Dr. Ned Hallowell on Self-Esteem, Human Connection, and Finding Your Difficult
"Driven to Distraction" author Ned Hallowell brings his valuable insights on a subjecting near and dear to many of us with ADHD: how do you manage self-esteem and self-perception while standing in the wake of ADHD?
For many of us, our relationship with Dr. Edward Hallowell, M.D., Ed.D., started with his best-selling 1994 book, Driven to Distraction. He’s the author of 20 books on various psychological topics and is a highly recognized international speaker on ADHD, focus, productivity, and beyond. He’s the founder of The Hallowell Centers, and has been featured as a guest expert across the media landscape, not to mention he’s a terrific host of his own podcast, DISTRACTION, which focuses on, you guessed it, the struggles and distractions of this amped up world.
Dr. Hallowell joins us today to talk about self-esteem. It’s a subject that creeps in and out of our community regularly with questions that angle on our perception of self, our sometimes flagging love and appreciation of ourselves, and who better to help us assess self-esteem and the ADHD role in our self-perception than one of the premier leaders in our field and the ADHD experience.
Links & Notes
- Because I Came from a Crazy Family: The Making of a Psychiatrist by Ned Hallowell
- Driven to Distraction by Ned Hallowell
- Subscribe to Distraction Podcast with Dr. Ned Hallowell
Brought to you by The ADHD Podcast Community on Patreon
Pete: Hello, everybody, and welcome to “Taking Control: The ADHD Podcast” on RashPixel.FM. I’m Pete Wright, and I’m here with Nikki Kinzer.
Pete: Hello, Nikki.
Nikki: Hello. Hi, Pete.
Together: How are ya?
Nikki: I’m doing great, how are you?
Pete: I’m doing very, very well this morning. I’m having a fine morning. It’s a little bit earlier than we normally record, but it is for good reason, we have a very, very special guest that we’ve been looking forward to talk to, I think it’s fair to say for years. Before we head into our guest’s conversation however, head over to takecontroladhd.com, you can get to know us a little bit better. You can listen to the show right there on the website or subscribe to the mailing list, and we’ll send you an email each time a new episode is released. You can connect with us on Twitter or Facebook @takecontrolADHD. And if this show has ever touched you, if it’s ever helped you make a change in your life for the better, if you found that you understand your relationship with ADHD in a new way, we invite you to consider supporting the show directly through Patreon. Patreon is a listener supported podcasting. If you were a patron right now, you would be watching this podcast as a live stream, and you’d already know who our fantastic guest is. How’s that for spoiler alert? With just a few dollars a month, you can help guarantee that we continue to grow the show, add new features and invest more heavily in our community, visit patreon.com/theadhdpodcast to learn more. Link in the show notes. Okay. Nikki, let us find our zen.
Nikki: I know right?
Pete: I’m not lying…
Nikki: I’m a little starstruck.
Pete: Right? I’m not lying to say that I’m fanboying a little bit about our guest today. For many of us, our relationship with our guests started with his best selling 1994 book “Driven to Distraction.” I get the chills just saying that. He’s the author of 20 books on various psychological topics, in fact. And he is a highly regarded international speaker on ADHD focused productivity and beyond. He’s a founder of the Hallowell Centers, and has been featured on 20/20, 60 Minutes, Oprah, and all of that practice has made him a terrific host of his own podcast, “Distraction,” which focuses on, you guessed it, the struggles and distractions of this amped up world, Dr. Ned Hallowell. Welcome to “The ADHD Podcast.”
Dr. Hallowell: It’s so nice to be with you. And thank you for that really kind and generous introduction.
Pete: It comes with exactly that much warmth. We are so gratified at your name. If our podcast was a drinking game with mentions of “Driven to Distraction,” and your name, we would all be soused, that you’re a frequent ghost.
Nikki: I that even a few years ago, I think we even said in one of the episodes, “That would be fantastic if we could get him on the show.”
Pete: Yeah. That’s right. That’s right.
Nikki: Here you are.
