August 22, 2023

FOCUSED Member Chat: Emotional Regulation with Michael Johnson

In this episode, I’m joined by my FOCUSED client Michael Johnson, who shares his ADHD journey that led him to being coached and now becoming a coach himself.

I love our conversation because Michael is so open and honest about his weaknesses and the self-discovery that led to him evolving into a much more self-aware and balanced person today. 

If you’ve struggled with horrible self-talk, disordered eating, and difficult relationships, this episode is going to be right up your alley. 

In case you haven’t had enough of ME talking about emotional regulation, Michael discusses from a client perspective why he truly believes it is the number one skill for adults with ADHD to learn. 

Do you ever feel that your ADHD symptoms aren’t actually the biggest problem, but instead it’s the layers of self-judgment and blame that you pile on top of yourself after noticing the symptom holding you back?

Have your lack of emotional regulation skills led to you self-soothing in unhealthy ways that keep you in a bad cycle?

Listen, share with friends and look into being coached by Michael at onethoughtcoach.com. You can find Michael on Instagram @michaelgarrettjohnson



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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’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. Thank you so much for being here with me today. I’m so glad you pressed play on this podcast. Do not forget to subscribe. Listen, remember, you have ADHD. So if you enjoy this podcast, but you don’t subscribe, you might not remember to come back to it ever again. So go ahead and hit that follow or subscribe or whatever button and I will see you again next week when I drop another episode. Today on the podcast I have with me one of my clients, one of my dear, dear clients that I absolutely love. From focus. His name is Michael and he’s here to share with us his ADHD journey I am so looking forward to you hearing from him. I think it’s so beautiful when we can share our ADHD stories and just find commonality and camaraderie within just like the ADHD community. It really helps us to not feel alone. That’s very important. So Michael currently resides in Raleigh, North Carolina with his fiancee Gabrielle. And together they own a seven figure bakery. When not making cookies, they’re always looking to what’s next and have started the process of building an event space in downtown Raleigh. Michael has felt the impact of coaching in his own life and has recently certified to be a life coach himself, which is, I think, very appropriate for who I know you to be. So thank you. Welcome. I’m so glad you’re here.

Michael Johnson 2:16
Thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here.

Kristen Carder 2:18
It’s super fun. You’ve been in focused for two over two years, I believe. Is that true? Since 2021?

Michael Johnson 2:26
Yeah, I joined January of 2021. So two and

Kristen Carder 2:31
a half years. It feels like I’ve known you for that long, which is really nice. Yeah. Like it just feels like we kind of go way back. And I love that about our relationship. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself? What is your kind of ADHD story?

Michael Johnson 2:47
So forgive me, I don’t know the dates. But I was in college and struggling with anxiety and depression. I had been a very good student in high school, not by choice, but I got good grades, I tested very well. So there was no problems that manifested themselves while I was in high school living at home. When I went to college, I realized that I was really struggling, but I thought it was more the emotional side of things. I didn’t think I was ADHD. But as I worked with a therapist, we kind of discovered that there was a lot of ADHD symptoms. And so then I got tested for ADHD and was on medication for six months, maybe best six months of my life, but I decided to get off of it. And now I don’t take medication. But that was maybe eight years ago, almost probably.

Kristen Carder 3:45
So helped me to understand why being on medication was the best six months of your life. And yet, you’ve chosen not to like what’s the what’s your like motive behind that?

Michael Johnson 3:58
Yeah, I guess I mean, I haven’t done a lot of thinking about it. And I don’t have any judgments about people who medication everyone has to make their own decision on those things. Yeah, the doctor that I was working with at that point was a little bit nervous about over time, we become less effective. So she was very, it was a stimulant. So she was very wary of me doing daily use of the medication because I was a relatively functioning adult. I didn’t need it every single day. But on the you know, the days that I would take it, it was like, I mean people who take medication for ADHD, understand what it’s like to take if they have a medication that works literally there’s not words to describe how clear and calm everything becomes. So I don’t know I just kind of stopped taking it. I still had plenty of pills at the house. I disposed of them and it’s just I’m gonna do it without the medication at some point I may go back on the medication right Now, I think I’ve built enough support scaffolding in my life that it’s not necessary for me to be taking it so I don’t have to take.

