2402@2x ADHD Erik Doc Anderson

Rewrite Your Hero’s Journey with Erik “Doc” Anderson

Erik “Doc” Anderson is an ADHD coach who specializes in helping people become the hero of their own stories.

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Erik “Doc” Anderson is an ADHD coach who specializes in helping people become the hero of their own stories. Erik is an ADHDer and also has Cerebral Palsy.

Humans are wired for stories. Our lives, our desires, our hopes, and dreams, they’re all fueled by the metaphors that define who we are. Doc learned early that negative, limiting stories can be as damaging as positive stories are motivating. Today, we’re talking about how we can rewrite our own stories from someone who’s spent a lifetime rewriting his own, and in doing so made the choice to live in a much larger world.

About Erik “Doc” Anderson

Erik Anderson has been a long-time advocate for system change. In addition to serving on state boards and commissions, he coordinated state government efforts in Iowa to fight employment discrimination against women, minorities, and persons with disabilities. Later, he moved on to work as an advocate with a federal technical assistance program under I.D.E.A. to help parents of children with disabilities get services in public schools. Now he works independently in the field of self-advocacy as an ADHD coach.

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Episode Transcript

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Pete Wright: Hello, everybody. And welcome to Taking Control, the ADHD podcast on TruStory FM. I’m Pete Wright. And look, it’s Nikki Kinzer.

Nikki Kinzer: Well, hello. Hello, hello, Pete Wright.

Pete Wright: Hi, Nikki. How are you?

Nikki Kinzer: I’m doing great. How are you?

Pete Wright: I’m doing fairly well, fairly well. And we’ve got a great show coming up. I’m very excited about our guest today.

Nikki Kinzer: Me too.

Pete Wright: He’s a former carny.

Nikki Kinzer: And psychic.

Pete Wright: And psychic.

Nikki Kinzer: And con.

Pete Wright: And he ran a medicine show. He did tell us that he once consorted with conman. I don’t know if that implies that he was himself a conman.

Nikki Kinzer: He was one or not, I don’t know. He’ll have to come back and share that story with us.

Pete Wright: He certainly will. A fantastic conversation with Doc Anderson today about rewriting your own hero’s journey. Can’t wait to bring him on the show. But before we do that, head over to takecontroladhd.com, get to know us a little bit better. You can listen to the show right here on the website or subscribe to our mailing list right there on the homepage. And we’ll let you know each time a new episode is released. Connect with us on Twitter or Facebook at Take Control ADHD. And if this show has ever touched you, if you like the kinds of guests that we’re bringing on this season, if you just like the community that we’re trying to build, we sure would appreciate it if you head over to patreon.com/theADHDpodcast, that’s patreon.com/theADHDpodcast and check out the ADHD community there.

Pete Wright: For a few dollars a month, you can jump in and get access to our early access episodes, you can join us for the live stream. If you were a member, you would be listening to me screw up this show live in person. You would be watching a video and watch my Zoom freeze right in the middle of a conversation. Now, if you’re listening to the show on the internet, you miss all that good stuff, you miss all the screw ups. You also get access to the guests. Each time we record a show, you can hang out after the episode and get your specific questions answered by each of our guests, if you so have them. All that and more, there’s so much more there’s more. So check it out, patreon.com/theADHDpodcast. And very, very great thanks to Carrie and Allison and Lindsay in the last few days. We are thrilled you are here, that you’ve decided to join the community and support this show. We can’t wait to get to know you a little bit better in our community. And Nikki, I think the title is set.

Nikki Kinzer: I don’t know what that means.

Pete Wright: Of Pete’s new podcast.

Nikki Kinzer: Oh, okay.

Pete Wright: I think it has been.

Nikki Kinzer: Geez, okay. I saw this when we first started recording it and I’m like, "Nikki, the title is set."

Pete Wright: I know, [inaudible 00:03:03].

Nikki Kinzer: And I thinking, the title of the podcast, of this podcast.

Pete Wright: Of this podcast that we’re already… No, that’s weird.

Nikki Kinzer: Okay, what is it?

Pete Wright: I think we’re just going to go with the longstanding, much loved placeholder, a one word podcast placeholder.

Nikki Kinzer: Placeholder.

