ADHD 2403@2x Dr Sharon Saline

Call Out Your Stinking Thinking! ADHD & Self-Compassion with Dr. Sharon Saline

Dr. Sharon Saline joins us this week to talk all about living with ADHD and still managing to find a dose of self-compassion under the weight of it all.

Episode Hosts: ,

Subscribe to Taking Control: The ADHD Podcast in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere else you find your favorite podcasts!

Support The ADHD Podcast and get great perks by becoming a Patron • Learn More and Join Now!

We’d never heard of the phrase stinking thinking until Sharon Saline used it with us on the show this week. But we knew what it meant immediately. We live with it. It’s the thinking we use about ourselves when we’re compromised or when our reserves of resiliency have been tapped, and when what we need more than anything else is just a little bit of self-compassion.

But as ADHDers, finding self-compassion isn’t always natural. We have to make a practice of it, integrating the language and behaviors of compassion into our days and hours such that when we need it, it’s not so hard to find.

Dr. Sharon Saline specializes in an integrative approach to managing ADHD, anxiety, executive functioning skills, learning differences & mental health in neurodiverse children, teens, adults & families and she joins us again today to talk all about living with ADHD and still managing to find a dose of self-compassion under the weight of it all.

About Sharon Saline, Psy.D.

Sharon Saline, Psy.D. has focused her work on ADHD, anxiety, learning differences, and mental health challenges and their impact on school and family dynamics for over 30 years. Her unique perspective, a sibling of a child who wrestled with untreated ADHD, combined with decades of academic excellence and clinical experience, assists her in guiding families as they navigate from the confusing maze of diagnoses and conflict to successful interventions and connections. Dr. Saline funnels this expertise into her book, What Your ADHD Child Wishes You Knew: Working Together to Empower Kids for Success in School and Life. Heralded as an invaluable resource, her book is the recipient of two awards: Best Book Awards winner by American Book Fest and the Gold Medal from Moms’ Choice Awards. She recently published The ADHD Solution Deck: 50 Strategies to Help Kids Learn, Reduce Stress & Improve Family Connections.

Find Sharon on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn

And, in case you’re wondering, here’s a little background on Alternate Nostril Breathing


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 look, it’s Nikki Kinzer.

Nikki Kinzer: Hello, everyone. Hello, Pete Wright.

Pete Wright: It’s like she jumps out from behind corner.

Nikki Kinzer: I know, right?

Pete Wright: Scared me with her podcast wiles.

Nikki Kinzer: Boo.

Pete Wright: How are you, you feeling good?

Nikki Kinzer: Yes, feeling great.

Pete Wright: Happy February.

Nikki Kinzer: Yes.

Pete Wright: As we record this, it is the first week of February. And I don’t know if you knew this, January is already over. One 12th of the year is done, Nikki.

Nikki Kinzer: Wow. One 12th of the year. How was… well. I almost asked you, how was it?

Pete Wright: Yeah, let’s not.

Nikki Kinzer: Let’s not do that.

Pete Wright: Anyway, it’s crazy that time is passing as quickly as it is.

Nikki Kinzer: It does, it goes by fast.

Pete Wright: It is also unnerving. It goes by so fast. And I think this whole conversation that we are going to have today is apt. Especially when we think about, when I think about, the nature of time passing. We are talking to Dr. Sharon Saline, a dear friend of the show, and a fantastic, a number one person, about self-compassion and ADHD. And for me, this conversation is all about the language that I use with myself when I feel like I am not good enough, I am not capable enough to handle whatever is in front of me. And when time starts to feel like it’s passing, it’s real easy for that language to sneak in, right?

Nikki Kinzer: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Pete Wright: For you to say to yourself, my goodness, I can’t get it done in time. It’s just yet another way to reinforce language of shame. So Sharon is here, and she is going to talk to us and give us some tips to make positive reinforcement, and that reinforcing behavior, a practice, a habit, a cause.

Nikki Kinzer: I love it.

Pete Wright: Before we do that, head over to takecontroladhd.com. You can get to know us a little bit better. You can listen the show right there on the website, or subscribe to the mailing list and we will send you an email each time a new episode is released. Connect with us on Twitter or Facebook at Take Control ADHD. And Hey, I’ve said it before, I’m going to say it again, we have this way for you to support us, and it’s called Patreon. patreon.com/theadhdpodcast. It is listener supported podcasting.

