Misophonia: When Noises Trigger Rage

Misophonia: When Noises Trigger Rage

Most of us have been annoyed at one time by the sound of another chewing or breathing, but for some it goes way beyond annoyance. For those who suffer from misophonia, everyday sounds like gum chewing, lip smacking, or the clicking of a pen can induce feelings of outrage.

Dr. Hallowell talks to Josh Furnas, a man who has suffered from misophonia since he was a young child, and Dr. Phillip Gander, an assistant research scientist at the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Iowa about this unusual condition. 

Links:

www.misophonia.org

www.misophonia-association.org 

Dr. Phillip Gander

Reach out to us with your questions and comments by writing an email or recording a voice memo. Send it to [email protected]. We look forward to hearing from you! 

This episode was originally released in March 2017. 

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Waiting Can Feel Like Agony

Waiting Can Feel Like Agony

Ned talks about how waiting in line and waiting his turn get him riled up and feels like torture. He proposes a few ways we can pass the time without getting angry and irritated, and pledges to try and turn his impatient moments into something other than purely painful. 

Get a copy of Dr. H’s newest book, ADHD 2.0 at DrHallowell.com or by clicking HERE. You can also find it wherever books are sold!  

If you have a question or comment you’d like us to address in a future episode reach out to us! Write an email or record a voice memo and send it to [email protected].  

Check out our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness! Distraction listeners SAVE 20% on their first order with the code: Distraction at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Learn what it’s like to be a student at Landmark College during their Virtual Open House on March 19th! Register HERE. Landmark College in Putney, Vermont is the college of choice for students who learn differently. 

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our recording engineer/editor is Scott Persson and our producer is Sarah Guertin.

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ADHD and Accepting Help, Hormones, Meds and More

ADHD and Accepting Help, Hormones, Meds and More

What do you do when someone you love with ADHD won’t accept help? Do hormonal changes affect medication? What are the different types of ADHD treatment available? These are just a few of the questions Dr. H addresses in this week’s podcast as he responds to emails we’ve received from our listeners.

Please continue to reach out to us with your questions and episode ideas! Write an email or record a voice memo and send it to [email protected].

Thanks to our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness! Distraction listeners, you can SAVE 20% on your first order with the promo code: Podcast2020 at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Click HERE to learn more about our sponsor, Landmark College, in Putney, Vermont. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently.

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer/editor is Scott Persson.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This episode of Distraction is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third-party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com, and by Landmark College offering comprehensive support for students with ADHD and other learning differences. Learn more at lcdistraction.org. Landmark College, the college of choice for students who learn differently.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello, and welcome to Distraction. I’m your host, Dr. Ned Hallowell. In today’s episode, I will be doing one of my favorite things, answering questions and responding to emails from you, our treasured valued, esteemed, and just magnificent listeners. As we usually do with these episodes, my wonderful producer, the lovely, brilliant, so very faithful and good and true, Sarah Guertin is joining me today to help out. Okay, Sarah, who are we starting with today?

Sarah Guertin:
I kind of sound like a dog. Maybe that’s why we get along so well, you like dogs. I’m loyal.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You don’t look anything like it though.

Sarah Guertin:
Well, thank you anyway. Okay, so today we are starting with an email from a listener named Mary. She writes, “I enjoyed listening to the mini Distraction/What’s in My Toolbox podcast.” That was quite a while ago you did that one, but she says, “My son is almost 20. He was diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia at age eight. He is a wonderful human being and very loved, but struggles daily and spends much of his time shut away in his room. He has friends and enjoys his time with them, but shuts himself away when at home. Throughout his life he has shunned any form of help, despite huge encouragement. He won’t accept our help or help from external sources, i.e., he rejected to help at school, left college as lecturers couldn’t help him, won’t let us teach him practical things, gave up on driving lessons. The list goes on. How can we overcome this barrier? If it was in his toolbox, he’d fly.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Mary, your son, this is not uncommon, particularly among young men. He had a hard time early on, and he’s adopted avoidance as a coping style. That’s really the coping style that I hate to see, because it’s out of fear. He doesn’t want to fail. He doesn’t want to look stupid. He doesn’t want to embarrass himself.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
He’s, as you say, a wonderful human being and very loved, but he’s hiding from the world. How do you bring someone out of hiding? How do you coax someone or persuade someone that it’s worth taking a shot? This is where creativity comes into play, even bribery, but if you can find something to interest him in, something to get him to stick his head out of his hole long enough to smell life and get excited by something, anything. It could be a project, could be a relationship, could be a sport, could be a puzzle. Could be something online, some chat rooms, some group of people, some game, anything to get him involved in life.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s, I would say, the measure of a successful life is have you found the game you love to play? Have you found something you love to play? Whether it’s a business or a profession, once you get in the game and love the game, then the wins and the losses don’t matter. The victory is loving the game and looking forward to taking another shot. Right now your son, bless his soul, is dropped out of the game, because he’s afraid of embarrassing himself. He’s afraid that he doesn’t have whatever it takes, and it’s your job and the job of whoever you find to help you, and there are lots of people who can do it, doesn’t have to be a mental health professional could be, but it could be an uncle, an aunt, a grandparent, a friend, a relative, a music teacher, a gym teacher, a drill instructor in the army if he decides to enlist.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You don’t know who it’s going to be, but that’s the project, and approach it with a creative mind. Try not to fall into the trap of getting frustrated and fatalistic and just kind of giving up on him, not that you’d ever do that, but just feeling in your heart that it’s never going to work out because chances are, it will work out. Chances are, if you keep at it, if you keep coming toward him with different offers of different projects, different treasures, different goodies, one of these days, he’s going to get in a mood where he’ll snatch, he’ll reach out, his eyes will widen and his heart will beat. He will come out of hiding long enough to taste some kind of success, some kind of approval of others, some kind of engagement on his own in a way that it’s more valuable to chase that feeling than to hide and avoid feelings altogether.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I promise you if you keep at it with a team of people, not you alone, with a team of people, and they can be a ragtag bunch of, doesn’t have to be professionals or experts of any kind, just people who are interested in him, care about him, know something about something to get him hooked on life, to find a game he loves to play, and then you’re off to the races. Then you’ve got it made. Then he’s doing this thing we call life until he can’t do it anymore. You’re in a tough place right now, but a place that is fraught with possibility, as long as you keep at it. Good luck and do me a favor, come back to us in a few months and tell me what’s going on. I’d love to follow you along, Mary, in your journey with your son. Thanks so much for writing to us.

Sarah Guertin:
Okay. This next one is about hormones in girls and ADHD. It starts, “Hello, Dr. Hallowell, I am a divorced parent of one daughter who is about to turn 13. She started middle school last year. She was diagnosed with ADHD several years ago due to struggling in the classroom. She had no issues with peers or coaches though. After trials of a handful of medications that were either ineffective or had negative side effects, she responded well to guaifenesin and she has been taking it ever since.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Guanfacine, that probably is.

Sarah Guertin:
Sorry, guanfacine. Okay. “However, her reactivity, anger and impatience, at home only mind you, are at an all-time high and have been for a year or two. As she enters adolescence and is experiencing hormonal changes, I am wondering whether that has an effect on how medications for ADHD work. Do you recommend a medication re-evaluation? Of note, she presents much more like a boy with ADHD than how girls typically present. Thank you for any thoughts that you have, Chloe”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. By all means I recommend a re-evaluation of medication. Guanfacine worked for a while, but it’s not working so much at home because of her reactivity, anger and impatience. Do hormones play a role? Yes, indeed they do. They very much do. You want to revisit medications. 80% of people with ADD can get an excellent response to medication. By that, I mean, target symptom improvement with no side effects. No, no, no, no side effects other than appetite suppression without unwanted weight loss.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
But remember, there’s more to this than just medication. We have many more tools in the toolbox than just medication. You might want to consider one of my favorites. It’s a real breakthrough, the Zing method. We’ve had podcasts about this in the past. It’s a specialized form of exercise that you do for 10 minutes twice a day, that bolsters the cerebellum part of your brain at the back. It turns out the cerebellum is very involved in executive function and mood and cognitive issues. If you do these for 10 minutes twice a day, three to six months, 85% of people get really excellent results.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
To learn more just go to a website, distraction.zingperformance. That’s Z-I-N-G performance.com. That’s distraction.zingperformance.com. You don’t use medication at all. You may take medication while you’re doing Zing, it’s not contra-indicated, but this is a completely non-medication treatment for ADHD. It’s based on breakthrough science from Jeremy Schmahmann at Mass General Hospital, Harvard Medical School. Schmahmann’s not part of the Zing group at all, but the Zing people took advantage of Schmahmann’s research in developing their program, which I think is very, very promising. I recommend that.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Then the other standards of non-medication treatment, physical exercise of all kinds. My friend, John Ratey, in his book, Spark, showed what an incredibly powerful tool exercise is for sharpening up your mental faculties. Getting enough sleep, meditating, eating right, in other words, avoiding junk food, avoiding sugar, trying to eat whole foods and not use drugs and alcohol to help you get by. Then coaching is another standard in helping with ADD.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You’re talking about good news in that she’s symptomatic only at home, which means she can hold it together away from home, which is a good sign, but we want to help her at home, as well. Her race car brain is running away with her, and she’s having trouble putting on the brakes. That’s ADD, race car brain with bicycle brakes. You want to strengthen those brakes in whatever ways you can. I would suggest revisit medication, see if stimulants might work this time, but in meanwhile, investigate the Zing program. Go to distraction.zingperformance.com, and then look at physical exercise, meditation, sleep, eating right and coaching.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Also, don’t forget my favorite element in the list, which is positive human connection, the other vitamin C as I call it. A lot of people aren’t getting enough vitamin C these days because of the pandemic, but we need to connect with each other one way or another, so make sure your daughter is doing that, as well. Thank you so much for writing in and please give us follow-up. Love to hear how she’s making out.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
In this anxious back-to-school time, everyone is looking for ways to reduce the edge of anxiety. One good way to try is by taking OmegaBrite supplement, Omega CBD, OmegaBrite CBD, as well as the OmegaBrite fish oil product. Both are good for emotional reactivity and can take the edge off of that. They’re fully natural, very healthy, really developed by a top-notch company. OmegaBritewellness.com, and you can get 20% off your first order by using the code podcast2020. Enter that, get 20% off. OmegaBritewellness.com. Okay, now let’s get back to the show.

Sarah Guertin:
Okay. Since we’re on the subject of medication, we have another question from a listener about medication. Jean wrote, “Thank you. Please talk more about Ritalin and other best medications for ADD. I have side effects, and it takes months to get my medication changed.” I was thinking maybe you could just give listeners a quick overview.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Is that what you were thinking, Sarah?

Sarah Guertin:
It’s my job to produce, so this is me producing you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, I will do as I’m told. In fact, I would love to do your bidding and this writer’s, this listener’s bidding. It says it takes months to get my medication changed. That should not happen. These medications, stimulant medications, can be changed daily if need be. It certainly shouldn’t take months. There’s something wrong with that picture. Maybe have a sit-down with your doctor or nurse practitioner or whoever you’re working with and try to set up a system where you can make changes more quickly, because to wait months for a stimulant medication change is just insane. There’s no need for that.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Now the stimulant medications, of which Ritalin is one, are basically divided into two categories. Those that are methylphenidate-based, Ritalin, Focalin, Daytrana patch, Concerta, Ritalin LA, those are all based on the molecule methylphenidate, which came into use in the early 1950s. Ritalin is the best known among those. By the way, do you know where Ritalin got its name? The man who developed it, developed it to help his wife with her tennis game, so she could focus better. Her name was Rita. Hence, Rita-line is where the name came from.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Then the other group of stimulants are based on the molecule amphetamine. Now amphetamine was used for the first time to treat what we now call ADHD in, guess what year? 1937. Most people think it’s some new development in the past couple of decades. Not so at all, it’s been around for what is that, like 80 years. That’s good, because nothing lasts that long unless it is safe and effective. Now the best-known amphetamine-based medications are Adderall, Adderall XR stands for extended release, Vyvanse, which is another extended-release and Mydayis, which is the longest-acting of the amphetamine-based medications.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Those two groups, the methylphenidate-based and the amphetamine-based, make up the bulk of stimulant medication that we prescribe for ADHD. They still remain, in my opinion, the gold standard. Those are the best, when they work, they’re the best. They’re not definitive treatment, but they are symptomatic treatment. They’re like eyeglasses, and eyeglasses are pretty darn good if you’re near-sighted, and stimulant medication is pretty darn good if you have trouble focusing, if you have ADHD.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The major side effect of both groups, and the side effects are the same, the major side effect is it cuts your appetite. You have to be careful not to lose weight that you don’t want to lose. Other side effects are much less common, but they include insomnia if you take it too close to bedtime, elevated heart rate, elevated blood pressure. Some people get jittery as if they’ve had too much coffee. Some people the opposite, oddly enough, become somnolent. Some people just don’t like the way it makes them feel. They feel like they lose a bit of their personality. They lose their spontaneity, their sense of humor.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Any of those that happen, you just stop the medication. You can stop it on a dime. You don’t have to taper it. If it does anything you don’t like, if you turn purple, stop it, and you’ll go back to your original color. One of the great conveniences of these medications is that they’re in and out of your system in a matter of hours. That’s why I say you certainly don’t have to wait months to make a change. If one doesn’t work, another might. If Ritalin doesn’t work, Adderall might. The fact that one medication doesn’t help you, doesn’t mean that the other grouping won’t. How do you know in advance which one to try? It’s trial and error. That’s where we are. You try one. You try the other. As I said, you can go through a number of these in a matter of days. You don’t have to spend months doing the trial and error. About 80% of people who have ADD will find benefit without side effects from one or another of the medications.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Then there are the non-stimulant medications, which don’t have the stellar track record of stimulants, but they’re great if they work. At the top of the list in that group, in my opinion, is Wellbutrin bupropion, which also has effectiveness as an anti-depressant and as an anti-addiction medication. It’s marketed as Zyban to help people quit smoking.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
There’s a quick, quick overview about stimulant medication and medication in general. Work with a doctor who knows what he or she is doing. That’s the key to it all. Work with a doctor who has lots of experience in treating adults and children who have ADHD. If you do, you can really exhaust the possibilities, certainly in a matter of a couple of months at most. You may be one of those people like me for whom medication does not work. My medication is caffeine, coffee. That’s the world’s medication, but I don’t leave home without it. It’s something that I find very beneficial. Well, thank you so much for writing in and asking about that. Sarah, do we have another question?

Sarah Guertin:
We sure do. Do you remember the mini episode you did a few weeks ago… it was a little bit more than a few weeks ago… where you asked listeners whether you should stick to only talking about ADHD?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Oh yes, yes, yes, yes. Whether I should stick?

Sarah Guertin:
Yes. Yes. We had said in a recent episode that we got a lot of listener feedback where they all said, “No, you should talk about whatever you want.” I wanted to let you know that that has continued. We are still getting emails where people are telling you, “Yeah,. Speak your mind.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, it’s funny, because I thought about that. Whoever wrote that to me, telling me to shut up and dribble, he was, or she was trying to help me. I appreciate that. He or she was saying, “You’re going to hurt yourself if you go outside your behavioral perimeter, if you go outside your designated area of expertise.” I took it to heart enough that I wanted to ask people about it. I also am grateful to the man or woman who sent me that, because they were trying to help me, and maybe he or she is right. Maybe there are people when I go off to other topics that think, “Oh, shut up and dribble.”

Sarah Guertin:
Well, they’re not emailing us if that’s the case.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Good, good, good, good.

Sarah Guertin:
But I wanted to share one with you. It’s a little bit long, but I thought it was particularly powerful, so I wanted to read it to you. It says, “Hi, Dr. H, I was catching up with the podcast when I heard the episode where a listener suggested that you should stick to what you know and leave more provocative topics alone. I’ve never sent an email to your show before, but I absolutely had to this time. I’m a Black woman with ADHD. I also have two sons with ADHD, and I’ve appreciated your work for many years now. I’ve often felt invisible as a woman of color with ADHD. Although there are plenty of us out here, we often get overlooked for one reason or another.

Sarah Guertin:
I’ve been absolutely floored and thrilled to witness more conversation happening about race in this country. I’ve been especially happy to witness it coming specifically from some of my favorite ADHD experts. I’m beginning to feel seen in a way I never have before. We are living in unprecedented times where the people at the very top are willfully and intentionally corrupt, bigoted, illogical and hateful, and it is costing lives every single day. Now is not the time for anyone to be silent or to simply stick to polite topics that won’t ruffle feathers. I want to know what kind of people the experts I’m supporting (with my time when I’m listening to their podcasts and my money, when I buy their books and go to conferences). I want to know who they are. I don’t think you can call yourself a decent person and not speak about the things that are happening in our country.