Kristen Carder 5:10
That’s lovely. So, before we get to that support and scaffolding, because I’m very interested to hear, like what the tools are that you use to really support your ADHD, I’m curious, what are the hardest aspects of having ADHD for you? Like, how do you see it? manifest in your life? I

Michael Johnson 5:33
mean, obviously, the most common is forgetting things just like life can feel very crazy and overwhelming. And it’s hard to remember everything. I mean, I think from us, even the average person, it’s hard to remember everything. But in the past, and this has gotten better. I think through focused, I was very unkind to myself, when I would forget things. Or when I would be falling behind, I would quickly fall into a trap of overwhelm. So now it’s like, yeah, I lose my keys, I put them in the refrigerator. There’s small things that show up, like all of the time. But I have been able, with the support of a lot of people to build a life where the ADHD is not detrimental anymore. It’s not a superpower. It’s not something that I love having. But I’m not inhibited by it.

Kristen Carder 6:29
Thank you so much for that clarification. You’re gonna get me like on your team, when you see that a superpower when ADHD was detrimental to your life, what did that look

Michael Johnson 6:44
like? It looked like honestly, feeling like I couldn’t cope with everything that was on my plate, my ability to work through my emotions was not there, I could not find a way of like just getting things done. And it felt like all I need to do is finish my to do list. But it was it was so much more than just getting things done. It was being able to work through the emotions that I was having. And that was just not a skill that I had at all. And so yes, I would forget things. And then I would hate myself for Yeah, I would get behind. And I would just like it was overwhelming because I couldn’t talk to myself in a way that was kind and loving and supportive. So it wasn’t ever that there was a symptom that was so bad. I think that my ADHD is probably not as severe as other people. It was that the small symptoms I was having. Were just overwhelming to me. Basically, I couldn’t treat myself in a way that I was ever going to be able to solve them.

Kristen Carder 7:59
I think that is so poignant. I’m so glad that you are here to share this with us. Because I think that this might be common, where the symptoms are actually not the biggest problem. It’s the layer of self judgment, self blame, shame, that we are like piling on top of ourselves when we notice the symptom that really holds us back because that’s what keeps us stuck, right? Like, when you have lost your keys. Like that sucks. You’ve lost your keys, you’re like, Okay, it’s the 90,000 time I’ve lost my keys this week. And that’s fine. I know, I’m gonna find my keys. They’re around here somewhere like I drove to my house. They’re here somewhere. But what what makes it take an hour and a half to find them is that I’m beating myself up. I’m shaming myself. I’m so mad at myself about the fact that I’ve lost my keys and I’m like having a temper tantrum. I’m speaking from my own, like actual experience of this happening to me where it’s like, now I’m just throwing a temper tantrum. And we all know that that’s not going to help me find my keys and so then I have to cool off before I can even make any progress to find the keys.

Michael Johnson 9:16
Yeah, exactly. And for me, it was even more than like the cooling off it was like I had developed so many detrimental habits because of it was like I couldn’t even regulate after the fact it was like I get to some coaches use the word buffer, buffer my emotions with eating with being on my phone with taking naps, like I couldn’t be around myself.

Kristen Carder 9:44
Okay, so let’s chat about that. Because I think that’s important. When we don’t have emotional regulation skills. We have to figure out how to regulate somehow, like we just have to as a human being, we have to be able to do Take an emotion that’s at like, a super high level and turn down the temperature somehow. And the way that is healthy and kind of evolved to do that is to feel that emotion and self soothe and identify the emotion, all of these skills that most of us, ADHD don’t have. And when we don’t have those skills, we have to it’s not even like you’re a bad person, because you are buffering at all. It’s like, no, no, this is what your brain has to do to survive, we have to turn down the temperature on that emotion. And so your body and brain will figure out how to do that somehow. So Michael, you’re saying for you, that was like, eating scrolling, napping? Yeah. Tell me about what that’s like. So let’s say the kids they mean go back to that example, even though that’s like kind of a benign example. We lose the keys, we have the temper tantrum, we don’t know how to cool off. And then are you thinking, I need to regulate myself somehow? So now I’m going to pick up my phone? Or is it just like this automatic? I know the answer, but share your your version of it.

Michael Johnson 11:12
Yes, felt it was not that I was not thinking that this is the way I’m going to regulate myself. It was almost compulsive, it felt like there was no space in between feeling horrible emotions, very strong emotions, and the action that I was taking to work through those emotions, obviously, now with focus, we can, you can start to see that there is space between those two things. And opening that space can allow you to number one, work through those emotions. But also if you so choose, you can work through the maybe the habits that are less supportive to overall health, but it was like I would get behind on a paper or something at school, or I would turn it in late or I wouldn’t turn it in at all, I would have really strong emotions about myself some really just not kind thoughts about myself. And it was like, immediately I would have to go to the kitchen and just start eating. So I, I thought that there was you know, for example, with eating I, and there may be I’ve never been diagnosed, but I thought there was a binge eating problem, because it was like, I just had to cover myself and food because I couldn’t. I couldn’t talk about or I couldn’t feel the emotions. Yeah.

