I HAVE ADHD PODCAST - Episode #271

July 2, 2024

The Ex Good Girl: A Recent ADHD Diagnosis, Perimenopause, and How to Stop Avoiding Difficult Conversations with Sara Fisk

In today’s episode, I’m joined by the woman who trained ME as a coach, the incredible Sara Fisk. Sara helps people pleasers stop avoiding difficult conversations, and let me tell you, we GET INTO IT on this episode.

From understanding ADHD symptoms in adulthood to dealing with perimenopause, this conversation covers it all. We also explore the concept of being an “ex good girl,” focusing on self-care and moving away from people-pleasing behaviors.

Sara shares her reflections on her Mormon upbringing, achievements, and the challenges of moving from a rule-based system to making choices based on personal preferences. For both of us, our ADHD diagnoses clarified a lot of past behaviors related to rejection sensitivity and constant pleasing. This shift has allowed us to make decisions for our personal satisfaction rather than conforming to societal norms.

Throughout our conversation, we delve into the importance of prioritizing personal values over seeking approval from others. We discuss how shame, anxiety, and fear can impact decision-making and the need to embrace our emotions.

Sara’s training in somatic experiencing and internal family systems has helped her redirect self-criticism and assert control over her decisions and emotions. We highlight the significance of building an internal dialogue, working with emotions, setting boundaries, and being assertive, especially for individuals with ADHD.

We wrap up our conversation by emphasizing the importance of self-acceptance, authenticity, and navigating emotions with compassion. Sarah and I share our personal experiences of embracing vulnerability and finding strength through prioritizing our needs in relationships. It’s been such a powerful discussion, and I hope you find it as enlightening as I did. Remember, you’re not alone in this journey, and there’s a whole community here to support you.

Get in touch with Sara Fisk

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Kristen Carder 0:05
Welcome to the I have ADHD podcast, where it’s all about education, encouragement and coaching for adults with ADHD. I’m your host, Kristen Carter and I have ADHD. Let’s chat about the frustrations, humor and challenges of adulting relationships working and achieving with this neurodevelopmental disorder. I’ll help you understand your unique brain. Unlock your potential and move from point A to point B. What What’s up, this is Kristen Carter and you’re listening to the I have ADHD podcast. I am medicated, I am caffeinated. I am regulated and I am ready to roll. I am here today with somebody who is very special to me, someone who is near and dear to my heart, Sara Fisk. I originally met her when she trained me as a coach in a coach training program that I was involved in in 2021, I believe. And I just connected with her so much. And it was so lucky to be able to circle back, reconnect. And she is now diagnosed with ADHD. And I just am so glad that she’s here today to share her story. She helps people pleasers and y’all. If you know one thing about having ADHD, it often times leads us to be people pleasers. So I’m so glad that she’s here to share her wisdom with us, Sara, thank you for coming. Well,

Sarah 1:36
you know, I’d go anywhere with you. So this is an easy, yes. And I’m just really grateful. I knew that you were an ADHD coach back when we met Little did I know that I would be consuming your podcasts, listen to everything you said within just a few short years. And you are such just a welcoming, open, non judgmental space. In fact, some of the things you say I’m like, oh, no, I think we should be judging that and you’re like, No, no, we shouldn’t be judging that I’m like, Okay, let’s try it your way. And it feels better. It feels a little better. Doesn’t it feel better? It feels better. Like a couple of weeks ago, I heard you say on a podcast, like listen, I’m just the less than a person. I’m gonna get it done last minute. That’s just how I do it. And I’m stopped making myself trying to block my calendar so that I get it done in two days before and I told some people I work with to like, listen, it’s gonna get done, it’s gonna get done last minute. And that’s just how we’re going to do it now. So thank you for that. I love it. Sarah,

Kristen Carder 2:39
I have to tell everyone of our first meeting because it is the most ADHD experience probably of my life. I signed up for a coach training certification. I was pumped, I was committed, I wanted to be there, I was prepared. I got all my materials like I was all in so fully all in. And I hop on the Zoom, I’m actually like, ready early. But I hop on the zoom at like two minutes before the hour and I hop on. And what’s happening. First of all, you are my instructor. So I hop on to see your face, and nine other people who are in my cohort. And I realize mother effer she’s wrapping up the class. It is not the beginning of the class. She’s saying goodbye to everyone. And I’m just like, Why? Why? Why does the ADHD brain work like an ADHD brain? And why do I have to have an ADHD brain and why do I have to embarrass myself? My first class I’m so committed I’m so all in I’m so like, I I’m already coaching I already feel like I have so much to offer. And I show up at 258 thinking it started at three now. Now, what was that experience like for you? Because that was the one of the worst moments of my life. That is just

Sarah 4:07
fascinating for me because you pop on and you’re adorable. And I’m like, Hi. And yeah, we’re wrapping up, and you’re fine. Like it’s fine. Yes, you missed the first day but there’s a recording no worries, you’re fine. Like it was not a big deal at all to me. And I later saw confirmed all those things you were 100% In you were 100% committed you were 100% prepared you were already coaching and had some amazing skills and and presence to share it with the class. And so it just it was just like nothing on my end. I would not have remembered that if you had not brought it up. I wouldn’t remember but can I please tell like my side of a different story when you