Pete Wright: That’s going to be Pete’s new podcast. And it’s going to happen twice a month and it’s going to cover the extended conversations around many of the issues we’ve already started talking about on this show, in and around and related to tech. So we’re going to start with talking about hyper scheduling. We’ve got the first half year of shows sketched out with what we’re going to be talking about. We’re very excited to do it. And the trailer and first episode will be coming out just for members as a little bonus pretreat soon.

Pete Wright: Now, I know we’ve been talking about it for a long time. But we’ve been talking about it because we aligned it with this tier thing, with this target goal on Patreon. Because it’s expensive to produce a podcast. And so we had said that we need to get to this certain number in order to be able to afford all of our collective time to be able to do a new podcast, and we’re so close. But because of the nature of Patreon, we get almost to that place and then it flushes at the end of every month and some people drop off and some people join and it ends up… We’ve been hovering right at this level for a long time. If you are interested in placeholder, if you want to see what Pete’s tech related podcast has to offer, and you have been thinking about joining for a long time but you’ve never done it, please jump in. Become a paying supporter, a Patreon. This show is just for Patreons, it is only for you.

Pete Wright: So it won’t be in the iTune Store, it won’t be anywhere, but your personal podcast feed that you’ll get through Patreon. So we’re really excited to do something just for members. But we need, if you’ve ever thought about it, if you see any value in ADHD related tech conversations, like the ones we’re going to be having around just how you wrestle with technology and how you manage reading lists and how you journal and to do systems and archiving and digital archives and photography and all kinds of things, head over again to patreon.com/theADHDpodcast and give us a look. Because I am eager, itching, itching to get this podcast off the ground. So help me help you. Let’s Jerry McGuire this thing, help me help you.

Nikki Kinzer: That’s right.

Pete Wright: Get us over the hump. Thank you, Nikki, Shaw, do we have any other announcements?

Nikki Kinzer: No, not today.

Pete Wright: Shall we do the show?

Nikki Kinzer: Let’s do it.

Pete Wright: Let’s do it. Erik Doc Anderson, I know you’re an ADHD coach. And unfortunately, before we started the show today, you started talking about all the other things you’ve done. And now my mind is dizzy with things I want to talk to you about, from traveling medicine shows to horse trading to the work and the corn field. I don’t know, we’re not going to be able to get to it all. But I want to give you the floor, how on earth do you introduce yourself, sir?

Erik Doc Anderson: I’m an advocate from way back. I have an ADHD, I also have cerebral palsy. Which means I walked like a Flamingo except the knees go the right way. I grew up doing disability advocacy. My family business was raising horses, so I grew up and my guiding influences were carnies and horse traders and gamblers and con artists and fortune tellers and magicians and all of this. So I had this wonderfully eclectic childhood of experiences. And then as an adult, I learned, when I was working in advocacy, I learned that I had ADHD. And suddenly so many things made sense. Because growing up, everyone just said, "oh, that’s Erik, he walks funny." And that’s all they ever looked at, is they saw an external thing and they attributed everything to that and I felt like I was broken. When I found out I had ADHD, suddenly everything clicked and it launched a whole different journey. So I describe my ADHD as the world’s smallest petting zoo. My goldfish brain can’t remember, my hamster brain can’t focus, and my terrier brain won’t let go of damn the sock monkey.

Pete Wright: I love it.

Nikki Kinzer: Yes.

Pete Wright: Well, and that is so much about why we wanted to talk to you today. Your background being extraordinarily eclectic as it is, also you’re working advocacy in this whole idea behind rewriting the stories that are told about us and the story that we tell about ourselves. You and I were talking before we started about this idea that we live in metaphor. I know that’s so true for me. I need these metaphors, these stories to help me provide an anchor or a framework to the way I live with my ADHD. So we’re really excited to talk to you today about how we rewrite our own stories in a way that helps us make sense. I want to. Nikki, give it to you, this was originally your brainstorm. How do you want to set this up?

Nikki Kinzer: Well, I’m just really curious to learn more from Doc about his journey. I think that part of what I want us to accomplish today is for people to see that you can do what you want to do with these limitations and ADHD doesn’t have to stop you from doing what you want to do. And just hear a little bit more about this hero engine. Oh my gosh, I just took a glimpse of this.

Pete Wright: We’re definitely going to get into the hero, I’m sure.

Nikki Kinzer: I’m sure this is part of your ADHD coaching piece too, so I’m really interested in hearing about that. So I just want to get to know him a little bit, see what he’s about.