Sarah Guertin:
The same way more ADHD experts are talking about how race affects diagnosis and treatment, I hope to hear more speaking out on how poverty and lack of access to mental health resources also affects diagnosis and treatment. It’s especially vital that people with a platform use their reach for good, which is exactly what I’ve witnessed you doing for years now. The person who sent you that email does not speak for me, and I suspect they don’t speak for a significant portion of your listeners. Please keep speaking about the things that matter, especially when they’re messy and have potential to ruffle feathers. Respectfully, Candy”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Oh, Candy, what a wonderful email. I can’t thank you enough for your encouragement, and also for what you’re seeing happen in your own life. I mean, you’re twice invisible. You’re a woman with ADHD, the biggest underdiagnosed group, and you’re of color with ADHD, also an overlooked group. You have two forces that lead you to fade into the background. I’m so glad you’re standing out and standing forth and standing up and saying, “Hey, here I am finding your voice, finding your identity, laying claim to your truth, your story, your place in this world, your place at the table.” Gosh, it’s wonderful, because, I mean, I’ve been trying to bring people with ADHD to the forefront for my whole career. I’m now 70 years old, and it’s wonderful to see it happening in the two groups you represent, women and color. Both groups are hugely overlooked in our society in general, but in the ADHD diagnosis in particular.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
People of color who have ADHD, women of color who have ADHD are so at risk not to fulfill their destiny, not to fulfill their potential, not to find the encouragement, the guts, the platform, whatever the propulsion, to stand up and be counted, and then help others stand up, because that’s the next step which you’re doing in writing in and helping others stand up. I mean, because this diagnosis, unlike so many diagnoses in medicine, this is good news. Things can only get better when you find out you have ADHD. They can only get better. Often your life changes dramatically for the better. You’re really on the precipice of making good on all your potential. You’re on the precipice of finding the superpower hidden within ADHD.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Don’t get me wrong, it can be a terrible curse, as well. That’s why it’s so important to diagnose it, because undiagnosed ADHD can all but ruin your life. Sometimes indeed ruin your life, whether it’s through incarceration, or addiction, or job loss, what have you. But when you learn to get the right help, you can begin to tap into the superpower that’s often there, the Ferrari engine, when it gets its brakes, can start winning races. That’s what you’re doing. No pun on race, because you’ve also got that going. People of color are finally being recognized more accurately, and we old white men like me are understanding better what it’s like to go every day and if you see a police officer, wonder is he going to pull you over, and if he does, what are you going to do?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I really, in all my naivete, and I grew up in the ’60s when we were fighting for civil rights, but in all my naivete, I sort of thought that had been taken care of. Then my gosh, even just the past months, learning how wrong I was, that it’s anything but taken care of, and that we old white men like me need to start learning that we haven’t solved this problem, to the point where many of us, including me, were unaware of the details of what it’s like subjectively to live as a person of color in this country. Then if you throw in poverty, which is another way of being unnoticed, invisible, discounted, rejected, unheard, then you have a third factor folded into the mess, as you say, the messiness of life. If you’re a person who has little money, you’re of color, and you have ADHD and you don’t know it, boy, oh boy, is the deck stacked against you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
But if you start listening to people like you, Candy, and if you hear your stirring example, and if you say, “Okay, let me go find someone to get my ADHD taken care of,” now that in and of itself is a problem. How do you gain access? How do you gain access to care? Experts in ADHD are not easy to find. For one reason or another, they’re is rare as hen’s teeth. I live in the Boston area, so there were plenty of experts around here. But if you go outside of the academic centers, they’re hard to find, particularly ones who take my approach, which is a strength-based approach saying, “This is a trait, not a disorder. It can be a terrible disorder, but it can also become a superpower if you manage it right.” We’re very hard to find.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The most economical way of gaining access to me is by one of my books, which are cheap on Amazon. That’s like $10 for Delivered from Distraction. Now for some people, $10 is not cheap. It’s a big reach. There are also libraries. There are places where you can read books for no charge. This podcast is free of charge, as well. My website has a lot of information on it, drhallowell.com. That’s also free of charge.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It is the truth that shall set you free in this case. It really is. Once you understand the basic symptoms, which creativity, originality, entrepreneurial-ism, powerful brain going all the time, a desire to be free, desire to not necessarily play by the rules, but make it up as you go, all of those positives that you can’t buy and you can’t teach, immense curiosity, coupled with the negatives, which is trouble getting organized, trouble being on time, trouble showing up where and when you’re supposed to, trouble following through, and trouble focusing when you’re not interested. When you’re interested, you can hyper-focus, but when you’re not interested, your mind wanders, goes elsewhere. What that all sums up to is trouble achieving and a tendency to underachieve and then get fired, lose jobs, lose relationships, and so on and so forth.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
But if you can identify that, if you can see yourself in that list of symptoms, and then go to an MD who has some experience with this, and you don’t have to go to an expensive specialist, go to some MD, you could bring my book with you, could say, “I’ve gone through this. These are the symptoms I’ve got. Could you give me a trial of stimulant medication?” As long as they’re comfortable with it and comfortable with the diagnosis, they’ll do that. That’s sort of the first step, getting a trial of medication and then learning about the condition, learning about what it is, owning it, metabolizing it, learning about it well enough that you can teach someone else about it. This is life-changing.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Chances are, once you do get it, your earning power will increase because you’ll be able to marshal your God-given talents and resources and start leading others of your group, of your race, of your ethnic grouping, whoever you are, lead and help them free, I say, break the manacles that that can be holding you back. When you start leading others to do that, helping others to do that, it’s a great feeling. St. Francis said, “In giving, we receive.” It is so true. When you can help someone else, and when you can see their life change, and when they say, “Gosh, thank you. Man, that feels good.” You have it in your power to do that, Candy. You have it in your power to lead a whole bunch of people, because you’re representative of a group that is underserved, for sure, people of color, women of color who have ADD.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Thank you so much for writing in. I’m glad you are encouraging me to speak my mind. I am someone who values telling the truth, certainly in doing that with my work with ADHD. I hope and pray whoever leads this country in the coming years, what we need is coming together. What we need is forces of unification. Often that’s done best at local levels. I like to think that everyone knows how much we need each other now. Everyone knows that what we need to do is come together. I kind of believe that we’ll find a way to make that happen. Candy, thank you so much for writing in. I can’t thank you enough.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, that’s going to do it for today. If you have a question you’d like me to address in a future episode just like the ones I answered today, please write an email or record a voice memo, and send it to us at [email protected] That’s the word, [email protected] We love getting these questions. We really love them and make them commentary, not just questions. Put in your opinions, your thoughts, your speculations. It’s a great way for our audience to get to know each other.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I’m Dr. Ned Hallowell. Thank you so much for joining me. Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our recording engineer and editor is the meticulously brilliant Scott Persson, never misses the sound. Our producer is the very imaginative, but also very careful to detail, Sarah Guertin.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The episode you just heard was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third-party tested, and it works. Shop online at OmegaBritewellness.com.

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How to Avoid Arguments with Your Kids

How to Avoid Arguments with Your Kids

Being a parent is hard, and it doesn’t come with a handbook. If you find yourself fighting with your kids and feeling frustrated by them, Katherine Winter-Sellery offers some effective strategies you can use to help you bring harmony to your home.

Katherine’s next Guidance Approach to Parenting class begins September 28th, and she is offering a special discount to Distraction listeners! Save 20% with the promo code: DrNed20. Click HERE for more information.

To download a copy of the free e-book, 7 Strategies to Keep Your Relationship with Your Kids from Hitting the Boiling Point, go to ConsciousParentingRevolution.com.

Please reach out to us with your questions and episode ideas. Write and email or record a voice memo and send it to [email protected].

Thank you to our sponsor, OmegaBrite CBD! Distraction listeners SAVE 20% on their first order with the code: Podcast2020 at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Click HERE to learn more about our sponsor, Landmark College, in Putney, Vermont. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently.

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer/editor is Scott Persson.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This episode of Distraction is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe third-party tested and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com. And by Landmark College offering comprehensive support for students with ADHD and other learning differences. Learn more at lcdistraction.org. Landmark College, the college of choice for students who learn differently.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello, welcome to Distraction. I’m your host, Dr. Ned Hallowell. Glad to be with you again. We’re all aware of how much life has changed since this pandemic started. And with everyone staying at home more, there of course will be disagreements and conflicts in your household particularly if you have kids. My guest today is here to help. Isn’t that great, we always bring people in who can help. Her name is Katherine Winter-Sellery, and she’s taught thousands of parents as well as executives about how to be better communicators. She joins me today to help us all maintain harmony in our homes and our relationships. Catherine, welcome to Distraction.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Thank you so much. It’s such a pleasure to be with you today. It’s great to be here.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Tell me, how did you get into this area of working with parents and their kids?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
I started, well, literally 30 years ago, more or less close to 31 years ago. I’d studied Chinese and speak Chinese and was working as a commodities trader, running a firm in Hong Kong trading commodities. And then I started having kids and my husband is an architect. And-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Do you have ADD?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Not diagnosed.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I’ll bet you do most commodities, and your life story, anyway-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
I wouldn’t be surprised.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Anyway, so there you are speaking Chinese, trading commodities [crosstalk 00:02:22]-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
I’m sure there’s so many undiagnosed out there. Oh my gosh.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Totally.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Totally.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So there you are speaking Chinese trading commodities and you started having children-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And started having children. And we had a son and here we were very successful professionals who were complete dear in headlights when it came to like, Oh my gosh, what do we do? A discipline issue would show up and I didn’t have a method to approach conflict resolution or coach for better behaviors. Other than that, tried and tested and failed from my perspective at least, rewards and punishment thing. So I became a student of conflict resolution. I’d also gone to law school. So I had a natural interest in that. And I just became passionate about communication in families and ecosystems and developing ways to create change in behavior without doing it and paying such a high price for it, which you do. You pay a high price when you use a heavy hand that that makes someone feel ashamed of their behavior rather than it’s a teachable moment.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right. So you developed this method over a few years I gather and tell us about it?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Yeah, it’s actually over like decades. I started with Dr. Thomas Gordon, Parent Effectiveness Training and became, I found that course and took it over and over and over again, and finally became actually a trainer for them. And then I studied with Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, the founder of the Center for Nonviolent Communication and the father of restorative justice in American prison systems. And I sat at his feet and just took every word in and made it, it just became my passion.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
His name was John Rosenberg?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
No, it’s Dr. Marshall Rosenberg.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Marshall Rosenberg. Okay. And what kind of doctor is he?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
He is a doctor of psychology. He was the founder of the Center for Nonviolent Communication, CNVC.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Okay. That’s great. And he’s a psychologist, he’s a PhD?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
He is, yeah.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Marshall Rosenberg. [inaudible 00:04:40] To look him up. Restorative justice [crosstalk 00:04:42]-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Totally, restorative justice in the American prison system was all because of Marshall.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Wow. So what brought you to him?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Oh, life is such a… you meet somebody, you meet somebody, and I was at a conference in Brisbane and I was there with the Effectiveness Training Institute of Australia who I’d received some certifications to train under their banner. And there was a conference and the woman speaking at the conference was the author of a book called Children are People Too. Her name is Dr. Louise Porter and she was the keynote. And I literally hung on every word that came out of her mouth. And I strategically positioned myself at the dinner next, I got to sit next to her. And it was the beginning of a lifelong friendship.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s wonderful.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And she gave me her book and she and I began a conversation because she had some ways of looking at communication that were different than Gordon. And I wrote to her after reading her book and said, “Wow, are you sure about this?” And she said, “I’m pretty sure I’m happy to have a discourse.” So that became a really interesting, we became pen pals, looking at some of the techniques around communication and connection. And the thing that she brought to my attention that was so powerful is that when you say to anyone, “I feel so upset when you don’t clean up the kitchen.” That there’s a lot of blame that the feeling that I’m experiencing was because of their action. And we all know other people don’t make us feel the way we do. That we can’t blame other people for our feelings. And it opened my mind to how deeply embedded, and it was actually something that I guess became much more nuanced for my own ability to communicate honestly, and not blame other people for the feelings that were coming up in me, but yet to want to talk about their behavior.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
So this just took me to a whole another level and she introduced, she came to Hong Kong. I brought her there as an expert speaker at my children’s school. And she saw that I had a book called Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, which I had gotten at that event, that conference where I’d met her. And she said, “Have you read it?” And I said, “I haven’t yet.” “Oh, that was the best book I read last year.” So I feverishly read it and fell in love with yet another gem. And the gem in that moment was that I chose how I heard you. I get to choose how I hear you. Not just, I get to choose how I communicate, but I get to also choose how I hear what’s being communicated. And that just opened my mind, that I actually have a choice about how I hear other people. And all of this in the end over many, many, many, many years, eventually Louise and I created a program together with another colleague that I had been teaching with at the time. And that’s the course that I’ve been running now for 12 years.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And it’s called Conscious Parenting?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
It is. It’s the guidance approach to parenting. And it is part of this conscious parenting revolution that I’m just, it’s become sort of my reason to get up every day and make a contribution, is that families hurt and misunderstandings create breakdowns. And the people we care the most about, sometimes we find ourselves in such a difficult position, we’re not connected, we don’t have the warmth that we wish we had or that we had when they were maybe little and somehow it’s been lost along the way. And I know it breaks people’s hearts.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, no, it does. If people want to read about it, learn about it, where would a listener go to learn about this? Is there a website?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Yeah. consciousparentingrevolution.com is the website. And I have a free ebook, which people can take and digest, and it has strategies. And I have blogs as well that people can just enjoy, every week I put a new blog up and it just starts the healing process. Everybody wants healing and they want to create that connection that just makes all the difference. It’s why we have children. It’s to have that beautiful deep connection where we feel so much a part of each other’s lives.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So, the people who would go or people who are having conflict in the family and they’ve drifted away from their children, something like that?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
I have a whole variety of clients, if you will. There’s everything from the, my kids are really young and I don’t want to get it wrong. And so I’m looking for some support. It’s one of the only things in the world that we do without training, if you will.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
The biggest job on the planet is parenting. And so very few people actually go in prepared and accidentally they develop resentment flows. So retaliation, rebellion and resistance, it’s called the three Rs. And they are what happens in relationships. And if you can start by not creating the three Rs and the resentment flows, wonderful. And if you’ve done it and you didn’t even realize it was because of the way that you were parenting, and you thought that you just had kids that were disrespectful or didn’t pay attention or never listened to you, or didn’t cooperate, then it might actually not be about them. It could be that they’re in reaction and you can change the whole thing by changing how you’re approaching conflict resolution.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So you used a term that I’ve never heard before. What’s a resentment flow?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
A resentment flow is also a secondary problem. Let’s take a simple example where you’re asking a young child to pick up their toys and help you clean the table off to get set it for dinner. And they ignore you, and you ask them again and they ignore you. And then you start saying things like, “If you don’t do as I’ve asked, no dessert.” And they say something like, “I don’t even like that stupid dessert.” And then you say, “All right, if you don’t help me out, no TV.” And you just keep upping it. And that finally ends with them running upstairs, slamming the door and saying, “I hate you daddy. Or I hate you mommy.” That’s a resentment flow.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s a resentment flow. Why don’t you just call it an argument?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Because, well, I guess you could call it an argument. The resentment is that it starts to damage the relationship because they’re resentful of way that you spoke to them. And you’re resentful of the lack of communication or the lack of support or the lack of harmony or the lack of them doing what you wanted them to do.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Is there something specific about a resentment flow that distinguishes it from an argument?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Well, I think the key here is whether it stays past that moment, if it stays beyond, like we just had a disagreement, everything is fine, but when they run upstairs and slam the door and say, “I hate you.” And then you impose the punishment that you said you were going to do, “No TV for a week.” Then not only do they hate you in the moment, but it goes on and on and on. And ultimately the thing was about getting the table tidied, and now we’re so far away from what’s called the primary issue, and everything is now about the secondary issue, which is how I feel about my mom or dad, because they don’t get me. And all they ever do is demand that I do this demand that I do that. And they never see it from my side. They don’t even understand me. It’s a breakdown.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Walk us through that scene, doing it the way a conscious parent, who had done the revolution-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Would do?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, how would she do it?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Okay. So when a child says no to you, a conscious parent looks at the no as a yes to something inside of themself. So, I get curious about when they’re saying no to me and not doing as I was hoping that they would do, why are they doing that? What’s going on inside of them that’s getting in the way of them doing what I was hoping that they would do? I then shift from repeating my side over and over and over again, what I want. And I shift to wondering about what’s going on for them. So it would go something like this. My daughter’s name is Pear. “Pear, it seems like you’re really involved in something on this table with all your toys. And I was hoping that you could tidy it up, but because I see that you’re really into this and you can’t even take my side into consideration. I’m wondering, are you worried that the way you’ve got it set up right now, if we move it, it’s going to wreck your game?”

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And then I would probably get, “Yeah.” I mean, “I got everything set up just the way I want it. And if we move it, it ruins my game.” “Oh, I see. So you’re trying to figure out how to do what you want to do and you can’t figure out how to do that and also do what I want you to do?” “No, mom, it’s like, you always get your way and I never get mine.” “Oh, I see. So you just feel like, I just want you to do what I want you to do, and I’m not ever thinking about what’s important to you?” “Right. You just want me to do what you want.” “Oh, okay. Well actually that’s not what I want. I want your needs to be met and my needs to be met. What do you think we can do so that both of our needs could be met here?” “I don’t know. I don’t have any idea. What do you think I could do? I don’t know. Mom, what do you think?” “Well, I mean, I have a couple of ideas. If I take a picture and we move everything and then set it up, we could use the picture to help us figure out what to, and how to set it up. That’s one thought, what do you think about that?”

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
“Well, I guess we could do that. Or there’s that cardboard box in the garage. Maybe we could just place everything in the box and then I can just move it around the house.” “Well, that would work too.” And then we just kind of go into the problem solving. So we stay on the issue at hand, which is that I just wanted to get the table cleared and the resistance to that wasn’t disobedient or disrespectful or any of those kinds of things. It was someone not being able to figure out how to meet their needs and my needs at the same time. So children are people too. And if we begin to look at resistance as not as defiance, but as there’s something in them that is getting in the way or blocking their ability to cooperate. And as long as there are no built up resentment flows, it’s as simple as they can’t figure out how to meet my needs and their needs at the same time. And so it’s really easy for us to figure out ways to problem solve collaboratively.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I just have such a inner bristle to jargon, but okay, I’ll go with resentment flows. Because what [crosstalk 00:16:17]-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Well, actually it’s interesting that that’s, Thomas Gordon was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times based on his research regarding resentment flows. And so what Gordon discovered is that when you use a controlling form of discipline and you demand that a child do something, and then you punish if they don’t, what you generate is a resentment flow. And that appears as retaliation, rebellion and resistance. So the three Rs and the research around that is what gave him the nomination.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, I get it. And it’s brilliant. And it’s wonderful. I just hate jargon. But resentment flow, fine. He’s introduced the term and used it eloquently. I’d never heard it before. And I always balk at jargon. I would say, why not just put it in plain English, but I think we can all identify with the resentment flow, know what it is, and certainly work around it.

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Dr. Ned Hallowell:
What you were saying reminds me a little bit of Ross Greene and collaborative problem solving, do you think there’s an overlap there or not?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Oh, for sure. I mean, there’s so many collaborative problem solving models.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Yeah. The spirit is very much the same.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. It’s wonderful. It’s really wonderful. And you have courses on it or how does it work?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Yeah, no, I do have courses. I’m in a course right now and I’ve S I’ve literally taught thousands of people over decades, where up until now I would be running courses in schools to parent communities in person. And with the sort of advent of the new world, I just transitioned to doing this online. And I have a group that I’m taking through the process now, and I have another group starting September 28th.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And how long does it take? So if a listener said, boy, I really want to learn how to do this. It sounds so freeing getting out of struggles with my kids. What would they do? They’d sign up for-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
They can sign up, my initial course is a 90 day parenting reset. And so over the course of three months, we do a coaching call every week that I do online with my group. And then every week I also give them pre-recorded sort of lesson with worksheets for them to not just understand it conceptually, but begin to land it in the way they’re changing and shifting their behavior. So, it’s a period of three months where we begin to actually take on the underlying beliefs that get in the way of looking at children as people too. There’s some shifts that have to happen around our beliefs about children should be obedient and compliant. They should do as they’re told there’s something actually around parents not generally looking as their children’s right for autonomy, for example, should be honored because they’re children and they have no right to autonomy, but actually everyone has the need for autonomy, including children. So some of our beliefs about children are getting in the way of actually truly being with them like we would any other human being.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, no, indeed. Having raised three of them, early on we treated them as autonomous beings and they were wonderful. They’re three very happy adults now. In fact, similar to you when we started having kids, I realized here I am a Harvard trained child psychiatrist and I know nothing about how to raise children and particularly about how to instill joy. I was an expert on misery. I knew a lot about misery, but I didn’t know much about how to instill joy. So I did research and I wrote a book called, The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness and of my 20 books. It’s my favorite one. It really-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Wow!