Kristen Carder 5:00
In your mind, because it’s

Sarah 5:01
because again, it does. It’s not a measurement of my commitment, and of our commitment and our readiness and our willingness because you hired me to come in and train some coaches in a coaching program that you offer, which is brilliant, by the way. And the first time, okay, the first time I totally missed it, I just completely missed it, because it was at the wrong time on my calendar. And then somehow, the second makeup meeting was also at the wrong time on my brains, I don’t understand how it happened. And so you call me and I am pulling weeds in my backyard. So confident, am I that I have a full other hour? I’m pulling some weeds. I’m hot, I’m sweaty. And the first words out of my mouth is, Am I doing it again? And you’re like, Yeah, honey, you’re doing it again. So I run in somehow, my brain is able to get me on Zoom. I don’t even remember, like, seriously, can we marvel at that I

Kristen Carder 6:01
had, yes, that’s amazing.

Sarah 6:02
I had to find the email, I had to enter the username, the passcode, all of it calm. And I remember telling myself calm down, calm down, calm down, calm down. And then I get on, there’s like nine smiling faces. And I’m hot and sweaty in a tank top, I don’t even remember what my hair looked like it would be crazy to go like if

Kristen Carder 6:19
it was up in like a top knot.

Sarah 6:23
And what I tell everyone is today, you get to see how a coach recovers when the session does not start as it should, and as you want it to. And so you were generous and gracious. And I really just it was such a beautiful thing to be held by that community of like, of course, we’ve all done this. I wanted I you know, part of being a good girl is just profuse apologizing, apologize, apologize, apologize, apologize, trying to make it better. And I instantly was like, I don’t have to do that here. They get it. I don’t have to do that here.

Kristen Carder 6:58
And that is one of the main benefits of being surrounded by neurodivergent people, right is like at least having a friend, a community like somebody that can share that experience and be like, you’re good, you’re fine. You don’t have to apologize. And

Sarah 7:14
so you get that experience with the community. But for me, what it’s also done is she kind of shone the light on when I do feel like I have to do this and like why do I have to profusely apologize to you? Like I shouldn’t, I shouldn’t have to do this, because this is just a neuro diverse thing that I’m not doing on purpose. And so I apologize for being here late. Let’s get started. And let’s

Kristen Carder 7:35
go, Oh, I just want to reflect to you also mirror back to me and everyone like you can be warm, loving, kind, respectful, successful with ADHD, and still show up with ADHD. Like it doesn’t go away. When you have success. Like when you’re hired to do something, it doesn’t go away, but but to be able to connect with yourself, connect with others take responsibility, and accountability and just move forward. Let’s go. That is a skill that we can all learn. And you’ve modeled that really beautifully.

Sarah 8:18
I think having the experience inside ADHD communities, and in particular yours, when when that kind of understanding is modeled. And it’s so missing in other places. I think what one of the skills that I’ve been able to do is just, if I explained like you’re going to notice, if I’m with a non ADHD community, and I’ll say okay, you’re going to notice my brain taking a little more time to figure this out. And I just need a second. And I have found that if I just say it like, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed right now I’m going to need a few minutes without apologizing. I can create some of the that compassion for myself that is so easily accessible in ADHD communities. And I can take it with me into some of the places where there isn’t that same compassion.

Kristen Carder 9:09
And now a word from our sponsor. Hey, Kristen here, I’m the host of this podcast, an ADHD expert and a certified life coach who’s helped hundreds of adults with ADHD understand their unique brains and make real changes in their lives. If you’re not sure what a life coach is, let me tell you, a life coach is someone who helps you achieve your goals like a personal trainer for your life. A life coach is a guide who holds your hand along the way as you take baby step after baby step to accomplish the things that you want to accomplish. A good life coach is a trained expert who knows how to look at situations or situations with non judgmental neutrality and offer you solutions that you’ve probably never even considered before. If you’re being treated For your ADHD, and maybe even you’ve done some work in therapy, and you want to add to your scaffolding of support, you’ve got to join my group coaching, program focused. Focused is where functional adults with ADHD surround each other with encouragement and support. And I lead the way with innovative and creative solutions to help you fully accept yourself, understand your ADHD, and create the life that you’ve always wanted to create, even with ADHD, for I have adhd.com/focused to join. And I hope to see you in our community today. So tell us your ADHD story, because we have so much to talk about today. But I think that your ADHD story is going to be so relatable. It’s significant, it happened later in life, obviously, just very recently. And I think that people are really going to connect with it. So how did you come to discover that you are an adult living with ADHD?

Sarah 11:03
It was a two things. First of all, I had some children, where I was like, oh, there might be something to look at here. And as I started looking up symptoms, as I started looking up, how does ADHD present because I have this child who is struggling. And this child, my son does not have the hyperactive component of ADHD. And so it was when I saw the hyperactive list as literal that’s not him. But oh, there’s another type of ADHD, I didn’t even know because I actually have a background in teaching school. And the hyperactive component was the only one that we ever looked for and, and saw and I only had boys, right with that hyperactive component be diagnosed with ADHD. So it simply wasn’t on my radar until I had a child. And then I also just noticed, like, things are getting harder for me. Why is that? It’s harder to plan ahead. It’s harder to like things, things that had been easier in the past time management like finishing a project. Now, to be fair, I had always had, like, piles of projects started in different places. I had always been really an adult time had always been probably the most difficult thing for me. I was like, Why does it feel like, I have an hour, and I really only have 15 minutes. And all of a sudden I have like 30 seconds, I had no ability to really regulate my time. Well, that had always been. But I just thought that’s just how my brain works. I was never curious about it. And so the combination of a child’s needing to be diagnosed and then seeing my own decline, I guess, in things that were easier was what kind of took me off.

