2021 Q & A with Pete & Nikki

New season, new questions! It’s been too long since we took on your fantastic submissions so we’re clearing the deck this New Year with discussion on ADHD paradoxes, health, ableism, and so much more.

Along the way, head over to The Theme System to see what Myke Hurley and CGP Grey have cooked up with the release of their second edition Theme Journal!

  • Can margin exist with hyperfocus?
  • Can you be kind to yourself AND challenge yourself to be better?
  • Are you keeping resolutions this year, or clearing out any tolerations? (The 2021 Purge!)
  • How do you explain executive functioning to someone with no experience with it?
  • What do you look for in an accountability partner?
  • Hey Pete… how you feeling?

Thank you to everyone who submitted questions — keep ‘em coming!


Episode Transcript

Brought to you by The ADHD Podcast Community on Patreon

Pete Wright:
Hello, everybody, and welcome to Taking Control: The ADHD Podcast on True Story FM. I’m Pete Wright and I’m here with Nikki Kinzer.

Nikki Kinzer:
Hello, everyone. Hello, Pete.

Pete Wright:
Happy new year, Nikki Kinzer.

Nikki Kinzer:
Happy new year to you!

Pete Wright:
Huzzah! Huzzah.

Nikki Kinzer:
We’re here! We made it.

Pete Wright:
Were there fireworks where you were? On the [crosstalk 00:00:28]

Nikki Kinzer:
Outside, but I didn’t see any.

Pete Wright:
Did the world change appreciably?

Nikki Kinzer:
No. As I was telling-

Pete Wright:
It did.

Nikki Kinzer:
… you before we started the show, I was in sweatpants and a sweatshirt. I showered every other day and no makeup on for pretty much the whole entire two weeks.

Pete Wright:
As you do. I think that’s good. That’s good for you.

Nikki Kinzer:
Watched a lot of movies. Did some puzzles.

Pete Wright:
Well, I think that… Yeah, the puzzles were a hit. I think it did change, if only because so many people believed that it changed. Sometimes that’s all you need, right? And so I am-

Nikki Kinzer:
New members.

Pete Wright:
Yeah, I am just all in for change this year. I’ll go ahead and ride that wave as long as we possibly can.

Nikki Kinzer:
Agreed.

Pete Wright:
Very exciting. So, today… It’s been forever since we’ve done a Nikki and Pete Q&A. And we have Q&As. Q’s that have stacked up, ready for their A’s. We’re going to do that today. It should be fun. There are some great questions. Before we do that, head over to Take Control ADHD. Get to know us a little bit better. You can listen to the show on the website or subscribe to the mailing list and we’ll send an email to you each week every time a new episode is released. You can connect with us on Twitter or Facebook at Take Control ADHD and, lest we forget, Patreon is here to help support you and help us. Patreon is listener-supported podcasting. For a few bucks a month, you can join one of our tiers and know that your support is going to help us invest more time in this podcast and more time in the resources around our ADHD community, which is amazing. If you’ve ever found that you understand your relationship in a new way with ADHD thanks to something you’ve learned on this show, we certainly would encourage you to head over to Patreon.com/TheADHDPodcast to learn more. We’ve got some things up our sleeves for 2021.

Nikki Kinzer:
We do.

Pete Wright:
I’m pretty excited about them, Nikki. I’m very excited. In fact, we have… There’s always a little bit of a holiday shuffle, but after the holiday shuffle, we need 15 more members to support us for… to hit our next goal. That gets us to the release of our resource library. All the resources that have been… we’ve talked about on this show. Apps, websites, journal articles. Everything that we’ve ever talked about on the show. All the links have been lovingly tested and curated by the wonderful [Discord 00:03:00] mom. Melissa has done a great job at building this thing up in [Coda 00:03:05]. We are putting the finishing touches on it, but we really appreciate your support to help us earn back what we put into it upfront. We sure appreciate you. Help us get to that magic number. If you’ve ever been considering it, now’s the time. I don’t know. Should I mention what we’re thinking about for our next goal?

Nikki Kinzer:
Sure.

Pete Wright:
I’ve been thinking a lot about it, Nikki.

Nikki Kinzer:
Have you?

Pete Wright:
I feel like I was… I don’t know. I feel like I was Shanghaied a little bit.

Nikki Kinzer:
Uh oh.

Pete Wright:
We’re going to do a members-only podcast and it’s going to be Pete doing his thing about technology. I say Pete, this other guy, in the third person because… I don’t know. I don’t know if that’s-

Nikki Kinzer:
Who’s Pete?