Pete Wright: If you like what we’re doing here, if you appreciate what we are doing with all of the stuff we’re doing with the podcast, with all the episodes that we’re doing, with the guests that we try to get on here to talk about important topics with your ADHD, with the community, the Discord community that we have going on. If you appreciate all of that stuff, we sure would appreciate you heading over to patreon.com/theadhdpodcast, and demonstrating that appreciation with a few dollars a month. You’ll get access to super secret channels in Discord. You’ll get access to the live stream of this podcast. You could join us and watch right along on video as we record these episodes with our guests. You’ll also get access to extended additions. You get the raw live stream audio, so you can get all the questions that we ask the guests after we finish the actual recording proper. Hey, it’s a great deal. patreon.com/theadhdpodcast to learn more. And now, shall we talk to Sharon? Do we have announcements?

Nikki Kinzer: No, let’s talk.

Pete Wright: No announcements?

Sharon Saline: Let’s talk to her.

Nikki Kinzer: I want to talk to Sharon.

Pete Wright: All right. Sharon? Dr. Sharon Saline specializes in an integrative approach to managing ADHD, anxiety, executive functioning skills, learning differences in mental health and neurodiverse children, teens, adults, and families. And she joins us again today to talk all about living with ADHD, and still managing to find a dose of self-compassion under the weight of it all. Sharon, friend, welcome back to the show.

Sharon Saline: Thank you, Pete, friend, and Nikki, friend.

Nikki Kinzer: Well, welcome. I’m so excited to have you, and I appreciate you taking the time out to talk to us, especially about this topic, because it’s so relevant in everybody, but ADHD folks, oh man, are they hard on themselves. So, so hard.

Sharon Saline: So let’s talk about why compassion, self compassion, and even I think self compassion, and it’s very close friend, radical acceptance, these two are very important for people with ADHD. And part of it is because from early on, as a kid, you get messages about what you could do differently. Your name is called. You need to do this, or stop doing that. You are aware that you can’t follow conversations in the lunchroom, or at recess you’re overwhelmed, or maybe you think something’s really funny and other kids don’t.

Sharon Saline: And so over time, what happens is that you develop a hyper vigilance about yourself, like when is the next time that I’m going to do something that isn’t the right thing. And you can’t see me all, but it’s like my hands are doing the quote sign. The right thing to do. Well, when am I going to make a choice or engage in an activity and get negative feedback or criticism or feel rejected.

Sharon Saline: And so over time, we become critical of ourselves. We internalize that negative voice. In terms of internal family systems theory, if any of you are familiar with that, it’s that part of ourselves. And there are protector parts of ourselves, and there are other parts of ourselves, but in a way we use that negative self talk to sort of deflect before someone can do something, or as a way to just say, this just confirms that I really am not smart, that I’m really not attractive, and that basically I stink, kind of a thing. Not smell, but the other. Or I’m a loser. I don’t like to use that term, but that’s what people say to themselves.

Sharon Saline: And kids will say to me, it’s because I suck. I’m like, really? We hear that. So we want to start to learn how to practice self compassion and self forgiveness, to shift away from proving yourself, from judging yourself as less than, from seeing yourself as unworthy, to accepting yourself, that kind of radical self acceptance, warts and all. Because to be able to laugh and to be able to see that we’re going to stumble as part of living makes us human. Right? And it kind of levels the playing field. And I think a lot of people with ADHD feel like the playing field is not fair to start with, and that they’re at a disadvantage.

Pete Wright: The last time you were here, Sharon, we mentioned in part of the before chat or after chat, that self-compassion was important. And you said to us, oh my goodness, I need to come back and talk to you about self-compassion. And then just this morning, Nikki said, my goodness, I have so many people I’m working with right now that need to hear this conversation about self-compassion. What is it for you both that you think is going on right now that makes the, gestures broadly, the life and times we are a living in, something that people are facing or surfacing these issues of self-compassion more than say another?

Sharon Saline: The wear and tear of COVID for two years, we’re now about to start year three, has really worn people down. And it’s beyond COVID fatigue, it’s resilience fatigue. It’s like, how many times can I reboot? Can I pull myself up? Can I pivot? And for those of us who live in wintry areas, it’s even more difficult. I know here in the Northeast, we’ve had an unusually cold January, temperatures at zero. That is also a little bit disconcerting. You can’t kind of go out, you can’t really socialize in the way that those of us who are practicing particular COVID safeties are how we were before, when we went outside.