Kristen Carder 12:55
Hmm, what was it like for you to receive a diagnosis? Like how did it feel for you to go to be evaluated? And then to be told, like, yep, you’ve got ADHD,

Sarah 13:05
I was actually thrilled. It felt like someone had handed me this box and said, if you open this up, you’re going to understand yourself so much better. And so it felt like a gift. It felt like a piece of myself that I had not been, I had not known what to do, I had not known how to interact with. And so in the beginning, it definitely felt like a gift. And then it doesn’t feel so much like a gift anymore.

Kristen Carder 13:41
What do you mean, tell me about that progression?

Sarah 13:44
Well, hopefully this is relatable as well. I felt like in the beginning it was everything was positive. It’s like Yes, that’s me. And yes, that’s me. And yes, and yes. And it just felt so like, so self affirming. So like, oh, that thing you do, it isn’t like a bad thing or like your fault. So all of that felt like liberating and really full of just that unique joy of like getting to know yourself better. And then fast forward and I think I’m in the stage now where it’s like okay, we, we don’t want to live like this, right we and I have to just also name I’m 50. And about in the last six months, whatever estrogen I had, like barely hanging on helping to do the job is gone. And so about in the last three months, it felt like my brain has hit an actual like wall, like trying to squeeze water out of a rock on days when I’m trying to work and do things and so it’s gotten markedly different diff more difficult in the past and so then I was like okay, now we have to do something about it. And I have been kind of dabbling with a couple Different non stimulant medications, I started taking them seriously. And you know what this first phase, it’s like, it’s like, try this, and it doesn’t work. And it’s just like, a week of side effects. And then you try this. And it doesn’t work. And it’s just like a week of side effects. And so I’ve gone through all of the non stimulants, and I have what I think is a healthy, I don’t want to say fear, but I think a healthy anxiety around stimulants Adderall, I, I understand they’re very powerful, and that they do have, you know, they do what they’re supposed to do. And there are other things to be aware of, as well. And so, when my psychiatric nurse wanted me to get an EKG, before starting Adderall, and I, I like, got serious. And I’m like, Okay, no, that’s yeah, we’re like, we’re like, we’re like testing my heart. Okay. But I think the challenge and I think what for me, has actually brought grief is that my body is not performing. My brain is not performing the way it used to. And there’s sadness there. And I think the first stage of like, oh my gosh, this is me, I love it. This is self knowledge and self connection and self compassion. I think the grief also belongs. It’s just not it’s not something that, you know, anyone prepares you for certainly, you know, at my psychiatric nurses office, she’s doing her job of getting me medicated. And she’s not talking to me about like, my feelings and my and the grief of like, loss, like the loss of function, the loss of I used to be a person who could just do that is is a very real part of this as well.

Kristen Carder 16:57
So do you believe that is an ADHD component or is that more like midlife estrogen depletion, perimenopause slash menopause stuff, like, well, what are your thoughts about that?

Sarah 17:10
I’m gonna say it’s probably both. Yeah. Because I don’t have an ADHD experience that is separate from perimenopause. I can’t really say for sure. I know that perimenopause is its own grief, because it is the decline of your body from the inside out in a way that nobody prepares you for. There is not one doctor who has said to me like this is coming. Let’s prepare you for it. And I understand, you know, girl, I know all the Tick Tock accounts following the doc. And sometimes that’s what makes me mad, too. I’m like, why is it me and my girlfriends and sisters solving perimenopause with a bunch of tick tock videos. But I understand that we’re figuring this out at a different level. And my daughter will not hopefully have the same experience because it is a bit of a mystery. It’s it’s a bit of a mystery. And I think the grief around perimenopause is that we were not prepared for the loss. And there’s something really poignant, I think about realizing that you’re grieving something that has already happened. And I wasn’t prepared, you’re unprepared for and grieving something that is already. It’s already happened. Yeah.

Kristen Carder 18:43
It’s fascinating because the median age for women to be diagnosed is

Sarah 18:48
38. That’s pretty manifests

Kristen Carder 18:51
that and that is like the onset of perimenopause for most people around right around that time, which is a very little known fact, like most women don’t know that. By the time you’re in your late 30s, that that’s when you should be expecting to experience panic perimenopausal symptoms. And what I’ve heard from so many, including Dr. Patricia Quinn, who is an expert. She’s been in the ADHD space for decades and decades, and there’s an episode I think it’s 149. It’s estrogens impact on our symptoms for the listener who might want to go check it out. But what she says is that so many women are being diagnosed in midlife in Peri menopausal time, because while they always had ADHD, now that their estrogen is declining, and it is hardly known at all that estrogen impacts the brain so much so like the very little function that we were able to have. We’re holding it together, you know, had ADHD but had all of these systems in place and we’re really just like, how holding it together while the behind the scenes was a dumpster fire, and then the estrogen depletion starts to happen. And our brain is just like no longer can compute. Sir, do you remember like what are what are the ways that estrogen impacts the brain?