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And it’s the manual that we use to raising our kids, The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness. And you’re so right. How you treat them really matters and to get into what you call resentment flow. I just call the big struggle and so many families, they just live in the big struggle and it’s damaging on both sides. So if someone wanted to take your course, they go to consciousparentingrevolution.com?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yes, they do. And actually, I think I had it in the show notes, or I spoke to Sarah about it that I would give your audience a 20% discount so that there’s some appreciation to you for having me on and that they get to benefit.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And what is the fee?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
The fee is 497. And so a 20% discount, I think puts it at 397 or something like that.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Something like that. Yeah.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And it’s for the 12 week course, and it’s truly amazing value. So, it’s really a lot of hands on support over the course of 12 weeks and the gems, the gems from my own experience over 20 years, starting at the beginning, really it’s been longer than that because our son is 25 and he was two. When I started down the journey of recognizing that, how I’m being with regard to sorting out problems, mediation, working together with one soul to another in moving forward to resolve an issue, it’s no different with children than it is with adults. And if I have demand language, I’m going to activate the three Rs, if I have consideration for their needs and I model it, then they are naturally considerate of my needs.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And it’s just about modeling.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. It’s such a beautiful concept. And if they sign up for the course, it’ll be online and how many others are in the course?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
I have a group right now of 17, so it’s a very intimate group.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s wonderful.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And it allows for everybody to learn on Monday when the module is dropped in and they can listen to it as often as they want. A lot of the information it’s the first time they’ve heard about it. I do a whole unit on self-esteem for example, and how we have probably grown up where our worth has somehow been confused with our competence, and breaking that so that children have a sense of feeling worthy, whether they’re good at baseball, whether they excel at tennis, whether they got an A on the test, de-linking competence from self-worth and just all these ways in which we accidentally, and I do think it’s accidental, no one intends to link someone’s competence to their worthiness. And yet when we’re trying to get our kids to be capable and competent, that message somehow does get communicated, that they love me if I’m good at this and they’re not so happy with me if I’m not. And my love and belonging is linked somehow to my capacity to be good at Chemistry or excel at Biology, or be a star on the tennis team.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
How do you break that? How do you-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
How do you break that?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Well, you create the ecosystem in your family where the sense of love and belonging, I love you worths and all, I love you, you have to be intentional about it. You have to be languaging, my love for you doesn’t matter. And also break the habit of rewarding the wanted behaviors, because we can’t just give the, let’s go out and celebrate and have an ice cream only if they do the level of performance that we wanted. Let’s go out and have an ice cream if you failed, because I just want to be with you and let you know that I know how hard this is and how disappointing. And I can imagine this is a real struggle for you right now. And let’s go do something that’s enjoyable and fun together, and let’s have a chuckle and a laugh over it. Let’s be there for our kids in all the ways that we think when we’re behavioralists that we only reward the behaviors that we want so we get more of them.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Let’s break out of that mold completely and stop treating our children like their dogs. And we just give them a treat when they’re good so we get more good behavior and we give them a little smack on the bottom when they’re bad, so that they never do that again. That whole world doesn’t work.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right now. Of course, it doesn’t. And how do you counter the messages that society puts out? That you’re only as good as your most recent triumph?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Yes, absolutely. I mean, you have to be intentional. You have to be intentional and you have to have the conversations at the dinner table, and you have to have the conversations in the car, and you have to have the conversations every time you see their little faces sink, because they are in the world of external locus of causality. They’re out there comparing themselves to others. They’re out there thinking that if little Johnny next door is better at this than I am, then somehow they’re more worthy than me. So, it has to be languaged. It can’t just be assumed. We have to know how to sit down with our children and say, “I can see you’re really upset and that it’s hard for you to celebrate with other people’s successes,” because somehow we don’t know where the languaging came and the message was delivered, that you look to other people to determine whether you’re worthy or not. We need to stop that, in our family, we’re going to put up big signs that say, “It’s acceptable to fail here.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Absolutely.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
We’re going to put up big signs that say, “If you didn’t make a mistake, you’re not learning.” We’re going to try to overcome the messaging of society, every single turn of the corner, so that the children and our family know that it’s not about that. And that this is not whether, they do well or not. It’s that no matter how they do, how are we with each other and how are you with yourself?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It’s like the line from the poem, “If.” It’s written on the tunnel heading to the center court at Wimbledon, it goes, “If you can look at triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters, just the same.”

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Beautiful.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And I think it’s, [crosstalk 00:28:45] Yeah. I mean, it’s a wonderful lesson to learn young. I’ve always said to my kids just, “It’s the love of the game. The victories and the defeats are part of the game. And so, as long as you love the game, you win, that’s the victory in life is finding a love of the game.” And just what you were saying, these poor kids think they’re worthless if they’re not number one, and I call it the great Harvard fallacy, that if I can get into Harvard, then I’ve got it made. And if I don’t, then I’m a second rate. And the kind of, well, just what you’re saying. And I think you’re so right. You have to consciously and deliberately oppose that because society is sending out constant messages of, you’re only as good as your-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
GPA?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, exactly. And then-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And it’s heartbreaking. I mean, it’s so heartbreaking as you and I both know in Hong Kong, it has the largest or the highest suicide rate among young women in the world.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Oh boy.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And there’s so much pressure on these kids that if they don’t, it’s a very, I’m going to call it, I hope I don’t get in trouble draconian educational style, and it’s very much achievement oriented. It doesn’t celebrate all kinds of brains. It just celebrates a very linear, sequential, achieving scientific brain. And for the creative child that thinks out of the box and doesn’t fit into that mold and is definitely not going to do well in that system. There’s a sense of them being made to believe that they’re not as good as other people, that there’s something wrong. And not only that, they’re losing face for the whole family. It’s bringing shame to the whole clan.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yup. And they’re my ADD guys, and they’re going to change the world for the better if they’re not broken through the educational system. And the Chinese are catching on. They want us to come over and teach them divergent thinking. They want us to come over and teach them creativity. And they don’t realize that they’re regimented system literally beats the creativity out of these kids.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Yeah. I went to teach it, Hong Jo University in 1983, and I was young. I just graduated and I get to [Hong Jo 00:31:14] And they say to me, “What we really want you to do is teach them how to think.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Exactly.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And I thought, wow. I don’t even know where to begin. And that’s such a part of the American education in so many ways. I think it may still be one of the strengths, is there’s a round table where you do, do a lot of just conversation and thinking, thinking, thinking, and brainstorming. And that is a really beautiful way to just open your mind to possibilities.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Absolutely. I mean, that’s what… I went to a high school at a school called Exeter in New Hampshire and all it was a boarding school and all of the classes were taught at round tables and it was all Socratic. So it was all about open-ended questions. And you were always imaginatively engaged. Is the opposite of drilling and memorizing. And I saw the value of this. I consulted for a few years to the Harvard Chemistry Department because they had a bunch of suicides there. And one of the things I learned during my time there, they get the best applicants from around the world. They have five Nobel Prize Winners on the faculty. In every year a new crop, and it’s a big department, over a thousand postdocs and graduate students. And every year a new crop arrives in Cambridge and the mandate is go into the lab and discover new knowledge.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, one group runs into the lab just eager to mix chemicals and blow up the building, but the other group freezes up and says, “No, you’ve got to tell me what to do. I’ll do anything you want. I’ll run your experiments all night if you want me to, but you have to tell me what to do.” And that’s the group that basically had their imagination snuffed out back around fifth grade when they got the message that do exactly what you’re told. And if you do that, then you will succeed. And it’s just tragic because what you really need in life, as you know as well as I do is the ability to take initiative, is the ability to come up with new ideas, is the ability to, I call it play, and this doctrinaire system just doesn’t allow for that, does it?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
It’s just so sad. And I hear you so deeply that it’s truly this mind boggling turning of the ship, turning of the Titanic and moving into territory where it’s not as measurable, and therefore it’s scary. And there’s also some reality check around children and their brilliance. Isn’t because of, I don’t know. I mean, I have no research for this. It’s not because of learning the three, reading, writing, and arithmetic. It’s opening up the mind to allow for the access to that big magic, where all of it is out there for discovery and the more we’re free to make mistakes, the more we’re free to discover and create. And this is, to me, what gets me so excited, is to find the ones that are willing to risk.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes. You have to be given permission. You have to know that it’s safe to fail.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Yap.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Success has made a failure as you know and if you’re not failing, you’re not trying anything new.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Absolutely. Marshall used to say, “Until your children know that they can say no to you, then they can’t say yes.?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. That’s so true, and mean it. Exactly.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And mean it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Yeah. That there’s actually the fabric, the ecosystem that’s been created in the family system that allows for you to say no. And I even extend that a little bit further to the school systems where if you have that authoritarian model again, there’s only one thing that you get to say, and that is, “Sure, okay, I’ll do what you tell me to.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes sir. Exactly.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And this, again, gets in the way of that beautiful autonomous aspect and nature to the human being even the young ones, where they have within themselves, some dignity.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
I remember there was a kid that I got to work with for a while. And he was just always in trouble. And it was a very prestigious Hong Kong family going to the best school. And every day they would walk into the classroom and he was told, “Now, take off your backpack and hang it over here on the hook. And be sure to get that book out and put it on your table.” And he wouldn’t do any of it. And he was just so in reaction to all of this control, and he would just say to me, “If they’re going to treat me like a baby, I’m going to act like one.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Good for you.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
He says to me, “As if I don’t know where to hang my bag.” And he says, “As if I don’t know to take the book out, I mean, seriously?” And I just thought, part of me was just like the dead poet’s society. I wanted him to stand on a chair and just go, “Yeah.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Exactly. Good for you.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And the parents said to me, “What’s wrong with him” And I said, “There’s nothing wrong with him, but there’s something wrong with this school you have him in.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Exactly.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
It wasn’t what they wanted to hear. Because it’s the prestigious school and La, La, La and I was just like, “Make choices.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. Do you want to a child who will be a person who can take initiative and use his imagination or do you want to have a robot?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Exactly. Yeah. And I mean, honestly, what’s going on in Hong Kong right now. I mean, really just the robot will be fine.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right. Well, Katherine, you are wonderful. You really are. I can’t thank you enough for coming on. And-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
This has been so fun. Thank you so much.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I want to say it again. Katherine Winter-Sellery, and her website is consciousparentingrevolution.com. You can get her free ebook there. Seven strategies to keep your relationship with your kids from hitting the boiling point. And I can tell you for sure, just talking to her in this interview, she’s spot on. She knows what she’s doing. She’s been trained by the best people and she’s been a serious student and she’s got decades of experience. And my gosh, it’s a deal to take her course. If you’re a parent and if you’re having some struggles as most parents do, there is a rational way out of it that’ll be good for both of you, not just your kids, but for you, because you don’t like struggling with your kids any more than your kids like it. And if you’re not careful, it takes on a life of its own.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And as Katherine says, it becomes part of your culture, part of your family culture. And you don’t want that. The good news is, you can change it. You have to be deliberate, but you can change it. And she will show you how, and I can tell just to, I’m looking at her picture now and hearing her, she’ll tell you how in a very warm and a helpful way, she’s not going to sit there and tell you what to do, but she’ll suggest what you might do. And there’s a big difference. There’s a big difference there. So, go to consciousparentingrevolution.com, get the free ebook, sign up for the course with a 20% discount. And my gosh, that’s so modestly priced. I mean, if I were a parent, I’d take advantage of it right away. And the next course starts September 28th, you said?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Yes, it does. Yeah. And it is, it’s priced for access. So that, I’m about the revolution. I’m about giving parents the skills that they need to change their family’s systems if they need to, if there’s resentment, clean it up, and to also be able to go back to that school and say, “I’m actually not okay with this approach. Would you be willing to hear me out?”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Not in an aggressive way, because that doesn’t get us anywhere, but in a really sort of open-hearted. “I’m in discovery. Would you go down the road with me?”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. Well, “Wouldn’t you like to learn something new?”

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Yeah. Just that Mr. Rogers neighborhood kind of thing.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Exactly.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
It really is about supporting everybody in learning how to manage their emotions.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It sure is.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And when kids are under threat and they can’t meet their needs and they’re falling apart, I call it drowning, and they don’t know how to drown politely just like the rest of us. So let’s not get so hung up on how people drown and let’s get really connected to what the needs are that they’re not able to meet underneath it. And if we start to meet the needs, all the behaviors that we didn’t like disappear anyways. So let’s start with the heart.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So they can swim.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Okay. Katherine Winter-Sellery, thank you for welcoming us to your neighborhood. It’s really-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
It’s so lovely. It’s just been really beautiful to be here with you. Thank you so much.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Thank you so much and, please again, go to consciousparentingrevolution.com, sign up for a course, get her free ebook, and remember to reach out to us with your questions, comments, and show ideas. We thrive on them. We love them. We eat them up and we turn them into shows of their own. So write an email or record a voice memo on your phone and send it to [email protected] That’s [email protected] Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our recording engineer and editor is the amazing talented Scott Persson. And our producer is the also amazingly talented Sarah Guertin. I am Dr. Ned Hallowell saying goodbye for now.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The episode you just heard was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com.

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Minimize ADHD’s Impact on Your Relationships

Minimize ADHD’s Impact on Your Relationships

How do you work through issues that arise when you and/or your significant other have ADHD? Sue Hallowell (a couple’s therapist and Ned’s wife of 31 years) sat down with Ned in the kitchen of their Massachusetts home to talk about the realities of being married to someone with ADHD. Sue’s insights shed light on how to navigate the frustrations of being the “non-ADHD” half of the couple, and what predicts whether a relationship will succeed. You’ll hear the love as Ned and Sue talk shame, blame, excuses and more in this heartwarming episode.

Please reach out to us with your questions and episode ideas! Email [email protected].

Click HERE to learn more about our sponsor, Landmark College, in Putney, Vermont. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently.

Thank you to our sponsor, OmegaBrite CBD! Distraction listeners SAVE 20% on their first order with the code: Podcast2020 at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer/editor is Scott Persson.

This episode was originally released in August 2019.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This episode of Distraction is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe third-party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com. And by Landmark College offering comprehensive support for students with ADHD and other learning differences. Learn more at lcdistraction.org. Landmark College, the college of choice for students who learn differently.

Sue Hallowell:
Even though the person with ADHD, their intention may not be to ignore, to not pay attention, to forget, they have to understand that that behavior still has an impact on their partner.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right. Hello. This is Dr. Ned Hallowell and welcome to the opening episode of Distraction. Fittingly enough, the first episode in August of 2019 is graced by my lovely and wonderful wife, Sue, always the favorite guest. I don’t think I need to introduce her, but for those of you who have not heard her before, Sue and I have been married for 31 years. I would say wonderful years, but she doesn’t like me to say that because she doesn’t like me to brag. She would prefer I say 31 strenuous, difficult, horrible, years. But anyway, we’ve been married for 31 years and that’s a fact and, and we have three wonderful children, now aged 30, 27 and 24, Lucy, Jack and Tucker. Sue is an incredible therapist, a social worker, the best therapist I know, and she also runs our office in New York City and runs our lives.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
She’s an amazing woman, an amazing woman, the kindest person I’ve ever met, and truly the cornerstone of our lives. We’re grateful to her every, every single, single day. I really love having her on the podcast. And her specialty naturally enough is working with couples where one or both members have the wonderfully interesting condition so misleadingly called ADHD, which I’m renaming, John Rady and I are renaming in our next book, VAST, variable attention stimulus trait. So without further ado, let me introduce Sue. Look how I made that little rhyme, ado, Sue.

Sue Hallowell:
Ado, Sue. That’s my Ned.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Welcome, Sue.

Sue Hallowell:
Thank you, sweetie.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So we can talk about so many different things. I said I was going to ask you, what are the elements that you think predict a marriage that will go well versus a marriage that won’t go well, particularly when one member of the couple has this thing called, that I now called VAST, but most people call ADHD?

Sue Hallowell:
Well, I can certainly tell you what predicts in couples therapy what’s going to make things go best. It’s whether both people are really willing to look at themselves and what they bring to the relationship, the challenges they bring to the relationship. I always like to say that whoever comes in my door, actually whether they have ADHD or not, but every couple that graces my door, whether they will cop to it or not, their primary thing that they think needs to happen is their partner needs to be fixed. That if only my partner wasn’t the way they are, if only my partner did this better, then the relationship would be better. And that is just not true. And-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You’re still trying to fix me.

Sue Hallowell:
I’m not trying to fix you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes, you are.

Sue Hallowell:
I’m trying to understand you as you’re trying to understand me. And I know that I bring a lot to the table. That’s why I tell this story over and over about the kitchen counter, because we talk about the kitchen counter and how what a mess it was for years. I don’t know if everybody knows, but not only do I have a husband with ADHD, I have three children with ADHD, and in our kitchen we have a counter that is constantly covered with everything.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
In fact, we’re doing this interview right next to that kitchen counter.

Sue Hallowell:
Which is …

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Covered.

Sue Hallowell:
… covered with things. I used to get so mad about this. I used to say, “How can you guys be so …

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Inconsiderate.

Sue Hallowell:
… inconsiderate? You don’t care. It’s not so hard to …

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Selfish.

Sue Hallowell:
… put things over there.” I would get so angry about it. But one of the things that I’ve really learned to do for myself as well as encourage other people, is I began to think, why does this bother me so much? Why does this make me so angry? I began to think it’s almost like it’s imperative that the counter be clean, that that is a moral issue, that that is the way a counter is supposed to be. But when I really stopped to think about it, what I understood about myself is I spend a lot of time in the kitchen and when the counter is covered, it makes me feel chaotic. I’m someone who likes things structured and like space more organized.