Sharon Saline: So I think there’s isolation. I think there’s discouragement. And I think that there’s intense and increased anxiety all around about life. And so this would then, for people who run on the anxious side, and a lot of people with ADHD do, that would mean that they also may run on the self critical side. I’m worried about an outcome where I don’t have certainty. And so if I don’t have certainty, that means that I could make a mistake, and the result of making that mistake could be any different level of humiliation or regret or shame or belittlement. The list kind of goes on.

Nikki Kinzer: I definitely agree. Especially with a client that I’m specifically thinking about, when you are isolated, and like you said, the weather right now is really… you can’t go outside in some parts, because it’s so cold. And so this one particular client is in this small, one bedroom apartment, and she has to deal with some RSD factors from a job. And what I see, and this is on top of mind just because I’ve been working with this particular person this week, but it’s not only when is this going to happen, there’s just this assumption that I am a bad person. I can’t do this. I am never going to find the right job. I am not made to be a project manager. I am not made to. And so there’s this automatic just not even when, it’s just this is who I am.

Pete Wright: Yeah.

Nikki Kinzer: And trying to break through that is really difficult. Yeah, I mean, I think that there’s a lot of factors. I mean, just the, like you said, meanness. There’s so much meanness, and it’s sad. It breaks my heart.

Pete Wright: Yeah, I think that really connects for me, in my experience with any sort of lack of self-compassion. Going through a hard thing, it is getting progressively easier to internalize that when things are hard, that I am incapable of handling hard things. Not that it’s hard right now, and I have to learn new things and figure out how to do them, which is what I say to myself on my best days. But in those quiet times now, it’s that resilience fatigue. And to your point, Sharon and Nikki, to this hyperpersonalization of badness, that I have to fight that self-talk, that language, that it’s not me. Because my instinct is that I’m incapable of doing these things. And I say that also in air quotes. I’m incapable of this right now. And that’s what my lack of self-compassion looks like.

Sharon Saline: And that comes from years of receiving criticism and negative feedback, that we all receive throughout our lives. But when you are wired in a different way than some of your other classmates, or when people don’t understand ADHD, or learning disabilities, or [inaudible 00:12:35], or ASD, there’s a way in which kids don’t feel met. And because they don’t feel met, then they actually start to criticize themselves, like, what is wrong with me that I can’t blah, blah, blah.

Pete Wright: Right.

Sharon Saline: And we carry that into adulthood. So I’d like to just say a few things about what is self-compassion. So Dr. Kristin Neff, who is leading international expert on self-compassion, says that it’s composed of kindness. Of treating yourself with care and understanding, instead of harsh judgment. It’s composed of common humanity, understanding that you’re part of a larger whole. And that not all suffering is the same, but that all humans experience pain and suffering in some way, that’s worthy of empathy.

Sharon Saline: So you may suffer in a particular way. My neighbor may suffer in a particular way. I may suffer in a particular way. And all of those are different, but the experience of suffering is something that we share despite our socioeconomic, racial, religious, gender, orientation differences.

Sharon Saline: So the third component is mindfulness. The ability to be with things as they are, and steer clear of avoidance, denial or minimizing. So self-compassion means asking yourself, what can I do to help you? Me. What can I do? Putting your hand on your heart and saying, what can I do to help you, instead of what’s wrong with you, that you’re feeling X or that you did Y. It’s about acknowledging that you’re in pain, that you’re having a hard time, and trying to alleviate it. Not ignore it, not turn away from it, but face it and treat it like you would a third grader with a skinned knee. We say things to ourselves all the time as adults, and even teens do this, that you would never say to a third grader with a skinned knee.

Nikki Kinzer: Oh my gosh.

Sharon Saline: We’re so mean to ourselves.

Nikki Kinzer: Can I just… Oh, it’s so true. A couple of times, this last month, I’ve had a couple of clients who’ve been sick, some with COVID, and there’s this expectation that they had to continue doing what they were doing before they were sick.

Pete Wright: Oh, yeah.

Nikki Kinzer: And what you just said is such an eye opener, like you would not tell your third grade student or child or whatever, you just push through it. Keep going.

Sharon Saline: Right. Exactly.

Nikki Kinzer: Yeah. Yeah.

Sharon Saline: It’s so true. I mean, you stop fighting with yourself, and you start embracing and soothing yourself. It’s funny, that is a great example, because if you have a cold, really probably what you want to do is lie on the sofa and watch TV and have someone bring you some soup and rub your feet or put a blanket on you, and feel like I’m being taken care of a little bit. But instead, you get up, you get out the door, you go to work. And a lot of people have to because of their jobs. They don’t have sick time. If they don’t work, they don’t get paid.