Sarah 20:16
It protects brain cells, it like literally helps your brain build healthy cells and protect them from getting damaged. It helps with learning and memory, it boosts your ability to like keep the things present that you want to remember, it improves your mood, you’re happier, you’re less anxious when you have normal serotonin, or excuse me, normal estrogen levels. It supports brain connections, it increases blood flow to the brain, it reduces inflammation, and helps with nerve coding like that, that protective myelin coat, it makes sure that messages travel quickly and clearly. And yeah, so when your estrogen says by each of those things is going to suffer.

Kristen Carder 20:59
For sure. And then not even to mention how it impacts dopamine and serotonin. And so when estrogen so estrogen is a neurotransmitter, and when we have less estrogen, then we get less dopamine, less serotonin, which means that our mood, our ability to have a reward system like all of that, it was not great to begin with, because we had ADHD or have ADHD, and then it continues to get worse and worse. Which, again, is why so many women are being diagnosed in their late 30s. So many, so many, late 30s 40s and 50s. Like this is not uncommon, as an experience for women now for men is a different story is a different story. But for women, it’s very, very common.

Sarah 21:48
It the thing that just surprised me was that the minute I became a part of this ADHD community, suddenly there are like millions and millions of people with my exact same story. Like I was holding it together. I had I was I was a stay at home mom. So I had a job where I was task switching like every couple minutes, there was no, you know, reason for me to think that I had ADHD and all of a sudden, perimenopause hits, and all of it just kind of comes on at once. And so yeah, this is a very, very common story. And it also which part which is part of what makes me wonder, like, Why doesn’t anyone talk about this? Why isn’t anybody telling me like, hey, this, this might be something to take a look at?

Kristen Carder 22:40
Yeah, that part of the ADHD experience overall, I think it’s just so frustrating. It’s so frustrating to be a human with ADHD, who is learning things on their own, that their doctor never told them and maybe doesn’t even know. And that feels weird. I don’t want to know more than my doctor. I want my doctor to know way more than I do. I don’t want to be the one bringing information to my doctor and saying like, Hey, did you know this? Did you read this book? Did you read this article? And literally, my doctor looks at me with a blank face like, No, I didn’t. And like, it’s awkward, it’s awkward. I

Sarah 23:20
don’t like that. I had my primary care who was no longer my primary care. I brought him some tests, some information, some articles, some studies, and he said, and I quote, We don’t practice that kind of medicine here. And I was like, Oh, the kind that takes care of me. The kind that is responsive to, to science to my symptoms to cutting edge studies and technology. Oh, you don’t do that kind of medicine here. Okay, that’s all I need to know. Thanks. Bye. What

Kristen Carder 23:50
does that even mean? That kind of medicine. What does that even mean?

Sarah 23:58
The sense that I got in the moment and this is just me with my intuitive knowing is that it hit his ego a little bit that I had this information and was asking, and I didn’t bring it to him like why don’t you know this idiot? I was like, Could you please take a look at this, because everything in this like little bit of information that I want you to have feels like it’s describing me and could help me. And I, I felt like I just bumped into his ego a little bit and bye.

Kristen Carder 24:30
Bye, Sia, I will go find someone else who will care for me and for my specific needs, which is a lot of work to find. Like, can we just take a minute to validate like how much work it is to find someone who will listen to you who will be open to research who is not an idiot who’s going to validate and of course it’s not going to be perfect, but at least we’ll have the conversation Well, the

Sarah 25:00
second provider, I went to basically said, Listen, I’ll just prescribe you whatever you want. And I was like, I’m not asking for just a prescription I want a partner in, like helping me with this. I don’t, I mean, I understand that I’m going to be taking medication, thank, you know, for the prescription. But basically, their take was, I’ll just prescribe you whatever you want. And you’re kind of on your own to figure out if that works for you. So I was like, Okay, number two, by door number three. And then number three, is where I am now psychiatric nurse, I really like her. But the one thing that I did mention earlier, she’s not, she is very focused on like, the management of symptom side and the Are you feeling better side, which is great. But I don’t really feel like I can talk to her about like, how sad I am about some of this and, and how like this is, this is brought up some some grief and some, you know, and so that’s why I have a coaching community. That’s why I have you know, other tools and things that I’ve gotten for myself or developed for myself to handle that part of it, because it does take multiple people providing pieces of the puzzle. And I think that that is where I’ve landed there, and it’s fine. Like, I’m not going to get everything I need from one person. And so I need to find a team. I think that’s so

Kristen Carder 26:27
healthy. That’s such a healthy approach. Because medication is a tool, but it’s definitely usually not a perfect experience. It’s not going to take care of everything. Pills, don’t teach skills. pills don’t teach you how to regulate your emotions and create priorities and understand yourself and process grief. They just don’t yeah, they don’t. Where else are we going to do that? We need therapists, we need coaches, we need community.

Sarah 26:49
Yeah. And I just, every time I get to this part of talking about it, I feel tremendously grateful. And also tremendous sadness for the millions of people who don’t have a team, the millions of people who are not able to have access for multiple reasons to the type of care that I am able to get. Because I know how systems work. I know where to get the care. I know how to keep asking until I get what I need. And I just always want to name that it’s a privilege that I enjoy. Massive

Kristen Carder 27:24
privilege. Yep. That’s so beautiful. So the main reason why I wanted to have you on is first of all, because you’ve had such an influence in my life. And I have just learned so much from you as a fellow coach, and now colleague, and you coach, people pleasers, and I love your podcast is called the X good girl podcast. I would love for you to tell me what does it mean to you to be an ex Good girl.

