to awareness. The second one is to action. And the third one is to learning. And so when we bring in practices, we’re exercising building a way through those barriers, to get into action and out to go and have an experience and come back and share that experience regardless of what happened.

Shelly: And that last sentence is so important. This is why we intentionally use the word practice in any given coaching session. When we design actions with a client in any given podcast episode, when we suggest what you might do with that week’s content. It’s not about pass or fail. It’s not about I did it, or I didn’t do it.

It is about here is my new awareness and my learning or what I’m noticing. Here is how I want to apply that or attempt to apply it and then going out and having your experience, whatever it is, good, bad or ugly there is learning to be had on the other side of that experience. To borrow a software term.

Coaching is very much an iterative process. It’s not about the result from session to session. It’s about constantly iterating. And then when we do find those practices, That work, that we can cultivate some consistency around looking for ways to add to, or build upon that foundation. And so what starts is sort of a diffused spit of work over here and over here and over here over time starts to come together to create this bigger picture of change is a really cool thing to see.

Cam: It is, I think one of surprising elements for clients when they come to coaching is, I need to engage more there thinking that the practice that has to happen is about, you know, getting into their tasks, getting into their day, having agency. And it’s about, you’re going to teach me how to step closer to it.

Right. And engage more. Well, actually one of the first practices that we. teach or model in coaching and we’ve been doing it all the way through this podcast is the ability to step back, right. to step back and assess. So then you can choose where you engage. So this is pause, disrupt pivot is an example of this to pause and disrupt and pivoting.

Well in there, there’s a stepping back to step back and to. Have perspective. And I think that Shelly, this is a great little place to segue to of one of the key practices and coaching around perspective work. And so we’ll head in that direction. I think This is one of these shifts where we’re going to be in practices.

And this theme of practices for many episodes to come. So I’m as excited as you are. 

So here’s an example that I like, and I’ll share a metaphor for it. Is that. When we’re involved with something when we’re in our narrative, when we’re in our story, when there’s a crisis, when there’s drama in coaching, we talk about two locations and just imagine a stage, right? A theater, a small theater in the round where you have the actors on the stage and you have, the seats where the audience watches from. ADHD and emotional regulation. And we can have, and sort of an intense experience around this drama, this event. And we are on the stage in the drama feeling wronged, right. the injustice. And so that rejection is right here.

Shelly: Feeling the injustice or feeling badly about ourselves and spinning a story about who we are and how we’re showing up here. 

Cam: Right. 

Shelly: Two big points of drama for ADHD people.

Cam: And we talked about in that series on context. How quickly we go to making meaning, right from this experience we’re making meaning here you can go back to those context episodes back in the fall of 2021, about how we can get carried away by that narrative, by that story. So we’re locking into that narrative and the brain wants to do is engage more, right. To keep going to lock in more, to fight that fight. When in fact taking a step back, we invite our clients to just take a step back from this experience and view it from a distance, be a spectator in a chair in the 10th row of the theater. To look at this from some distance with curiosity. And when you do that, something fascinating happens, right?

If you can start to separate from that personal, very personal experience, you can have a perspective shift to see yourself and how you’re engaging in that dynamic, whether it’s something that’s, uh, personal relationship or something happening at work.. And we’ve used so many examples of this over the last two years, we will share these clients scenarios. So to pause and in order to disrupt that is to step back and look at it from a distance with curiosity. That’s the number one practice we invite our clients. To employ through the week early on, I think we’ve mentioned keen observer, right?

So starting to develop that keen observer, because you really can’t facilitate positive change in that. Defensive crouched. I’m sorry. Your words. Defensive crouch. Yes. 

Shelly: You got it.

Cam: in that defensive crouch, when you’re under attack, it’s really hard to be thinking about creative solutions or how can we come together?

Right? We are in a defensive posture defending our position. And so if we can relax a little bit, breathe, come back and look from a distance. This is a wonderful practice to start to develop. And it also helps to again, take the foot off the accelerator, to step back and assess, look around consider. Before you come back and engage again. There’s an example of a general practice that Shelly and I, and most coaches bring to coaching.