Sue Hallowell:
And when that counter, it has a lot on it, I end up feeling chaotic. Now, that’s my problem. It’s really not everybody else’s problem. And once I was able to be aware of that, then I was able to develop strategies. So we developed this plan where every day I straighten out the counter and then after two days, I’ve let everybody know anything of theirs will be removed from the counter. I don’t do it with anger anymore. I don’t yell at people. I don’t get upset with people. You guys don’t like it when I move things, but you’ve been given lots of notice.

Sue Hallowell:
But what I’ve been able to do is look at myself and not just blame you or the family for doing something. I figured out where the issue is. People in a couple begin to think that there are defined ways that the world should be. And we have to understand, not just about our partner and why they do things the way they do them, but we also have to understand why we want things the way that we do them. And couples, when each individual is really able to look at themselves and stop just wanting to fix their partner, that’s when a couple can really make progress.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). And how, when you do your couples therapy, how do you help them do that? That’s our dog barking in the background, by the way. Our dog is Max.

Sue Hallowell:
The first thing I really have to do is develop a relationship with both people, because no one wants to hear that they’re the locus of the issue. It often takes a lot of work. Learn how to ask questions and be curious about both themselves and curious about the other person rather than make assumptions. One of the things that I try to work with people first to try to understand is we all are smart enough to know that we all view things from our own lens. But it’s really funny, in those that are close to us, even though we know that the other person has a different way of thinking, feeling, processing the world, we make the assumption that they’re doing it in the same way that we are. So we determine their intentions, we determine everything based on how we see the world.

Sue Hallowell:
So early on I try to begin to help each person separate that out a little bit so that they can begin to question and have some curiosity that maybe the other person’s reasons or ways of doing things isn’t what they assume it is. Once you’re able to do that, then you’re be able to begin to think about it differently. I talk a lot about intention and impact with people. One of the mistakes I made when I first started doing this work is everybody was talking about how the person with ADHD, how their brain is different and how it’s not their intention to forget things all the time. It’s not their intention to not pay attention.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right.

Sue Hallowell:
Right? But that would get you a little ways, but then I found the couples therapy still falling apart, the person without ADHD is continuing to be angry. And then it went more into the, oh, that’s just an excuse. What I found out that I had to pay more attention to was impact, that even though the person with ADHD, their intention may not be to ignore, to not pay attention, to forget, they have to understand that that behavior still has an impact on their partner.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right.

Sue Hallowell:
Right? So when you’re able to begin to make sure that both people are being heard, then they’re able to begin to take more responsibility for themselves.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Let’s say the ADD guy says, “I didn’t mean to forget your birthday. My intention was to remember your birthday. I just forgot your birthday.” So then you say what?

Sue Hallowell:
Then I say, “So it was your intention, but how do you imagine that makes …

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Her feel.

Sue Hallowell:
… her feel? And are you able to open up your yourself a little bit to imagine and to listen to how that makes her feel?” And I say, “That’s really going to be hard for you,” because people have ADHD, they often have so much shame and so many years of being told that they do things wrong.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right.

Sue Hallowell:
Right? So I say that to them and I say, “So that makes it really hard for you to hear the impact on her because you feel so bad. There’s part of you deep down that feels so bad about what you’re doing, you can’t tolerate.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So what does he do with that? He feels bad and ashamed, so he says-

Sue Hallowell:
I think shame is the greatest disability there is, honestly. I know you talk about fear, but I honestly think that shame is. I think that what shame and its counterpart, externalization, and for those of you don’t know, shame is when you take whatever is happening in you internalize it and blame yourself and you go-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So you feel bad about-

Sue Hallowell:
You feel bad about yourself.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, let’s be concrete. You feel bad that you forgot the birthday.

Sue Hallowell:
Well, you feel like you’re just not a good person or you’re never good enough and you never do something.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So you generalize and you say …

Sue Hallowell:
Right.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
… I’m just a bad person who forgets birthdays.

Sue Hallowell:
Exactly. Exactly. Or you externalize because you can’t tolerate that feeling of feeling bad and feeling shame.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You’re just a bad person who always blames me for-

Sue Hallowell:
Or I wouldn’t have forgotten your birthday, but you-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You’re so mean to me.

Sue Hallowell:
You’re so mean to me, I forgot it or I forgot it because of blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, something outside of yourself. Right?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right, right.

Sue Hallowell:
What both of those are, are really ways to keep the feelings away, even though you’re feeling-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
How is shame a way of keeping the feelings away?

Sue Hallowell:
Because it’s rather than taking responsibility for just the fact that you’re someone who is forgetful, one of the symptoms of your ADD may be that you become very distracted with a lot of different things and you forget things. That in and of itself is not … If you can separate out the shame from it, if you can see it as a symptom, if you can see it as just something about how you are in terms of behaviors as opposed to part of who you are, it becomes easier to not let it be such a big deal. It makes it so that you don’t have to feel bad about yourself. And when you don’t feel bad about yourself, then you can develop strategies to help yourself.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I’ve been taking a new supplement called OmegaBrite CBD. As I’ve mentioned before, OmegaBrite CBD was created by my good friend, Dr. Carol Locke, graduate of Harvard Medical School and her company, OmegaBrite Wellness. They’ve been making the number one omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. Well, Carol and her team decided to break new ground and having set the standard for purity, safety and efficacy in the world of omega-3s, and they’ve brought that same commitment to excellence to their new CBD supplement. I take it myself. It helps me with my reactivity, my impatience. It just puts a smoother edge. It’s in no way is it a buzz or a high, anything like that. It’s way more subtle.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
But it’s a very noticeable subtle effect and one that I’ve come to really appreciate as I take it every day. So, all right. Get OmegaBrite CBD online at omegabritewellness.com. And now Distraction listeners can save 20% on their first order by using the promo code podcast2020. That’s podcast2020, go to omegabritewellness.com and order OmegaBrite CBD. You’ll be glad you did, just as I am. Now, how does the other person, the person whose birthday was forgotten, how does she deal with that?

Sue Hallowell:
Well, I can tell you that there’s a true two-pronged approach for them too, right?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Sue Hallowell:
First of all, if someone really feels like their partner understands the impact, really takes responsibility for how it makes them feel, you see, when somebody says, “I’m just a bad person,” that’s really about them. It takes the focus away from the person whose birthday was forgotten, right?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Sue Hallowell:
Which is the feeling that people often have. If someone can really say, “Look, you’re right, I really have trouble. I get distracted and I forget things, and I really understand that hurts your feelings and made you feel unloved, and I am really sorry about that,” if someone hears that, they still may not like it, but at least they feel connected. At least they feel loved, and that’s a really different experience. That’s what a lot of these couples can never get to.

Sue Hallowell:
Now, of course, the person with ADHD, they also really have to buy in and understand that so if they forgot somebody’s birthday because they’re not distracted, or if they didn’t pay attention, that would mean probably something more dynamic or would mean that they were angry or it would mean that they don’t care. Right?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Sue Hallowell:
So they have to be willing to understand that there is a different lens and they really have to buy into the fact that their partner with ADHD really does get distracted and when they forget something, it doesn’t have the same meaning for them. So they have to really be able to buy into the idea of intent and see that it really is a different thing, which they are more likely to be able to do if the person with ADHD really feels the impact. Does that make sense what I’m saying?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Oh yeah, totally. Yeah. Yeah. And then there’s the old problem where the spouse doesn’t want to have ADD be used as an excuse.

Sue Hallowell:
Right.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I always say to people, “No, it’s not an excuse, but it is an explanation.”

Sue Hallowell:
But where it becomes an excuse, where that comes from is exactly what I’m talking about. When people go to externalization of shame rather than taking responsibility.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right, but it’s an explanation to help you take responsibility more effectively.

Sue Hallowell:
That’s exactly right.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s not an excuse to get out of taking responsibility.

Sue Hallowell:
That’s right. But you know what’s amazing to me is people, even people who proudly wear the banner of ADHD sometimes, they say, “I have ADHD and I’m proud of it,” they fight the symptoms that make up the ADHD and that’s where the problem come.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
How do they fight them?

Sue Hallowell:
So they may say, “I have ADHD,” but say there’s someone who’s always late because that’s an easy. They won’t really take responsibility that they really have trouble being on time. They make it about, “Oh, I just can’t help that,” or, “I’m a bad person because of that.” Or, “If you love me, you just accept me”, instead of just really understanding yes, timeliness, because of the way that I think in the world, being on time is hard for me. And if you can really see that as a problem that you want to solve, then you can develop strategies that aren’t going to work all the time, but you can certainly do better.

Sue Hallowell:
But people with ADHD, they’ll often say, “Oh, I don’t want to get help with that.” Or, “I don’t really need to put strategies in place. I’m just going to be better next time. I’m just not going to do that anymore.” Or they get mad at the other person for getting upset with them. So even though they say they have ADHD, they don’t want to accept that they really have trouble with time management, or they don’t really want to accept that they have trouble with different things.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
But on the other hand, just to take the other point of view, I don’t think someone should spend a lifetime trying to get good at what they’re bad at. At some point you want to say, “Look, I’m just not going to get better at this now. So I probably always will be late.” And you don’t offer that as an excuse. You offer it as a part of who I am. In my own personal case, as you know, I don’t remember names. I just simply can’t remember names and I no longer feel ashamed or guilty about that. It’s just a fact of who I am. If someone doesn’t like that about me, that’s their problem. I no longer think that’s a failing on my part because it’s a quirk of my brain. It’s like the fact that I’m also left-handed.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It doesn’t hurt anybody, and if someone does take offense at that, that’s their problem. I’m fully ready to explain to them I have this neurological problem. My brain doesn’t remember names. Unless I walked around with a notebook writing down, okay, describe the person, took a picture of them, it would be ridiculous the lengths that I’d have to go to. And for some people, the lengths they have to go to to be on time would be equally ridiculous.

Sue Hallowell:
I do. One of the things that I really do work with people is realistic expectations of what is possible to change and what isn’t possible to change. Right?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right, right.

Sue Hallowell:
One of the famous ones use for people is you would be surprised, or maybe you wouldn’t about how many people come in and one of the major issues is whether people close the cabinet doors.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Oh yes, yes.

Sue Hallowell:
Or whether they turn off the lights before they go to bed.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. I wrote, you know my satirical piece in Super Parenting For ADD where the guy says, “When I take something out of the cabinet and I don’t even notice if it’s open or not.”

Sue Hallowell:
That’s right. That’s right. That’s the kind of thing that I absolutely agree with you, that there are not really strategies one can put into place. I don’t spy so much the timeliness issue so much. I do agree that you will never be perfect at it and I really work with people around, again, what are realistic expectations. But I do think that there are strategies that you can put into place that can help you with that. You just have to understand what it is that gets in your way and be willing to do that.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
But once you’ve put all the strategies into place …

Sue Hallowell:
Then you’ve done the best you can do.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
… I’ve done all I can do about names. Well, not all I could do. Like I said, but I’m not going to go to the length of writing notebooks and putting posters up and hiring an assistant to follow me around.

Sue Hallowell:
Well, of course.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So I suppose if I were a politician maybe I’d have to do that. But since I’m not, I’ll just live with people wondering why I can’t remember their name. But yeah, you don’t want to blow off being late because it can cost you your job and it can cost you …

Sue Hallowell:
Lots of things.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
… lots of things.

Sue Hallowell:
It’s really important.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right, right, right.

Sue Hallowell:
And I do try to make the differentiation, but yes, they’re never going to be perfect on it. But I do think that that is the kind of thing that there are more practical things that you can put into place rather than your brain just escaping you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right.

Sue Hallowell:
Right? So I really try to work with people around what is realistic and what isn’t realistic and what needs to be done. And sometimes I try to get people to think out of the box. Like this isn’t about timeliness, but I worked with a family and I think a couple of the kids had ADHD too and mornings were just very disorganized. And even if dad, it would take him a while once he took his medication and it would just be a mess. The family was just very distressed about this. What we ended up deciding was he would either have to stay in bed until everybody left or get up before everybody got up.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s a good example of thinking outside the box. Well, talking about escaping us, the time has escaped us. As always when we have you on the time just disappears. Would you come back again soon?

Sue Hallowell:
I surly would.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
We really should have you on more often. It’s wonderful. I know our listeners love it as much as I do. We just begin talking and we just keep talking, which is not surprising.

Sue Hallowell:
Well, after 31 years.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
31 miserable years. Correct? Is that what you want me to say?

Sue Hallowell:
Now, now.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
31 impossibly difficult years full of [sturm and drang 00:00:23:59]? Right?

Sue Hallowell:
You know that’s not what I mean. You know that what I hate is when “experts” make it sound like they have all the answers. You know that it’s something I can’t stand.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
We certainly do not have all the answers. This is Dr. Ned Hallowell, who does not have all the answers.

Sue Hallowell:
And his wife, Sue …

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
… who does not have all the answers, thanking you for joining us on this first episode of Distraction. Please come back and join us again. We look forward to building this community as this year develops. Thank you so much. This is Dr. Ned Hallowell, until next time for Distraction.

The episode of Distraction you just heard was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third-party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegbritewellness.com.

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What You Tell Yourself Matters

What You Tell Yourself Matters

Changing your mindset can take a lot of work, but it is possible. Today’s guest grew up thinking he would never be good at math, and went on to write two textbooks on the subject! It’s all about what you tell yourself and what you’re willing to do. Listen as Dr. H talks with Steven Campbell about how your brain is always paying attention.

To learn more about Steven Campbell’s virtual workshop go to StevenRCampbell.teachable.com. Use the code COVID49 to pay just $49 (regularly $297) for a limited time.

Making the Mind Magnificent by Steven Campbell

Reach out to us! Send us an email or record a voice memo and send it to [email protected]

Learn more about our sponsor, OmegaBrite CBD! Distraction listeners can SAVE 20% on their first order with the code: Podcast2020. Shop online at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer/editor is Pat Keogh.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode can be found below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:

This episode of Distraction is sponsored by OmegaBrite, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third-party tested, and it works. Shop online at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Hello, and welcome to today’s episode of Distraction. I’m your host, Dr. Ned Hallowell. Last week, we released a mini-episode where I talked about little ways to make each day feel special. I hope you’ve been practicing your own ways of making each day feel special, as a way to counter some of the stress and anxiety that we’re all living through these days. My guest today is here to add a few ideas to that list. His name is Steven Campbell, and he has an MSIS, that was new to me, we looked it up, master of science in information systems, MSIS. And his resume includes professor, author, educational dean radio host, and professional speaker.

He conducts seminars around the world on the subject of changing what we say to ourselves about ourselves. Boy, that’s a big topic and he joins me today to help all of us thrive in this new normal. Thanks so much for joining me, Steven.

Steven Campbell:

Well, thank you so much for having me, Ned, I appreciate that this is going to be fun.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

So, just have at it. How can you help us talk to ourselves better about ourselves?

Steven Campbell:

Well, psychology has been doing some amazing things in the last 60 years. I really like to start with the ’60s because that’s where changes really began. That was really the beginning of cognitive psychology. And a little book came out back in 1961, called The Guide to Rational Living by Albert Ellis, he was one of the founders of cognitive psychology. In that book he suggested, because the research had not been done sufficiently as it is now, so what I’m going to be sharing with you has been researched for years all over the world, is that everything that we can do today is primarily based on what we say to ourself about ourself, today. Now, notice I’m emphasizing the word today, when he suggested this, in his little book, psychology had an absolute conniption fit, they said, “No, no, no, no, no, no, no.”

The way we are today is based in our childhood, and unresolved childhood conflicts, of course, that was Freudianism. That was followed by behaviorism, Dr. BF Skinner from Harvard, who said, “No, no, no. The way we are today, it’s all cause and effect.” That was followed by, “It’s all in your genes.” Which is wrong because we’re far more than our genes. That was followed by environmentalism, it’s in your environment, your birther, your mom, your dad. And Dr. Ellis came back and he said something really interesting, he said, “You know what? They’re all true.” Wait a minute. How could they all be true? Here’s the point, when you say it, your brain’s job is to make true.

So, I think one of the most exciting discoveries that psychology has made is that our brain believes what we tell it, without question, no arguments. So, when I give my presentations to people, I like to always give personal stories because that’s what makes it real. So, let me share a little story that illustrates this. For the first 42 years of my life, I said to myself, “I am really dumb at math.” And guess what? I was because that what I said to myself, I’d see numbers, I would freak out. But then in the ’70s I began discovering computers and I began tinkering around with computers and eventually got a graduate degree in computer science and began teaching computer courses. And one day the dean came in the office at this one university, he said, “One of our math professors just quit, so you are our new math professor.”

“No, I can’t.” He said, “Do you want a job? Learn. There’s the book. Next semester.” Well, I needed the job, Ned, so picked up all the books I could on brain-based learning from my library. And I taught my curriculum based on how the brain learns. And students began saying, “Oh my gosh, Mr. Campbell, you are such a good math teacher.” And then, the Dean said, “All the students saying, ‘I will only take math if Mr.Campbell’s my professor.'” And here’s what I began doing, Ned. I began listening to what they were saying to me rather than what I’ve been saying to myself for 42 years. And I began saying, “You know what? I’m really good at math. This is really fun. I’m having a good time with this.” And what did my brain say? “Oh, okay. Is it true? Don’t care. All I care is what you tell me. You say it. I believe it.”

And I began enjoying math so much I eventually ended up writing two college textbooks. In what do you think? Math and computer science. So, here’s the point, everything we can do today is primarily based on what we say to ourself about ourself, today. We can change what we are saying to ourself about ourself, when? Today. And what will our brain say? “Okay. Is it true Don’t care. All I care is what you tell me.” When I began learning that, things began changing in my life, in my wife’s life and then eventually in our daughter’s lives and in my students’ lives. So, the first point is that our brain believes what you tell it, which is scary and wonderful. The scary part is when you’d say, “Oh my gosh, I’m so dumb for doing this.” You know what our brain says to that?

“Okay. Yeah, you’re right. You really are.” And then what it does is it looks for other ways in which we did bad things and makes us feel dumb. But the wonderful part is when you say, “You know what, that was really dumb, but that doesn’t mean I’m dumb.” Brain says what? “Oh, okay.” And then it looks for ways in which I’m really intelligent. When I say, “I can do it.” The brain says, “Absolutely.” And it becomes obsessed with finding ways of doing it. So, the first principle is that we are in charge. Our brain’s listening to us. People say, “Well, what about what other people say to us?” Listen, what other people say to us do not become a part of our mindset until we agree with them.