Dr. Hallowell: Well, all you had to do was call and here I am.
Nikki: I know.
Pete: Turns out it was much easier than we made it out to be.
Nikki: I know. If I had known that, you would have been on here a long time ago. I had to get over my own fear of, you know, just stepping out and asking.
Dr. Hallowell: Well, it’s wonderful. And thank you for the great work you do to spread the word about this condition. You know, we really need… The work is education. You know, the knowledge base is there. The science is there now, and it’s really a matter of breaking down stigma, and raising up awareness so that people realize that if you handle this condition properly, it’s an asset. If you handle it properly, it can take you to the very top in life. But if you don’t, it can ruin your life. And so it’s very high stakes poker, it can make you or break you. And that’s why it’s really important to take it seriously and cash in on the upside, and don’t let the downside ruin you.
Nikki: Well, I’m glad that you say that because I know that with a lot of the clients that I work with, because I’m an ADHD coach as well as a podcaster, so a lot of the clients that I work with, they tend to focus a little bit more on that downside when they first come to see me, you know, because they’re a little bit…well, you know, they’re stressed, right? I mean, they’re frustrated. Yeah. And it definitely takes a toll on their self-esteem. And so when I was thinking about, “Gosh, what do I wanna talk to Dr. Hallowell about?” And I think that what came up, for me, was the self-esteem issue because it feels like, that’s where we kind of have to start before you really go into strategies and, you know, it’s how you feel about yourself, and how you feel about this diagnosis. And I’m curious, you know, from your standpoint, how does ADHD affect self-esteem?
Dr. Halowell: Well, until you get some successes, it tends to ruin it, I mean, typically, until you realize what you’re dealing with and build some successes you go from failure to failure, frustration to frustration. In school, you underachieve, you get told to try harder and that doesn’t help at all. In fact, it makes things worse because you’re trying as hard as you can and you’re getting frustrated, and so you get all these lectures on trying harder, and that doesn’t help, and, you know, the longer that goes on, the worse it gets, and you begin to think you’re defective. If you get the diagnosis, you’re told you have a deficit disorder which has built into it, the deficit, you know, and disorder, so now, “Great. I’ve got a deficit disorder.” And so, you know, you’re told you are defective, and you are defined by this substance of deficit disorder. And so self-esteem suffers tremendously. And you know, it’s hard to mount any enthusiasm to try much of anything.
So really the reconstruction project, building a new life, which is what I’m all about trying to show people how to do, begins with the good news that if you redefine yourself, you really can start anew, and it doesn’t matter at what age, whether it’s 6 years old or 16 years old. You know, you say, “Okay, let’s rename this condition, instead of deficit disorder…” Let’s say you’ve got a Ferrari engine for a brain, you’ve got a really powerful, fast, fast brain but you’ve got bicycle brakes, so, you know, you have trouble controlling the energy power of your imagination. And so you’ve got a superior imagination, you’ve got a superior mind, you just have trouble controlling it, and that’s what ADD is all about. This whizzing, whirring powerful brain that just runs away with itself.
And so once you understand that… And then, you know, I give people a few examples: David Neeleman, who founded JetBlue Airlines, Tim Armstrong, the former CEO of AOL and Yahoo, Heather Reisman, the CEO of Indigo books in Canada, and in fact, most entrepreneurs, most people, Thomas Edison was the classic, Emily Dickinson, our greatest poet I think, was a classic. So we have many, many thousands, millions of hugely successful people who have it. And so there are lots of models you can look to and say, “Okay. Now if you shoot in that direction, the sky’s the limit.” But we have to begin to make some changes. And it begins with realizing that you really can do superior work, but you gotta start by realizing that you gotta build your brakes. You’ve gotta learn how to stop when you need to stop and inhibit when you need to inhibit, and focus when you need to focus.