Shelly: Cam what’s really interesting is looking at this list of 10, at least practices, topics that we plan to bring over the next several episodes. They’re all about creating a pause or a moments or some awareness as an opening to perspective, shifting every single one of them. And so the coaching session itself is one way that happens and early on inviting our clients to employ that keen observer.

But as we do deeper and deeper work with our clients, they start to cultivate things that work for them. For example, for me, mantras. We’ve done a couple of episodes around mantras that work for me. We’re going to do another episode around mantras as a practice, but that mantra of let it be easier. Let the easy thing state easy is a disruptor.

It’s a pause moment when that story of overwhelm starts to come in that story of panic or that story of disappointment in myself that I’ve let the dishes pile up yet again, which by the way, right now they are. It’s a way to take a moment to take stock. So mantras don’t necessarily work for everyone, but they do work for me.

So the deeper we get into this work and the deeper we get into this episodes, we’re going to be starting with what’s the universal work of developing the keen observer and just learning. What it looks like or feels to be aware of your experience in a different way, some ways to do that work barely universally in our experience, and then diversifying out.

Diversifying out what works for the individual and also diversifying out to some higher level perspective work because coaching is perspective work at every level, Cam a few episodes back. You talked about discovering that educator. And we got back on that theme, that was perspective work, but it was really high level perspective, work perspective, work about the who, and until some of that, what got addressed and made way for that perspective work.

And until you had some practice by addressing some of that. To be able to apply perspective, work to the who wouldn’t have been able to get there. Right. It’s not a process we can shortcut. So it’s both a process that becomes more individual, but also becomes bigger, becomes less about. What’s the dilemma.

What am I not attending to? And over time becomes more about who am I and not met. Whoo. Who do I want to be? But really? Who am I? What matters to me? And what does a life that fits look like for me?

Cam: I love that right there. So well said Shelly. And listeners, you can sort of think, oh my God, this feels like a lot. And I would say you might be having an additive perspective, which is something I see. With my clients sometimes it’s like, oh my goodness, I’ve got to add this and add that and add this and adding more.

have limited bandwidth already. How am I supposed to keep adding all these practices? And what Shelly’s talking about is it’s really about a folding in it’s an integrating that you integrate elements. And as she said, it’s discerning. To pick and choose what works for you. And also we’re talking about in our coaching, you don’t need a coach to develop the keen observer.

You don’t need a coach to develop that muscle to pause and step back. So this week, oh, Shelly’s got her finger. Go Shelly. 

Shelly: I do have my finger up. Cam, thank you for noticing finally. 

Cam: Wait, I’ve been practicing there, Shelly. I’ve been practicing. 

Shelly: have been, full credit where credit is due. There was a time where I could have all the fingers up and be very emphatic and Cam would just be floating away on his idea, train. Um, Cam first of all, appreciating that statement that you don’t need a coach. I think one of the coolest things that we get to do in our work around this podcast is our group coaching because our group coaching is full of people who have already been doing their work with the show.

And so we get to meet them where they are on a journey that they’ve already started. And that is so fascinating and amazing to see. Both the commonalities and how our listeners are interacting with the show and the places where they diverged the places where it begins to become individual. And so I think it would be helpful.

We frame this in terms of coaching work because we’re coaches and that’s what we know. So I think it would be helpful to kind of walk through what this ends up looking like in the life cycle. Have a coaching relationship with a client over time. So they come and they’re often in that freedom from perspective.

These are the behaviors I want to be free from. And there’s often very little ability to be aware in a useful way. So that’s where our work starts. Getting the client articulating within a coaching session, helping them learn how to be curious and to bring that keen observer out in between coaching sessions and doing this by taking one discreet little dilemma here and one over here.

And one over here. And low-key my client, who is the researcher who struggled to record data onsite. He would tell himself this story that, oh, I’ll do it later when I’m at home on the couch, knowing full well, that was never an experience that panned out for him. Great example of a discreet little topic where we get to practice and dig in and do some awareness work.

But guess what? The more we tackle this discreet topic and what has our attention here? And what’s timely here. The more we start to see a bigger picture for that same client, Loki has come up again and again. Because there’s a knowledge and a knowing there that wasn’t there before. So that language around this other voice that isn’t him, that is so compelling is really useful context.