Pete Wright:
… going to work out or not, but I’m very excited to hear this show. Whatever comes of it. I’m very excited and I’ve had a lot of ideas over the holidays. You left me alone without… We haven’t talked in two weeks and, suddenly, my cup runneth over with ideas for episodes that we’re going to talk about. ADHD, attention technology, and all kinds of good stuff. It’s like a whole podcast. Every other week for members. But we do need to hit that next goal to make that happen. Because it is a time-consuming… such a time-consuming thing. But we’re very excited to do our first serious members-only podcast. Not even released in the podcast directories. It’s only available to you if you’re with us on Patreon. So, I’m thrilled to be able to do that and cannot wait. Help me help you. That’s what I have to say. Patreon.com/TheADHDPodcast. Special thanks to Nicole and Mary Lou and Leanne and Evan and Stephanie and Eleanor Rose and Amy and Deb and Danielle for jumping in and supporting us over the last couple of weeks and becoming members of the ADHD community. Thank you so much. We love you. You’re fantastic. And, now, let’s talk about some Q’s and A’s.

Pete Wright:
Our first question, Nikki Kinzer, comes from our community member, Matt, who is fantastic. The question is… I’m going to go ahead and read the preamble, too. We’ll just read the whole thing.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yes. Yeah, sure.

Pete Wright:
All right. Here we go. From Matt. I don’t know. Should I do funny voices? Matt says… All right. “Much of the time, it feels like my brain is in a constant tug of war between ADHD paradoxes. For example, giving myself permission for margin and taking time to think about a problem or topic can just as easily turn into a hyper focus session. I’ve developed awareness of what these two different mental states feel like, but because they’re polar opposites… one has time pressure and the other doesn’t… I have great difficulty making decisions about which one I want to apply to any given project, whether at work or in my personal life. I’ve learned many things about myself and ADHD over the last few years and many great tips and tools on this podcast and elsewhere, but this constant tension between giving myself space and holding myself accountable, e.g., using timers, time blocking, setting goals, remains a challenge. Is this feeling just a part of having ADHD that I have to learn to live with or are there specific emotional or mental tools and strategies I can look to when it comes up?”

Nikki Kinzer:
This is what I think. I feel that the question… I think it is probably part of your ADHD and there is probably some acceptance there, but I don’t think that that means that you can’t figure out what some tools might be or strategies could be. One of the things that came up for me right away is that the scenario feels very vague to me. And so I think that probably having a little bit more clarity of what these two stages are and where they apply in his life… and so really trusting yourself on is this about being productive or am I avoiding something? Am I taking too much time to do something because I’m avoiding something else? I think that that’s where you have to be a little bit more… or have more clarity about what your goal is on whatever it is you’re doing. Do you need to set a time frame on how much research you do? Or do you need to zero in on just a couple of options versus looking at all options or whatever? So, I think really just identifying more of what it is that your goal is and trusting yourself and asking those hard questions.

Nikki Kinzer:
The other thing that I would recommend is that… ADHDers, for the most part, are verbal processors. And so if you are in a situation and you’re not exactly sure what you need, hyper focused or no hyper focused or whatever challenge may be coming your way, is to talk to somebody about it. Because talking it out and listening to yourself speak can help you identify where you are and what you need out of the situation and potentially get you away from any kind of rabbit hole.

Pete Wright:
Yeah, I think that’s really important. The other thing is… I wanted to just review for a second the whole concept of margin and why that’s useful. We did the show on margin and I think it’s important because I think misattributing for this purpose may be causing you to put too much pressure on yourself for these kinds of projects. And, I should say, the application of any strategy to do this… timers, whatever. Whether it’s free time or brainstorming time, whatever. That’s all great. Even if you use it sporadically. The application of those tools helps you build new habits. It’s working toward a change. Toward a new way to focus.

Pete Wright:
But margin, in particular, is the buffer time that allows you to think about new projects. It’s the stuff that… It’s the free time that you’re blocking away intentionally by not filling your schedule to 110% that actually allows you to have some open brain time so that when new projects come up, you can… you do have the flexibility to be able to say, hey, I’m going to take an hour or two to actually invest some of myself in this. Maybe it’s a hyper focus session. Maybe it’s a seven hour bender on a Saturday. Whatever it is, that’s why margin exists. And so far as they seem like polar opposites because of the time pressure versus no time pressure, really, I don’t look at it like that. I really look at one in service of another. You build margin so you have flexibility with some of these other things. So, I wouldn’t characterize those states as quite so different. It’s like a knife in service of spreading butter on a delicious bagel. The knife is in service to this other thing. So is margin in service to new projects and new ideas.

Nikki Kinzer:
Great point.

Pete Wright:
I love that question. And I think… I did want to… I just want to add because there are a couple of questions like this. Like, is this just a thing about ADHD? I just have to say out loud, yes. In a word, yes. This is a thing you live with and it’s okay to lean in and embrace that. This is constant. It will be constant. That’s okay. Once you do that, you can free yourself from some of that pressure.

Nikki Kinzer:
Absolutely.