Sharon Saline: And so this just sort of feeds that stress, and empties out that bucket of reserves, so that when you get to a time when something doesn’t work out, you don’t have anything in your bucket to be able to say, okay, I’m going to pause and be kind to myself. I’m going to take a drink of this lovely, beautiful spring water here in my bucket, and refuel my tank. I can’t do that. And so what we do then, is we are just hard on ourselves. And also, in this process, particularly people with ADHD, or who are uniquely wired, feel like they’re alone. Nobody else is going through this. But you’re not. You’re part of a community of people.

Sharon Saline: You, Nikki and Pete, create and foster and hold an incredible community of people. And so, I have been wondering like, is there even normal anymore? I’ve been thinking that we really need to think about our brain types in the way we think about gender, or race, or religion, with diversity umbrella. That’s what neurodiverse is. There’s a difference between that and neurodivergent, which are specific brains who are uniquely wired. So we’re supposed to get things wrong, air quotes, in life. We’re supposed to try something, stumble, regroup, try it again or pivot. That’s part of what learning is, and living is part of learning. And so I think it’s really important, not just when we think about compassion, to think about treating ourself with kindness and being mindful, accepting things as they are, but to remember our common humanity. So we can normalize, I’m not the only person who struggles with this.

Pete Wright: I’m just imagining, the sort of visual metaphor I’m dealing with right now as I’m listening to you talk, is all about my reduced capacity for that resilience that you’re talking about, which makes… do you ever watch Seinfeld? Were you a Seinfeld fan?

Sharon Saline: Hello? Yes.

Pete Wright: Forget it. Right, of course. So there’s this episode-

Sharon Saline: You know how old I am. Of course I did.

Pete Wright: … where Jerry is dating this woman who is really… she has some strange sort of capacity for dealing with hard things. And the end of the episode, she gets a phone call that her grandmother has just passed away, and she hangs up the phone and she says, my grandmother just passed away. And Jerry says, aren’t you sad? And she says, yeah, I mean, I’m really sad. And then immediately drops the hotdog on the floor and starts weeping. Right? This woman starts weeping.

Pete Wright: And that in the show is the joke. Like this is a person who’s miswired for grief. But that’s what I feel like right now. Right? Just that reduced headroom for hard things means that I’m out of gas by the time I drop the metaphorical hotdog, and I have nothing left to handle because of, again, gestures broadly. And so your point about kind of reassessing what the new normal is, that hits me right in the chest, because my new normal has never been further from grasp. I reach for what feels normal, and it’s just like a sprite. It disappear, and I have to go search for it again.

Sharon Saline: Well, this is very interesting, because when we think about trauma, many of the things, when we treat kids with trauma, there’s a huge movement now towards trauma informed care. And what trauma informed care asks, it asks a question which is different than the question we’d asked before. Before the question was, why are you acting this way? What’s wrong with you, that you’re acting this way? And now the question that we ask is, what’s happened in your life that’s led you to behave like this? What’s happened in your life, that’s led you to having these emotions, to being worn down? What could you do differently?

Sharon Saline: And I think right now, particularly when we’re treating ourselves with more compassion, we want to ask ourselves, what kind of support would be helpful? And how could I ask for that? What would it look like? And to be curious, rather than condemning. We condemn ourselves for the things that are not this or not that, and these all come from very deep seated, limiting core beliefs. I’m deficient in some way. I’m not enough. I don’t measure up. I’m not smart. I’m not pretty. I’m not athletic. Whatever it is, you can put that in, but there’s a core of deficiency.

Nikki Kinzer: So I’m curious, when you’re in a place where you’re saying those things, how do you challenge it?

Sharon Saline: I’m so glad you asked that question, because I was thinking, we’re kind of in this dark corner here now. I’ve got to get us out.

Nikki Kinzer: Yeah.

Sharon Saline: Okay. So I think what you want to do is to identify your stinking thinking, and what to say back to it. So you are not your thoughts, right? You are the one who is aware of your thoughts and believes them. And that’s that mindfulness piece. It’s like, you are the sky and your thoughts are these clouds. Sometimes they’re dark and stormy. Sometimes there’s a tornado. And sometimes it’s a beautiful day, sun is shining, and there’s no clouds at all, or they’re fluffy. Okay? So you are not your thoughts, but you are aware of them, and you’re the one who chooses to believe them or not.