Kristen Carder 12:31
I think that eating is a very, very common way that humans in general, not just humans with ADHD, self soothe, and especially, I’ll speak for myself, like for those of us who were under nurtured, I think that food actually feels very nurturing. So when you’re under nurtured as a kid, and then you don’t know how to nurture yourself as an adult, like food is such a nurturer to some extent, right, until it becomes detrimental if it’s like overused, but I relate so much. And I also, again, I was not diagnosed either, but I identify as someone who did struggle with disordered eating. And I really do think that that was because of like emotional dysregulation, not having coping skills, not understanding how to deal with these big huge emotions that I think are just a part of the normal human experience. But I didn’t have the privilege of being taught or like, coached through that. And so I think that food is a very natural, like some people turn to substances totally fine. Some people turn to like TV, or porn, like all of that. But like food is just kind of the one thing at least for those of us like, in the States, it’s like it’s there. And it’s good. And we can access it relatively inexpensively, like the cheap, good food, it’s just like, oh my gosh, and I totally relate to just having a big emotion and turning to the kitchen, or like gathering people, like let’s go out, like, Let’s go out for food. And I mean, how many like late night meals that I have in college, super fun, but it was emotional regulation. It wasn’t about having fun. For me, it was about like, I need to self soothe. Of course, I didn’t identify it at the time. But I think that’s also a generational thing in my family too, which I think is really interesting. Just like watching the people in my family soothe with food and being like, Oh, this is how we soothe. Yes, it’s really interesting. I’m afraid to ask you if you resonate with that.

Michael Johnson 14:38
I have not noticed it and my family food and my family was a time to celebrate like my cook. I do not like cooking. I’m the black sheep of the family. But that it was what you said is so true. For me it was nurturing to feed myself. Like The sugary sweet was like all about the dirt desserts, it was so kind to myself at that time, and it really was kind to myself, have no judgment of that time in my life. I didn’t know another way of dealing with the emotions, there was no other point. Now I have a lot of tools that helped me. But at that point, that was the only thing I had. And so you know, I love that past self, who was just trying his best.

Kristen Carder 15:28
And he really needed to be soothed, he really needed to be nurtured. That’s, that’s not just a one. That’s a nice, that’s like a basic human raw need. And so you were meeting that need for yourself in the way that you knew how to do it. Totally 100% was past versions of us.

Michael Johnson 15:51
They were just trying their best. I mean, at one point in my journey of, you know, kind of discovering all of this and healing myself, there was a lot of judgment for like, in because we’re talking about food, for example, you know, I had a lot of judgment about how much I weighed and like, how could I let it get this far. But you know, now there’s, there’s just, you know, appreciation that I survived that time, and I’m here now still alive. And now I feel like I’m thriving. And, you know, do I wish that I had been taught everything that I know. Now, when I was 10 years old, of course, I learned a lot of things. Am I a better person? Because I went through hard things, yeah, probably

Kristen Carder 16:33
more compassionate, more empathetic, better able to relate to other people. And one of the things that I think is a benefit of going through struggle is not judging other people in their struggle. And I think and we’ll get to this, you know, later, but I know you’re coaching now. And I think that that is a really important aspect of coaching is having gone through some struggle yourself and being able to hold people in their struggle and not be judgmental of them. Like, how could you be doing this? Why would you cope with food? Or why would you cope with porn? Or why would you? There’s like, No, I get it. Like, we need to cope with something.

Michael Johnson 17:15
For sure. And you know, we all have different struggles. I don’t think anyone’s life is perfect, and some are definitely harder than mine. But I’m grateful that I was able to go through that and what Michael was able to survive all of that to be picked Michael.

Kristen Carder 17:31
God blessed little Michael. Oh, my gosh, I bet he was adorable. Okay. You mentioned that you’re not on medication, but you do have a lot of tools that you use to support yourself. I’m curious if you would share, like, what are the things that you have really found to be really helpful with your ADHD journey and kind of like setting up your life in a way that that works for your brain?

Michael Johnson 17:56
One of the biggest tools, and we’re definitely going to talk about this because it is the focus podcast, but one of the biggest tools has been focused. And just coaching overall, there’s a lot of tools that you learned, either through the podcast or joining joining a program or being with a coach, you learn a lot of tools on how to cope. So I think that’s probably the biggest one overall. And it’s not just the tools, that’s the advice because I’m thinking, one thing that has made me very successful now is I allow myself a lot of space. And my day, I am someone who needs plenty of transition time to like lay on the couch with you know, I need my tick tock time in between activities, I’m not going to be someone who can stand up and go from one to the next activity, I need that time and I have to plan it. But that was something I was only able to learn through focused because there are not a lot of coaches who are teaching that you need to give yourself 1520 Half an hour of just like, log time, or you’re just a lot on the couch doing nothing.