I’m a first year Baby Boomer, born in 1947, I was taught that you have a self-image that you have to maintain and flourish and all that. It turns out that’s only partially true. It turns out that we now know that we have millions of self-images. You have a self-image for every single thing that you do. I have a self-image for every single thing that I do. So, I have a self-image of how I see myself as a father, as a husband, as a grandfather, as a teacher, as a singer, as all this. So, I have all these self-images. In fact, I have a self-image for every meal that I cook. So, I cook really good scrambled eggs and horrible poached eggs. What’s the point? Well, if I kept two self-images for just two meals that I cook, you can imagine how many self-images that you have. Some of them are really strong and others are not, but here’s the point. Those self-images are learned. You were not born with them.

Now, all of us were born with certain natural dispositions. I was born a natural teacher. I’ve always been a teacher. When I was a kid, I used to put rocks in my backyard to pretend that I was teaching them. I mean, I was a weird kid, but we all have these natural dispositions. I don’t know you too well, Ned, but you have these natural things that you just love doing. It’s just a natural thing. Now, you had to learn how to do it, but the learning wasn’t hard because it was what you were doing naturally. So, our self-images are learned. Now, here’s where it gets exciting. Our self-images are learned from our self-talk. Our self images are based on what we are saying to ourself about ourself, today. Now, why is that so scary? Because according to your Shad Helmstetter in his wonderful book, What We Say When We Talk to Ourself, most of what we say to ourself is negative.

Also, what we say to ourself, I call the negative crap, because our brain’s believing it. And here’s what’s scary, we keep saying it and our brain rewires itself, this is called neuroplasticity. There’s a wonderful book by Eric Kandel called In Search of Memory, which I highly recommend people read if they’re interested in this. Neuroplasticity is basically the fact that our brain rewires itself and it’s doing that right now. And so, when you give yourself messages like, “I’m really dumb.” The brain rewires itself and makes you dumb, but when you give yourself [inaudible 00:09:02] messages, the brain rewire itself, and those messages not only become a part of what you think, they become your mindset and then they become who you are.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Why do people say these negative things to themselves?

Steven Campbell:

It’s what we do. When people become aware of the negative stuff they’re telling themselves, they hold themselves back and they say, “Wait a minute. I don’t think so.” So, when I began saying to myself about the math stuff, “Wait a minute, I’m really smart in this.” The brain says, “Yes, you absolutely are.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Steven, Steven, come on, I have to just gently challenge a little bit here because nobody would want to be dumb at math. So, why would someone say, “I’m bad at math.”?

Steven Campbell:

I was bad at math is because of the way I was raised. It’s the way I thought about myself. I was raised in a family where I always just felt … I was raised feeling really, really dumb.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Okay. But if it were as simple as saying, “Oh, I’m really smart.” Then you on the spot become smart. I mean-

Steven Campbell:

Yes, it goes more than that.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Okay. Or to say, “Oh, I’m good at math.” Then we could just fire all the tutors and the special educators and just have a course in saying, “I’m good at math.” And suddenly everyone would be good at math.

Steven Campbell:

Yeah. As you noticed, it’s not that easy, but to start-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Well, see, that’s what I’m saying. You make it sound as if it is. I mean, our brain believes what we say to ourselves, all we have to do is change what we say to ourselves and suddenly it’ll change?

Steven Campbell:

That’s where it starts. It starts with changing what we’re saying to ourself about ourself. Is it easy? Of course not.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Well, so that’s what I’m getting at. What makes it hard?

Steven Campbell:

Let me talk a little bit about self-image, a little bit more, I think that will answer your question. Our self-images are learned, which means they’re hardwired into our brain. They’re really, really hard to change because you’ve been saying these things to your life, some of these negative things all your life, and they’re hardwired in there.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

But Steven, you just said a little while ago, your brain believes what you tell it. Well, if that’s true, then why can’t you just tell it, “I’m good at math.” And on the spot become good at math.

Steven Campbell:

You can, but it’s going to fight you tooth and nail in the beginning.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

So, it doesn’t believe what you tell it, in other words?

Steven Campbell:

It does believe. But when I began teaching the math, I discovered that it was really fun. If I just said, “I’m good at math.” And stopped there, this never would have happened.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Okay. So, you had to do something, Steven, you had to do something to prove to yourself that you were good at math? It wasn’t enough just to say, “I’m good at math.”

Steven Campbell:

Oh, no. No.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Okay. So, that’s a far cry from what you said at first, at first you said, “Brain believes whatever you tell it.” But then as you tell your story, no, you had to prove to yourself you were good at math and then your brain believed it.

Steven Campbell:

Yes. Absolutely. But it had to start with a change of what I was saying to myself. If I had said to that professor, “I’m just dumb in math, I can’t do it.” It would have stopped there. I said, “No, I’ve got to teach this class.” And then, I began looking at how the brain thought and I began teaching the class. And that’s when I said, “This is really fun. I can do this.” And the more I did it, the more the math became easier and easier, and really fun, but it starts with what I was saying to myself. And then, when I began teaching it and my brain rewired itself, it became easier and easier.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

But I’m sorry, again, but I just have to push back a little bit. It didn’t start with what you were saying to yourself. It started by you’re accepting a challenge out of necessity because you needed the job.

Steven Campbell:

Yes.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Okay. So, you were still saying to yourself, “Holy bleep, I’m bad at math, but I got to get good at math. And how am I going to do that?” And then you set about accepting the challenge and lo and behold, you were much better than you had thought. So, you proved to yourself that, in fact, you had talent that you didn’t know you had.

Steven Campbell:

That’s right. That’s right. But it started with the decision to accept that challenge. I could have said, “I just can’t do it. I just cannot do it, and you got to get someone else.” Or it says, “You know what? I’ve got to do this and I’m going to.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yeah. So, you have grit. You have the ability to dig in, even when you think you’re at a disadvantage.

Steven Campbell:

That’s right. But it began with that decision, “I’m going to do this, I’m doing this.” And then when I began doing it, I discovered it was really easy and really fun. Does that make sense?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yeah, it does, but I’m glad to get it clarified. So, you’re not saying it’s as easy as saying,” Oh, I’m good at math.” And then, suddenly your brain will believe that?

Steven Campbell:

No, because I had been saying that stuff to myself for 42 years. It was when I began teaching it and I began seeing the responses from the students that I began saying, “Wait a minute, this isn’t bad at all. I’m having a really good time with this.” And then, when I began realizing I could write a book on this, it all validated it. But in the beginning it was hard and I had to make that decision, “All right, I’m really stupid in math, but I need this job, so I’m going to accept the challenge.” And at first it was difficult, but it became easier and easier.

[SPONSOR BREAK]

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

All right. Well, if you’ve been listening to the podcast regularly, you probably know that I’ve been taking a new supplement for the past couple of months and it’s called OmegaBrite CBD. OmegaBrite CBD is created by the estimable Dr. Carol Locke and her wonderful company OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. Carol and her team have set the standards for purity, safety and efficacy in the wild world of CBD. And have brought the same commitment to excellence to their new CBD supplement. What does it help me with? Well, I am less anxious since starting to take it. I’m getting better sleep and I am more focused on what I really want to be doing. Shop OmegaBrite CBD online at omegabritewellness.com. Distraction listeners save 20% on their first order with the promo code PODCAST2020. This is Dr. Ned Hallowell. Strongly recommend you try OmegaBrite CBD.

[SPONSOR BREAK END]

Steven Campbell:

I guess, that’s the point that I’m trying to make here. That it starts with, oftentimes, a decision that I can do it. Does that make sense?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Of course. I guess, the obvious question is why doesn’t everyone decide, “I can do it.”?

Steven Campbell:

Well, that’s a really good question and I don’t have the complete answer to that.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

It’s just it’s such an interesting question. I mean, when I was in the 12th grade, I wrote a three-page short story in September and I handed it in and my teacher handed it back with a note at the bottom that said, “Why don’t you turn this into a novel?”

Steven Campbell:

Oh my gosh.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

And I said, “I knew this was a tough school, but I didn’t know I had to write a novel.” Well, I didn’t have to. And I was the only one, I was the only student he challenged to do that. And he said, “You know it’ll have to be on your time and you won’t get any credit for it, but I think you ought to try and do it.” And for some reason, I took up the challenge. And by the end of the year, I’d written a novel and it won the English prize and it changed my life forever because what it did was it got me to prove to myself that I could do something that I would have thought was impossible. If you told me at the beginning of the year, “You’ll write a novel.” I would have said, “Yeah, sure, and I’ll fly to the moon.”

But, the genius of this teacher was laying down that challenge in such a way that I accepted it. And to me, that’s what great teaching is. It’s getting people to prove to themselves they can do more than they thought they could do. But it was where that impulse comes from to say yes to the challenge, as opposed to say no. Well, in your case, you say it came from necessity. You had to have the job. In my case, I don’t know where it came from because I certainly didn’t believe I could do it. I suppose it was the triumph of hope over experience.

Steven Campbell:

That story just illustrates everything I’ve been saying. It started with the suggestion from your teacher and you had to decide, “I’m going to write this novel.” And your brain said, “Yes, you can.” And more you wrote it, I bet the more you enjoyed it because you were saying to yourself, “You know what? This is working.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

No, it was always difficult. Writing is difficult. I can’t say it became easy, but it became magnetic. I looked forward to doing it, I suppose, in the way someone looks forward to going to the weight room or something. I looked forward to the pain because it was in the service of trying to create something good. Yeah.

Steven Campbell:

And what happened is your brain was rewiring itself and it became a writer. You became a writer. Yeah. And that’s what’s wonderful about this. So, here’s what I tell my audiences at the end of every presentation I make, I want to give you two new ways of thinking. One, when you do something really well, one, when you do something really badly and the first one is from Stanford University, back in 1975 called the Effort Effect. What they discovered is that most of us pass over our successes way too quickly, too lightly, for them to ever become a part of who we are. So, oftentimes when people say to us, “Good job, I’m so proud of you.” Oftentimes many of us, not all of us, but many of us say, “Oh, not really. Oh, that’s embarrassing. That’s egotistical. Thank you very much. I could have done a better job. I was part of a team.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yes. It’s so true.

Steven Campbell:

“Well, no, no, not really.” Well, this comes back to the brain believes what you tell it. When you say, “No, no, no, really, not really.” The brain’s believing that, the brain says, “Yeah, you’re right, you’re right, you’re right, you’re right, you’re right.” So, what I tell people is this, “When people stop to say, ‘Good job.’ you look at them and you say, ‘Thank you for telling me that.'” And then you wallow in your success like a pig in slop. I love the work of Dr. E.P. Seligman out of University of Pennsylvania, who was one of the authors of Positive Psychology. I taught this to around 300 Kaiser physicians, a number of years ago, down in Los Angeles. And when I said, “Wallow in your success.” The whole audience just broke up and laughed at the thought of that, but they loved what I was saying. They just loved it.

And when I was driving back to LAX, I was so excited I almost drove off the freeway. And so, I stopped by a Chevron, got a tuna sandwich and a Coke, and looked at myself in there. I was alone in my little rental car. I said to myself, I said, “You are the most amazing speaker.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

So, in some ways, you’re repositioning Norman Vincent Peale.

Steven Campbell:

Yes.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

It’s the power of positive thinking.

Steven Campbell:

That’s right.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

What you’re saying is absolutely true. It’s just, I think the hard part for most people, the brain is a tough sell. I disagree with you-

Steven Campbell:

Yes, it is.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

… that your brain believes what you tell it. You have to really persist in telling it, but if you do, it’s a really worthwhile effort because you can change from being someone who completely doubts everything you do, to someone who has confidence.

Steven Campbell:

Absolutely. I have a wonderful virtual workshop that I’m doing, that I’m offering at a tremendous discount. It’s normally $297, I’m offering it for a $248 discount. It’s what I call my COVID discount. And it is nine separate presentations, including a workbook that you can watch anytime you want to. And the website address is stevenrcampbell.teachable.com.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

So, stevenrcapmbell.teachable.com.

Steven Campbell:

Yes. And go on there and write the discount code COVID49 and that will give you a $248 discount. So, the end price is $49.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

And what is in the workshop?

Steven Campbell:

Workshop is basically the contents of my book. And it’s nine sessions that covers everything from self-images to goals, to affirmations, to why affirmations do not work, to affirmations why they can work and then it gets into feelings. So, it goes into all of it and people have really enjoyed it. And then, my book, Making Your Mind Magnificent, is on Amazon.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Wonderful. Well, you’re a very wonderfully accomplished and wise man. I really appreciate your joining us. So, thank you so much to Steven Campbell for joining us and to learn more about his virtual workshop, Flourishing in These Unprecedented Times, go to stevenrcampbell.teachable.com, enter the code COVID49, or get his book, Making Your Mind Magnificent. And remember, please, to reach out to us. We love hearing from you. Send a voice memo or an email to [email protected] That’s [email protected].

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is the wonderful Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer and editor is the irrepressibly delightful and brilliant Pat Keogh. This is Dr. Ned Hallowell saying goodbye for today.

The episode of Distraction you just heard was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third-party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com.

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5 Tips for Parenting in a Pandemic

5 Tips for Parenting in a Pandemic

Parents of children with ADHD we are thinking of you! Dr. Hallowell offers five ways to help you manage your kids while quarantined. These are simple things everyone can employ– like having set breakfast, lunch and dinner times. And they’ll work even if your kids don’t have ADHD.
As you’ll hear, structure plays a key role!
What are you doing to stay sane? Share your thoughts with us! Write an email or record a voice memo and send it to [email protected].

Learn more about our newest sponsor, OmegaBrite CBD! Dr. Hallowell takes the supplement every day because it’s safe, 3rd party tested, and it works. Shop OmegaBrite CBD online at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Do you know a high school or college student with ADHD or other learning difference? Tell them about our sponsor, Landmark College, in Putney, Vermont. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently. Find out more HERE.

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin (@sarahguertin) and our recording engineer/editor is Pat Keogh.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode can be found below.


Dr. Hallowell:

This episode of Distraction is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe third party tested and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com.

And by Landmark College offering comprehensive support for students with ADHD and other learning differences. Learn more at lcdistraction.org. Landmark College, the college of choice for students who learn differently.

Hello, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell with a mini episode of Distraction. Each week we’ve been putting out what we’re calling a mental health check during this pandemic. And today I’d like to address the specifically people at home with children who have ADHD, which I have myself. And give sort of a overview of the issue and then a few little tips that might be helpful to you.

You know people with ADD, we are born renegades. We like to run wild and run free. We are open prairie people. So our idea of hell is being cooped up, stuck in one place. Reined in. We hate rules. We hate being told what to do. The best way to get us not to do something is to tell us to do it.

So now, we’ve got this total terrible situation where we all have to stay indoors and we all have to play by really tough rules of not interacting, not going out and being cooped up. And so, the people with ADD particularly, nobody likes it, but people with ADD hate it. It pushes all of our buttons.

So the first tip if you will, is just to recognize that fact. If you have ADD, if your kids have ADD and you’re having to shelter at home, just be aware that that is a setup. That is a setup for all kinds of conflict, for anger, for tantrums, for breaking rules, for busting out. And try to acknowledge that amongst each other. Say, “This is real stressful for us,” and don’t be surprised when fires break out so to speak, when tempers flare.

So other than recognizing it, which is a big deal. Once you recognize something and name it, it’s a lot easier to deal with. It doesn’t mean it’s easy, but it’s easier. One really good tip is to structure your day. People with ADD need structure. We bristle at it, we push back at it, but we really want it.

Structure is like the walls of the bobsled ride. You know my analogy for ADD, a Ferrari brain with bicycle brakes. Well, structure strengthens brakes. And structure, contrary to popular belief, potentiates, enhances creativity. Far from repressing it, structure enables creativity.

And my two favorite examples are Shakespeare and Mozart. Shakespeare wrote everything in iambic pentameter. Bu-ba-bu-ba-bu-ba-bu-ba. All of his stories, iambic pentameter, blank verse, very structured. And yet within that structure he created infinite variety, the most beautiful poetry that’s ever been written in English.

And Mozart, the same with music. He wrote within very tight forms, very tight forms. But within that tightness he created unbelievable beauty and variety. So think Shakespeare, think Mozart when you’re creating structure. You’re not being a repressive schoolmarm at all. Without structure you have chaos. With structure you have potentially beauty, but certainly your chances at harmony, living at home, sheltering at home, are much greater.

So what do I mean by structure? Have a schedule, have a breakfast time, lunch time, dinner time. Have a project. Okay, your project Joey is to design the house you’d like to live in when you get to be 30 years old. Draw it on a piece of paper. And Sally, your project is to call grandma and grandpa and get their life story and start a grandparent book. And your project is to make sandwiches for lunch.

I mean give everybody a project. Or even better, let them design their own project. So the projects can be you make up your own or mom and dad will give you one. Either way but have them have a project, have them have a structure and have them have goals for the day. Structure is really, really important.

Another little tip is to have games. This is a great time for games, board games, charades, hide and seek around the house, have games. Games are also, it’s a kind of a project. And it engages the imagination, which is what you want to do.

A third tip is to allow for space. If you live in a place that’s big enough, try to let people go off into corners by themselves. This is not the time to force togetherness. This is the time to give permission for people to go off to their room, lie on their bed, read a book, veg out, what have you. Because that togetherness, you can reach a critical mass and the next thing you know you’re fighting with each other.

And then finally, expectations. Try to manage your expectations. So, you anticipate there will be conflict. And you anticipate, what Ross Greene calls, collaborative problem solving. Instead of issuing orders, you issue alternatives. Try this, that, or the other thing, and work out the differences that way.

So those five suggestions, add structure, play games, allow for space, create projects for everybody every day and manage your expectations so they’re in some concordance with reality and reasonable expectations. It’s a hard time, but it can also be memorable in a good way of closeness and learning how to get along during periods of stress.

That’s it for this mini episode. Before I go, I’d just like to thank our sponsor, our wonderful, wonderful sponsor, OmegaBrite CBD. That’s OmegaBrite, O-M-E-G-A-B-R-I-T-E, intentionally misspelled. I take it every day along with their Omega-3 fatty acid supplement and I highly recommend them both. OmegaBrite CBD, was formulated by Dr. Carol Locke of Harvard Medical School. And her company OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years.

She’s really a remarkable woman and the work she’s done is truly outstanding. All our products are safe, third party tested and they work. I can tell you, I take them as does my wife as well. Please help support our podcast and check out OmegaBrite CBD online at omegabritewellness.com.