Pete Wright: Let’s talk more about that journey to ADHD. You said it unlocked a lot of things for you, that mind blowing experience. I want to hear more about that. what was unlocked for you?

Erik Doc Anderson: Well, I was 37 years old, I was working at disability advocacy. Before I had worked as the affirmative action, ADA diversity coordinator for the State of Iowa. And then later I went on to a federal parent training program, and working with children and parents in the schools with IDEA, Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, getting services for kids in schools. One of the things that we did was we presented informational programs to parents and schools on different topics. One of them, of course, was ADHD. Yet I had never connected the dots.

Erik Doc Anderson: We were at a conference and presenting and I was presenting on IDEA issues. A friend of mine who I’d known for years, he and his mom were presenting as a keynote speaker, and I hate to admit it, but I really didn’t want to go. But I wasn’t interested in that. But I was very interested in supporting him and moral support. So I went and he was talking about growing up with ADHD. And as I’m sitting there watching this, my jaw just slowly crawls down my chest as he kept reading from the diary that I never wrote. Wait, what? Wait, no, wait. All of these things. I told my executive director. Now, I had a fabulous boss at that point, she was amazing. She taught me so many things. And she said, "Okay, this is huge. Do you need to take the rest of the day and go process on this." I looked at her and I said, "I’m right here in the middle of a special education conference with experts all around me. I couldn’t be in a better place."

Pete Wright: Why would I possibly want to abandon this moment right now?

Erik Doc Anderson: And that was my introduction. Then as I was leaning into this and learning about ADHD… Now, I told you that my background is in magic and performance and comedy and all of this. Because as like so many ADHD-ers, I have an eclectic work. I don’t have a career, I have an eclectic work history. That is how ADHD is that. So one of the things that I would do is I would take a deck of cards and I would use it as a fidget, doing a very, very quiet thing called a Pharaoh shuffle. Now, a Pharaoh shuffle was used in the early 1900s for the game of Pharaoh. And it was a way of perfectly interweaving every other card through an entire deck to break up winning pairs in the game of Pharaoh. It is a difficult thing to master. So I would sit in meetings and I would do silent Pharaoh shuffles. We would have, I swear to you dog, there’s a point to this, and I’m getting there.

Erik Doc Anderson: We would have people come in for outside meetings or for meetings in our office. And my executive director loved to sit them where they could see me fidgeting with this deck. So I would sit there with my head down and doing these very, very intricate shuffles. She said she could watch them just getting angrier and angrier as I obviously was not paying attention. And, oh my God, how disrespectful is that? Then about the time the veins started pumping on their forehead, I would pop up, I would look up, I would ask a couple of very cogent questions that showed not only was I paying attention but I was operating two or three levels deeper than everyone else on the topic. She said, "It was a glorious moment because inevitably they would, after the meeting, talk to her and go, ‘I have never seen anything like that.’" And Jewel would say, "Well, Erik has ADHD. And fidgeting is one of the ways that he keeps his brain engaged." We offer a training on ADHD, can we bring that into your office?

Pete Wright: Oh, man. What a perfect example of dog meet pony show. We can solve this problem for you, that’s fantastic.

Nikki Kinzer: So when did you decide to become an ADHD coach? How did that come into your career path?

Pete Wright: Was it that moment?

Nikki Kinzer: Was it that moment where you can…

Erik Doc Anderson: No. Let’s back this up. Now. I had spent my formative years on pari-mutuel tracks and county fairs. That was where I grew up, surrounded by all of these interesting things.

Pete Wright: I just have this thought right now of you being just looking for a job and say, "Yes, I’m perfect for this job and also completely unhirable." Those two things exist at the same time and it’s so perfect.

Erik Doc Anderson: Well, now Jewel, when I went to apply for that job, they didn’t have a job available. And my background was also in graphic design and communications.

Nikki Kinzer: Of course it’s.

Pete Wright: Yeah, of course it’s.

Erik Doc Anderson: So she said, "I can hire someone with a disability who gets it, I can hire a graphic designer." But to find someone that gets both parts of these, they made a position for me because they couldn’t afford not to use these talents that were together. So I stayed with them for a number of years until she left and things started to go South and I read the writing on the wall and I left in 2005. I spent the next 10 years, I went back to my roots, and so I became a performer again. Well, I was still young enough to do that after spending years in self advocacy and in institutional advocacy and school advocacy and employment advocacy. I went back to my first love of performing, which is the psychology of all of these hidden communities and why things work, amazing stuff.