Kristen Carder 19:10
I love that term. I’ve never heard it logged time. But it’s like I’m not logging anything. Like as in data. I’m seeing a log.

Michael Johnson 19:20
So on top of that, I’m trying to think of other things that are super, I mean, and I hesitate to talk about this because I know that it’s not everyone’s experience, but I have a wonderful partner, my fiancee Gabrielle, who is just amazing. Like he is so helpful. I can just allow him to take over entire sections of my life and he will just do it. I will say I need you to get this done. And he just does it and obviously it’s a given a take. It’s not like I’m not doing anything for him. But there are things,

Kristen Carder 20:01
you’re a catch, come on. We say like when I say like, Greg is amazing, he does this and this and like, and also, I’m catch, like, it’s not a chore to be married to me, I’m pretty great.

Michael Johnson 20:14
And so, for me and my case, I have a life partner who is very supportive. And there are other cases where that may not be the case. And in those situations, you’re just gonna have to get creative, whether it’s a friend, or you pay for help. But I think having one or several people in your life, who you can just say, I will not do this, I need you to get it done. Please just tell me when it’s done, like, I will not think about this ever again. And if we need to get it done, I will not do it. So please just take over. And having someone in your life, whether it’s, you know, free, because they live with you, or you go out and pay someone to do something for you. Finding the things that you’re just not going to do and letting someone else do it and not worrying about it is it’s the best, there’s nothing better.

Kristen Carder 21:10
There is nothing better. I mean, full stop. And I’m curious if that was hard for you? Or if that’s kind of how you set up your relationship? Did you have to transition? Like, you know, were you already together? And then like, Okay, I actually have to be honest, like, I have these needs that like I need help meeting or like, what was that experience? Like? Yeah, I

Michael Johnson 21:32
mean, first off, focused, taught me some things about myself that I never knew. And I asked him, What has focus given me. And he that was one of the first things he said is that focus has helped me understand myself better, so that I can express my needs. Because, you know, there is this idea that being independent is very nice. And I have prided myself growing up. Probably in America, probably a very conservative Christian family, like, I have prided myself in being independent and not needing people as if that’s like, a prize to be won or something. But focus has taught me that I have needs and I can express those needs. I would also say and you have public podcasts about this, I would say I was not a very safe person to be in a relationship with honestly, speaking, I am not 100% safe now. Definitely at the beginning of our relationship, I was not a safe person to be around, which is not fun to find out about yourself. But working on becoming a safe person has number one, open the communication between us and giving him space to express his needs as I express my needs. So I think focus really helped us be able to communicate, even though he’s not in the program, it’s helped me open those conversations in ways that I could beforehand.

Kristen Carder 23:11
I really appreciate the vulnerability that it takes to admit, like I was not a safe person.

Michael Johnson 23:19
Yeah, I mean, it’s not fun to like, listen to Chris and talk about like, this is a safe person. This is the last safe person. And rather than thinking about people in your life, you’re like, I am not the safe person. Like I’m not safe to myself, and I’m not safe to the people in my life. Oh my word. Yes.

Kristen Carder 23:39
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 getting 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 when with ADHD, go to I have adhd.com/focused to join. And I hope to see you in our community today. So how did you do the work? Or how are you if you consider yourself still in process? How are you doing the work of becoming someone who is safe in your relationships,

Michael Johnson 25:23
I feel like I’m a broken record, first of all, but it all comes back to being able to deal with my own emotions. Yeah, I put so much of my emotional life on to another person or other people in ways that were not healthy, they were not helpful. Our relationship, it made me a scary person to be around, because at any point, I could lose my keys, and then it becomes everyone’s fault. And I’m like, a scary monster in some ways. And so it has really come back to how can I work through my emotions on my own, with the help of the focus community or, you know, coaching, or just all by myself, going for a walk, finding ways to cope, so that when I opened my mouth to speak to someone, that words are kind?

Kristen Carder 26:27
What was that process like for you to, to learn how to regulate your emotions, like how did that evolve?