And there are many ways of doing that, but it begins by realizing that you can do it, but it’s not a matter of effort, it’s not a matter of trying harder. And the problem does not rely in willpower or character, that kind of thing, it relies in changing the way you manage your brain. And how do you do that? Well, there are many ways of doing it. The most famous way is using medication. And medication, when it works, is hugely successful. It works about 80% of the time. But there are other ways as well, physical exercise helps, meditation helps, nutritional interventions help, finding the right school or the right job helps a lot, positive human relationships help a lot. I prescribe dogs, having a dog helps a lot, positive contact helps a lot, creating a positive emotional ambiance to live in helps a lot. So there are many ways other than medication that you should employ. And, by the way, it’s not either or, it’s not either medication or non-medication, it’s always both and. Try medication…
Pete: Pretty much, get a dog first, and then try all the other things.
Dr. Halowell: You get a dog first. Absolutely. Start with a dog, whatever you do, get a dog first. Dog makes everything else better.
Pete: You just said something that I find, it sort of blows my mind, the fact that we are… Like, when I get the flu, you know, I’m not told, “Pete, you have influenza, you’re a terrible person disorder.” I’m told I have the flu. When I’m told I have ADHD, I’m told I’m deficient as a person. That’s the limiting belief that I have. Now, I’ve lived with the diagnosis of ADHD for almost 20 years, and I’ll never forget this sort of eye-opening moment when my therapist said, “We need to talk about ADHD.” The weight that felt at once lifted off of my shoulders, that I now understood who I was after all these years, and the weight of shame that lands on my shoulders the next day, when I realize, “Oh my goodness, now I know what all this is all about. And that’s all about it.” And so I feel like it almost becomes an instinct that comes with the diagnosis to feel that sort of shame, the limiting beliefs become the mountain that you sort of have to climb and get to the other side of before you can start to see clearly that you actually have the Ferrari in the garage. But you know, what does 8:00 am day one look like for you with those that you work with, with ADHD to climb that mountain and come down the other side?
Dr. Halowell: Well, once they understand there’s an explanation for what’s going on other than they’re being defective, other than they’re being lazy, or they’re being, you know, having some kind of deformity, then it’s exciting. You know, and particularly, when they realize that there’s every reason to believe they can achieve their dreams, then it’s wonderful. And when you throw in the fact that most of us with this condition are incredibly hard working. Contrary to popular belief, we are the hardest working people you’ll ever find. We don’t give up. We are tenacious. We just don’t give up. So the outcome is things will get better, almost guaranteed. The only question is, how much better?
And so my folks, they will put in the effort, and then it’s up to me to provide them with the tools. And, fortunately, I’ve been doing this a long time, I’ve got a whole bunch of tools to offer. And so you know, depending on the age, you find the right school and the right job, find the right soulmate. It makes a big difference who you pick for love partner, friendship, these things matter a lot. I mentioned a dog and I’m very serious about that. And you know, human… Can I call it the other vitamin C, vitamin connect? The kind of positive connections you make, it really creates the kind of motor fluid, if you want. The kind of the world that you operate in, makes a big difference in the kind of results you’ll get.
And people with ADD, until they get on the right track, are usually operating in a very toxic ambiance. You know, they’re being put down and they’re putting down themselves. And so they’re driving on square wheels, is another analogy I use. It’s very hard to drive on square wheels. And so my job is to round out their wheels. And once they get round wheels, oh my gosh, they get so much more mileage for every unit of effort put in. And like I said, they’re willing to put in tremendous effort. And then give their imagination, which is enormous, give their imagination, you know, the round wheels to drive 1,000 miles an hour. You know, and that’s when you get these amazing results. And then avoid the, I think the biggest number one pothole on the road is drugs, so, you know, watch out for addictions. And it’s not just drugs, it’s all the addictions, now, gambling, sex, spending, shopping, screen addiction. So, you know, as a group, we are 10 times more likely to suffer from addiction, so watch out for that. And you know, so watch out for the potholes, but get the round wheels, and then speed your way to success with help, with help. Another one of my main bits of advice is, “Never worry alone.” Don’t try and do it alone, big, big.