Pete Wright:
We have a question from Heidi. Heidi says this. “I wholeheartedly agree with the concept of giving oneself grace and reframing negative self-talk. However, I am then afraid that I am being too soft on myself and not pushing myself enough to achieve goals. Certainly, this may be all or nothing thinking, but I have trouble working it out in my head when applying it to myself. Several years ago, I worked with a coach who said that X can be true and Y can be true at the same time. So, can X equals giving yourself grace, being kind to yourself, and Y equals while still challenging yourself to achieve higher standards or goals both be true at the same time? Also, if Pete could provide a South Park analogy as a good mnemonic device, that would be a bonus.”

Nikki Kinzer:
Well, Pete, what’s your South Park analogy?

Pete Wright:
I am shamed because I read this question first and then I got so embroiled in thinking about the other questions, thinking, okay, I’m going to come back and go back through my favorite South Park episodes, that I didn’t do it. I didn’t do it. The only South Park I can think about right now is introducing Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo and that just doesn’t seem to relate. So, I am so sorry, Heidi, but you can bet I will be doing this and I’ll get back to you in the community.

Nikki Kinzer:
That’s right. That’s right.

Pete Wright:
So, what do you think?

Nikki Kinzer:
Well, I’m so glad that she brought this up because I think this is… This is a road block, right? This is one of those things that can easily keep you from being nice to yourself. Because there’s this guilt around being nice to yourself. Humans are so hard on themselves. Especially ADHDers are so hard on themselves. I 100% believe what your coach said. That you can have X and Y at the same time. You can give yourself grace, but still grow. Having the negative self-talk isn’t going to serve you. It’s never going to serve you, really. It’s not going to help you. It’s not going to motivate you. It’s not going to build you up. So, feeling guilty about that is not serving you either. You have to look at just this is negative self-talk. We have to recognize it and then really kind of tell it to leave. Like, okay, you can go now. Because this isn’t going to help me.

Nikki Kinzer:
I think that we reframe what success means to ourselves. You have to think about… Like, if somebody was coming to you, Heidi, and asking you this question… and say it was somebody that you really loved. A family member, a dear friend, a partner, a child, whatever. And they were to say, “This is how I feel.” What would you say to them? My guess is that you would not probably say, “Oh, go ahead and keep beating yourself up because you probably really aren’t doing enough.” We’re not going to… That’s just not the truth. And so I think self-growth is not changing who you are. It’s about growing as a person. And so give yourself that grace and know that you can steal reach for whatever dreams or goals you have by giving yourself that grace. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. It really can be the same. And it should be. Because we make mistakes. We’re not consistent. And so we want to recognize the positive movements going forward and not feel like we’re holding ourselves back because we’re guilty about giving ourselves grace.

Pete Wright:
This is cognitive dissonance. Textbook. This is carrying two competing ideas in our heads at the same time. And it hurts. It hurts our brains to do that sometimes. Particularly depending on the emotional weight of either/or both of those things. I think, like Matt’s question above, the act of embracing that feeling, of working on whatever your inner script is, to change the tone and accept it will go a long way toward working making you immune to it. Saying, hey, I’m okay with this negative thing in my life right now. I know I’m going to feel weird about it because of my ADHD. Bring it on. Bring it on! Let’s go ahead and see what we can do with that feeling today. I know I’m going to feel crappy for the next three or four hours. Bring it on. Because as soon as you say that out loud, suddenly, magically, you’ll never feel as bad as you think you’re going to feel.

Pete Wright:
It’s like getting a shot. I [inaudible 00:15:51] hate needles. I hate them. I pass out when they get close to my arm. But when I get a shot, I have that same childlike reaction to the needle piercing the skin. And so I sit there and I pinch my other hand really hard. And you know what doesn’t hurt anymore? The shot doesn’t hurt anymore. Because I am a programmable dummy. We are adaptable creatures and I think that’s really important to recognize. That you can’t… The act of changing that script is effectively pinching your other hand. The thing that you expect to happen will not happen as badly, as severely, as overtly, as you think it will. And so I think that’s the act of embracing that sensation and just knowing that feeling that pain is… You’re making a choice on how to feel that. I think about that all the time when I’m mired in my own self-doubt and judgment and pain. Ugh! God, I’m choosing to do this again! I guess it’s time to start pinching my other hand.

Nikki Kinzer:
You have such great analogies and metaphors.

Pete Wright:
But none of them are South Park analogies, Nikki.

Nikki Kinzer:
I know. Geez. I’m thinking about bagels. I’m thinking about all kinds of stuff.

Pete Wright:
All right. Let’s see. Who do we have next? We have… Oh. Our very own Discord mom says, “What are your new years resolutions? Do you have any current tolerations you want to take care of in 2021?” Are you doing any resolutions this year?

Nikki Kinzer:
Well, I don’t really do resolutions. We’ve talked about this before. This is not something that I really focus on. Because I really think that every… any time of the year is a good time of the year to focus on anything that you need to focus on. I will say that I am doing the January purge for the first time. With Pete Wright and some others in the Discord community. Do you want to talk about that for a little bit?