Sarah 27:58
It means that I am always trying to maintain a connection to myself, so that I can tell when I abandoned myself. Because that self abandonment is at the heart that is people pleasing. It’s at the heart of being a good girl, always abandoning yourself for the other person for their needs for their wants to take care of them to focus on them. And I’m not saying that that’s bad. But when you are in X, good girl mode, you don’t have have, you don’t have part of your energy focused on yourself. It’s all outward. It’s all taking care of other people worrying about what they’re thinking, wondering what they want. Wondering about you know, how how can I make them like me? How can I belong here, which again, has a place. But the transition away from that those x good girl rules and the programming is that I matter to my life matters the way that I want to be a human and move through the world with that satisfaction level that I have in me and how I spend my time and energy. That’s a big part of like, taking some of that outside external focus and giving it back to yourself a big part of it.

Kristen Carder 29:24
What is self abandonment? What how would you describe that?

Sarah 29:29
I would describe it as the feeling of not being able to choose whether I want to, let’s just say disappoint myself or disappoint someone else. I have to disappoint myself. I don’t have a choice, or whether I want to pick myself or pick someone else. I can’t pick myself. I have to pick the other person. It’s the feeling of not having a choice. Hmm,

Kristen Carder 29:56
that’s so painful to even hear you describe it. i Yeah, seems So much of my former self in that.

Sarah 30:03
Yeah. And it’s, again, I just want to say, the fact that we learn to please each other in the relationships that we’re in is not bad. It is part of having responsive and reciprocal relationships. If I’m in a friendship with you, I want to know what pleases you, I want to do things for you, I want to respond to your moods, I want to do things that contribute to a feeling of connectedness between us and like I’m paying attention to you. And the only problem is, nobody ever teaches us how to not do that, or how to regulate the energy where you get some, and I get some, you get a little bit of my time, and I get my time, you get my attention, and I get my attention. And so the most common thing that people say to me or women, when I’m talking about not people pleasing us, well, then I don’t want to be selfish, I don’t, I don’t want to become like this bitchy person who only cares about themselves. And it’s just always funny to me, because we’re so used to living with everybody else’s needs above ours. And we’re like way down here. And what they think is that I want their needs to be the only needs that matter, and everybody else’s needs way down here. And that’s not what I’m talking about at all. It’s this, it’s equal, like I matter just as much as you do. And you matter just as much as I do. And sometimes I choose your needs. And sometimes I choose my needs, because I developed the ability to connect to myself, and to be observant about how I’m feeling here. And sometimes, yes, I’m going to choose you and your needs. And sometimes I’m going to choose me and I’m just going to be aware of what I’m doing.

Kristen Carder 31:52
I’m interested because I know you and I know you have a good girl story. So how did you transition from good girl people pleasing self abandoning to x, good girl, which is hysterical, because you’re still lovely and wonderful and kind and giving. So as you said, it’s not like selfish, or, or you prioritizing your needs above everyone else all the time. But just this like balance of your needs matter and my needs matter. But what what is your good girl story? Like, how did this? What were you like, and how did you transition?

Sarah 32:33
Well, it can’t be told without acknowledging that I grew up in a very conservative religious community, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the Mormons, I lovingly call it Mormon land, when I was in Mormon land, there was a lot of good, there are a lot of things that were very beautiful and helpful for me. And so it’s with that love that I use that term. But when you’re growing up in a community, and it can be any community, it can be a cultural community, it can be a political community, where, you know, we have all the answers for you, you don’t have to do the thinking, we’ve already done it for you. And that’s just how you grow up. There’s a built in reliance on external authority to tell you, am I doing it right? And if you if you take the religion out of it, and if you’re listening to this, and you just ask yourself, Who are the external authorities I rely on to tell me I’m doing it right, we all have them, right. And especially those of us who are socialized as women, because one of the messages in that good girl socialization is, you’re actually not smart enough to know this on your own. So we’re just going to tell you, so that you don’t have to do this hard thinking. And you can just fit in and belong. And you can keep the rules you can wear the right clothes, you can say the right things. You can have the right life so that everybody thinks you’re doing it right, whether that’s in a political sense, religious sense, cultural sense, right? It’s so there’s a built in reliance on external authorities to tell you, you’re doing it right. There’s punishment when you step out of the lines. And as an oldest daughter, who was relied on for help, it just, I mean, I never had a chance. And that’s, that’s the one thing that I would love, if everyone could hear in the story is that my people pleasing and my being a good girl was never my fault and it’s never yours. There isn’t. It’s an it’s not optional. And so as I grew up, and I had no idea how anxious I was the hyper vigilance of always looking around hyper vigilance and hustle, getting it done getting it done, getting it done, being in the gifted classes and performing at the State level this. And by the way, I won the sixth grade spelling bee champion chips. So I mean, it worked, it worked in my favor asked me to spell a word, I can do it. And all of those awards was how I mattered. It was how I mattered. And I’m getting a little emotional, just thinking about just that endless, wanting to matter. I was one of six children, we struggled a lot financially, both my mom and dad worked. And I just really got the early sense that this machine that is my family, they’re, they’re loving and dependable, and they’re not slowing down for me. And you’re not going to get recognized for doing anything less than extraordinary. And by the way, if you could just not have any needs, that get in the way of just us getting through the day, that would be great. And so I’m pushing down, like my big feelings, because those get me in trouble. I’m not allowed to be angry, I’m not allowed to be sad, and not allowed. That’s, I get it, you get it, just like you get it like I was sent away, like que sera all

Kristen Carder 36:13
get it?