Okay. Remember to reach out to us with your comments and questions. We need them. We love them, we grow from them. They’re our mother’s milk. Reach out to us please with your comments and questions and thank you to those who have been sending in emails. We just love them. You have no idea how our eyes light up when we see a new email from you guys. We truly mean that. We love hearing from you.

If you have a question, a comment, or a show idea, anything, try recording your thoughts as a voice memo on your phone and then email the file to us at [email protected]. We really will absolutely read them all and mull them over and very likely do what you suggest. Unless your suggestion is for us to go jump in the lake. Well, maybe we’d do that when it gets warmer.

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media and our recording engineer is the amazingly talented Pat Keogh. Our producer is the also amazingly talented, delightful Mary Poppins-esque, as I love to call her, Sarah Guertin. I am Dr. Ned Hallowell and thank you, thank you, thank you so much for listening.

The episode of Distraction you just heard was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe third party tested and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com.

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The Side Effects Of Our “New Normal”

The Side Effects Of Our “New Normal”

Now that the novelty of living life in a pandemic has worn off, we’re finding ourselves feeling more tired, sad and on-edge. But that’s totally normal under the circumstances. Dr. H opens up about how he’s been feeling lately and asks listeners to do the same.

We will all get through this together! Let us know how you’re holding up. Share your thoughts with us by sending an email or voice memo to [email protected].

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin (@sarahguertin) and our recording engineer/editor is Pat Keogh.

Learn more about our newest sponsor, OmegaBrite CBD! Dr. Hallowell takes the supplement every day because it’s safe, 3rd party tested, and it works. Shop OmegaBrite CBD online at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Do you know a high school or college student with ADHD or other learning difference? Tell them about our sponsor, Landmark College, in Putney, Vermont. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently. Find out more HERE.

Listen to this episode!

Or if you prefer, a transcript of this episode can be found below.


Dr. Hallowell: This episode of Distraction is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega three supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD safe third-party tested and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com. And by Landmark College, offering comprehensive support for students with ADHD and other learning differences. Learn more at lcdistraction.org. Landmark College, the college of choice for students who learn differently.

Hello, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell, with a mini episode of Distraction. As you know, during this pandemic, we’ve been every week giving a what we’re calling a mental health check-in, and this is number six. What I thought I’d talk about today was prompted by our producer, Sarah Guertin, who said, “We’ve been doing this long enough now that the novelty has worn off.” We’re settling into the reality of shelter-at-home and now whatever that means where you are, it means different things for different people in different places.

But for most of us, it’s a radical change from what we’re customarily doing every day. Puts us at home, most of us for most of the time, with limited access to the outside world and that is having interesting effects. I mean, I can tell you personally, I feel more tired every day than I’m accustomed to feeling. I am seeing patients, but all over Zoom or virtual. So I’m not seeing any patients face-to-face. And I do go into my office some days and I see the support staff there, we are essential and they are not infected. So I have some human contact there.

But other than my wife, I don’t mean other than, I mean she’s the center of it all, but it’s nowhere near the person-to-person contact that I used to have. And I really do believe that takes a toll. I talk all the time about vitamin C, vitamin connect, it’s real. And I think if there’s a precipitous decline in the number of living human beings that you come into contact with every day, every week, it drains you. And I think that’s why I’m more tired. I think I haven’t been getting the dose of vitamin connect that I need. I mean, I tried to get it with email and of course my Zoom sessions with my patients and time with my wife and all that.

But I just think the fatigue I’m feeling, and I think it’s because I’m not getting the people that I need in my day. And I’m talking about people at the gas station or people at whatever markets I might go to, not to mention my patients and my friends and the Tuesday afternoon when I’d play squash and go up for a beer with my friend after it. All of that, none of that’s happening.

And I think it’s tiring because of what we’re not getting. I’m not working any harder. I’m seeing roughly the same amount of patients. I’m working on my book roughly the same amount. I think it’s the withdrawal of that vitamin connect that, you can still get it online virtually, but it’s not the same. And there is something about what I call the human moment to be distinguished from the electronic moment, that is just very powerful. And I believe we’re seeing it up close and personal now, how powerful the human moment is and how much we do need each other in person face-to-face.

Now I’m not saying run out and break the protocol and break the rules. Please don’t. We don’t want to have a resurgence of the pandemic. We don’t want to have phase two be worse than phase one. I’m just saying that I think we’re paying maybe an unanticipated price when we give one another up. As much as we complain about each other, as much as we complain about traffic and crowds and crowded supermarket aisles and crowded schools, crowded school meetings, crowded churches, crowded synagogues, I think we need those crowds in some very real and visceral way that we’re discovering now.

I don’t know about you, but I am pretty sure it’s happening to a lot of people, where you just feel more tired because you’re not getting the invigorating effect that person-to-person contact has ,that what I call vitamin connect. And I’m telling you, it’s as important if not more important, in fact, I know what’s more important, than ascorbic acid. We don’t have a name for it, the deficiency, like we do with scurvy when you don’t get enough vitamin C, but we ought to name whatever, this is, not enough of the human moment, not enough of vitamin connect.

It’s tiring, mildly depressing. It’s not depression per se, but it’s a life without that zip, that zest that you get from the smile of the person you’re seeing across the table from you, from the energy you feel in the restaurant or the bar or the barbershop, the hair salon. I don’t know where I’m going to get my hair cut now. Or the street is empty, all of that. All of that that we get from being close to living people. And as I said, as annoying as it can be, I think we’re now seeing how vital it is in terms of our energy, wellbeing, joie de vivre, elan vital, call it whatever you want.

I think we’re really discovering how much we need each other in physical being, present with one another. We’ll get it back, don’t worry. But I think it is a time where we’re discovering the interpersonal force that we don’t have a name for, but how fortifying it is for us and how much we miss it now that we don’t have it.

Well, let me know if that resonates with you all. I’d love to hear your opinion because this is something that I’ve just been thinking about. I’d love to hear your opinion. If you identify with that, please let us know. Send us a note at [email protected]. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, and meanwhile stay connected safely, as best you can, and look forward to the day when we can once again meet in person. With all best wishes, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell for Distraction.

Well, since we’re all kind of stressed out these days with the pandemic and the uncertainty that comes with it, I’d like to tell you about a new product that I’ve started taking myself. It’s manufactured by the people who make OmegaBrite Omega-3 supplements. They’ve been around for some 20 years and I take that product myself, as does my wife.

Well, their new product, OmegaBrite CBD, is really terrific. I’ve been taking it for about a month now and it does create a feeling of calm without being sedating. It’s a really good natural anxiety reducer. I recommend it to you. Try it and see for yourself. Go to omegabritewellness.com and order OmegaBrite CBD. Okay, go get it.

Distraction is a project of Sounds Great Media. The podcast is recorded and edited by the marvelously talented Pat Keogh. And our producer is the extraordinarily talented Sarah Guertin.

The episode of Distraction you just heard was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe third-party tested and it works. Shop online at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

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Your ADHD Questions Answered

Your ADHD Questions Answered

Not everyone sees their ADHD as a gift, as one listener wrote in a recent email. Dr. H responds and covers a lot of other ground answering your questions about ADHD and medication, depression, anxiety, struggles with executive function skills and more. Thank you to our listeners who sent in emails for this episode!

Watch A Stressful Simulation of ADHD by Gabrian Raphael, a Landmark College student, HERE.

Dr. H loves answering your questions so please keep ’em coming! Write an email, or record a message using the voice memo app on your phone and send it to [email protected]

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin (@sarahguertin) and our recording engineer/editor is Pat Keogh.

Learn more about our newest sponsor, OmegaBrite CBD! Dr. Hallowell takes the supplement every day because it’s safe, 3rd party tested, and it works. Shop OmegaBrite CBD online at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Do you know a high school or college student with ADHD or other learning difference? Tell them about our sponsor, Landmark College, in Putney, Vermont. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently. Find out more HERE.

Check out this episode!

Or if you prefer, a transcript of this episode is below:

Dr. Hallowell:

This episode of Distraction is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number-one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD; safe, third-party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com. And by Landmark College, offering comprehensive support for students with ADHD and other learning differences. Learn more at lcdistraction.org. Landmark College, the college of choice for students who learn differently.

Dr. Hallowell:

Hello, and welcome to Distraction. I’m your host, Dr. Ned Hallowell. We’ve got one of my favorite activities lined up for today’s episode, listener email. And I do love it so much. Please, keep feeding us emails. Email to us at [email protected]. We’ll read it on the air, and I will do my best to answer it. And by the way, I don’t read these in advance, so what you get is spontaneous, off the cuff, which is the best way for me. And we’re going to do it this time, instead of me reading the question, my wonderful producer, Sarah Guertin, will read the question. I will do my best to listen to it without daydreaming. And then I will try to focus down and give you my version of an answer. All right, the wonderful Sarah is joining me now. She will be reading your emails. Let’s dive in. What’s the first question?

Sarah Guertin:

Okay. We’ve got some great emails. The first one was a lengthy one, so I’m going to abbreviate it. But the listener wrote in part, “Dear Dr. Hallowell. I take medication for major depression and anxiety. 16 years ago at aged 43, I was also diagnosed with ADD and started on Adderall. I see a therapist every other week when I hear you and others say, what a gift our ADD is, I don’t understand. I get so angry, and then so sad, and depressed. ADD has been nothing but a curse for me. It is the reason my administrators forced me out of my teaching position four and a half years ago. The harder I tried to do my job, the higher my anxiety level rose. I couldn’t think straight. I made mistakes. I couldn’t remember the questions I had planned, find the media clip I had set on the computer, or meet deadlines. It’s February, 2020 and I am still unemployed. I’ve done a lot of research and I want to start my own small business as an artist and fine art photographer. I have so much information, but I don’t know how or where to start. This is where my ADD really hurts. The lack of executive function skills. I’m sorry, I just don’t see how something that puts so many roadblocks in the way, can be a gift. Sincerely, Catherine.”

Dr. Hallowell:

Well, Catherine you’re absolutely right. This condition can be a terrible curse. And I’ve had people say to me, “Gee, if ADD is such a gift, where do I return it?” And if you can’t manage the ADD properly, it is indeed a curse. And Russell Barkley has shown that, it’s one of the most disabling of all conditions there is. And his calculations, just actuarial tables show that it can knock around 15 years off a person’s life. Hardly a gift, if it’s getting you fired from jobs, and breaking up relationships, and landing you into debt if not bankruptcy, and leading you to drug abuse, and traffic accidents, and criminal behavior, and unemployment. The list goes on and on of every bad thing. Pretty much every bad thing is higher in the world of ADHD.

So for anyone who thinks that I call it a gift, I don’t. I qualify it. I say my job is to help you unwrap your gift, turn this condition into an asset. With no guidance or intervention that can be difficult, if not impossible to do. And Catherine, you’ve found that it’s impossible. Not for one of effort. And the thing is, you can’t overpower this condition. You can’t just effort your way through it. You do need special help. And I don’t know what kind of help you got, but obviously whatever it was didn’t work.

Dr. Hallowell:

The key elements of a plan that stands the best chance of working are number one, education. And of course, I recommend my books. Delivered From Distraction is the most recent, and it has all in it that you possibly need to know. Medication, which works about 80% of the time. 20% of the time it does not work. In my own case, it does not work. My medication is caffeine, which is a good second choice. But prescription stimulant medication can be a godsend if you give it a try, and work with a doctor who knows what he or she is doing. So you can get on the various combinations or single-dose medications that are out there. We have quite a few now. So it’s not just a matter of trying one and then giving up on it. And then working with a coach. I don’t know what you’re doing with your therapist, but I think if you can afford it, add to that a coach which can be more important than a therapist. Really someone to help you organize, plan, act as your supplemental executive function. That’s the kind of team you’re looking for. And then of course, my old standby is, marry the right person, and find the right job. There’s no help that’s going to take you to where you want to get to.

So yes, I completely understand for you. This is a curse. For you the problems with executive function have been all but unovercomeable. The only hope I would say is have you gotten the right help, and have you gotten full help? It’s not just medication. It’s not just one coach or one intervention. It’s always, particularly with more difficult cases, a comprehensive plan that includes exercise, sleep, nutrition, meditation, coaching, job consideration, all of those tools in the toolbox. And then some of the new ones. We’ve talked on this podcast several times about the Zing program, and these special exercises. Now they don’t work right away. But you’re 59 years old, and it’s certainly not too late to start exercises that stimulate the cerebellum.

And if you want to learn more about that, just go to distraction.zingperformance.com. That’s another possible intervention that could unwrap the gift, as I like to say. But I truly understand. You’re feeling resentful of anyone like me who says there’s something good about this condition. It can be just a terrible thing to wrestle with, just an absolute curse. But if you follow the suggestions I’ve just made, there’s a darn good chance that you could turn it into more of a blessing than a curse.

In any case, thank you so much for writing in and please follow up. Let us know what happens as you continue to try to turn this curse into something better than that. Thank you so much, Catherine.

Sarah Guertin:

Okay. The next one, this listener wrote in part, this was another lengthy email, which we love, but we can only read part of it. Anyway, she says, “Hi, Dr. Hallowell. Just wanted to share with you this beautiful letter my daughter gave me yesterday after school. ‘To mommy. Thank you for helping me at school. It has been much easier now that I have the medication. It’s so much easier. Thank you so, so much. I had so much free time I could do this. I love you.’ With a little heart emoji. Ellie has just started grade-four this year. And wrote this on her third day on Vyvanse for ADHD. She’s finished every single piece of work since being on it and it’s neat and all right. She shot to like the top of her class. It’s completely insane. She was struggling more than I realized. I’m so glad I persisted with the whole process. The pride in her face is all I need to know I made the right decision. Thanks for all the great information and support. I have ADHD myself, so it’s rare that I feel like I’ve truly succeeded as a mom. This makes every bit of the work I’ve done to help myself and my own ADHD absolutely worth it. Kind regards, Nicole,” and she puts in parentheses currently feeling like supermom.

Dr. Hallowell:

That’s wonderful. That’s really, really wonderful And thank you so much Nicole for sending that in. So much of the publicity, what you read in the press, is about the downside of medication. And sure, that if you don’t use medication properly it can be dangerous, if not useless. But if you do use it properly then you can get the results like Ellie got and starting out fourth-grade going to the top of the class. Just imagine what a difference in how she feels about herself, about life, about school. And to get that at age, I assume she’s a nine or 10 years old, to get that so early that means you’re not getting year, after year, after year of frustration and failure. People talking about the side effects of taking medication, which you really ought to worry about are the side effects of not taking medication. Because medication properly used has no side effects other than appetite suppression without weight loss. That’s the one side effect I’ll allow. But all the other side effects can be controlled by changing the medication, or changing the dose. And if that’s not possible, you shouldn’t take the medication. You should not take the medication in the face of other side effects.

So 80% of the time that’s an achievable goal. You can get a medication regimen that produces target symptom improvement with no side effects other than appetite suppression without unwanted weight loss. And gosh, it’s a shame to see people turn away from it because of the misinformation they’ve received. If you really know the medical facts, there’s no reason not to give medication a try unless it’s against your religion. It really couldn’t be more simple. If it helps and doesn’t cause side effects, you continue it. If it doesn’t help or it does cause side effects, you discontinue it. That’s pretty simple, straightforward, applied common sense. And the reason that it really matters is, it’s by far the easiest intervention we’ve got. It makes all the other interventions, all the non-medication interventions that much simpler to implement.

And as this mom says, very beautifully and succinctly in her note, what a difference it makes for her daughter, for herself, for the family, for the school, the whole world smiles when you get a good result like this. Well, thank you Nicole. And please, you are a super mom in deed. Please, stay in touch and give us follow-up.

Dr. Hallowell:

Well, since we’re all kind of stressed out these days with the pandemic and the uncertainty that comes with it, I’d like to tell you about a new product that I’ve started taking myself. It’s manufactured by the people who make OmegaBrite, Omega-3 supplements. They’ve been around for some 20 years. And I take that product myself as does my wife. Well, their new product, OmegaBrite CBD is really terrific. I’ve been taking it for about a month now. And it does create a feeling of calm without being sedating. It’s a really good natural anxiety reducer. I recommend it to you. Try it and see for yourself. Go to Omegabritewellness.com and order OmegaBrite CBD.

Okay. Do we have another question, Sarah?

Sarah Guertin:

Yes, we do. This one says, “Hi, Dr. Hallowell. I enjoy your podcast and books, finding them very affirming and hopeful. However, I would like to hear you address the topic of children and adults of color. While ADHD is a medical condition, it has huge social and cultural implications. I’m wondering if there’s any research on specific challenges people of color face in terms of stigmatism, educational opportunities, and access to services. I’ve heard and read quite a bit about ADD/ADHD, but I’ve never heard this aspect of social justice addressed or specifically researched. Is there anyone working in this field? Thank you. Elizabeth.”

Dr. Hallowell:

Elizabeth, to tell you the truth, I don’t know. I imagine there is. I can tell you who would know for sure, Russell Barkley. And if you just Google Dr. Russell Barkley. That he’s very accessible, and would answer your question for sure. My hunch is that the same problems apply to people of color who have ADHD that apply to people of color in general; which is racism, stigmatism, things that go with the mistreatment and misunderstanding of people of color, for that matter, people of different religion, or ethnic background. ADHD itself is often a discriminating factor. I’ve spent most of my career championing ADHD as a possible asset and trying to fight the stigma that surrounds itself. So the very condition ADHD can be a source of stigma and a reduced opportunity.

So when you throw in another possible reason to be treated unfairly, with bigotry and ignorance such as being of color or of foreign origin, or of a different religion, or for that matter, a different stature, body habitus, physiognomy. Any of the ways people judge other people in a negative and unfair prejudging way. It’s hurtful, and it’s wrong, and it’s in many instances illegal. So you do even have the law on your side. But you shouldn’t have to get an attorney to get the right medical treatment. That would be a shame. I wish I could give you hard, fast statistics. But I’m pretty sure what I just speculated on is the case. And it’s up to all of us to fight stigma in all its forms, prejudice, bigotry, ignorance in all its many different forms. And certainly ADHD itself can be a reason for stigma and prejudice, just as being of a different color, a different religion, a different ethnicity, a different look, all the reasons people are excluded so unjustly and unfairly because they are often the most talented people among us. Thank you for your note, Elizabeth. Do we have another question, Sarah?