Nikii: I have a question about the connection piece because I also watched… It was a video you had or a podcast, I can’t remember, but you were talking about having somebody review your to-do list because often times our expectations are too high. So if you can have somebody else look at it, and just see, you know, “Is this realistic?” And the way that you talked about it, you embraced that help so easily. It was just like this was just a natural thing, you know, for us to do. However, I also know a lot of clients who are embarrassed to ask for help. They feel like, “What if I asked for help and then I let that person down? I’m not able to fulfill those expectations.” And so they’re just not gonna ask for help or for whatever reason. So I’m curious to know from you, how can we help our listeners get past the embarrassment or shame of asking for help and understanding how to embrace it?
Dr. Hallowell: Well, you know, you gotta ask for help from the right person. You know, and the right person will make it easy. And so, you know, this world coaches can be so helpful and, you know, the right teacher, the right parent, the right coach, the right assistant, the right partner, so it’s important who you ask for help from. And if you ask for help from a shaming kind of person, that can close the door for an awful long time. That’s why shaming teachers and partners, you know, do such damage. That moment of shame can close the door for a year or two. So you know, you pick carefully, but asking for help makes you very vulnerable, and so you wanna be sure that the person you ask for help from will welcome your request, and realize that you’ve made yourself vulnerable and will say, you know, “Boy, you’ve taken the first step and thank you for asking me, and I will do everything I can to help you.”
And, you know, the road to success is paved with failure. I mean, it’s absolutely paved with mistakes. And you don’t make mistakes, you’ll never succeed. And so we expect you to fail. We expect you to fumble. We expect you not to get it right. And so we welcome you making mistakes, please make mistakes. I’m here to help you make mistakes. That’s how you will succeed, you know. And as a writer, believe me, it’s all about editing, it’s all about fixing my mistakes. So, you know, you wanna accept that, and embrace that, and enjoy messing up so you can clean up. And as for be realistic, you know, don’t be realistic, be wildly unrealistic, and then see where you end up.
“You wanna find dream makers, not dream breakers,” my friend John Coyle says that, and I love that term. You know, look for the dream makers and try and stay away from the dream breakers. You know, the dream breakers, they may mean well by being “realistic,” but I don’t think anything great was done by people who were realistic. You know, the really cool things are unrealistic, and then next thing you know, they happen. I mean, my 12th grade English teacher in September asked me to write a novel, that was not realistic, 12th graders don’t write novels. But he thought I had some talent and he said, “Ned, why don’t you write a novel?” And that was completely unrealistic, write a novel? You know, I knew [inaudible] was a tough school, I didn’t know I’d be expected write a novel, but I was the only kid he asked to do it. And so I took it upon myself to do it. And by the end of the year, I had done it. It changed my life forever because he got me to prove to myself that I could do something that I would have thought was impossible.
And that changed my life forever, I mean, by getting someone to do something they would have thought was impossible, unrealistic, completely unrealistic. You know, he took a chance, by kind of, you know, setting it in front of me, “Why don’t you try this unrealistic thing?” You could have said he was setting me up for failure, well, he was setting me up for failure, and, you know, it wasn’t an assignment. But he was setting me up to try something that very, all the odds were that I wouldn’t do it. So setting me up to fail. But he was also taking a chance that I would succeed. And the fact that I did succeed, you know, literally changed my life forever, that achievement over that year in the 12th grade, it changed my life in a tremendous way. And so, you know, you take a chance, and if you should happen to succeed in this unrealistic undertaking, it can change you forever. You know, so remember, it’s not the succeeding or the failing that really matters, it’s staying in the game.
You know, there’s a great line from the poem “If” by Kipling, that says, “If you can look at triumph and disaster, and treat those two impostors just the same.” You know, success and failure are impostors, the real value is staying in the game because as long as you’re in the game, you’re doing what matters, that there will always be success and failure. And both of them are impostors. They don’t mean nearly what people think they mean. What matters is staying in the game. And that’s what, we all, whether you have ADD or not, that’s what we all need to remind ourselves of. And that’s why never worrying alone is so important. When you worry alone, you tend to overvalue failure. You tend to think it means, “I’m worthless, I’m nothing.” And then you tend to shut down, withdraw, isolate, give up, leave the game. And that’s the real disaster. That’s the real perdition. That’s the real loss. So the key to everything is connection. The key to everything is staying involved, staying affiliated with people you care about, who care about you, with institutions, and with, of course, that dog.