Pete Wright:
Oh, it’s so much fun. We’ve talked about this on the show before, so this… If you’ve listened to past episodes about… around new year, this might be familiar territory. But we have some dear friends who, for many years running, we have done what we call the family January blood oath challenge. It started because we thought, okay, we have a lot of clutter and garbage around the house. Not garbage, but clutter and things that are just collecting dust. Do we really need those things in our lives? And are we fetishizing the past? We keep things around for way too long.

Pete Wright:
And so we started this thing where, on the day… every day for the month of January, you have to get rid of that number of things in your house and in your life. And so, on day one, you get rid of one thing. On day two, you get rid of two things. By the time you hit day 31, you’re looking for 31 fresh things to get rid of your house after day 30, where you got rid of 30 other things. It adds up pretty significantly. The first year we did it, like, oh, god, this was exhausting. Where are we going to find all these things to get rid of? And then we got to the end and we’re like, okay, should we keep going through February? It’s just alarming at how much crap we collect. It’s everything. Little things, big things, little things, big things. It’s everything.

Pete Wright:
So, I decided this year that I would just throw it out to the community. We decided to do it again. So, the blood oath challenge January purge is on. A couple people stepped up, so I created a channel in our deluxe tier. For community members just to keep it… Since we’re sharing pictures of… We don’t pictures out too publicly, so we’re trying to be respectful of that. So, it is for members only, but it is something that you can certainly do yourself. We encourage you to do it. It’s enormously cathartic to see the change. By about day 15, you’re like, wow, I can actually see my closet. Or my drawer. You start really noticing. So, it’s really powerful and that is absolutely one of our themes for this year. I’m so thrilled that you are doing this.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yes! I’m excited. Because that’s definitely been a toleration that I’ve had since September. Last September, when we had to evacuate. When we came back to the house, I think, as a coping mechanism… I mentioned before that I was just cleaning and organizing and trying to know where things are so you’re not stuck in that situation again where you don’t know where everything and you’re under a time constraint to figure it out. That coping mechanism has carried on in the last few months, where I will pick an area and start cleaning it out. So, when you posted this, I thought, well, this is great because it just kind of adds to that. I’m very excited about that joining that.

Nikki Kinzer:
I think that… One of the… I’m doing a joyful list for 2021. We’ve talked about that a little bit, too. This joyful list are things that I just want to do. Like I want to make a point to do. That are going to be fun and joyful. One of those things is buying fresh flowers every month. Having at least thing of fresh flowers every month. So, I have those things that I’m doing. Self-care is always a focus for me. That doesn’t start or stop on January 1st. I can say that my focus right now is vitamin D.

Pete Wright:
As it should be.

Nikki Kinzer:
I am putting vitamin… I have a big ole bottle of vitamin D on my kitchen windowsill so that I see it and I immediately know to take it. So, that’s my main focus. But yeah. They’re not really resolutions. They’re just things to focus on, but fun things. Like the joyful list is fun.

Pete Wright:
Yeah, totally. I like health because… and I think health as a theme is better than lose 20 pounds as a resolution. Because health as a theme is everything from what goes into being healthy and, for me, it’s lots of stuff that I embarrassingly have a rollercoaster relationship with. I think I’m doing better with eating. I’m back on my intermittent fasting. So, I don’t eat anything until noon and then I eat… It’s a good way for me to reduce caloric intake on a regular basis. I’m usually busy enough in the morning that I’m not distracted by food, so that’s a nice way to do it. But health as a yearly theme or as an ongoing theme includes everything like what new habits do I want to build around it? Like flossing every day. Sometimes I go a long time, way too long, without flossing. I say to myself, but I’m brushing so good! But I’m still not flossing. That’s a thing I want to start being better about. Just thinking about the broader aspects of health. Especially after the 2020 crap show that existed for me for health. Continuing to build back to something that’s stronger than it was before. I think that’s possible. I really do. But it’s going to take some work.

Pete Wright:
I do want to plug a different podcast and that is the Cortex guys. They’ve done the second run of their Cortex theme system journal. Because these are the guys who really started talking about yearly themes. So, if you go to thethemesystem.com, you can watch a video that CGP Grey did on why they do themes, not resolutions. I always pick up one of their journals. I have their first year. I just like to see the differences that they do between them. Because they actually produce… they make these. They work with the guys at the Cotton Bureau and do great work. So, I haven’t actually started writing on this one yet, but what I love about it is it’s undated. You just put what is your theme that you’re working on and what have you done today to actually move that theme forward? It has a habit tracker. It has daily notes pages. But you date them yourself. You don’t have to go through this pre-formatted thing. You don’t waste a lot of paper.

Nikki Kinzer:
And feel bad if you didn’t do a week or whatever.

Pete Wright:
Exactly. You don’t feel bad at all, which is, I think, really great. I’m a big fan of the Cortex guys and what they’re doing over there and the video is super clear. We’ll put a link to the theme system in show notes so you can see and get at least yourself acquainted with why a theme… thinking about a theme and journaling about that theme will help you move yourself forward.