Sharon Saline: So you could choose not to believe something and say, wow, I’m noticing I’m being mean to myself. This takes a lot of work. A lot of work. Because you have to notice your behavior, which is an aspect of metacognition that is so hard for so many people, particularly with ADHD. So one thing that I think can help, is to really focus on the compare and despair behaviors and thoughts. So compare and despair is, I’m looking sideways and I’m seeing what other people are doing. And I look at myself, I look over there and I look at myself, and I think, that’s not as good. And I look over on this side and I think, look at that, this is not as good. We want to look back. We want to look from where we came as individuals, and forward to where we’re going, okay?

Sharon Saline: Stick your focus on where you’ve come from, and where you want to go, rather than what other people are doing. We spend a lot of time in our lives, and this is people with and without ADHD, this is all of us, using our phones as if they are documenting the truth of everybody’s lives. And they’re not. I don’t know about you, but people don’t seem to put on Facebook when they have a really bad pimple, or they’ve had a crappy day. Yesterday I had kind of a crappy day, I didn’t post anything. In fact, I don’t post a lot, but that was a private thing. I wouldn’t want people to know I had a crappy day, except my friend, who I told I had a really crappy day. But really, I probably should, like, boy, this day was really crappy. Other people like, hear you.

Nikki Kinzer: Yeah.

Sharon Saline: You can do that. So we really want to identify your stinking thinking, and what you can say back to it, and notice when you’re engaged in compare and despair, and shift your focus from sideways to front and back.

Nikki Kinzer: I love that, because the people on this side of you, they don’t really have anything to do with your story. Like this is all about you. It has nothing to do with them. They don’t have anything to do with you, and you don’t have anything to do with them. I mean, it really makes sense that you can just keep going forward. It’s interesting.

Sharon Saline: But all of social media is all about sideways.

Nikki Kinzer: Yeah. It really is.

Pete Wright: Yeah.

Sharon Saline: A lot of stuff about popular culture is about sideways. Look at what they’re doing over here. Particularly in the early days of COVID like, oh my God, people are posting these incredible meals they were making, and activities, and hobbies, and I wrote two books during COVID. I’m like, oh my God. I’m just trying to like… how could you do that? I’m trying to see clients who are really having a hard time, and do podcasts, and reach people directly. Everyone uses their time differently, but we really have to stop that. So those are the first two things.

Nikki Kinzer: I have a question then, if you’re finding yourself in that negative shame spiral, then would one of your suggestions be to take a break from social media and take a step away from it for a while?

Sharon Saline: Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, I think right now, because we are all fragile, more fragile than typical because of what we’ve been living with and living through, that we want to be really careful about where we direct our attention in terms of social media. It can be very dangerous. People can post pictures of how happy their grown kids are, or my child is going to this college, or my husband got this incredible promotion, and you’re going to be in compare and despair. Why isn’t that happening to me? Instead of, okay, good for you. Let’s see, where was I yesterday? Where am I today? And I think it’s hard to say. Or instead of that, isn’t the same kind of excitement, like yesterday I was in the same place I’m in today, where was I six months ago?

Nikki Kinzer: Good point.

Sharon Saline: What was happening six months ago, and where am I now? And that helped. That I think is something that can be helpful, because shame spirals are really toxic waste dumps of self-loathing. That’s what they are. It’s just they block self-compassion, and they block forgiveness, because you’re blaming and you’re criticizing yourself in ways that you probably internalized through your childhood and adolescence, that you’ve heard other people talk to you about, and now you’ve adopted this voice. And that is the part of you that somehow we have to move beyond, in a way. We have to basically put our arm around that part and say, thank you for serving me, I don’t really need this anymore.

Pete Wright: How do you turn this into a practice? I’m thinking, if I’m listening to this, I’m thinking, okay, this is obviously not something that I need to do just the one time. I wish that I could just put my arm around it and say, take a hike, I’m moving on.

Sharon Saline: Yeah.

Pete Wright: But this feels very much like this is yet another thing that we can’t do just once, right? We have to figure out how to integrate this in the way we think and see, and sort of live and love in the world. How do you shake free of that yolk and move toward this as a practice?

Sharon Saline: I think the way that you do that is by strengthening mindfulness. And mindfulness isn’t just about medication. Ha-ha. Mindfulness isn’t just about meditation or yoga or Tai Chi. Those are all ways of practicing mindfulness. What mindfulness does is to help you be aware of where your attention is directed, like where is the spotlight of your attention on. If you were wearing a headlamp, for example, where are you directing your attention? So what we want to be able to do is to think about the parts of yourself that you like, and write those down. I put them on my computer. And again, you can’t see because you’re listening, but I want to tell you that I have a nice rainbow of little Post Its on my computer that say things like, be the lighthouse, spread the light. Or quit taking it personally. Or you can’t be anxious and grateful at the same time.