Michael Johnson 26:35
In Focus, we use a tool called surfing, and I have used that more, it is definitely not 100% it’s, you know, it’s kind of a habit that you have to work on. But it has really been about just noticing what’s coming up for me noticing the emotions, I’ve learned that I need to move my body through my emotions. So I think that’s probably pretty common for people with ADHD. And if you’re not doing that, if you’re feeling big emotions, go for a walk, get out of the house, you don’t need to open the fridge, you don’t need to yell at someone just go for a walk and see what happens. I mean, I really think that we have so much energy inside our bodies. And when we have big emotions, it’s like it’s gonna come out somehow. So just move your legs. Or if you if you can’t walk, you know, just, I don’t know, move your arm, something, get the energy moving outside of your body. I really think that’s so important. It’s been really helpful for me. Because as I think about things, I can usually work myself out of the emotion that I’m feeling. Not that you know, there’s anything wrong with feeling any emotion in your life. But you don’t want to feel rage when you’re talking to your partner. No,

Kristen Carder 27:55
it’s not super helpful for getting your needs met, or for just like, communication, vulnerability, kindness, and just like a good relation, it’s not, it’s not really fun. I want to second the move your body tip, because when I was first learning how to just even allow an emotion to be present with me, instead of throwing it off onto someone else, or stuffing it down with like food, or wine or Instagram, the emotion felt so big and so overwhelming that there was so much energy buzzing in me that moving it’s such a good way to allow the emotion to be present, but have a way to work it out. And so even just like walking, hiking, I mean, last summer, you guys heard me talk a lot about rage running. Like there was some major rage running happening for Kristen Carter last summer because it was so present with me. And it had to be released somehow. And like you said, I don’t want to release it on my kids. I don’t want to release it on Greg. I don’t want to release it on like my employees or have a weird interaction with a client where I’m like bringing up Rayji. Like, that’s not what I want. But that will happen if we don’t figure out a way to process that emotion through our bodies, and I’m with you. 100% I think that emotional regulation for someone with ADHD is the number one skill to learn. I really do. I wish it was like sexier and easier and like, like, No, you just need to learn how to make a list. That would be more fun.

Michael Johnson 29:39
Yeah, I mean, I think that is kind of the fun thing about learning about a ADHD is that you go in with all of these symptoms of everything that’s going wrong with your life. And as soon as you realize that the secret is just being able to feel your emotions and work through them. It’s like I don’t get pretty much done during the day, and that’s okay. Or, you know, my wallet has been lost for three days, but no one’s spending my money. So it’s okay. It will show up when it shows up.

Kristen Carder 30:11
Yeah. Yeah. And then you have those symptoms. So circling back to like the losing the keys, and that during the temper tantrum, you have the symptoms, they’re present with you. And you’re just like, oh, there’s a symptom. Instead of there’s a symptom. I can’t believe this happened, how could I be so stupid, I’m never going to learn and going down the shame spiral and then having to buffer to regulate, it’s like, now we can just observe that the symptoms are there and be like, Yeah, that’s really annoying.

Michael Johnson 30:39
Yeah, that was one of the things that I noticed. First about focused is you specifically on your coaching calls, you speak to yourself, like you talk out loud to yourself, and you are so kind to yourself, and I think I may have messaged you or posted something in the focus community about how you learn to speak so kindly to yourself, I can remember, maybe the first or second call, you couldn’t figure out something was going wrong with the technology. And you said, wow, we’re feeling a lot of emotions. It’s okay, Kristen, like, we will work this out. And it was just like, shocking to hear someone go through something that, you know, was a symptom of ADHD, and be kind to themselves about it.

Kristen Carder 31:30
It’s so what is the feeling that I’m feeling? I think it’s like exposing, you know, because I’m like, I don’t ever, I don’t know, it’s, it’s a weird feeling to talk about it. But it is really interesting. When you have a room, it’s a Zoom Room, but it’s still a room full of 50 people, they’re all looking at you, and something’s not working. And, you know, you start to get hot. And the emotion starts like you can feel it like rising from your gut up through your chest. And it’s just like everything. And to decide in the moment, how am I going to handle this? And am I willing, because at home, that’s how like, I have to talk to myself out loud. Because as someone with ADHD, the internal dialogue is very difficult for me to have, right. So the mind’s voice is our verbal working memory. And that is one of our deficient executive functions. And so for me, that is a deficient executive function. I don’t have that internal voice. So I have to externalize it. And so I started years ago, when I first discovered coaching, to talk to myself out loud. And at first it sounded like No, Chris, and we’re not going to talk to ourselves like that anymore. So I would notice that I was ruminating and being really mean to myself and beating myself out and out loud, I would say, Hey, we’re all done talking to ourselves like that. And that just kind of evolved into like, just talking myself through the day, like the nurturing mother that I always wished that I had, and just helping myself. get through a day. And now, I didn’t even mean to do this. But I noticed the other day that I called myself, honey girl. Oh, honey, girl, what are you doing? And I was like, that’s different like that. It’s a new like we’ve entered. It’s like a new level unlocked. I was like, That is so sweet. I can’t believe that. I like called myself, honey girl. And it didn’t feel weird. I was just like, Oh, honey, girl, what are you doing? What do you need? I don’t know. It’s just like, I want that for everyone. And still, my life is hard. And I have terrible emotions. But I need to be nurtured. Just like you need to be nurtured. And if there are not people in our lives, who are able to nurture us who were able to go get that need from, especially when you’re just like alone. You know, like, you’re just like, I’m in my kitchen alone and everything’s falling apart like I need nurturer. No one’s around. Who is it’s me, I got to do it. You know.