Sarah 36:16
I’m trying. And I think we walk this line a lot like how do we have kindness for parents and adults who do the best they can while also naming the things that were harmful. And so that’s the line that you hear me kind of trying to walk right now. And so achievement, do it like lots of it always next, next next, and the hypervigilance of like, never being feeling able to like settle and just exist. Because somebody needs something, you could be helping someone. And that was also fueled by the religious component of like, be like Jesus go out and serve, give and I became the model Mormon, I did all of the things, all of them, and I loved doing all of them. And I loved the proximity to influence that it gave me because I never had authority. But as a woman who was that doing all the things, I had proximity to some, you know, to some influence, and that was as good as it got for me inside of Mormonism. And then through a lot of different contributing factors. The final, which was my daughter coming out as gay, it just didn’t fit anymore. And it was it was tragic. For me. It was you’ll hear some more emotion in my voice now. Because the loss of the worldview, the community, the friendships, the eternal view of like, I have everything figured out. Yeah. And the loss of that. And I think that loss happens in lots of different communities, when you realize, oh, this, there are some, there’s a shadow side to this. There’s a side that we don’t talk about. And so it was kind of in the midst of leaving Mormon land that I became a coach. And inside Mormon land, my people pleasing was highly rewarded. Yes. And so you can imagine my disorientation when I come into a coaching world, where my people pleasing isn’t rewarded anymore, but begins to feel uncomfortable. And then I am in a master coach training program, and it gets called out in a pretty what I will say now is a pretty unkind, public way. But But it had the effect of making me take a look at myself and like, what is going on here? Why can’t I make a decision without worrying about who’s going to think What about it? Why can’t I speak up for this thing that I want to say, but I can’t I feel like I don’t have a choice. All of these just pieces of the puzzle came together because I was now no longer in a community that was benefiting from my people pleasing. But I was in a community that was asking me to take a look at it and see it as an obstacle. Wow.

Kristen Carder 39:30
I just wow. And boy, do I relate to leaving a system and the loss, the grief, the disorientation of that I just want to say solidarity. I felt that so, so deeply, so deeply.

Sarah 39:57
And I Having an ADHD diagnosis has made so much of that life clearer to me. Like when you think about an eye rejection sensitivity, I just put myself in a place to never be rejected by constantly pleasing by constantly making myself indispensable needed. Like Sarah, you’re so integral to the workings of this particular thing, that I would make myself that person so that I could leave on my own terms. And it really mitigated being rejected inside of that community where I knew all the rules. Yes, and now leaving that community where I don’t know all the rules, or there are lots of different rules, and I get to decide, do I like those rules for me or not, is a completely different experience. But I think that’s part of the transition from good girl to x is good girls fault. They know the rules, and they follow them. And that’s what keeps them safe and get some belonging. It’s also what keeps them hustling and hypervigilant. But coming outside of those rules, and not asking anymore, is this right or wrong? But do I like this for me? Does this work for me? It’s like a whole new world.

Kristen Carder 41:25
That is a whole new world because that was irrelevant. In

Sarah 41:32
Yeah, it doesn’t matter if you want for yourself, no, doesn’t matter exactly. How do you help people

Kristen Carder 41:37
manage the dysregulation that comes with deciding something for yourself? That might displease people that you love and care about? Like, what are some ways that you help people to navigate that? And how can you share that with our audience in a way, because I think that will be so relatable, where it’s like, I identify with what you’re saying, I definitely want to make more choices that are not self abandoning. But how do I take those steps to navigate the dysregulation that comes with knowing that people I care about and respect are not pleased, they’re not happy, they’re disappointed. They’re inconvenienced, they’re mad.

Sarah 42:28
That is, it’s such a painful, complex process disappointing someone else, especially with ADHD. It’s, it’s a, it’s just an another ballpark. And so here’s what I have found. Number one, when you are in a good girl system, you don’t even know what your own values are, because they’re just the values of the system, right? So first of all, we have to be plugged into ourselves and our own values. Because that is like the the thing that gives structure to at least our desire to be this way in the world, whether it’s a kind, whether it’s respectful, whether it’s honest, whether it’s a contributor, right? Those values have to be self identified. Because most often, the type of values that we have, are going to guide us toward the behavior that we want. And what is in the way is a feeling right, the feeling of shame that I’ve disappointed someone else the feeling of anxiety that they’re going to be mad at me, the fear that I will no longer belong or have status the same way that I did before I disappointed that those are all very real. And so I had to get a ton of training in feeling I was a master compartmentalize I was a master at disconnecting not feeling I could switch very easily from anxiety to excitement. I could and use that excitement like hey guys, what are we gonna do? Let’s have fun, let’s go do something amazing as a way of ignoring a lot of sadness, a lot of grief. And so feeling for me has been the thing and it has been so beautifully messy. I mean that again, you’re going to hear some emotion because I am so grateful that I can feel things that are messy are disconcerting at times. I feel uncontrollable. But I know I have me in a way that I just wasn’t capable of before. When I was trusting everybody else to have me