Erik Doc Anderson: So from 2005 till 2015, I was doing a traveling medicine wagon comedy show at fairs and festivals all over the Midwest and West. I had my own medicine show wagon, the whole nine yards, I was having a ball. And then in 2015 on my birthday, I got heat stroke and a cookie. And it was nasty, it was 107 degrees, 97% humidity. And we were doing everything right, drinking, self care, all of that, and I came off stage and I dropped.

Pete Wright: Oh my goodness.

Erik Doc Anderson: Then after that, I lost all of my tolerance for heat and I couldn’t do outdoor shows anymore. So I had to say goodbye to 10 years of a career that I had built, that I adored. So I was looking at, what else am I going to do? So I wanted to go back and do advocacy, but I didn’t want to do it in an institutional setting, where so many things were circumscribed about what I could do and what I couldn’t do and how you do it and institutional limitations. I started looking at different things. Well, could I get certification in CBT or DBT? But those you end up working in a nursing home or working a… And I’ve done nursing home programs and shows for decades, love them. Because old age and treasury wins over youth and enthusiasm pretty much every time. Or you’d have to work under a psychiatrist or a psychologist. Then my wife, I married above my species, I am a very lucky man, my wife said, "Did you know, ADHD coaching was a thing?" Now, she says she said that three times.

Nikki Kinzer: Oh, yes.

Pete Wright: Of course she did. Because when you’re reachers like we are, they’ve always said it first and they’re right.

Erik Doc Anderson: So I went, "Wait, what? That’s a thing?" So I looked into it and I looked for what kind of training does that take and looked at a couple of different programs. And then I started calling. Okay, I’m interested in this program. I went to ADCA, the ADHD Coaching Academy.

Nikki Kinzer: So did I.

Erik Doc Anderson: David Works. So what I did was I go, "Okay, they look good." And then I started looking at their roster of coaches and I picked three of them that looked like me, that looked like my level of schooling, any number of things. I called them and I grilled them about, "Tell me what the training is like. Tell me what it’s like to be a coach, tell me about all the things." And going, wow, this is what I was looking for. And frankly is a lot easier to do than being a professional psychic, which I’ve done that too.

Pete Wright: Did you move to McMurdo Station to do your practice now, get out of the heat? Are you coming to us from the Antarctic?

Erik Doc Anderson: No, I’m in St. Louis and far enough south that the Episcopalians handle things.

Pete Wright: Okay, all right. Let’s talk then a little bit about the hero engine. We posted the image for people in the livestream, it’ll be in the show notes with the podcast. We have a connection in our love for Joe Campbell and the hero’s journey. And for you that inspired, it sounds like, a whole language around talking about how we handle the negative stories that are so easy for us to tell about ourselves. Tell us about it.

Erik Doc Anderson: Well, for any of you out there that go, wait, hero journey, Joseph Campbell, what’s that? If you put hero journey into Wikipedia, you are going to find out more than you want to know. There’s the 17, 22, 45 steps of the mono myth. And I it’s a great, big, huge Freudian thing that is a product [crosstalk 00:20:30].

Pete Wright: Before long, you’ll be doing Cornell notes of the Odyssey. Don’t worry about it, it’s okay, you can let it go.

Erik Doc Anderson: Yeah, exactly. Remember that these are stories and that Odysseus was just a guy trying to get home after a bad day at work. So what I did was I took all of these pieces of the great mono myth, the cycle of the hero that every culture tells the same story, they just do it from their perspective, but all the steps are the same. And usually when we do this, we’re talking about these grand, epic stories. But what about me? What about you? What about our daily lives? How does that relate into what we do? And what I found out is that the hero cycle is the human metaphor, it is how we go through life. It is the cycle of challenge and achievement and change. It is thesis, antithesis, synthesis, it is the three act formula of get your hero up a tree, throw rocks at them, get them back down. As a friend of mine and I are so fond of saying, "You can not not do the hero journey." I’ll give you a moment until your brain catch up with that one.