Sharon Saline: Those are not necessarily things I like about myself, because I think that’s too embarrassing for me to share with you here. But what I would do, is I have these little affirmations. But you think about a couple of things that you like about yourself, and write them down in a journal. And think about some things about yourself that you like about yourself, but you want to turn down the volume on those. So I know you might say for example, one of the things I like about myself is that I’m friendly. That’s hard to do in COVID. Right? So it’s hard to express that. So what I don’t like about myself is that I can catastrophize things. So how do I notice that? Because I can get into a negative loop and things can seem like this is going to be bad, or that’s not going to work out, or whatever. And the part of me that’s kind of friendly and bubbly, and likes to connect with people is actually submerged by the catastrophic thinking, because it’s negative and it pushes people away.

Sharon Saline: So I want to try to stay in balance. So what I need to do is sort of notice, listen, pay attention to my mood and my words, and try when I’m doing that, to say, that’s a flag. I’m being kind of negative. This is a good opportunity for me to do the flip side, which is to actually reach out to someone and be more of my friendly self to counterbalance and turn that down. I wish I could say, I want you to do one, two, three, and four, but it’s very personal. Could you name the part of you that’s kind of critical and mean to yourself, and maybe go online and find a funny picture of a cartoon character or something, and then you can learn how to talk back to it when it shows up. That’s the first step, notice when it shows up, notice when you’re thinking is that way. And then with compassion, saying, thank you very much, I’m not going to listen to you telling me that I’m not smart right now. That’s not helpful. I’m in the middle of a meeting. I need to pay attention.

Pete Wright: That’s what hits me, is that I have to figure out… like that practice means making the positive, the self-compassionate voice’s louder than the negative ones, and doing it enough, every day.

Nikki Kinzer: It kind of reminds me, Pete, of the presentation we did for the conference around joy, like really looking for your joy. You create it, you look for it, you find it. And so what you were saying reminded me of that, like, okay, here you are having all of these negative things going through your head, what would bring you joy right now? And it could be just playing with your dog. But it also puts you in the present where, for me anyway, you kind of see like, okay, maybe that other thing isn’t as big, because I’m experiencing this moment right now that brings me joy, and there’s some peace in that.

Sharon Saline: Of course. Of course. So it’s really about identifying this negativity, having a name for it. Like, I don’t know, negative Nancy or something. I mean, my friend and I, this year, we decided it’s 2022, we have a Peppermint Patty club. I don’t know if you remember Peppermint Patty from Charlie Brown, but she was always pretty positive. And so we call each other up. I have my accountability buddy. And I her call her up, I’m like, Hey, I need a Peppermint Patty minute, because I feel like I’m negative Nancy right now. And so that can help you.

Sharon Saline: I think being able to write down some things that you like about yourself, so that when you are feeling bad, you can turn to that list and be like, okay, I know that the negative voice, here’s what the negative voice tells me, here’s what the positive voice tells me. So you have some comparison, you have something to go to. And put it on your phone. Let’s not be embarrassed about it, it’s your phone, who cares, right? No one’s going to see that except for you. We want to turn down the noise of that negativity. And I’m sorry for anyone whose name is Nancy out there, I’m not trying to offend you.

Nikki Kinzer: I know. I was just thinking the same thing. I’m glad you said something.

Sharon Saline: I’m really sorry.

Nikki Kinzer: Yeah.

Sharon Saline: But we really want be able to start to turn the noise on that, and turn up the volume on, I’m a whole person. There are parts of myself that are not my favorite parts. There are parts of myself that I really love. I’m learning to be okay with the whole package, and I’m good enough as I am. And that is practicing self-compassion. So you identify your stinking thinking, which there you go, there’s no Nancy in that term.

Sharon Saline: And what you’re going to say back to it, you identify your own Peppermint Patty statements, things about yourself that you like, and you have some phrases in your toolkit that you can say to that negativity, that negative voice, when it emerges. Things that combat statements like, you are alone, nobody likes you, you are stupid, you are not attracted. You need something to say back to that. And don’t expect yourself to do that in the moment. Have it written down somewhere, have it on your phone, maybe create a playlist of songs that counteract that voice. Happy tunes, or something like that.

Nikki Kinzer: Yeah, I love that.