Nikki: That dog. That’s right.
Pete: Well, and I love how your 12th-grade teacher was, you know, not just setting you up for success or failure, but inviting you into the game, right?
Dr. Hallowell: Yes.
Pete: That was your entree into the game, which has served as such a keystone for your career. That is a really beautiful story. Can you talk a little bit about the other side of connection because, you know, we get an awful lot of feedback from folks around overwhelm related to social media and self-esteem, and the judgment that comes from social media, and ADHD, and fear of missing out, right? And how it’s so easy for those of us with ADHD to internalize strong emotional signals. What’s your take on a healthy relationship with social media?
Dr. Halowell: My kids are now 29, 26, and 23, and they’re good examples of using it in a good way. They all use it, and they use it to good effect. I don’t even know what Instagram is, but they’re all on Instagram. And they’re all on all of them. And they use it to our advantage. And I see how they use it and they use it well. So they use it to stay in touch with people, to update people, but they’re not using it, you know, incessantly. And they’re not using it to out people and hurt people, and warn up people, and all that kind of thing. They’re using it to stay in contact. And as a result, they stay in contact with a much wider group of people than they otherwise could. And I think that’s the advantage of it.
Now I don’t even know how to do Twitter, I have someone who does it for me because I’m told I should. And I don’t know how to do Facebook, and I have someone who does it for me because I’m told I should. But I literally don’t know how to do it, if people send me a message… And same with LinkedIn, I get these messages and I say, “Please email me,” because I do know how to do that. I should learn, so I’m an example of someone who needs remediation. I need help. You know, but I do see the damage that can be done, the cruelty, and kids who wanna replace a real social life with a virtual social life. And you know, it’s such an invitation for kids who are shy, who just don’t wanna learn the skills, you know, of interacting in person with other people. And then you can do it virtually, but it’s such a fake replacement. And then you set yourself up to get hurt or to hurt others. It’s an avenue for sadism, you know, and really bad things happen. So, you know, we have to watch out for it.
Pete: Well, yeah, it’s that recipe for addiction, right? You brought up the addiction part. That’s the thing that connects to me.
Dr. Hallowell: Absolutely.
Nikki: Well, and I was just gonna say, if it’s making you feel bad, then don’t be on it. You know, if you’re reading something and you’re feeling that fear of missing out or you’re feeling bad about yourself.
Pete: Well, it’s a funny thing because I noticed when I was deeply into social media, and not even as a kid, I mean, like, you know, last year, I didn’t know that it was making me feel bad. You know, it’s often, and I’m kind of following along the chat a little bit in our live stream that, you know, you see this comment that, “I stepped back from Facebook almost unintentionally and I feel so much better,” right? The implication is, I didn’t know that it was causing me grief until I stepped away, right? That’s an interesting sort of symptom of the sort of addiction pullback.
Dr. Hallowell: And that’s a very astute observation. When you take it away, how do you feel? And often times, when you take it away, you know, if you do a screen cleanse, you know, you’ll feel kind of freer, more clear-headed. You know, and particularly for those of us with ADD, we can get, if not addicted, at least habituated, without even knowing it, and we can spend a lot of time doing what I call screen sucking. And it can become like this habit that drains us of our precious mental energy, you know, without our intending it to.
Pete: Screen sucking. That’s as gross as it sounds.
Nikki: It’s true though. Now all of a sudden, hours gone by.
Pete: That’s right.
Nikki: And here you are.
Dr: Hallowell: Yeah. Yeah.
Nikki: We have some really interesting questions. Are you willing to answer some of them?
Dr. Hallowell: Of course.
Nikki: All right, Pete, you have the radio voice to do this.