Michael Johnson 34:05
And when you expect the people in your life to be the only ones who nurture you, it sets up number one and unsafe relationship. But it just, it makes boundaries weird and difficult, especially like, you have employees, I have employees. Expecting your employees to solve your emotions is powerless for you. But it’s also weird for them. It makes everything uncomfortable. It was not in their job description. But it can happen for people with ADHD it becomes very easy when we can’t regulate ourselves to want other people to solve our emotions for us.

Kristen Carder 34:47
Oh my goodness. Yes. Yes, absolutely. Yes. And this is where the evolvement and like the standing in our own authority and the taking responsibility for ourselves. VHS while still asking the appropriate people in our lives to meet our needs, right? So I’m going to call my husband when I’m upset, not dump it onto my employees, right? Like, where? Where’s the line there? I totally agree. And I think that emotional immaturity is just something that gets passed down from generation to generation and generation is ADHD. Is it emotional immaturity? Is it both? Who really knows, but it’s definitely there. Right? And so learning how to do that, and teaching it to yourself as a grown adult is one of the most powerful skills I totally agree. Okay. So Michael, you are running three businesses right now? Is that true?

Michael Johnson 35:41
Yeah, relatively. So there’s one that’s still in the works, but we’re doing a lot of work for us just, we’re not making money yet. So

Kristen Carder 35:49
I guess that’s okay. I think that there’s a lot of businesses startups out there that are legit, and not making money yet. Right. So you’re giving yourself time to be profitable. But I’m curious, how have you as you’ve grown in your emotional regulation and your skills surrounding your ADHD? How has that improved your ability to run your companies?

Michael Johnson 36:15
Yeah, I mean, running companies takes a lot of brainpower, it takes a lot of thinking, and what someone might call like, deep, deep thinking, like, see myself as the leader in the business as the person who has to solve the problems that no one else can solve. And it takes a lot of managing yourself, because you’re managing people outside of yourself. So I think that focused has helped me to create that space in my mind to do that work. So before, there was a lot of like, hamster on a wheel, like putting out fires, trying to solve problems as they showed up. And always feeling behind, which I think is like, so common for people with ADHD. And there are still times where I’m like, Oh, I notice, I’m really feeling behind right now, which is just an emotion, it may or may not be true with what the actual circumstances are. But focus has taught me how to slow myself down, to speed up and work ahead. So I have to, you know, find a way of emotionally getting myself into a calm place. So that I can work ahead is basically what I’m trying to say. And that was not something that I was able to do on my own, because it was like, my life feels like it’s on fire. Everything in my life is on fire right now. And it includes the businesses now, nothing feels like it’s on fire. And when problems come up, I have the emotional bandwidth to deal with those situations.

Kristen Carder 38:07
I mean, that is huge. I remember coaching you, like more than one time, and you feeling like you’re behind just an hour meeting like, you know, that’s just a judgment, right? And you’re like, I know, it still feels true, like you got really mad, not mad, but like, sometimes when we’re being coached, it’s annoying. It’s annoying to be coached. It’s just like, Yeah, I know. But like, it’s still this is still what it feels like. So like, what are you going to do about a Christian? I’m like, What, oh, no, maybe or not.

Michael Johnson 38:42
I have, like, I need to, like get it framed or something. Because it’s something I always go back to that you said, and one of our coaching sessions was, overwhelm is not a sign to get more things done. It’s not assigned to check things off the To Do lists, overwhelm is something to be felt. And that is like life changing. Like when I finally understood that I’m feeling behind, I’m feeling overwhelmed. I’m feeling a lot of pressure and stress. And that’s not a reason to go out and do more things. It’s a reason to sit for 15 minutes with this emotion and work through it allow myself to, you know, spill it out onto a page or just think about it, and work through the emotion. I mean, that was honestly life changing. And so I go back to the all the time, every time I feel rushed or overwhelmed or behind. I remind myself, it is just an emotion to be felt. It is not a sign of something going wrong.