Sarah Guertin:

We do. We have a few more here. This one says, “Hello, Dr. Hallowell. I am a mom of three. And my middle child an eight-year-old boy has ADHD. This is new information for our family. And I would love to hear you speak about how to break the news to siblings about their brother having ADHD, and how that has been affecting their relationships. For years, the eldest and youngest have been forming an alliance and have excluded my middle one experiencing him as annoying, sensitive, and quote ‘disruptive.’ I am hopeful that their relationships will heal as we all come to understand ADHD better and how it has been affecting our family life. I loved your book Driven To Distraction, which saved my life as a frustrated and confused mom. Now my goal is to understand not correct. Thank you so much. Carol.”

Dr. Hallowell:

Oh, what a lovely email. And now my goal is to understand not correct. There’s a famous saying to understand all is to forgive all. And if only we could build an understanding, we could get rid of the ignorance and stigma that persists. As to how to explain it in the family. I would just sit down with everyone and block out enough time –I.E –.more than 10 minutes to explain what this is. And the analogy I use really does work well, especially for boys. Having ADHD is like having a Ferrari engine for a brain. You have a very powerful brain. But you have bicycle brakes. So you have trouble controlling the power of your brain. So you can bump into things, overturn things, misspeak, forget. But at the same time when you’re on track, you can win races. So my job as someone who helps people with this condition is to strengthen brakes.

And you can explain to your son’s sibs that they can help. And they may not want to help. They may think it’s a lame excuse. But you can tell them it is not an excuse any more than nearsightedness is an excuse for not being able to see. One of the brothers wouldn’t say, ‘Well, squint harder instead of getting eyeglasses.” Well the same with ADHD. Keep the simple, make sure they understand it’s not an excuse, but that it is a powerful explanation. Ferrari engine with bicycle brakes, race car brain with bicycle brakes. Anyone can understand that. And it happens to be very accurate. And then what you want to do is build up that understanding. So it takes repetition. Talk about it at family dinner, talk about it when your eight-year-old flubs up. Instead of saying you’re a jerk, say “No, his brakes failed him. That’s part of how he’s put together.” And we all need understanding in terms of how we’re put together. Thank you, Carol. Thank you so much for your question because it affects an awful lot of families.

Dr. Hallowell:

On the phone with me now is Gabrian Raphael, a student at Landmark College, our wonderful sponsor in beautiful Putney, Vermont. Hello Gabriel, and thank you so much for joining us.

Gabrian Raphael:

Hi Ned. How are you?

Dr. Hallowell:

I’m doing well, thanks. I want to hear you tell our listeners about your experience at Landmark.

Gabrian Raphael:

Well, before I came to Landmark, I really wished I was more normal. I didn’t have a good image of my learning difference. Coming to Landmark has done a lot to make me feel more normal, to feel intimate in detail, and on what my disability is, and how it works and how I work. And just being in this atmosphere has really helped me form a new sense of identity and just being comfortable with who I am.

Dr. Hallowell:

Wonderful. So they’ve showed you that you have talents and strengths.

Gabrian Raphael:

Yeah.

Dr. Hallowell:

That’s wonderful. And they’ve helped you tap into them.

Gabrian Raphael:

Yeah.

Dr. Hallowell:

I know firsthand how talented you are. Because I just watched a video you made about what it’s like to have ADD And it’s brilliant. It’s absolutely brilliant. It’s at the same time entertaining and chilling because you show how completely misunderstood people with ADD can be. As you’re trying to pay attention, you’re just being bombarded with stimuli and you show this in the video beautifully.

Gabrian Raphael:

Thank you.

Dr. Hallowell:

If people want to watch it, where do they go to see it?

Gabrian Raphael:

YouTube. Type in A Stressful Simulation of ADHD. My channel is my name, Gabrian Raphael.

Dr. Hallowell:

Great. Okay, so on YouTube, Gabrian Raphael. And then the title of the video is-

Gabrian Raphael:

A Stressful Simulation of ADHD.

Dr. Hallowell:

Well, it’s brilliant. And so Landmark welcomed you and showed you far from being impaired and damaged goods, that you are quite the opposite. You have super talents, and they helped you unlock them. Correct?

Gabrian Raphael:

Well, I don’t know about super talent, but yeah.

Dr. Hallowell:

Well, you see. Now you’re like most people with ADD. You’re chuckling because you’re modest, and you’re not used to hearing terms like that. But I just watched that video, and I can tell you have super talents. You just plain do. And what you got to do is learn how to metabolize that, and not think that I’m speaking Chinese. Because you do. But the talents will emerge all the more easily the less you fight it and say, “I don’t have any talent.”

Gabrian Raphael:

Okay, I’ll try that.

Dr. Hallowell:

Call me every morning and I’ll say, “Gabrian, you’re a really talented guy with super talent.” If we do that for about 45 days, you’ll start believing it.

Gabrian Raphael:

Okay.

Dr. Hallowell:

I honestly mean it. But Landmark really has opened up a whole new world for you. Is that fair to say?

Gabrian Raphael:

Yeah, it really has.

Dr. Hallowell:

And you feel more confident?

Gabrian Raphael:

Definitely. Helped me form routines and habits that just helped me grow. Like they have free exercises classes, and I go to those every week. And that’s helped me go beyond and just exercise on my own. Like just I’ve formed the habits and routines that helped me.

Dr. Hallowell:

And that’s so important for us to have ADD. I have it as well myself as you know. We really need structure in order to unwrap our gifts. Well, thank you. Thank you so much for joining me for this brief interlude. As I said, you’re a super talented guy. And Landmark College is showing you how. You listeners, if you’d like to learn more about the college of choice for students who learn differently, go to Lcdistraction.org. Now let’s get back to today’s topic.

Okay. Sarah, do we have another?

Sarah Guertin:

Yes. “Hi, Dr. Hallowell. I currently work as a learning specialist in an elementary school. I’ve recently been hearing about DNA testing to help determine the correct ADHD medication for an individual. What is your opinion on this process? Will it help eliminate the trial and error I often see my parents and students suffer through? Thank you for your response. I’ve been reading your books and following your work for over 20 years. I love listening to your podcast, and recommend it regularly to friends and parents. Warmest regards. Paula.”

Dr. Hallowell:

Thank you so much Paula. This question comes up all the time. And I have consulted, and I do regularly consult with the best experts I know, the people over at Mass General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Russ Barkley, other leading authorities. And the word I get consistently is these tests are not there yet. They’re very seductive. Wouldn’t it be nice to just pay a fee? And it’s usually between 500 and $1000 to find out what medication will work best. Unfortunately it doesn’t usually work. You pay the money and you will get some results. So it’s not going to do any harm. But those results are usually no better than you’d get by using trial and error, which is free.

Now you don’t have to suffer through trial and error. Because these meds are in and out of your system pretty quickly. So you can try four or five medications over the span of a couple of weeks, if you’re working with a doctor who can turn things around quickly. So you don’t want to make the trial and error a period of suffering. You get lucky sometimes and the first medicine you try works. And in my experience, that happens about 50% of the time. But that leaves the other 50% of the time when you go to a trial and error. And remember there are those cases where no medication is going to work.

It is true that medication is the quickest, producing the most immediate results. But over the long haul you certainly want to have a robust non-medication plan that does include education, exercise, sometimes specialized exercise, nutrition, sleep, coaching, the toolbox, the Zing program that I’ve mentioned before. All of those are possible adjuncts. So if meds don’t work, don’t despair. If you want to spend the money on this test, and if it increases your level of confidence, then go ahead. I’m not saying don’t do it. I’m just saying the people I know and trust in terms of their expert knowledge on these tests say it’s not worth it. The testing is not there yet. It may come, but we’re not there yet.

On the other hand, if you want to try it, it’s not going to do any harm. And it will give you certain medications to try first. And you may be guided by that and discover right off the bat the best medication. I’m certainly not saying don’t do it. But in terms of a cost-benefit analysis, the cost does seem to exceed the benefit. You can get the same benefit, namely finding the right medication, by trial and error.

Okay. Paula, thank you for writing in with your question. And Sarah, do we have another one?

Sarah Guertin:

Yes. This one comes all the way from Sweden.

Dr. Hallowell:

Wow.

Sarah Guertin:

Yeah, right? This says, “Dear Dr. Hallowell, I’m currently undergoing an ADHD evaluation which is, at nearly 45 years of age, a complete and utter blessing to begin to understand why my life has been the way it has imbues me with a great sense of freedom, hope, and a dawning sense of self acceptance, and ability to care for myself. The emphasis on dawning here, LOL. So I’m wondering about meditation. Is it even possible to move towards a mindful state with an ADHD brain? I find it extremely hard to be still physically with myself, you see. Not to mention my beloved racing creative brain, which is also prone to judging, focusing on achieving for others, and finding it very hard to accept all sorts of things. So I’m wondering if you know of any meditations which are specifically for people with ADHD? Any meditations in motion? I’m at my calmest when I’m moving. Or is the answer just sit with it as it were. Many thanks. YJ from Sweden.”

Dr. Hallowell:

Well, YJ? Thank you for writing in all the way from Sweden. Please tell your friends about this podcast, and tell them I’d welcome other questions from Sweden. Meditation. Yes. It’s wonderful if you’ll do it. Now, I did something called Kundalini yoga some years ago, and I found it very helpful. Kundalini yoga is what you just said, you’re in motion. You’re walking, you’re punching the air. It’s movement. And yet it is a kind of meditation. So go and read about Kundalini yoga. That is a kind of meditation that does involve moving, and moving very vigorously in fact. But at the same time, don’t give up on the sit-still-and-don’t-focus-on-anything kind of meditation. The sit still and empty your mind and imagine your mind is a river flowing by and you just watch it without interrupting and evaluating it. You know it’s not our normal state. But that doesn’t mean it’s not something we can try to do. And it is the trying to do it that confers the benefit.

You may not achieve the state of a experienced meditator or a Buddhist, but you can experience the benefit of stopping, slowing down, suspending judgment, and letting your mind flow past you as a river would flow, and perhaps focusing on the leaf, and just watching that leaf drift by and not allowing the thoughts that pester us to take you away from that leaf. And if your mind does leave the leaf, come back to it. Don’t beat yourself up for being bad at meditating. It’s a wonderful tool to use. There are apps now for meditating. You can sample those and see which work best for you. And then of course, keep in mind the possibility of Kundalini yoga. I pray in the shower. I happen to be an Episcopalian, and I have a strong sort of affinity for prayer. And so that’s my form of meditation now. I don’t do the Kundalini yoga anymore. Thank you very much for reaching out to us all the way from Sweden.

Dr. Hallowell:

And I think we have another, is that correct?

Sarah Guertin:

We do. One more. It says, “I am an adult with ADHD. I feel like I can never get on top of keeping my home clean and orderly. Do you have any suggestions? What works for you? Tina.”

Dr. Hallowell:

Well, Tina. This is a common issue. And my reply is to try to change your expectations. What you want to do is not aspire to be Martha Stewart. You don’t want to aspire to have House Beautiful. You don’t want to aspire to perfection. What you want to do is get well enough organized that disorganization does not prevent you from reaching your goals. That’s it. And if you can’t do that, then hire a coach. There are any number of coaches who will come into your home and just give you some tips on how to straighten things out and keep them that way. Again, the goal is not to be a perfect office, not to be completely spiffy and spit polished and that kind of thing. But rather to be well enough organized so the disorganization does not keep you from reaching your goals. That, for almost all of us, is an achievable end. Thank you, Tina. Thank you for writing in. That’s a really eternal question in the world of ADHD. And I think the answer I gave you is the best one that I’ve come up with over my many years.

Well, that’s all the time we have for today. We went through quite a few questions. I love going through questions. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for sending those questions in. And please, if you have a question or comment for me or for anyone else on our team, record a voice memo on your phone, or write an email and send it to us at [email protected]. We will try to answer as many as we can. And as you saw today, it’s a wonderful way of staying in touch with the show and us staying in touch with you.

Well, that’s it. I’m Dr. Ned Hallowell. Thank you so, so much for listening. Distraction is a production of the marvelous Sounds Great Media. Our producer is the oh so marvelous and fantastic Sarah Guertin, and our recording engineer and editor is the princely and brilliant Pat Keogh.

The episode of Distraction you just heard was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number-one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD; safe, third-party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com.

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Managing Relationship Stress During the Pandemic

Managing Relationship Stress During the Pandemic

Living in quarantine with your significant other isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. Some days or moments can be really tough. Our host’s wife, Sue Hallowell, LICSW, joins Ned for a conversation about the ups and downs of married life when neither partner can leave the house. They share some real examples of the struggles they’ve encountered over the past few weeks, and offer ideas on how to manage parenting, jobs, and relationships when you’re stressed to the max.

Reach out to us! Write an email, or record a message using the voice memo app on your phone and send it to [email protected]

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin (@sarahguertin) and our recording engineer/editor is Pat Keogh.

Learn more about our newest sponsor, OmegaBrite CBD! Dr. Hallowell takes the supplement every day because it’s safe, 3rd party tested, and it works. Shop OmegaBrite CBD online at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Do you know a high school or college student with ADHD or other learning difference? Tell them about our sponsor, Landmark College, in Putney, Vermont. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently. Find out more HERE.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below:

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

This episode of Distraction is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com. And by Landmark College, offering comprehensive support for students with ADHD and other learning differences. Learn more at lcdistraction.org. Landmark College, the college of choice for students who learn differently.

Sue Hallowell, LICSW:

You have a couple who are already struggling with day-to-day life with each other and all of a sudden they’re both trying to work from home, if they’re lucky enough to have jobs. If they have children, their children are all at home, supposedly doing their homework or we’re learning whatever they’re supposed to be learning, and you’re all trying to manage that and there’s absolutely no way to get away from each other. And so it can be a really challenging time for couples to figure out how to manage all that.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Hello, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell and welcome to Distraction. Every time I have a guest on, I always say this is a very special guest and in fact all our guests are very special, so I’m not exaggerating. But I think today’s guest does qualify as the most special guest. It’s a repeat appearance, but each time this guest comes on this guest does qualify as the most special guest we ever have on this podcast. Now who do you suppose that is?

Well, of course it’s none other than my own very special and only wife by the name of Sue Hallowell. In case you don’t know, Sue is a licensed independent clinical social worker, otherwise known as LICSW, and truly the most skilled therapist that I know. Nobody does it better than Sue when it comes to psychotherapy. She also manages this family and believe me, even though our kids have grown up and moved out, they still need managing, she manages me, which believe me, even though I’m grown up and not moved out, still need managing, and she manages the office that we have in New York City and helps out with the office in Sudbury and tonight she’s going to make a special dinner of tamales, which she already gave me the recipe for this-

Sue Hallowell, LICSW:

Enchiladas.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Enchiladas. Oh, Tamales, Enchiladas, Tacos, all the same thing. But I’m not skilled enough to know. Anyway, she and I are at home in our house in Arlington doing the quarantine thing that one is supposed to do. But I persuaded her, at the very last minute, she had no idea she was going to do this, to come on the podcast because we get feedback whenever she comes on that she is indeed the best guest that we could ever have. So, with no further ado or introduction or babbling on my part, let me introduce my wonderful wife of 31 years, mother of our three children, Sue George Hallowell.

Sue Hallowell, LICSW:

Hi, honey.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Hi, Sue. You’re down in the kitchen and I’m up on the third floor. So Sue, we agreed that we would talk about how it is to live together as a couple where one person has ADD, namely me, and the country has a pandemic of the coronavirus. Is that what we agreed to talk about?

Sue Hallowell, LICSW:

Well, or when one or both people have ADHD or couples in general. What it’s like to be together when you’re struggling already, or maybe even not struggling, and living together in this crazy time.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yes. And just so our listeners know, Sue actually does a private practice and specializes in couples therapy where one or both partners have ADD.

Sue Hallowell, LICSW:

Well, also I see other couples as well.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yes, yes, you have a veterinary practice on the side, right?

Sue Hallowell, LICSW:

No, but I do see people who don’t have ADHD, I’d just like to be clear.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yes, yes. You’re a full service general practice LICSW.

Sue Hallowell, LICSW:

Yes.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

And you see me every day.

Sue Hallowell, LICSW:

I see you every day.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

So you see individual patients as well. Somehow you keep me kicking along. So how would you like to jump in? What do you think is the greatest stress on couples now on top of the ADD with the pandemic that we’re living with?

Sue Hallowell, LICSW:

Well, I think that all of the challenging traits that we have are exacerbated when you’re living under stressful circumstances and when you can’t get away from each other, both of which are true during this pandemic. So, you have a couple who are already struggling with day to day life with each other and all of a sudden they’re both trying to work from home, if they’re lucky enough to have jobs. If they have children, their children are all at home, supposedly doing their homework or learning whatever they’re supposed to be learning. And you’re all trying to manage that and there’s absolutely no way to get away from each other and so it can be a really challenging time for couples to figure out how to manage all that.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Wouldn’t you say a first suggestion would be to reduce your expectations? It’s only normal to feel irritated and irritable and short tempered and try to cut each other some slack?

Sue Hallowell, LICSW:

I think that is clearly the number one answer. Everybody is feeling stressed and cutting expectations is really important and being kind to each other. But I think that one of the key things is that we have to reduce our personal expectations. I think that a lot of people are feeling like they have to be functioning at the same level that they always function.

Sue Hallowell, LICSW:

I think that when you have those expectations for yourself, then you are going to have those same expectations for your partner. And when that happens, tension is going to ensue. So, one of the things that we always talk about, Ned, I know one of the things that you always talked about, is good enough. And I think that during this time that has to really be the key statement.

Sue Hallowell, LICSW:

Everything has to be good enough. We can’t expect ourselves to be able to be perfect parents, perfect workers, and perfect partners at this time. Wonder if we gave ourselves permission to say, “Maybe I’m not going to be giving 100% at work.” Or, “Maybe I’m not going to be that 100% perfect parent who has their child’s day perfectly mapped out with enriching activities and no screen time.” I think that we have to give each other a break.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Okay. Hang onto that thought.

I’d like to take a moment to talk to you about a new product created by one of our sponsors, OmegaBrite, and it is their OmegaBrite CBD. I started taking it myself about a month ago and it really does make a difference in terms of creating a general feeling of calm. And it is in fact organically grown. The product was derived by careful research done by Dr. Carol Locke, who’s a Harvard Medical School graduate and faculty member.

And I know because I’ve known her for a long time, she has a true and honest commitment to excellence. Now the background of the CBD, OmegaBrite had been making the Omega-3 fatty acid product for 20 years and they had, I think, the best product in the business. And now they’re getting into CBD, which as Carol said, it’s like the West out there.