Pete: All right. I have the list, and here we go. Number one from… These come from our listeners, and I should say shout out to our discord community. We have a discord community around “The ADHD Podcast,” that is enormously healthy. And if there is ever a comment that screen sucking seems furthest from, it is our discord community. They’re amazing. And here are some of these questions. Number one, “is there a specific type of therapy style that you’ve seen to be more effective in assisting those with ADHD to help boost their self-esteem? My therapist is a big believer in CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy for transforming perpetual negative thinking into a more positive mindset. As someone who is diagnosed with depression and anxiety as well as ADHD, I find it effectively difficult to even recognize the negative thought pattern when it presents itself, let alone be able to make a conscious effort to stop in the moment and attempt to change that thinking.”
Dr. Hallowell: I’m a big believer in whatever works. So if you think CBT is what works for you, then fine, CBT. Usually, it’s the relationship between the therapist and the client that makes the difference, and the technique is sort of secondary. So if you have a relationship with a therapist that, you know, you find useful, you could be playing ping pong together, and it’ll be productive. So but if you find that CBT, you know, is what works for you, great. In general, for building self-esteem, the thing that I’ve found works best is if you can set someone up to make progress at some tasks that’s meaningful, that matters to them. So it’s gotta be meaningful, and it’s gotta matter to them. And the title of my next book is, “Find the Right Difficult.” And that’s really what that’s all about. So find the right difficult. And find a creative outlet that’s meaningful, that matters to you.
And like, for me, it’s writing, like, I discovered it in 12th grade. So if you find the right difficult and then pursue it, your self-esteem will grow because you’re making progress at something that matters to you, that’s difficult, that’s challenging. And that automatically grows self-esteem because, you know, again, you’re making progress at something that is challenging, that matters to you. And so you gotta feel good about that, you know. And if you can find a therapist who can create the circumstances under which you’ll do that, whatever technique he or she might be using, then you will grow self-esteem. And it could be a coach. You know, that’s what coaches do, sports coaches. It could be a writing coach, it could be a drama coach, it could be an ADD coach, you know. But it usually comes back to the relationship, not the technique.
Nikki: I love that. I mean, that’s the first time I’ve ever heard that. And I’m so glad you bring that up, that is really is the relationship that’s most important.
Dr. Hallowell: Yeah, it is. And people write about the techniques, and they argue about techniques, and they research techniques, but like I said, most of the time, it’s the relationship. And like I said, you could be playing ping-pong, you know, you could be taking a walk on the beach, I mean, then you could call it beach therapy, but it really is the relationship. And that’s what inspires people. What you remember is the relationship, you don’t remember the technique. And the technique is just an excuse to be together. You know, it supplies the words that you’re gonna exchange, but it’s the relationship that is the motivation, the inspiration, you know, the fuel, if you will, that leads to the change.
Pete: Next question. “You know how you can feel really insecure about a weakness and you try to hide it or make up for it, then someone comes along and notices your weakness, and they might judge you for it, put you in a box, where you feel you can’t grow out of the weakness in their eyes, tease you about it, etc. This thing truly is a weakness of yours, you already feel rotten about it. Now you have all the pressure and extra hurt of being exposed and judged. They’ve reinforced all of the fears that feed your insecurity. How do you deal? What are some ways and techniques that keep us from having our sense of self-worth and future growth crippled in this kind of exchange?” And as a caveat says, “Also, could you talk about self-esteem and emotional dysregulation tango?”
Dr. Hallowell: I don’t know what emotional dysregulation tango means, but I love the phrase, it sounds like you’re bouncing all over the place. But you know, having someone expose a weakness and tease you about it, you know, that’s called sadism, and that’s called social cruelty. And it should be as unacceptable as racism, or sexism, or any other form of social cruelty. A person should be called out. And you know, it should be unacceptable. Now, if it happens to you, again, never worry alone, talk to somebody about it. You know, we all have weaknesses, goodness knows, there’s not a person on the planet earth who doesn’t have a weakness, and it can be exposed. You know, some people are surgically adept at exposing other people’s weaknesses. People with borderline personality disorder are particularly good at doing this. And that’s why they’re hard to do therapy with because you get yourself undressed and humiliated on a regular basis.