Erik Doc Anderson: So what I did was I simplified the hero journey down to, what does it look like every day? What it comes down to, the journey you are on every moment of your life whether you’re writing a PhD thesis or taking out the garbage is this, all is well until suddenly it’s not. So you go to a new place, you learn new things, you overcome challenges, you find your hidden power, and you return again greater than you were before., All is well. We are on this cycle every moment of our lives. We are on multiple hero journeys at any one time. Now, if you couple that with what Gartner said about human beings are the only species that tell stories and then live by the stories we tell, we are creating our own reality at every moment. And to quote one of my favorite comics, the killing joke, Joker says, "If I’m going to have a past, I prefer multiple choice." We get to choose our stories.

Pete Wright: Well, that is an apt and deep cut for this show, sir, killing joke. I don’t know if you knew this, but just now you and I became best friends. So congratulations.

Nikki Kinzer: Pete is your new friend.

Pete Wright: Nailed it.

Erik Doc Anderson: Excellent.

Pete Wright: Nailed it. This is I think a great segue, at least for a sidebar. Part of the problem that we have when we think in terms of the metaphor of the hero journey and when people come to us and to this show, often they bring the baggage of the agent of chaos. You said thesis antithesis, but I would add hero antagonist. If you already believe you are the antagonist of your own story, how do you overcome that?

Erik Doc Anderson: Can I give you an example?

Pete Wright: I hope you will.

Erik Doc Anderson: I’ll tell you a story. So years ago, I did a school assembly program called Energy Resource, I played a character called the energy wizard. I was in my twenties and young and stupid and I was a proto human because we’re not done yet at that age. I love this job, we got to go around and do school assembly programs. And I got paid for it, this was fabulous. I love that job. The problem was, every morning when they came to pick me up, I was late by five or 10 minutes because time blind. Time is now and not now, I didn’t know it then. But all we can be is ourselves.

Erik Doc Anderson: So the guy that hired me, we had to come to Jesus and he said, "If you are late again, if we have to wait on you again, we’re done, we’re replacing you. You don’t get a vote in this." And that terrified me because I loved this job and I was in danger of losing it. He got through to my hamster brain, that was where we were, and it scared me. I was not late again because I loved the job more than I hated playing calendar Tetris. So for years, I had this story that I’m always late, I’m always late. I suck, I’m always late.

Pete Wright: And you have that boatload of evidence confirming that in your own head by now.

Erik Doc Anderson: Yes, I did. Now, we’re going to fast forward. Years later, when I was doing programs in the medicine show, I was doing a show for an agent and I screwed my calendar up big time. We’re going to go forward to about 2017. I was supposed to be in a Zoom meeting and I blew it of, I missed, I didn’t blow it off, I screwed up my calendar, the wheels came off the bus. And so crap, I knew it, I’m always late. Damn it, I did it again. So I send emails out to everyone and, of course, ADHD-ers they go, "Oh yeah. We do this, no big thing." Well, I was not through punishing myself. Thank you very much, we have raised this to an art form. And if I punish myself enough, then you don’t have to, bonus. So I was beating myself up thoroughly and my wife got sick of this.

Erik Doc Anderson: And so she pulls me up short and she says, "Erik, when was the last time you screwed your calendar up this bad?" And I said, "Well, had to be what, like a month or two ago because I’m always doing this." And she said it was in 2007 or whenever it was when I was doing the show for that agent and I screwed my calendar and I was not there. Wait, what, that’s like 15 year. No, that can’t be right. Well, I checked and it was right because she has the memory. I didn’t know what to do with that.

Nikki Kinzer: I bet.

Pete Wright: Because can be counter to the narrative you’ve been telling yourself the whole time.

Nikki Kinzer: Exactly.

Erik Doc Anderson: Yes, my narrative is I’m always late [crosstalk 00:27:46].

Nikki Kinzer: Look at all the evidence I have that I’ve made up.

Erik Doc Anderson: So how exhausting that is, to yep, she up. I’m on borrowed time, I’m going to be late. So I tortured myself for 15 years with this story that I’m always late. Well, I had evidence that was not true. The last time I had done this to this degree was 15 years ago. So my news story is, I am really good at being on time but I have to pay attention. That is a much healthier narrative. This is what we’re talking about with reframing our stories, is that stories are rooted in information. Information is a thing, it is neutral. And the progression goes, thing, story, emotion, action, result. So we have a thing, it is neutral. I missed a meeting, that’s a fact, I missed a meeting. So I created a story around that, I’m always late. Stories create emotions. The emotion was negative, the was shame.