Sharon Saline: So all of that I think is very helpful. In a stressful moment though, are you going to be able to do all that? You’re at work, you’re feeling crappy, probably not. In those moments, what you want to do is actually have some kind of healing practice. And that practice might be closing your eyes and breathing in a color that you find very soothing, and breathing out like gray or black or whatever the tension is. And doing that several times. You can do it with alternate nostril breathing. You can do it with box breathing. Or smell a rose, blow out the candle.

Sharon Saline: That is what you need to do in a moment. You may not be able to do all these other little steps, they’re too complicated. So in the thick of a moment, or imagine to try to breathe in a soothing color and breathe out like a smoky kind of thing that you’re letting go of something. Or picture yourself at a beautiful place outdoors, where you’re happy. Go to the bathroom, if you need to do this, and take a couple minutes and just do an exercise where you see yourself happy, where you breathe in a color, so that you can say to yourself, I am not this feeling. This is a feeling, it’s a terrible feeling. I don’t like it. I feel alone, but I’m more than this feeling. There’s more to me than that. That’s putting your hand on your heart and being kind to yourself.

Pete Wright: Yeah.

Nikki Kinzer: Absolutely. Yeah, and it loops back into what you were saying at the very beginning, of try not to deny these things. You don’t want to avoid them, you want to, lack of a better word, embrace them, even though they’re hard, right? Because it feels like that’s helping you move through it. Not that you’re denying it, but you’re working through it, is probably what…

Sharon Saline: Right. You want to face it and acknowledge it, because the more that you try to push it aside and push it down, it gets stronger. It gets more powerful.

Pete Wright: Sidebar, I was going to save this question for after our conversation, but we do have a question in the chat room and I think it’d be good for everybody. Would you please tell us what is alternate nostril breathing?

Sharon Saline: Yes, I would. It’s a yoga thing. So everybody, if you’re listening, take your index finger and close your right nostril and breathe in with your left. And breathe out through your left. And now switch, close your left nostril and breathe in with your right. And you do it several times.

Pete Wright: And what does that do for us?

Sharon Saline: I have no idea, but it calms your nervous system.

Pete Wright: I love it.

Nikki Kinzer: Well, I think it would. I mean, just from my own experience in this two seconds that I did it, it makes you really focus on the breathing.

Sharon Saline: Yes.

Nikki Kinzer: You can’t think of anything else.

Pete Wright: Yeah.

Sharon Saline: That’s right. You’re focused on the breathing and you’re breathing deeply. because you don’t get as much air when you close a nostril, right? So you have to breathe more deeply. And actually, I find that kids with ADHD really like this. It’s like, Dr. Sharon, I have this in my nose. Yuck, where’s the Kleenex? I’m like, cool, get it out there. Yeah, let’s have a big nose blow. So I think that’s a very helpful technique. Harder to do when you’re in public because your fingers at your nose.

Nikki Kinzer: Yeah.

Sharon Saline: So sometimes I encourage you to put your hand right on your chest. Some people do belly breathing, but again, people don’t always feel like having their belly… sometimes people push their belly with their diaphragm muscle. It’s not relaxing. But if you put your hand on your chest, like you’re pledging to allegiance, or you’re sending a nice knocking on the door of your heart, you can breathe in and feel your whole chest expand, and breathe out. Breathe into the hand on your chest.

Nikki Kinzer: One of the things that I like to do too, when you’re doing that, I like, I think it’s the tiger breath, where you just when you exhale, you’re just like… it’s this relief of like… and I imagine any kind of stress or tension is that black smoke that you’re just blowing out as hard as you can outside of your body. Yeah, I love that.

Sharon Saline: I love that idea. Sometimes you can, even if you’re by yourself, you could breathe in really deeply, and then let out a noise like…

Nikki Kinzer: Yeah.

Sharon Saline: At the end you’ll feel like, whoa, look at that, I feel a little bit of space.

Nikki Kinzer: Yeah, feeling much better.

Sharon Saline: It’s great. That’s the whole thing I would like people to walk away from, is not that there’s the right way to be self-compassionate or a wrong way, that it’s your way. And there are tools where you ask yourself, how can I help you? How can I help me? What am I feeling? You’re acknowledging what’s going on, and you’re trying to alleviate it by embracing and soothing yourself. Right? That’s why it’s important to have some phrases. Like for me, I say, I’m doing the best I can with the resources I have available right now.

Pete Wright: Right.