As we examine other dilemmas. And guess what? Not every dilemma is Loki or the low-key phenomenon, but. Even throwing that context in as a way to be curious, is this a low-key situation or is this something else? And recognizing that for that clients trying to figure out,. What that voice is. If it’s not low-key, who is, it is a really helpful way of cultivating awareness of him being able to understand what’s really going on in his uniquely wired brain.

So you can see how it starts is a very standard set of practices that work for every client. But then it builds both in terms of individuality, who the person is, how their ADHD manifests, what their modality preferences are, what type of language they bring when they’re articulating their experiences is about how they feel.

Is it about how it looks? Is it about what other voices are present? is it metaphor-heavy? Like cam, is it not so metaphor-heavy like me? And it becomes this bigger knowing these threads that keep showing up these practices that have worked in this area that we can pull in here this way of evoking awareness that worked on this dilemma that might apply here that starts to create this bigger picture.

And so in the next several weeks, as we break down different practices, we’re going to start with perspective, work deeper, dive on that and verbalizing the two that we find to be. Nearly universal in our coaching work. And then we’re going to spread out into things that are more individual. And that’s again, where I say pay attention to what resonates to what makes sense with your context to what adds useful context, as you’re trying to cultivate awareness around a dilemma and leave the rest because it’s not intended for you to employ every one of these practices. You know, Cam the way you and I have OIC awareness about our own ADHD challenges, very different because we’re different people. We use different language.

We make meaning differently. But to the same end and that’s the important thing.

Cam: So you talking about your client with Loki had me thinking about a client recently. And I think this is kind of leads us to a possible practice for our listeners as we finish up today. So last week we talked about emotional mode. And locking into a mode. We can do the same thing with a mindset.

We can kind of lock into a certain way of thinking about something. And so your client had Loki who was a bit of an advisor there, kind of advising him on what to do and how to act. And it’s this sort of, again, this voice that’s there in the background that we’re just listening to and not really paying much attention.

Shelly: And for that client, the reason he chose low-key in particular was that trickster element, that knowing somewhere in the back of his mind, what the outcome was going to be, that he was not going to be happy with this decision. But in that moment, that voice being so compelling, it felt like he wasn’t able to make a different choice.

Cam: Right. So, you know, Humans we do what is compelling, right. We listen to compelling figures and. This is something you can do. I had a client who runs an architecture firm and she was coming with, I can’t get my own work done. Right. I’m distracted. I’m bored with my stuff that I have to do outside of the project work, the actual creative work. And as we dug in, we realized that there was a character in play. There was this sort of this persona. That was constantly monitoring and assessing all the time. She’s one of those fast brains, right? Super fast brain cycling through. Wondering if her people are working, are they being efficient? she need to reach out to a client and it’s this constant assessing and the compelling piece of that monitor was you need me.

You need to be vigilant. All the time. That was the compelling argument to keep that monitor always going well, guess what? Having that monitor on a constant cycle, didn’t allow her to settle down and work on the work that she had in front of her. But when she started to see, and kind of, again, just as gentle questioning to step back and look at the monitor and see how it showed up, it’s like, you know what This monitor really isn’t serving me.

And then what she did was just sort of like direct it to the beginning of the day. You know what? You can assess at the beginning of the day helped me generate a list of things to prioritize. And then I’m going to give you the rest of the day off because that kind of high level of attention, she didn’t need that. And it was actually a, huge distraction in our work, but that’s this reflective practice to kind of come in and step back notice kind of see again, the drama on the stage and step back and look, and then come in and address it or engage with it in a different way. And now she’s got this monitor working for her, not against her.

Shelly: m just want to chime in that. The second piece here is after that new awareness of Loki of the monitor is being able to connect back to that. To remember that to pause and name, low-key named the monitor to disrupt that behavior and pivot the awareness is absolutely the most important piece, knowing something we didn’t know before about our experience, but the perspective work doesn’t end there.

And again, several of the practices we’re going to dive into really come into play. Not at the awareness stage, but at the disrupt stage, that’s where my mantra’s often live. Sometimes they’re about awareness like, okay, step back. And don’t, freak out. You have a mantra for this. Let’s come back to awareness, but as a regular practice for me, they live in the area of disrupt.