Erik Doc Anderson: Welcome to how we live with ADHD, it’s a very feelings forward existence. And that shame informs our action and the action creates the result which often goes back to the original thing, I’m late. So it is, I’m late or I missed a meeting because I’m always late. It creates shame so I end up punishing myself and doing very, very harmful things to… I’m not doing self-care, self-compassion. And as a result, now I perpetuate this idea that I can’t be on time. And it feeds itself in terrible ways. But if I say to myself, "Oh, I missed a meeting. But I’m really good at being on time if I’m paying attention." That means I wasn’t paying attention. What basics was I not doing? Where was I not paying… Oh, okay. I this has changed. I need to change these external prompts and pay attention to my processes.

Pete Wright: I think that’s a really great point. And to use your own, the hero engine, all as well until suddenly it’s not and the calendar is screwed up. We then have a choice, and it’s generally for most of us an unconscious choice about inserting a narrative that fits the facts or stopping ourselves, putting on the break, and saying, ah, what is the only thing I know? The only thing I know is I missed a meeting.

Erik Doc Anderson: Facts are things that are true whether or not we choose to believe them.

Pete Wright: Yes.

Erik Doc Anderson: Beliefs are things we choose to trust whether or they are true. And truths are beliefs that we choose to regard as facts. So we have a really, really bizarre relationship with information.

Nikki Kinzer: It’s so complicated.

Erik Doc Anderson: It is. So you add to that the ADHD negativity bias. That I can start with, I texted Pete, why didn’t he text me back?

Nikki Kinzer: He doesn’t like me.

Erik Doc Anderson: He didn’t text me back.

Nikki Kinzer: I did something wrong.

Erik Doc Anderson: Oh my God, I probably him off. He’s mad at me. Oh God, he’s mad at me, he’s never going to talk to me. I go from Pete, didn’t text me back, I will take it all the way up to the zombie apocalypse. Because when we don’t have information, we play Madlibs. We fill things in and we do the spinal tap thing, we crank it up to 11, and we fill those Madlibs in with negativity, and we make it worst case scenario.

Pete Wright: I like to use that Madlib and just replace it with attacked by a shark because that always resets. It sounds ridiculous, and that’s intentional. What are the odds that he didn’t text me back because he was attacked by a shark? That is exactly as likely as him not liking me anymore, right?

Nikki Kinzer: True.

Pete Wright: That’s a frame.

Erik Doc Anderson: My wife and I do this all the time. This is very similar to a CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy, technique, where you do something in a ridiculous voice. We call it giving voice to the inner toddler.

Pete Wright: Sure, sure, sure, sure.

Erik Doc Anderson: So if she says, "Erik, can you take out the garbage?" I’ll look at her and go, "No, I don’t want to." And we look at each other and we laugh and we have just denied this voice, our inner toddler. We’ve denied it energy because ODD, oppositional defiance, is one of the coexisting conditions that go with the neuro atypical brain wiring we have. So a way to reframe that reaction, I’m going to have these negative reactions, but I get choices around what to do with them. And those choices are expanded when I choose my emotional reaction to the stories I’m creating.

Nikki Kinzer: Yo know something that’s really interesting about what you said, and I just want to highlight. You’re saying, I can be on time if I pay attention or when I pay attention. What I love about that is the acceptance of ADHD.

Erik Doc Anderson: And the responsibility.

Nikki Kinzer: And the responsibility of it. You’re not just assuming or accepting the fact that I’m never going to be on time. You’re really looking at, I can be and these are the structures and the things that I need to do to make that happen. But I’m capable, I’m capable.

Erik Doc Anderson: Absolutely. And as a coach, here’s the difference between coaching and therapy. Therapy is about healing your pain, it is about making yourself okay with what was, it is about creating acceptance so that you aren’t anchored in things that don’t serve you. Coaching is about moving forward and it’s about, okay, this is where we are, where do we want to be? And as a coach, unlike therapy, I don’t treat you like you’re broken because you’re not.

Pete Wright: Really my brain is rattling around with the acceptance and responsibility of ADHD. Because too often we see, even in our own community, people who are ostensibly there because they’ve already embraced it to some degree on their own journey, their own space, and their own lives with ADHD. And someone will recommend a tool and someone else will say, "I can’t do this because ADHD."

Erik Doc Anderson: And it becomes, I can’t do that right yet. Here’s the thing, we can only be the hero of our own journey. You can only be a companion or an obstacle on someone else’s, and you get to choose which one that is.