But you know, I think, you can feel better if you simply go into every day knowing that you’re human, that you have weaknesses. And that if someone comes along and exposes one of them, you can say, “Yep, you know, you got me. I’m overweight” or “Yep, you got me. I don’t know the capital of Germany” or “Yep, you got me. I’m bad at math.” If you want a comeback, you could say, “Are you bad at anything? Maybe you’re perfect. Well, my hat’s off to you.” You know, and just accept it. There’s absolutely no shame. In fact, I think there’s a lot of pride in acknowledging, accepting a weakness. And you know, I think, suddenly, you’ve gone from feeling weak to feeling strong because you’ve said, “Yes, there’s a weakness there. Yes, there’s something that I could work on there, but I’m strong enough to admit it.” And suddenly, you’re strong. Suddenly, you’re the stronger person. And the one who’s poking fun at you is suddenly exposed as the person who has the problem.
Pete: We’ve got a career-related question here. Let’s say you have a career opportunity that deep down you know you’re prepared for, and it’s well-deserved recognition for what you’ve accomplished at work, you’re excited for new challenges it will bring, and yet, most of the time, you feel like you’re hardly capable of getting out of the house with your pants on. How do you reconcile these feelings? It’s less of an impostor syndrome thing and more of what acknowledging and compensating for known weaknesses, without letting them overwhelm you.
Dr. Hallowell: You just wanna lead with your strong side. We all have self-doubts. And, you know, you can’t excise those, but you wanna lead with your strong side. So you go to your job interview, knowing full well that you’re qualified for it, and during the interview, that’s what you talk about. You don’t say, “But I should hasten to add that I’m actually inept.”
Pete: Also, I’m literally not wearing pants right now.
Dr. Hallowell: I did leave my pants behind because I forgot to put them on, you know, and I’m half nude. And so you don’t have to be completely honest. In fact, it’s a bad idea to be because your self-assessment is almost certainly inaccurate. And particularly if you have ADHD, we tend to assess ourselves in a very inaccurate way. We way over value…we way overweight our weaknesses, and way under significantly underweight our strengths. So go to your job interview, talk from strength, talk about your capabilities, and don’t bring up your self-doubts. You know, there’s no reason to bring those up. Now, if he asks you, “What are you bad at?” You can say, “I’m not real good at punctuality or I’m not real good at, you know, kissing ass.” Well, you don’t have to say that, but you know, playing ball. You know, you can throw in a few things, but don’t make it a long list. Don’t gush with your weaknesses. Pick a couple, but don’t make it a long list.
Nikki: So I just wanna share… I’m gonna do the nice stuff, Pete. You’re great at the questions. You’re absolutely great at the question, Pete. This came from one of our Patreon members, and he said, “This isn’t a question. But if you could pass this along. My thanks to Dr. Hallowell. It was his brilliant book ”Driven to Distraction“ that convinced me to seek out a specialist and get evaluated for ADHD. It really changed my life.”
Dr. Hallowell: Oh, thank you so much. I’m really glad to hear that.
Nikki: Another very nice thing. “I’ve really benefited from listening to him talk about his experiences and the way he communicates with other experts. He demonstrates grace, humility, and respect to everyone he speaks to. I loved his intro for the last ADHD online conference where he showed his own ADHD during the video, such a lovely man.”
Dr. Hallowell: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Pete: It’s a funny thing because it feels like, you know, you mentioned vulnerability earlier, that vulnerability seems to be currency of the kingdom right now. I think we learn so much more from one another when we allow ourselves to be authentic. And there’s a lot in that video.
Dr. Hallowell: I cannot do it.
Pete: That’s kind of a benefit, right? The culture has caught up to you, right?
Dr. Hallowell: Thank God, it’s evolved.