Pete Wright:
The other thing that I’ve been trying to embrace is more frequent theme change. So, if health is going to be my first quarter, what is the second quarter? Let’s focus on three months. How long is it really going to take me to start moving some of those things into daily practice and habit and start looking at maybe seasons? What is the winter theme? What is the spring theme? How can I move some of those things forward? That’s another one that I got from those guys. I think they are doing some great thinking about it and they’re super living out loud and I really like that. There’s something else to check out.

Nikki Kinzer:
That’s great.

Pete Wright:
[Carlo Luis 00:25:26] says, “I just learned the term ableism. Has the podcast discussed or mentioned anything about it? Ableism. I want to learn about how it affects our ability for self-acceptance and self-compassion.” Ableism. Heavy term right now. Yeah. It’s a big deal. We’ve not ever done a show about ableism in particular.

Nikki Kinzer:
No, because I didn’t even know what it meant.

Pete Wright:
Oh, okay. [crosstalk 00:25:57]

Nikki Kinzer:
When I was reading your notes, I was like, what is this? I’ve never even heard of it.

Pete Wright:
So, it is… the definition… discrimination and prejudice against people with disabilities and/or people who are perceived to have disabilities. It creates… It is the discernment of groups by other against the perceived normal abilitied or non-disabled. If you are ableist, then you might have a certain disdain for somebody who is in a wheelchair or somebody who is… whatever the case is.

Nikki Kinzer:
So, it really boils down to-

Pete Wright:
It’s a discrimination.

Nikki Kinzer:
It’s discrimination.

Pete Wright:
It is, but based on physical disability.

Nikki Kinzer:
Wow. That’s crazy.

Pete Wright:
It’s terrible and it’s also insidious. Often, you know don’t even know when it’s happening. Because if you don’t have a disability, it’s incredibly difficult to put yourself in those shoes. To have that empathic experience without conscientious effort to do so. And because we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it in daily life, it’s hard to develop that habit of having conscientious effort to think about those things. For people who have ever designed a webpage or, let’s just say, released a podcast… a podcast, which is a thing that requires to have completely functioning hearing mechanism. By not having transcripts on the page, that is ableism, in fact. That is a sort of insidious discrimination against those who cannot partake in something that you create. And that is just the littlest way. We’re just trying to learn culturally how to be more empathetic toward those.

Pete Wright:
Now, the question, I think, is really interesting. Once again, how does it affect our ability for self-acceptance and self-compassion? The way I am reading this… I’m gathering from the term’s focus that those with disabilities… categorizing those with disabilities as other makes it hard to adapt because we don’t see ourselves as part of other groups, as part of those maybe disabled groups, with ADHD. I don’t know. Am I reading that right? What do you think?

Nikki Kinzer:
The question is very short. It’s just that she’s learned the… or he. They. I’m not sure what gender it is. Learned this term and wants to know how it affects the ability for self-acceptance and self-compassion. So, I don’t know exactly if you’re reading into right or not. I think that… When I read the definition of the word, I’ve never heard of it before, but it certainly sounds like just discrimination and I think, in the context of ADHD, this happens all the time. Because there’s people all over the place that don’t believe in ADHD or think that you’re using it as an excuse. So, I guess I was thinking of it more as, in terms of ADHD, do you tell an employer? Well, maybe you don’t want to because now they’re going to think because you have ADHD that you’re going to be somehow less than somebody else that doesn’t have ADHD. And that’s where all of this… I think the discrimination can happen.

Nikki Kinzer:
I also think because ADHD and a lot of other disabilities… I think of my husband, for example, who has MS. They’re invisible. If a disability is invisible, it’s really hard for people to wrap their heads around it. With somebody that’s blind or in a wheelchair, where they can actually see… it’s obvious that they have a disability. And so I’m sure there’s going to be some discrimination when it’s not shown. Does this affect your self-acceptance and self-compassion? Absolutely. 100% does it… or it will. Because any kind of discrimination is going to affect that. And that sucks. Because there’s a lot of people, especially just in the context of ADHD, that don’t believe in it and you can’t convince them otherwise. And so you have to kind of think, I think, what do you have control over? What don’t you? What are the conversations worth having? Which ones are just where you can say, “Okay, that’s great. Great you think that,” and walk away? Somebody was telling me, “Bless you. That’s so wonderful. God bless you.”

Pete Wright:
Oh, good for you.

Nikki Kinzer:
That’s great that if you think that way. And then leave. But I think that if you are surrounded by people who are discriminating against you, too, you have to think about that. Who are you surrounding yourself with? Because you want people who are building you up, not pushing you down. I don’t know. That’s how I kind of took it.

Pete Wright:
Yeah, I think so. I think it would be worth… I think we need to investigate further on this. In particular. Just how the tone is changing as a result of terms that qualify this kind of discrimination. I’ll bet there is a guest or two we could bring on that would help us understand exactly this question.