Kristen Carder 39:45
Yes, that’s so powerful because what we usually do with overwhelm is we say, Oh, my goodness, this is an indicator that I’m not doing enough that there’s so much to be done. We try to be busy. But because we’re being busy with the fuel of overwhelm, we’re underperforming. So when we’re filled with overwhelm, we’re going to, like over whelmed, you’re going to underperform, right, it’s just always going to happen. And so if you can just feel it and be like, I’m experiencing overwhelm, this is a very normal human experience. I’m just gonna feel it and let it pass. And then I’m gonna go do the things. So good. Wow, that’s awesome. One thing that I’m curious about, is that you’ve spoken a couple of times in the past about kind of wanting to take care of employees. And that kind of adding to your overwhelm. I’m curious, and this isn’t, you know, on our list of questions, but it is something that I know you and I have spoken about, have you been able to get to a place where you feel like is, is a good place with delegating to your employees and being kind and compassionate to them, but not trying to, like manage their emotions and take care of them? Like, what’s that experience like for you now?

Michael Johnson 41:08
I think that it’s it has to do with me expecting other people to take care of my emotions, my couldn’t emote, regulate myself, it was like this two way street like I see you if you take care of me. Yeah. So there was a long time where I was worried about people being happy in their jobs about me, because here’s the other thing, I was not a very safe boss to come to with problems, because I couldn’t emotionally regulate myself. So I would worry all the time, they’re not telling me the truth, I don’t know what’s going on. Because I’m not a safe space for them. And that probably was true. But as you emotionally regulate myself, now, I feel like if someone’s having a problem, they have the safety to come to me with that problem, and create the best environment that I can. And if it’s not meeting someone’s expectations for their job, then they can come to me, and we can have a discussion and we can solve it, or we can, you know, just deal with it not being perfect, or they can go find a different job. Because not everyone is meant to work for me. And I’m not meant to have everyone as an employee.

Kristen Carder 42:27
I think that is so profound, that it wasn’t just that you were trying to take care of other people’s emotions, it was the expectation that people take care of me. And so I will take care of them. And there’s this like two way street. And I think that when we really begin to learn that adults are responsible for their own emotions, and that means I’m responsible for my own emotions. And yes, we have impact on each other. Right? And so it’s not like, you know, I don’t care what you’re experiencing, it’s not about me, it’s about it’s not that at all, but it’s like, Oh, if you’re feeling upset, it’s actually your job to solve that. And I can be here with you in it, but I don’t need to, like, fix it for you. That to me was so freeing, and so life changing, but also very hard, because I want to fix everyone’s emotions so that I can feel really safe and really good and really happy.

Michael Johnson 43:25
Yeah, yeah, totally. I mean, we had a coaching call. I mean, just a few months ago, I think we’re I was stressed that gotta yell, wasn’t eating enough vegetables, and I had to, like, take care of him eating his vegetables. And it’s not emotions, but it’s like, I was feeling this way. Like, I have to solve everyone’s problems. And I think that comes from wanting people to like you or to, yeah, basically to like you. And because you can’t like yourself, or you can’t emotionally regulate yourself, to get people to love you basically. And he doesn’t like to eat as many vegetables as I do. And that’s okay. I have to let him eat the amount of vegetables that he wants. When I cook for him. There’s a vegetable on the plate, but that’s whatever he wants to eat. And he

Kristen Carder 44:25
is a grown ass man. Like that is the part where we have to be like, he gets to choose right and that’s hard. Because we could even take it to like, I want him to be around I want him to be healthy. I want him to be functioning like it’s almost like this. I don’t know if it would be described as codependency but like, if I don’t take care of him then he won’t be there for me kind of a situation right where it’s just like, relationships are risky and like yeah, we might not always be there but that is on the other person. tend to take care of themselves. Oh, it’s so hard.

Michael Johnson 45:03
And we probably haven’t always been so great about taking care of ourselves. Yeah. Have a history of people not taking care of themselves in our own life. And so we have to learn that we take care of ourselves and other people take care of themselves.