Pete: We have a number of research-oriented folks in the group, and we have one question representative of that. “It would be interesting to hear Dr. Hallowell’s thoughts on what gaps currently exist in ADHD literature? What do you think needs to be more exposed?” And I think this also comes on the heels of another question around, you know, the resources that exist for women in ADHD, where are the resources that exist for men in ADHD? “The men need their own book too.” And so then we have this question, you know, what are the gaps in your view that exists in the ADHD literature?
Dr. Hallowell: Well, I think men have been pretty well addressed. I think the big area that we need more on is the non-medication treatments, you know, the nutrition, the meditation. We have plenty of stuff and John, my friend, John Ratey’s great book on exercise in the brain. I think we’re gonna have more coming down the pike on brain games, devices. I know the attentive system is ready to be released, it just needs a little bit more research to get the FDA approval. I think the future lies in non-medication treatments. Now I say that as someone who prescribes medication regularly, so I’m not in any way opposed to medication, but I think the future will lie in more non-medication treatments. But we do have a good momentarium now with coaching, nutrition, meditation, exercise. But I think more will be coming. And I think that’s really exciting. I think we’re gonna have ways of training the brain. And then I think the big need is in breaking down stigma and ignorance. You know, and Tim Armstrong and his wife, Nancy, are putting up the funding to make a documentary based on my strength-based approach. And that’s in the works right now.
Nikki: That’s fantastic. I hope that that takes… Well, I’m sure it will be a very different approach than the Netflix documentary that’s on there right now.
Dr. Hallowell: Oh, God, yes. It will be a very different approach, very different approach. And hopefully, that’ll be out, I think, January of 2021.
Nikki: That’s great. And what’s the book you’re working on right now?
Dr. Hallowell: It’s called, “Find the Right Difficult, and how to make ADHD work for you, not against you.”
Pete: And when can I read it?
Dr. Hallowell: Well, it’s done, but it takes the publisher a long time, so that won’t be until November 2020.
Pete: November of 2020?
Dr. Hallowell: I know. I know, Pete, it’s ridiculous how long it takes them, but I wish I could promise you it sooner. And maybe I’ll tell them people would like it soon.
Pete: Release windows are just disastrous.
Dr. Hallowell: I finished it. You know, it’s up to them.
Pete: You did your part, right?
Dr. Hallowell: Yeah.
Nikki: And you have a biography too, right? Is that your most recent book?
Dr. Hallowell: My memoir…
Nikki: Yeah, your memoir.
Dr. Hallowell: Yeah, that there is called “Because I Come from a Crazy Family: The Making of a Psychiatrist,” it’s my best book. So I hope your listeners will buy it. It’s “Because I Come from a Crazy Family: The Making of a Psychiatrist,” it really is my best book. There’s no advice in it. It’s just stories and stories of my childhood, and then stories of my early training in psychiatry. And I’m very proud of it, it’s my best writing. And it’s not a potboiler, but it is a page-turner.
Nikki: Oh, that’s exciting. I saw a review that was saying that you knew at 9 years old, you were meant to be a psychiatrist?
Dr. Hallowell: Yeah. A little voice came to me and said, “You should be a psychiatrist,” probably because I was surrounded by so much craziness, you know. But I had a chaotic, but oddly happy childhood, you know. I loved my family, but they were, the WASP triad of alcoholism, mental illness, and politeness. That’s what I…
Nikki: Wow. Thank you so, so much for taking the time to be with us. I appreciate it. Pete appreciates it. I know our audience does and the ADHD community. That’s fantastic.
Dr. Hallowell: Well, it’s really my pleasure. And thank you for what you do. Thank you for bringing this podcast to people. And it’s really a pleasure for me to be with you.
Pete: Well, we are just delighted to be even near your orbit. Ned Hallowell, thank you so much. Thank you, everybody, for downloading and listening to this show. We certainly appreciate your time and your attention, on behalf of Nikki Kinzer and Dr. Ned Hallowell, I’m Pete Wright. We’ll catch you next time right here on “Taking Control: The ADHD Podcast.”