Pete Wright: I can’t do that yet. Everybody, just say that again, everybody listening, I can’t do that yet. Oh, yet. Yes and. Absolutely love it. As we get toward wrapping up here, I’d like to talk about some practicals. For people who are listening to this, like our dear friend, Allison, in the chat room who’s saying her mind is blown about negative Madlibs, let’s talk about how to condition yourself, how to make self advocacy in this spirit of practice. How make it part of your life?

Erik Doc Anderson: Self advocacy starts with advocating for yourself with yourself. You have to advocate for your best self with yourself before you can advocate involving someone else. And that advocacy, that relationship that you have with yourself is vitally important. It starts with the stories that you are telling yourself. And the first thing that is necessary if you are going to change and reframe that story is to stop, pause. Living successfully with ADHD starts with pause, stop. Our brain spins up, things go faster and faster, and it is the most counterintuitive thing that we can think of is, I have so many things.

Erik Doc Anderson: Oh my God, everything’s going so fast, and the one thing you don’t want to do is slow down and stop. Stop, breathe, go back to, okay, what’s the story I’m telling myself? What is the thing, that neutral fact toy that this story is about? And is that all that can mean? I’ve cast this negatively, I’m telling a story to myself that doesn’t serve me, what other stories can this be? Now, here’s a pro tip. And by the way, you don’t have to remember any of this. I actually made a whole handout for the TED talk I did on writing your hero story. And that’s available on my website.

Pete Wright: Oh, great, we’ll put a link to it.

Erik Doc Anderson: Which is coachingforcreativebrains.com. But here’s the thing, when you are reframing your story, when you’re reframing, when you’re creating that hero story, every hero has a quest. Don’t make the quest epic, make the quest what you are doing every day. Epic is what happens when you retell the story later, epic is what happens when the barns sing about it. Every story is just trying to get through to the other side. Like I said, the Odyssey, Odysseus. Odysseus was just a guy who was trying to get home from work after a bad day. So don’t make your quest epic, make your quest, make what you are doing, something you are doing, lean into that. Sometimes the best thing you can do to reframe your story is tell that story to someone else. We are social animals, and ADHD-ers, we struggle. I could do an entire thing on social.

Erik Doc Anderson: I help ADHD-ers with the social thing all the time. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had clients where, oh my God, I suck at work and I’m going to get fired because employment. We start working on social and they go, "Wait, what? No, I need to learn how to be organized." And the social is one of the most important things you can do for ADHD. We don’t get it. Small talk is opaque to us very often. So stories are meant to be told. So find someone to tell your story too and get feedback from and share stories and tell stories and compare stories and talk about stories. Don’t do this alone.

Nikki Kinzer: Community.

Erik Doc Anderson: Find a companion to be on your hero journey.

Nikki Kinzer: I love that.

Pete Wright: Also when you get low and gravely like that in your voice, I want you to come over and tell me a bedtime story. You got great pipes, man.

Erik Doc Anderson: Not an exaggeration, someone said, "Doc, you have a voice like cream cheese."

Nikki Kinzer: Oh, that’s great.

Pete Wright: Oh, God. If only we did comic titles.

Nikki Kinzer: I know, right?

Pete Wright: That would be the title of this episode.

Nikki Kinzer: So something I have to say again that just really struck me with what you said. And this is I think one of my biggest takeaways from today is that you have to be a self advocate for yourself to yourself. I don’t remember exactly how you said it. But I totally get that. If you don’t have that for yourself, you’re not going to ever believe anything that anybody else has to say to help you or to give you that support. It’s so huge.

Erik Doc Anderson: Our relationships are the relationships we have with ourselves at large. So often with ADHD, it’s the relationship that we have with ourselves that we mirror into everything else. Ad we come at it with such a scarcity mentality. And I’m going to go into the superhero thing here. I’ve equated this with we begin to get the idea that we could have more, but we have a very sidekick mentality. It’s, I really don’t deserve this but I want it, can I please have some? It’s the sidekick, the sidekick is trying to validate themselves to everyone. And they’re saying, can I have pie please? Oh please, sir, can I have another? As we get into our, and this gets into the social, as we get into, we begin to find oh, I can do this. Then very often we feel that we have to defend our right to be in a space, we become a scrapper. And the scrapper is all about, I’m going to prove to you that I’m worthy. Which is I’m going to prove to myself that I’m worthy. So it’s, I’ll fight you for that piece of pie.