Nikki Kinzer:
Well, and it’s so against the law. When we’re looking at employment… especially employment. You can’t discriminate against a disability. You can’t ask somebody in an interview what health issues they have. So, yeah. It’s really interesting.

Pete Wright:
But you know what’s even more? This is why it’s so insidious. Because there are fields for which ableism is enabled. All kinds of ways to get around it. I come from a background in broadcasting and journalism and, in that universe, there is actually protocol for terminating people based on what they look at or sound like, not what they’re doing. Because that’s the nature of the ridiculousness of the field and public perception. Those are the kinds of things that just make it really difficult to move forward. And so I think it’s worth talking about. I do. Bookmark that.

Pete Wright:
Let’s see. Wendy says, “How would you explain executive dysfunction to someone who is neuro typical or doesn’t have ADHD? Specifically, the difficulty or inability to get started on tasks or appearing lazy?” Look at that. I put my name in our notes with a colon and I didn’t finish my answer, so you go first.

Nikki Kinzer:
There’s a couple of… There’s two different ways that I’ll explain it to people. But this doesn’t cover all of the executive functions. I want to be very clear. This doesn’t necessarily cover every single one of them, but it can help people understand where your brain goes in certain situations. The first thing I want you to think about… and I learned this when I was in ADHD coaching school… is if you think about two brains. One has ADHD and the other one doesn’t. You’re asked a question. For example, the question is who was the first president of the United States of America? Now, for somebody that has an ADHD brain… Well, actually, I should say both brains have a filing cabinet in their head. That filing cabinet is kind of in the back of the brain. We have the same knowledge. You and I, Pete, could have the exact same knowledge.

Pete Wright:
Eventually, we’ll get there. To the same place.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah. And so I am asked the question… because I don’t have ADHD… and I could technically go straight… because I’m more of a linear thinker than you are. I could straight to my filing cabinet and pull out George Washington and be able to answer that. Now, somebody that has ADHD, their path to their filing cabinet is not straight. It’s not linear. It goes sideways and crooked and all over the place, wherever it wants to go. So, you may first hear, okay, first president of the United States, but you may only hear president and, because of our climate that we’re in right now, you may go to Biden or to Trump and get all kinds of feelings one way or the other and then that takes off of something else, to think about something else, and then now that brings you to remind you that you need to do something for your wife and then, oh, but we have some deadlines here.

Nikki Kinzer:
Before you get to the filing cabinet to get the question answered… and this all happens really, really, really, really, really fast. All of a sudden, you get to your filing cabinet and you either, A, don’t remember the question and have to ask it again or you do get it but you get it… You don’t necessarily get it as fast as somebody that doesn’t have ADHD. Because your brain is going to different spots. What that helps people see is that there isn’t a straight path. We have the same filing cabinet, but it’s not the same path to get there. Also, my filing cabinet might be organized. Yours might not be. It may take some time, also, to find it. Just because you have to search through it. So, that kind of gives you a visual.

Nikki Kinzer:
The other way that I explain it to people, too… and this I always explain when I talk about medication. I’m not saying I’m for or against medication. This is just how I explain it to people… is you could be on a track field and you and I have the same destination. We have the same race that we’re going to run. Well, when you don’t take medication or you aren’t… maybe not even medication. Let’s put it this way. If you’re not managing your ADHD. That could be a lot of things. That could be exercise, sleep, stress management. It’s not just medication. It’s everything. If you’re not managing your ADHD, then you’re probably going to be, let’s say, a half a mile behind me. I have this start. I have this great start ahead of you. When you manage your ADHD… whether that’s medication or exercise, therapy, coaching, whatever it might be. You have the structures to help you… then you’re at the same spot. Then, it’s a fair race because we’re even.

Nikki Kinzer:
Again, that doesn’t talk about necessarily how to explain tasks or appearing lazy. There’s a lot of different ways you can probably explain that. One, I think, is that you’re not broken. People need to remember that they’re not broken. They don’t need to be fixed. One way is not better than the other way. Just because it took you a little bit longer to get to George Washington doesn’t make you any dumber or less than me. I may not even know… As a non-ADHDer, I may not know that question anyway. There’s a lot of variables here. One more thing I want to talk about real quick to give you an idea… Let’s just say I’m going to Portland from Eugene. It’s a pretty straight path on I–5. You’re coming from Portland from Eugene. I may have one way that I get to Portland, to your house, and you may have one way that you get to my house. Neither way is right or wrong. We both have different ways of doing it.

Pete Wright:
It’s just one gets stuck at a winery. And let me tell you. That’s a delay.

Nikki Kinzer:
And one might get stuck at the coffee shop or at a friend’s house or whatever. I think that it’s just something to understand. That you’re going to the same destination. It’s just that we have different ways of getting there and your mind processes differently.