Sharon Saline: And sometimes that means I’m not going to do a great job, because I don’t have a lot of resources. But I’m doing the best I can right right now.

Nikki Kinzer: That you can. And one of the things I always say is, what’s my intention? And my intentions are always good. They’re always good. And that helps me get through certain situations, where if I’m… I don’t know, but that’s just something that I think about definitely that helps me get through.

Sharon Saline: Or I’m more than my mistakes, because we are. Or it’s natural to make a mistake, or everybody stumbles at some point.

Pete Wright: Right, right.

Sharon Saline: So to have a couple of those phrases that you can pull out of your back pocket in those moments when you’re wrapped up in compare and despair, or a shame spiral, or you lost it with your kids and you’re like, I’m a terrible mother. What you want to say is, everybody makes mistakes sometimes. Everybody stumbles. That’s not a pass for abusive behavior in any way, and that’s not what we’re talking about today. I’m talking about the normal kind of typical everyday stumbles of, I lost my temper, I missed the deadline on something, I went out to get milk to the grocery store and I got everything except milk. Any of those kinds of things.

Pete Wright: Well, this is so valuable. I think part of it is, again, back to that, for me, I have to think of it as a practice, but also that I’m not avoiding anything, right? And I don’t even think, for me, I just need to make the right choices about how I find that inspiration again. Whether it’s alternate nostril breathing, or a mindfulness just sort of meditation moment of silence, or if it is… I’m not on social media all that much, but I do love my bespoke communities, right? I love the ADHD community. Sometimes when I’m just in a crazy fit, I’ll come over and just scroll through some of our community, because it does calm me to see other people actively engaged. And so I think just being choosy about what it is that that fuels me, is I think really important to be able to make the positive messages louder than the negative ones.

Sharon Saline: And to be able to say to yourself, and these are very, very, very common, but may I be safe. May I be happy. May I accept my limitations with Grace. May live with ease, and to wish that for other people. May you be safe. May you be happy. May you live with ease. Some of the more traditional Buddhist teachings are may you be free from suffering. So we really want to have some things to wish for ourselves, in this process of self-compassion. And I do want to say one thing about forgiveness, because self-compassion and self-forgiveness go together.

Sharon Saline: And that’s I think why Dr. Neff talks about the idea of common humanity. We all, every one of us, have to practice some forgiveness in aspects of our lives, whether toward us, toward ourselves, I mean. Toward our partners, towards our children, towards our parents, our friends, our colleagues. We have to understand this idea that we are all one common humanity. We suffer, we stumble, we eat, we sleep, we go to the bathroom, we experience joy and fear and anger. This is part of being human. And I think for a lot of people with ADHD, or people who are on the spectrum, or people who are wired differently, there’s a feeling I’m not part of a common humanity, I’m different. And it’s important to say yes, in some ways you are unique, but everyone has their own particular idiosyncrasies. And that’s important to value, instead of just saying, I’m this and it’s not okay.

Pete Wright: Beautiful.

Nikki Kinzer: Great way to end.

Pete Wright: Sharon, thank you so much.

Nikki Kinzer: Yes, thank you so much.

Pete Wright: For all that you do. Do you have anything you’re working on that you want to plug for us?

Sharon Saline: Well, tonight I’m doing a webinar for ADA on being confident and courageous. Basically, it’s on social anxiety. And let’s see, do I have anything else coming? I know I should say yes. Next week, on Wednesday, and you can check this out through my website, I’m doing a webinar on anxiety in elementary school aged children, and what it’s like to parent them. So if you go to my website, that would be a great place to check that out and sign up.

Sharon Saline: And in general, I would encourage you to please go to my website and sign up. I have a weekly blog. I only send it out one a week. I don’t really like to bother people. You can connect with me through Facebook, as well as LinkedIn and Twitter. And every Friday, and that includes this Friday, I do a live event for attitude magazine, attitudemag.com. And this is an incredible community of people all over the world who live with ADHD and ADHD friends, like anxiety or depression or learning disabilities or autism or oppositionality. So it’s a great way to kind of come together and hear from other people. And there’s a topic and we discuss it, and I try to answer your questions. So please join me for any and all of those things

Pete Wright: Fantastic.

Nikki Kinzer: Wow. That’s great.

Pete Wright: All of the links in the show notes, please click on them with abandon. Thank you, everybody, for hanging out with us, for downloading and listening to this show. We appreciate your time and your attention. On behalf of Nikki Kinzer and Dr. Sharon Saline, I’m Pete Wright, and we’ll catch you right here next week, 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.