Erik Doc Anderson: Later we realize that we don’t have to fight our way through everything, but we’re still deep in validation. So we become a scorekeeper, and the scorekeeper is only as good as their last accomplishment. And when they screw something up, they’re done. And they’re saying, "Look, how much pie I have, that’s how worthy I am." But we get to a point where we support each other through this, where we are our best selves. Not every day, not every moment, but that we are cognitively consonant and we become a mentor to ourselves and others. And the mentor says it’s about lifting other people and lifting ourselves up and supporting each other. And the mentor says, "Who wants to make pie?"

Nikki Kinzer: Fantastic.

Pete Wright: It’s so good.

Nikki Kinzer: It’s so good.

Pete Wright: That is so good. You’ve just connected to this thing that I realized that I do still, even as somebody who’s spent the last couple of decades trying to figure all this out. I still do this thing where I can put myself in a negative self-talk space by telling myself that my story isn’t epic enough. This whole thing about, that our stories only have to be epic in the retelling is amazing to me because that is the little voice that is constantly telling me, "You’re not doing enough, your story’s not big enough, you haven’t accomplished enough, you’re not this enough, you’re not this enough." Because ADHD is the natural language, that’s what I mean when making this stuff a practice.

Erik Doc Anderson: So therefore-

Pete Wright: Everyone else is outside.

Erik Doc Anderson: … I sucks. But we judge others by their actions, we judge ourselves by our intentions. It’s that whole inside, outside thing and the dichotomy of what is epic and epic is how the story is.

Pete Wright: That’s right here.

Erik Doc Anderson: It’s never about how the story is good.

Pete Wright: I’m already going to be hunting for links of things that you’ve mentioned for this show. But I’m going to cut us off because obviously you’re going to have to come back some other time. Doc, this is terrific.

Erik Doc Anderson: I’d love to. This is a wonderful beginning to the conversation. There is so much to explore here. And what we want to do is to help people understand that ADHD… I tell people that I turn ADHD into your greatest strength instead of your biggest struggle. Now, it is not easy, it takes work. But it doesn’t have to be full of suck to do it. This is the kind of stuff that we do. I struggled for so many years. I am 59 years old and there’s so much of this stuff that I just now feel like I’m starting to begin to get a handle on.

Pete Wright: Amen. Where do you want people to… You’ve already mentioned the link, is there anything else you want to plug beside your website that you’re doing right now that we can help send people to?

Erik Doc Anderson: Yeah, website, coachingforcreativebrains.com. I also have an Instagram, which is ADHDFlyingSquirrel and I’ve got a number of things up there. I haven’t posted in a while because reasons. And then there’s also a YouTube channel ADHD Flying Squirrel, where I’ve been playing with things.

Nikki Kinzer: That’s fantastic. Thank you.

Pete Wright: Thank you so much, Doc Anderson. We sure appreciate having you here.

Nikki Kinzer: Thank you so much.

Erik Doc Anderson: This has been a blast.

Pete Wright: Introducing you to our community. Everybody go check out all the work that Doc Anderson has done. And commence the foot tapping and breath-holding for when we get him back.

Erik Doc Anderson: If you are interested in coaching, I will tell you right now, when people contact me, I direct them to a webinar that I put together on ADHD. It does a lot of short cutting the language so that we can begin to have a conversation. And what my job is, is to help you understand what your next step is. Whether or not that is coaching with me or not, you have to have a coach that fits you. It may not be me, and that’s cool. That you should never do coaching with someone that you don’t feel comfortable, connected, and safe with. So if you’ve had difficulty with coaching in the past, don’t give up on coaching. Very often that may not have been the right coach. So you want people in your corner that are going to help you be the best of you.

Pete Wright: Perfect way to wrap us up. Thank you very much, Doc Anderson. We appreciate you and your time. And thank you everybody for down loading and listening to this show. We sure appreciate your time and attention. On behalf of Nikki Kinzer and Erik Doc Anderson, we’ll catch you right here next time, right on Taking Control, the ADHD podcast.

Through Taking Control: The ADHD Podcast, Nikki Kinzer and Pete Wright strive to help listeners with support, life management strategies, and time and technology tips, dedicated to anyone looking to take control of their lives in the face ADHD.