Pete Wright:
I love all these metaphors about how the mind works to get the job done. It brings up one for me that’s just so resonant, which is actually one I learned… I can’t remember if it was a math class or a software development class or something. It was years and years and years ago. Somebody was talking about how off by one numerical errors happen. When you say how many years between 2020 and the year 2000. It’s not 20 years. It’s actually 21 years. It’s an off by one error, but many people think it’s… But the metaphor that I was given was counting fence posts. Do you count the posts of the fence or do you count the spaces of the fence? What is that metaphor?

Pete Wright:
For me, that executive function challenge is a counting fence posts challenge. Because the neuro typical brain is counting the boards… is counting the boards between those two posts. That might be the most direct shot. But the problem is, my brain is going to count the spaces. With each space comes myriad distractions on the other side of it. I can see through it. And that means I have to somehow get through the space in my brain and back to the next space so that I can create a count of one. That, I often find, is an easy way for me to just think about… like, okay, right now, am I counting fence posts or I am counting spaces? Because it could very well be, any given task that I’m doing on any given day, I’m stuck in a space. I’ve always liked that little metaphor.

Nikki Kinzer:
I just want to say it goes back to acceptance. When we were talking earlier about is this ADHD or is it something else? I think that it’s understanding that, yeah, a lot of this is ADHD and a lot of it does mean that you’re going to need to have some tools in place to manage that. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get to your destination. It doesn’t mean that you can’t do what you want to do. Is it harder? Yeah. But it also… There’s a lot of benefit when you’re able to do it, too.

Pete Wright:
And for some things. Because once you are comfortable with the fact that this is how your brain works, it will become an invisible skill. There are people who, like anything else, they no longer feel that as a deficiency because they’ve lived with it for so long. You just know that’s how it works. It can be surprising when it works well for other people in front of you. But that’s okay.

Pete Wright:
Okay. I have a question from Heidi. “I’m recently refocusing on my ADHD after an eight-year hiatus. Was diagnosed 10ish years ago and got on meds and worked with a coach for a bit, but then lost a job and medical insurance and haven’t, quote, dealt with it since then. Once again, I am without a current job and medical insurance and so I’m looking into cost-effective ways to get support. I have joined an ADHD support group and this is helpful. Now, I’m thinking about working with another member on a trial basis, maybe three weeks, to be accountability partners. Any suggestions or guidelines or potential pitfalls to avoid? We are friendly and supportive of each other through the support group, but don’t know each other all that well. Certainly, I would like it to be a beneficial relationship for both of us, but I’m not sure if I will be any good at helping someone else when I struggle so much myself.” That’s a great question.

Nikki Kinzer:
It’s a great question and you will be beneficial. You will be good at helping someone else. I have no doubt about that. I love this question. I want to say be on the lookout for a show with Jane and Marilyn, who both have ADHD, and they are going to be talking about how they are accountability partners for each other. So, we are going to be talking about this more in depth. About how to make it work and what to look for.

Nikki Kinzer:
I think that… One of the things that Pete said here in his notes was around patience and setting and understanding expectations. And that’s true. You need to kind of… You need to be clear about what you want out of the relationship. Set those expectations. But one of the biggest things I can tell you from an accountability coach who led an accountability group coaching group… is what I’m trying to say. Can’t get my words out. You have to have a regular time and way that you’re communicating. Have it be every morning via text at 10:00 AM. Or every Friday afternoon for one hour. This is when you guys are going to get together. I can almost guarantee you 99% that if you guys just say, oh, I’ll get back to you later or I’ll get to you this weekend or whatever, it will die. The relationship will die probably within about two weeks.

Pete Wright:
Absolutely, it will. That was the first thing that I thought about which was… You have to consider… When you talk about setting expectations, you have to consider what are the behaviors that are within the accountability partnership structure and what are the behaviors that are outside of that structure? There has to be a shared commitment toward coming together, knowing that it’s going to be challenge, but communicating and staying open to it. Because if the other person just stops showing up or ghosts you for a couple of days, that’s no longer a valued relationship. So, you want to watch those things. But maybe that’s the accountability that they need. That’s what they… Maybe what they’re going to ask you for is, I’m terrible at coming to meetings and it’s likely I’m going to skip it. I need you to hound me. That’s what I need from you. What do you need from me? You just have to understand what the ground rules are because, at some point, you’re going to need to come to terms with what are the behaviors that will cause the relationship to come to an end. It’s like any other partnership. At some point, something might happen and you just have to know. This was the line in the sand. I’m no longer getting the value out of this relationship that I expected or that we once did and it’s time to move on with grace and dignity and that’s okay.

Nikki Kinzer:
If both of you are those people that need to have that type of… like both of you might not show up, you’re not the right accountability partners.

Pete Wright:
You might not be great accountability partners for each other.

Nikki Kinzer:
You’re not going to be the right partners. And so then I would encourage you to find somebody else in that group that does feel comfortable enough to be able to set the alarm and know that they’re going to follow through with it. You have to be honest about that. But this is the thing. This could be a really… This could be a transformational relationship for the two of you-

Pete Wright:
Truly.