Kristen Carder 44:43
brings tears to my eyes. Yeah,

Sarah 44:45
it does mine too. And if I could say the one particular part of feeling that has made the most difference is to know a lot of my training is in somatic experiencing and some of my training isn’t Internal family systems. And understanding that parts of me were created to try and protect me. And the one part that I have to interact with most often, I call them the critical protector, because they are convinced that if they just criticize me enough, I’ll change. If they just judge me enough, if I’m just hard enough on Sarah, she’ll change. And so I have to remind that critical protector all the time, like, listen, we’re not doing it this way anymore. I know that that’s what helped in the past, but we’re not doing it that way anymore. And I’ve got us, I have a plan. Because critical protectors all like if I don’t come in here, you’re going to screw this whole thing up and you’re going to lose everything, your family members are going to be disappointed. Your job, you’re going to lose your job, you’re going to lose everything that’s important to us, unless I do this job of like being so incredibly hard on you. And I have to remind that part like I’m here, it’s okay, I’ve got us, I have a plan. We’re taking the step by step. So that feeling and then building that internal dialogue with a part of me that really is trying to help that I think a lot of people who have ADHD have like Why Why are you doing this? Why do you keep acting like this? What’s What’s your problem? Why can’t you change this, but to work with that part instead of against it? Because we both have the same goal, which is that I have a connected safe life.

Kristen Carder 46:36
I think that No, buddy listening to this podcast wanted to hear you say, the way through the way to be able to take steps to connect with yourself and to make decisions even when other people are upset with you is to feel nobody wanted to hear you say that, Sarah. I know like for all of us, we’re like, gross, no, Ill Why do people on this podcast keep saying isn’t all the time guessing all the time like? And it’s just like a quote unquote, like, unfortunately, this is the pathway is being able to identify, self, soothe, allow, connect with validate, and trust your emotions, there is no other way to stop people pleasing. There’s no other way out of systems, there’s no other way to say no, when everyone else wants you to say yes, there’s no other way. If we could find it, at least me like how I feel is like, I hate that way I hate I hate that it is the way if I could find another way I’d figure it out, I would definitely do it. And then I would package it and make it a course. And like you guys could all have it, right? Because that way, the way of being vulnerable of connecting to yourself of doing the things that we were never allowed to do, which is make space for our emotions and the cry and feel deeply. And that just is so hard. And I would say that is 90% of the work that I do with my clients. And I wonder if you feel the same with yours like that

Sarah 48:25
most of the workers do as well. 100%. And I just wanted to name that, I think when you add an ADHD component to this feeling work, it changes it because these feelings in the beginning can feel overwhelming. And, and an outsized even, you know, for, for maybe even the situation and there’s a, I’ll just be, I’ll just be for me, with the ADHD component, a lot of these feelings in the beginning felt very overwhelming and outsized for the situation. Like the salad that I wanted at the restaurant wasn’t there, and I would break down in tears. Once I started feeling it’s just like the the dam broke a little bit. And so if you’re in that phase of crying at the restaurant, because they don’t have your salad, it gets better. It gets easier to regulate that because that’s a whole other set. Like you said, pills don’t teach skills, and that regulation process in the beginning, you might feel like I’m doing this wrong, because this is out of control. You’re not yes. You might feel like this is ridiculous. I’m crying over a salad. No, that’s right, because you’re not just crying over the salad. You’re crying about the 1000s of sad things that have happened that you never allowed yourself to have the sadness, the appropriate emotion for it and so be patient. It gets better.

Kristen Carder 49:53
Okay, so as we wrap up here, I think my last question for you is if feeling is the pathway and none of us actually want to do that? Can you please sell us on? What might it be like? If we didn’t? People, please? What what has changed for you? What has changed for your clients? What is it like to be someone who is connected to themselves who prioritizes themselves, sometimes, who is able to understand themselves and walk in groundedness? Knowing who they are, like, sell me on that because because I need a picture painted for me.

Sarah 50:39
First of all, I am not that person all the time, I know how to come back to being that person when I slipped out of it. I feel like it’s a constant back and forth of like, can you know, measuring that self connection? Am I happy with this does? Is it giving me the information that I want? So I feel like it’s a process of slipping out and getting back in and slipping out and getting beautiful. Such a good question. When I have my best days. I can choose honest conflict over dishonest peace. That’s why I drink Friedrich Nietzsche, quote there for you now, which has kind of really encapsulated. The biggest change, I can choose honest conflict with love. I can say the things that I need to say like, Hey, this part of our relationship isn’t working for me. And I’d like to reimagine this and recreate this with you. Are you up for that work with me? On harder days, I just cry. And I just let myself cry. And I let myself feel frustrated. And I don’t judge myself for it. I just, that’s that’s the biggest difference. If I’m going to be sad that they don’t have my salad at the restaurant, I’m just going to let myself feel sad. I just recently went on a trip with my husband and I messed up our tickets to the one place I wanted to see. And we didn’t get to go. This place has been on my list since college since learning about it. And he loves me and wanted to jump into like, it’s okay, it’s okay, we’re just gonna have to come back where we can get tickets another time. And I was like, You know what, sweetheart? Thank you. I just need to cry and be sad about this. And I’m going to need to cry and be sad for as long as it takes. And then it just felt done. And now I can tell you the story with no tears and with a lot of compassion, because I felt that and so on my good days, I feel like I am me. And I’m taking care of all of the parts of me in honest relationships with people that matter to me, I’m not pretending I’m not performing. I’m not editing. And then on the days when I have less resources and less capacity because I that’s the thing like fluctuating capacity to deal with and engage with the world. I just don’t judge myself for it anymore. Yeah.