Kristen Carder 45:23
We can support. Yeah, it does take time. And of course, like, I just, I feel like we need to add the caveat. Like, we want to support people. We want to be there for them. Of course, of course, but we don’t like I remember. I mean, this was years ago, but my mom was getting new living room furniture, and I was losing sleep over the type of furniture that my mom was picking out for her own living room. Like, why do I, why am I losing, like, I remember laying in bed, and I can picture myself right now. But at the greenhouse, that’s what we call it greenhouse, and I’m laying in bed, and I’m just like, she is going to choose that ugly chair. And then I’m gonna have to go into that room and see that ugly chair and my therapist pointed out like honey, like, this is a codependency, like, your mom’s furniture is her own choice, she gets to choose, like, whatever. And I was like, it’s her own waste. Like, what, it’s just wild, the things that I spent my energy caring about, okay, anyway, I want to ask you about coaching, because you’ve certified as a coach, I’m so proud of you,

Michael Johnson 46:30
thank you, it was hard, I didn’t go through your coaching program. So that made it a lot harder than it needed to be,

Kristen Carder 46:37
sweetheart. So weight heart, we could go into a whole conversation on that, we really, really could. And all I want to say is make sure whatever coaching program you choose is ADHD friendly. That’s just the most important thing. So of course, doesn’t have to be mine. But if you are looking to be a coach, just check in with the coaching school and make sure it’s ADHD friendly, but you did it. Very well done proud of you. I want to affirm you that I really feel you are perfectly suited for coaching. And I’m so glad that you’ve become a coach, I just feel that you have the ability to observe yourself in a way that shows me that you’ll be able to also observe others in that really insightful and neutral way. And your empathetic spirit is just like, I know that you will hold people with care. So I’m just so proud of you. I’m so glad you’re a coach, who do you love to coach like, who are the people that you want to be coaching?

Michael Johnson 47:43
First of all, it’s very nice of you to say, I’m like blushing, I don’t even know what to say I’ve lost my train of thought.

Kristen Carder 47:51
It’s sincere. I do want to also say that, like, I know, I’m good at giving compliments, but also it’s very sincere, I truly do mean it.

Michael Johnson 47:59
Thank you. I am Nicholas, I do not to decide on anything specific. Currently, I love to talk about emotions. So like, and that is a huge portion of what coaching is. But I love to talk about whatever people are feeling. So right now clients that I have, I’m working with a couple that we’re doing like business ish coaching, I will never be a business coach, because I have thoughts about business coaching. By but and then I’m working with a couple of people who are, you know, looking to change their bodies. So it’s kind of a variety of things right now. And I’m really happy with that. Because what I want to talk about is people’s emotions, because I have, I really think that’s the secret to whatever you want in your life is being able to feel your emotions.

Kristen Carder 48:56
I totally agree. And for anybody who’s looking for a one on one coach who’s really resonated with what Michael has been talking about, I highly recommend you reach out because to see your evolvement and to know the work and the like blood, sweat and tears, so to speak, that went into learning how to be an emotionally safe, emotionally independent, emotionally mature person and I know you’re a work in progress as we all are. But that is a very specific skill. That is a very, very difficult thing to do. If somebody wants to, like reach out to you, how would they find you? Yeah, I

Michael Johnson 49:35
have a website. It’s basically just a landing page. So you’re just gonna have to send me an email there. I don’t have anything posted but it’s one thought coach.com So you can go there you can find me on Instagram. It’s just my entire full name because Michael Johnson is a very common name so I have to make myself different. So that’s

Kristen Carder 49:59
that’s the way you Seeing and we’ll link all of that in the show notes. I wish we had more time because I really do want to talk to you about some time, we need to just dish on coaching and coaching schools and coaching approaches, but we can’t do that now. Thank you. Appreciate you. I really, really, really adore you. So glad to just have you in the community and to be able to coach you, and watch you just evolve and grow. It’s just such a joy.

Michael Johnson 50:27
Yeah, I mean, honestly, it has been such a gift. I found you on Instagram. And later, I had signed up for focus. I mean, it was such an instantaneous decision that I didn’t even really think about. And I’m just grateful that I didn’t think about the decision because I could have probably talked myself out of it. But I’m just so grateful. I mean, truly, the transformations over the last two and a half years are things that I could have never, I would have never been able to be here at this point. So thank you.

Kristen Carder 51:02
That’s a privilege. I don’t know how to come back from that. I really don’t. All right, y’all. We’re gonna see you next week. Hey, ADHD, or I see you I know exactly what it’s like to feel lost, confused, frustrated, and like no one out there really understand the way that your brain works. That’s why I created focus. Focused is my monthly coaching program where I lead you through a step by step process of understanding yourself feeling better and creating the life that you know you’re meant for. You’ll study be coached, grow, and make amazing changes alongside of other educated professional adults with ADHD from all over the world. Visit ihaveadhd.com/focused to learn more.

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