Nikki Kinzer:
… if you can make it work. If you are patient and don’t give up on it, evaluate it after a couple of weeks, see if it’s working out for both of you. What kind of changes do you need? Whatever. Like Pete said. But this could be transformational. I mean, honestly. Accountability… and it’s not accountability of you’re doing it for somebody. It’s just that having somebody to walk with you while you’re going through this, who understands it, it’s priceless.

Pete Wright:
Someone to cherish and celebrate. Someone to party with when you do things great. There is such a great, wide open opportunity to lift one another up and, I think, take every opportunity to do that.

Nikki Kinzer:
One last thing is I think it’s good that they don’t know each other very well.

Pete Wright:
Yeah, probably.

Nikki Kinzer:
I really do. I think that’s going to be in your favor because there’s not going to be any concern about hurting feelings. You’re not going to be so close to the situation that you won’t… You won’t hold back. That’s the problem sometimes when we have accountability partners be loved ones. Especially spouses. Not always a good thing. Don’t recommend it.

Pete Wright:
The ADHD coach just said that, everybody.

Nikki Kinzer:
Because that opens up so many RSD moments. So, not knowing each other, I think, is really actually pretty smart.

Pete Wright:
And just remember. In an accountability relationship, lying to yourself is tantamount to lying to someone else. Because if you can’t be honest with yourself, then how can you be honest in this relationship?

Nikki Kinzer:
That’s right.

Pete Wright:
Being incredibly candid about when you fall down rather than making up a story that fits the experience is really important. You don’t need to tell anybody about what’s going on in your brain. You just have to tell yourself this time was hard and I’m going to be honest about it. I’m going to be complete and authentic. Because that can torpedo the accountability relationship, too.

Pete Wright:
Last question, I believe. From [Anani Moss 00:48:07]. “In the last couple of months, the show has talked about Pete and his health after dealing with COVID. I appreciate the transparency and vulnerability of sharing these stories with the community, so as a friendly check-in from said community, how are you feeling, Pete?” First of all, I love that. And, also, I’m sorry if it feels like I’ve been belaboring my health over the last couple of months. It’s been six months, actually. I don’t mean to be a repetitive person about that, but it was a pretty big part of life as it is with many, many, many people right now. I’m okay. Thank you for asking. It’s been six months. Still on a raft of support supplements and still taking my blood pressure three times a day and watching my blood ox because I have still those weird vascular things going on, but I’ll tell you. My mood… I feel like a million bucks. I’m mobile. My limbs aren’t swelling radically anymore. That’s over as of last months. That’s feeling pretty good. So, it’s all good. It’s all good. Thanks for asking. I appreciate it.

Nikki Kinzer:
I know I’m happy to hear that and I’m sure all of our listeners are, too.

Pete Wright:
Thank you. So, that’s it. That’s our Q&A. 2021. Happy New Year Q&A. So appreciate you all for coming and hanging out with us. We’ve got a good year coming up. Oh, we are… We’re changing some things up a little bit. You’ll notice our numbering is changing because there has been some influence from some of the directories to start thinking of shows in seasons and episodes. So, we’re changing it up. We’re actually doing…. We’re starting to think about our show in terms of two seasons a year. Because we do take a natural break in the holidays and a natural break in July every year. And so we have two seasons a year. That means this episode right now marks season 22, episode one.

Nikki Kinzer:
Oh my gosh.

Pete Wright:
2201 is where we are today.

Nikki Kinzer:
That is crazy.

Pete Wright:
It’s bananas. Under the old numbering-

Nikki Kinzer:
Because it’s been how long? When did we start this?

Pete Wright:
About 10 years.

Nikki Kinzer:
10 years ago. I don’t think I’ve ever been consistent with anything for 10 years.

Pete Wright:
I think our 10 year anniversary was July. When I got super sick. And so we missed it. We missed it. So, we’ll have to do something at 11. But 22. Not so bad. So, 22. Episode one. I think, going forward, the numbers will change. We’ll make them… It’s on the little artwork. Season 22 and then episode one.

Nikki Kinzer:
So, it will be 2202…

Pete Wright:
Yeah, 2201, 2202. We’ll just roll with it that way. We appreciate your flexibility. If you are a number person and numbers matter to you, 2201.

Nikki Kinzer:
I like it.

Pete Wright:
I do too! I think it’s great. I’m very excited about it. Anyway. Thanks, everybody. You’re the best. We sure appreciate you for downloading and listening to the show. Thank you for your time and your attention. Don’t forget. If you have something to contribute to this conversation, we’re going to head over to the show talk channel in the Discord server. You can join us right there by becoming a supporting member at the deluxe level. On behalf of Nikki Kinzer, I’m Pete Wright and we’ll see you right back here next week on Taking Control: The ADHD Podcast.