Kristen Carder 53:09
I love it so much. I love it. Love it so much. I had this experience last night where someone came to the door to solicit to sell something in the neighborhood. And I was able to respectfully but assertively say, I am 100% Not interested. And he kept talking. And I was just like, thank you so much, but I’m not interested. And I just gently close the door. It was not like yeah, to hear it. But it was just very assertive, and respectful. And I remember last summer, someone from that same team came to the door and I stood there frozen, not able to stop him. And I let him talk to me for fifth teen minutes. feeling in my body, like get me out of here. Get me out of here. What the heck, what the heck? Not able to just speak the truth of thank you so much. I’m not interested. I think I said it and he over talked, you know, talked over me and I was like, okay, and I just couldn’t prioritize myself in that moment. Even though I was in my home in my safest space, I felt ambushed and, and I will just never get over the contrast of what one year can do. Of of just this work of connecting with yourself connecting with your emotions, believing yourself trusting yourself knowing that it’s okay to prioritize yourself over someone else once in a while. And just being able to like just gently like absolutely no drama in my brain like thank you so much. I’m not interested. Goodbye close the door. I I just felt like I’ve never been so powerful in my whole life. It’s

Sarah 55:05
so true our power is in those moments where we’re not pretending or performing, where we say like this, this is the thing I want to say. And I had a similar situation yesterday, with a contractor doing some work in our home, and there was something I wasn’t happy about. Usually, I would send my husband to relay the information. And I just walked in and said, Hey, I need to talk to you about a couple of things that are not working for me in the way this job is being done. Clear, kind, and he pushed back a little bit. And I said, you’re going to hear me get a little angry here. Because what I am coming to tell you is not what I’m suggesting that you do is as the person who has hired you, it is what I want you to do. And if that’s a problem, you can go ahead and let me know now. Because this is what I want to see happen. And it’s I’m not asking for anything above and beyond, I would have never been able to be that clear and grounded. And like, if I had said that, my stomach would have been like, Oh, that would have gone away. Like what’s a to mean? Did he does he does he hate me? Now I would have overthought it was like, Listen, this is, this is what we agreed on. This is what is not happening. Tell me if that’s a problem, and I’m happy to let you know someone else do this job. Sure, but I just don’t I don’t have time or energy to let this take up space. And so that is, I mean, it’s everything right? It’s in those moments.

Kristen Carder 56:35
Do you just feel like a woman? I feel like the

Sarah 56:39
fucking Queen of the universe? Yes. Yeah, just like I can say what needs to be said. And I had an incident at a family reunion where I was able to be really tender and really kind and just say, this part of this relationship is painful for both of us. Can we please talk? And so wading into that, yeah, that the honest, loving conflict, that I just would have never like the possibility of being rejected being misunderstood, being thought of as mean, being thought of as somebody who wasn’t nice, it just would have been paralyzing before.

Kristen Carder 57:21
Ah, beautiful. Sara, if people are just listening to this, and they’re like, I need more, I need more. Tell us where to find you. Tell us who you work with how you work with them. Give us all the details.

Sarah 57:34
You can find me on Instagram and Facebook, Sarah Fiske coaching, I work with individuals, I do one on one coaching. And I do group coaching, the one on one coaching is kind of a catch all for anything you want to work on. The group coaching is specifically to stop people pleasing. And it’s as a beautiful, supportive, loving community. I mean, I’ve been a part of your ADHD community and just to hear other people say, my experience in their own words, it’s, it’s beautiful. And so that’s why that group coaching program exists. And the next time that it enrolls is in the next couple of weeks. And we start again at the end of August, and we’ll start again at the beginning of the year.

Kristen Carder 58:17
Amazing. And are you still recording your podcast? Yes,

Sarah 58:21
podcast is the X, the X good girl podcast, which this is going to just make you laugh, it took me forever to be able to say that name out loud, because it felt so scandalous when I first came up with it. And that just goes to show progress is made and in fits and starts, but it is made and it is one of my favorite things because I get to talk about my experiences and interview people about their experiences of becoming someone who is self connected, and trust themselves and has stopped judging themselves.

Kristen Carder 58:57
Beautiful. Thank you so much for being here. This is every time I get to talk to you is such a joy for me. So thanks for sharing your wisdom, your knowledge, everybody go check out her podcast her programs you will not be disappointed.

Sarah 59:11
Thank you. I love you. I love your community and I love what you do for the world. It has been so helpful to me personally. So thank you, this is a pleasure. If you’re

Kristen Carder 59:19
being treated for your ADHD, but you still don’t feel like you’re reaching your potential you’ve got to join focused. It’s my monthly coaching membership where I teach you how to tame your wild thoughts and create the life that you’ve always wanted. No matter what season of life you’re in or where you are in the world focused is for you. All materials and call recordings are stored in the site for you to access at your convenience. Go to Ihaveadhd.com/focused for all the info

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