I hate sort of noticing that voice that says you can do the dishes later. And pulling in, let the easy things stay easy as a disrupt, as a reminder, as a connection to, Hey, there’s a different outcome. On the other side of this that works out much better for you than letting these dishes sit. So there’s a compelling reason to engage with this activity. It’s about connecting to that, knowing that we so often forget in the moment when we would dismiss I’ll do them later. My mantra has helped me connect to that. Knowing of I’m going to be much happier with myself and with this situation, if I take five minutes and do this now, and don’t let it turn into an awful task, if I let the easy thing stay easy.

so it’s just so interesting as we really dig into perspective work again from the universal to the individual, from discreet dilemmas to creating a life that fits. And where does this practice fit into the model of pause, disrupt, pivot. Those are things that we will be paying attention to.

Each week as we bring a different potential practice for you to consider.

Cam: And I so appreciate you bringing in the time element around Loki and the monitor, right? Your client. It wasn’t like you identified low-key and then disrupted and pivoted on that. Right. There was a period of that pausing and noticing, and that awareness piece that my client with monitor, she didn’t just flip that switch on that monitor.

That monitor was like under threat, right? They dig in. And so it’s that staying with the curious perspective to kind of notice it, and don’t think that you’re going to just necessarily dislodge it this week, just sort of notice is there a perspective or a mode that you’re in that may not be working in your favor? Right. Just to notice it kind of be curious about it back to that keen observer see what it responds to. And then as we go forward, we’ll talk more about how to disrupt, right. how to pivot. But start without awareness thing and bring tremendous self-compassion Cause the other thing we can do is oh, there’s that monitor there’s that low-key, you know, and then feel bad about it that we’re having, you know, seeing that no, all awareness is good here.

Shelly: One last thing I want to toss in cam on the statement. All awareness is good and we’ll get more into this, particularly in the episode on verbalization is that it’s okay to be wrong. When you evoke curiosity, it’s okay to be wrong. It’s okay to think that it’s this and then to dig deeper and realize that it’s something else entirely, that what you thought it was and how you thought this was manifesting. Isn’t what it is at all. So I think that’s so important. To bring into this conversation now. And again, we’ll discuss this more at length in verbalizing, because I think that’s one of the places that it’s most important to remember that, but it’s okay to be wrong. It’s okay to not know. It’s okay to kick something around and see if it’s true for you or not.

And if it’s not that’s okay, too. Guess what? The more you do that, the more context you’re adding to, what it is you’re grappling with and the more context you add, even if it’s by way of figuring out what it’s not the clearer you will get over time. So don’t go into this thinking. I gotta be able to name it.

I’ve gotta be able to know what it is. I got to get this awareness thing right off the bat. Try something on. Is this it? Take that into your week. Observe it. Is this it? Is it not? It, is there more to it than this?

Cam: You know, Shelly that right there is just a beautiful definition of a practice.

Shelly: Yeah.

Cam: And there’s this sort of flexibility it’s about agility, right. Being able to kind of move with it and not try to get it right.

Shelly: Absolutely well said and a great place for us to pause for today. So, If you like what we’re doing here on the show, three big ways you can help us out. You already know what they are, but I’m going to say them again. Anyway, the first is don’t keep us a secret. Share us on social, share us with the other neurodivergence in your life.

If you have a neurodivergent support group at work, share us there. Number two, leave a rating or review wherever you listen. Reviews help other people find the show. They help other people know what’s different about our show as compared to other ADHD podcasts. This is a big one. And we so appreciate, we know the wall of awful that can exist around posting those reviews for people with ADHD.

So thank you to every one of you who has taken the time to do that. And if you can. Find a way to make that one happen. We would so appreciate it. And finally, you can support the show financially by becoming a patron. Our Patreon covers the costs of running the show 100% and has allowed Cam and I to employ some critical support by way of our editor and our assistant.

This is huge because this means that Cam and I can continue focusing on making this show amazing and how to grow, translating ADHD in other ways, to give you all other opportunities to interact with us and do this work and form community. To become a patron, visit the website, translating adhd.com, click on the Patreon link in the upper right-hand corner.

And for $5 a month, not only are you helping cover all of those costs and enable this work, you also gain access to our discord community, where our listeners are working together to do their own understand own end translate work. 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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