So, she wanted to do it carefully and deliberately, which she did. And they have set the standards for purity, as I said, organically grown, free of pesticides, safety, rigorous testing standards and inherence, and that’s Carol’s absolute trademark. And most important, I suppose, efficacy. Does it help? Yes, it does. I’m here to tell you, it helps. So go to OmegaBriteWellness.com and look for OmegaBrite CBD. You’ll be glad you did.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Well, you’ve been very good at giving me a break over the weekend. I was saying, “I have to work on this book cause I got to get this book done.” And you were saying, “No, you really should take a rest. You can’t push yourself too hard these days.”

Sue Hallowell, LICSW:

That’s right. That’s right. You’ve been seeing a lot of patients. You’ve been seeing so many people and working so hard and I think that when you put that kind of stress on yourself, you start to take it out on other people. I think also it’s really important for people to really acknowledge the importance of each other’s work and each other’s time, right?

Sue Hallowell, LICSW:

You really try to work out a schedule for each other that is realistic for both of you. Understanding that these children need to be taken care of, but if you’re both working, it can’t fall on one or the other. It’s going to require some kind of schedule or managing it that’ll work for both of you. Trying to take some downtime and just have fun.

I have a client who basically has been under so much stress, she has been working and then basically just wanting to go to bed because she’s so exhausted and then she lies in bed fretting and anxious and can’t sleep. I said, “Look, watch a mindless TV show. Have a glass of wine and chat with your college age adult children.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Why don’t you tell the listeners the ritual that you and I have developed after dinner?

Sue Hallowell, LICSW:

Well, we go into our living room where I’m trying to maintain six feet away from Ned at all times since I was in New York City and I’m quarantining myself. And we watch a movie every night. We alternate because in good couples practice, he likes action, adventure, and I like comedies, particularly romantic comedy, mindless things. And we’re alternating. It’s something that in our day to day life, I’m working late or he’s working late or we’re both so busy, that we often get into bed at 10:00 or 11:00 o’clock and I fall asleep immediately. But now we’re trying to set aside our evening to sit down and watch a show together, which gets our minds off of the day and all the challenges. It lets us and have fun and we’re spending some really nice time together.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

As well as arguing about the choice of movies.

Sue Hallowell, LICSW:

Well, that’s why we’re alternating.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

I liked a couple of the rom coms we watched.

Sue Hallowell, LICSW:

There you go.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

You definitely did not like one of the action adventure we watched.

Sue Hallowell, LICSW:

No, but I’ve liked some of them and that’s awesome.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yeah, and you did hang in there. You dozed off but you, you hung in there. But it’s nice just being with you and I think you don’t have to be necessarily in conversation just to be with your partner, what have you. Just the connection is good to enjoy.

Sue Hallowell, LICSW:

I think that’s exactly right. I think that’s exactly right. And getting outside. If there’s a place around you, can walk without many people, just to get some fresh air is so important. Another issue that I find that’s coming up with couples who are in the house all the time together, particularly around parenting, but other things as well, is that if they have different ways of doing things and they’re trying to share responsibilities, it’s hard not to interfere with what the other person is doing.

I had a couple the other day and when the dad is on, when he’s doing the parenting, the mom is up supposedly working, but they have different ideas about what’s important. She’s very into the child has to be on a schedule and the child has to eat vegetables and the child has to exercise and the dad thinks all that’s important too, but the kid is pretty difficult and he thinks maintaining a relationship with the kid is more important and he has to pick his battles about what he’s fighting with.

And how do you let parents, even though they’re in the same house and closer than they are at other times when you don’t see with the other parent is doing, really understand that you have to divide up those duties? And when one is on the other has to let the other one do it, whether it’s the way you would do it or not.

Giving them the autonomy even if you have to hide upstairs. There was another couple who I was talking about where the worry is, is that the mom would never be able to work because as soon as the children see her, they want mom. And these are littler kids so you’re able to do this. And there was a lot of tension developing between the couple because the mom was like, “Why can’t you just keep the kids away? I need to work too.” And the dad said, “Once they see you they don’t want to be with me and that’s a problem.”

And so the solution they came up with was the mom gets up really early before the kids, goes and hides up in her office, and doesn’t come back until 2:00 o’clock that they really feel like that she’s not there in a very different kind of way. So, it’s how can you be resilient? How can you think outside the box during this time to be able to get each other through and be supportive of each other?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

You can take care of things that maybe you’ve been putting off. Just before we came on the podcast, you and I did something that we’d been meaning to do for 20 years, namely update our wills. So, we got this attorney on the line. Last time we spoke to him was 1999 and we were sort of sheepish about it. But we slogged away at updating the will. I do think it was sort of ironic that during a pandemic we’re updating our will, but let’s hope that’s not anticipating any terrible event. But the point being you can take care of things that maybe you’ve been putting off taking care of.

Sue Hallowell, LICSW:

Well, I also think that it’s about what are your priorities, right? And thinking through what our priorities are and what’s important in life. I was in a peer supervision that I do and we were talking about what are the silver linings? When we slow down, if we give ourselves permission to slow down and not rush, maybe there are points of connection that we can make that we’re too busy to do and enjoy both ourselves and our children in a way that we normally aren’t.

Sue Hallowell, LICSW:

Getting things done we haven’t, you and I were talking about how we watch TV. I will say one of the most interesting things to me is I have seen in our neighborhood more families out walking or biking together than I think I’ve seen in my entire life.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

People of all ages.

Sue Hallowell, LICSW:

People of all ages. And I think that that’s a positive thing and really understanding, I have had some people say, “You know, we could die. People could get sick and do I really hate you as much as I think? Are you really as annoying as I think you are? What are the things that did bring us together?” And I do think that the slowing down may give us an opportunity to be able to do that.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

All right, we’re going to pause right here for just a moment.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Joining me now is Scout MacEachron, a former student at Landmark College, our wonderful sponsor in beautiful, beautiful, bucolic Putney, Vermont. So Scout, thank you for joining us for a couple of minutes. And could you please just tell us about your experience at Landmark College and why it worked for you?

Scout MacEachron:

Sure. Happy to be here. So, I attended Landmark from 2011 to 2012, I graduated with my associates degree and I ended up at Landmark after failing, for lack of a better word, out of traditional college. I’m diagnosed with ADHD and mild dyslexia and a few other learning disabilities. And yeah, regular college wasn’t working so well for me. So, I ended up at landmark where it was just unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. I was suddenly surrounded by a bunch of other kids who thought differently, like I did, and a bunch of teachers and staff who were really well equipped to be supportive in a way that I would think most traditional college professors and what have you might not be.

So, it really helps me, boosted my confidence I think would have been one of the primary, biggest things that I left Landmark with. Also just all those basic skills that might come easily to some but not all of us, like writing a college essay or managing your time outside of class. Really all of that, I found support for there and was taught how to do in a gentle but firm way and I graduated with straight A’s and went on to finish my BA and I’m at a different school in New York and yeah.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Wow. What are you doing now?

Scout MacEachron:

So, I’m a journalist. I’m a video producer for a company called Now This News.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Oh, cool. Based in New York City?

Scout MacEachron:

It is, yeah. Although I’m based in LA. We make news videos for social media.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Oh my gosh, that’s wonderful. So, Landmark really turned it around for you.

Scout MacEachron:

It really did. I went in there hating college. I’d spent some time working as a waitress and I thought I wanted to be a photographer and I really just didn’t think college was for me. But after Landmark, I just left with this whole new found sense of confidence and I actually enjoyed the things that I was learning again. And I remember reading a book for school for the first time and actually enjoying it and finishing it and not just telling my teacher I finished it. It was a great place for me.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

That’s a wonderful. I’m a huge fan. In fact, I have an honorary degree from Landmark College.

Scout MacEachron:

Oh wow, that’s neat.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

I’m a big fan of it. Well, thank you so much for sharing your story and I know firsthand that there are many, many, many more stories like yours, but there’s nothing like hearing it from the actual person.

Scout MacEachron:

Absolutely. Well, thank you for having me.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

If you’d like to learn more about the college of choice for students who learn differently, namely Landmark College in beautiful Putney, Vermont, go to lcdistraction.org. That’s Landmark College, to learn so much more, and our thanks to Scout MacEachron for so eloquently representing what Landmark College can do for you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

So, do you hate me as much as you think you do?

Sue Hallowell, LICSW:

Oh, stop.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

But I am as annoying as you think I am, I’m aware of that.

Sue Hallowell, LICSW:

You can be be annoying, and I’m sure I can be annoying too.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

No, you’re never annoying. One of the things whenever Sue and I do these podcasts together, she always wants to be sure that we don’t make it sound as if we’re the perfect couple, that we acknowledge that we do argue and can annoy one another and I think that’s true.

Sue Hallowell, LICSW:

Well, we do and I think that’s important because, again, I think the message has to be is we all have these challenges and it’s how do we manage them and how do we try to get through them in the best way we can.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

I will say, one of the advantages of having ADD is a tendency to focus and get organized in times of crisis. So, I have found myself a little bit more energized during this period, a little bit more focused than I normally am. I don’t know if you’ve noticed that.

Sue Hallowell, LICSW:

You definitely have. And that really has been interesting that you’ve been able to do that. And I think you’re right, it might be the high stimulation of it being a bit more of a crisis, because I do think that for some people with ADD, one of the challenges has been the lack of structure of being home.

Sue Hallowell, LICSW:

And I think that particularly if people … if your job is increased because of this. If you’re extremely busy, like you Ned, you’re seeing lots of patients who are very anxious and upset or I have a client who works in communications around the virus, so then I think that this sort of high stim pushing it is easy. But for some people their job, don’t have a job, or their job is much less busy because they’re working from home.

Sue Hallowell, LICSW:

And I think that that can be a challenge to figure out how to develop routines or how to develop structure if you’re not good at doing that by nature. And that, again, can cause stress between couples if one person is very structured and wants you to be more structured or if one is working very hard at their job and needs a lot more structure and you’re struggling with that lack of structure. That’s a real challenge for people.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

How do you advise people to work that out?

Sue Hallowell, LICSW:

Well, I think it’s really hard because if it’s someone without ADHD you say, “Well, develop a routine, develop a structure for yourself.” But we know that that’s not always easy for people with ADHD because they don’t have those internal structures and they really rely on external structures and they bristle when someone tries to set up a structure, I.E. their partner tries to set up some structure for them.

Sue Hallowell, LICSW:

So, this is really tough and what I really try to do with people is to help them come to grips with what they struggle with themselves. So, if I can get a person with ADHD who struggles with setting up a structure for themselves or having that internal way of setting it up, if instead of them getting angry and defensive about it or feeling criticized, if I can really help them understand that this isn’t a bad thing about them, it’s just a fact.

Sue Hallowell, LICSW:

And what kind of strategies or how can they rely on the help from others to be able to set up some kind of structures so that everybody feels better? Because I find that if you can help people take responsibility for what they do well and don’t do so well without making it such a big deal.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Or that without shame.

Sue Hallowell, LICSW:

Without shame or externalization, without blaming other people for trying to make them be something they’re not, or internal shame, then it’s easier to come up with some easy structure. It has to be a structure that can work for them. Not a structure that other people think is a way that they should be structured. And they have to also understand the impact on their partner, right.

Sue Hallowell, LICSW:

If instead of it just being a fight between the two of them, if they get to a conversation where, “Look, I know you’re not someone who easily structures yourself, but we’ve got these kids we’re having to develop some routine for. I’m trying to get my work done and it’s really hard if I don’t have your help in some sort of framework, and I then get more stressed and upset.” If it can be a conversation around impact and around what we struggle with, then you can get somewhere.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

And you mentioned earlier, make time for fun, make time for fun. You don’t think of this as being anything fun about it, but at the same time there’s no command that you have to be absolutely shut down, misery.

Sue Hallowell, LICSW:

In fact, it’s not good for you. To be shut absolutely shut down, misery. I know this sounds trendy and it’s what everybody says, but the more that you can find some ways to be grateful or my groups said today silver linings, the more that you can enjoy little moments, the better you’re going to be. Because if we get, like my client who was not allowing herself any fun, was just so pulled down by it, that doesn’t do well for anybody. It hurts her partner, it hurts her kids, and mostly it hurts herself.

Sue Hallowell, LICSW:

We have to try to push against that. And if it means that you let your children watch more TV than you normally would or play more video games so you and your partner can sit down and have a cup of tea or a glass of wine or just a few minutes to catch yourself, so be it. People are going to survive. But relationships can be damaged if you don’t take the time to try and nurture them, even in this time when it feels like there’s so much going on.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Well, I’m very, very grateful to have you in my life and our three children and I.

Sue Hallowell, LICSW:

And me to you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

I’ve been feeling that way every day. We’ve been together an awful lot and our nightly movies are a lot of fun, even though we don’t always agree on the choice of the movies. But I think you’re right, a time to feel gratitude in the midst of feeling oppressed and deprived and denied. I love the silver linings that you pointed out, and that’s not to be Pollyanna. We acknowledge that it’s that it’s terrible. Absolutely terrible. People are dying and losing their jobs and their businesses and their livelihoods. It’s terrible. But at the same time, it’s not uniformly relentlessly terrible. And to find the, as you said, the silver linings. And Sue, you are a huge silver lining in my life and thank you so much.

Sue Hallowell, LICSW:

Thank you, honey. I always love to come on.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Okay. Remember to reach out to us with your comments. A lot of you have commented on these COVID-19 check-ins and we love hearing from you. We had a bunch of emails. So please send us an email. Send it to [email protected]. Share your stories and thoughts. Write an email or record a voice memo and send it to us.

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our recording engineer and editor is my dear friend and wonderful colleague, Pat Keogh, and our producer is the delightful, effervescent, and always brilliant and imaginative, Sarah Guertin.

The episode of Distraction you just heard was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD. Safe, third party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com.

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Riding the Wave of Emotional Overdrive

Riding the Wave of Emotional Overdrive

Dr. Hallowell checks in to see how our listeners are holding up during the quarantine. He shares some simple advice about acknowledging your feelings of anger, annoyance, frustration and other negative emotions, as an important part of your mental well-being. Dr. H tweaks his adage, “Never worry alone” to “Never complain alone” as we muddle through this difficult time.

Reach out to us! Write an email, or record a message using the voice memo app on your phone and send it to [email protected]

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin (@sarahguertin) and our recording engineer/editor is Pat Keogh.

Learn more about our newest sponsor, OmegaBrite CBD! Dr. Hallowell takes the supplement every day because it’s safe, 3rd party tested, and it works. Shop OmegaBrite CBD online at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Do you know a high school or college student with ADHD or other learning difference? Tell them about our sponsor, Landmark College, in Putney, Vermont. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently. Find out more HERE.

Episode image by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

If you’d prefer to read the episode, a transcript is below:

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

This episode of Distraction is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third-party tested, and it works. Shop online at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

And by Landmark College, offering comprehensive support for students with ADHD and other learning differences. Learn more at LCDistraction.org. Landmark College, the college of choice for students who learn differently.

Hello, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell, with a mini episode of Distraction. As we soldier on through the Coronavirus pandemic that has settled in upon the nation in a sort of viral fog, we get many, many messages reassuring us that things will work out. And urging us to be positive in our approach and to buck each other up. Those messages have certainly been coming from me, as well as almost everyone else who offers messages.

But I wanted to just sound a little bit of a permission, if you will, to complain. You don’t have to go around pretending that everything’s fine, everything’s going to work out, things are terrible. Businesses are failing, right and left. People are going out of business, people are losing their livelihoods, not to mention their lives. Short of the loss of life, which is of course tragic, much more common is the loss of business and economic hardship. I just think you got to be able to complain about that, acknowledge it before you get on to the positive thinking and all that.

There’s nothing negative about acknowledging a problem. In fact, there’s something very good about acknowledging a problem. It’s also good for the soul and the nervous system, in general, to let off steam, to say, “God dang, this is awful. I don’t like this.” And complain, get mad at God, get mad at whoever you get mad at.

Say, “Why? What did we do to deserve this?” Of course, the answer is “Nothing.” This is not a punishment, this is a phenomenon of viral behavior that maybe could have been prevented, but whatever. We are in the midst of it and it’s pretty darn yucky. It’s pretty darn awful. I just want to reassure you that it’s okay to say that. Feel it, say it, complain together. One of my motto’s is “Never worry alone.” Well, never complain alone. Find other people, complain together. Raise a protest against nature, against viruses. Then, of course, get on with the business of helping each other out and trying to move in a positive and constructive direction.

With this mini episode, I just wanted to give you permission to do the obvious, which is to complain, be upset, acknowledge how up against it so many of us are. Then look around and try to find the solutions that will, with the passage of time, lead us out of this viral fog. Until then, I look forward to connecting with you soon. This is Dr. Ned Hallowell for Distraction.

I’d like to thank our new sponsor, actually our new old sponsor, who resigned up, OmegaBrite CBD, for supporting this podcast. I take it every day and I highly recommend it. It’s formulated by Dr. Carol Locke, of Harvard Medical School and her company OmegaBrite Wellness, who have created the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years, which I also take, as does my wife, Sue. OmegaBrite CBD is safe, third-party tested, and I am here to tell you it works. I honestly just started it about three weeks ago and it has definitely made me feel more even. Find OmegaBrite CBD online at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Okay, remember to reach out to us with your comments, share your thoughts with us by writing an email or recording the voice memo and sending it to [email protected]. Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our recording engineer and editor is the always impeccable and delightful, Pat Keogh. Our producer is the lovely and always full of ideas, Sarah Guertin.

The episode of Distraction you just heard was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third-party tested, and it works. Shop online at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

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Tools to Help You Stay Calm

Tools to Help You Stay Calm

It’s more important than ever to take care of yourself mentally and physically. Dr. Carole Locke of OmegaBrite Wellness returns to Distraction to share the science behind how Omega-3s, melatonin, vitamin D, and CBD help to calm you at the cellular level, and why certain supplements strengthen your immune system and help you feel more in control.

To learn more about Omega-3s go to OmegaBrite.com.

To learn more about CBD, melatonin and vitamin D go to OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Reach out to us! Write an email, or record a message using the voice memo app on your phone and send it to [email protected]

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin (@sarahguertin) and our recording engineer/editor is Pat Keogh.

Learn more about our newest sponsor, OmegaBrite CBD! Dr. Hallowell takes the supplement every day because it’s safe, 3rd party tested, and it works. Shop OmegaBrite CBD online at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Do you know a high school or college student with ADHD or other learning difference? Tell them about our sponsor, Landmark College, in Putney, Vermont. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently. Find out more HERE.

Click HERE to read a transcript of this episode.

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