July 6, 2023

Maybe I'm Not the Problem: Whitney Goodman, LMFT @sitwithwhit

Whitney Goodman, LMFT, is the radically honest psychotherapist behind the hugely popular Instagram account @sitwithwhit, author, and the owner of The Collaborative Counseling Center, a virtual therapy practice in Florida. 

In this beautiful conversation, Whitney and I discuss the following topics:

  • How to define “trauma” (spoiler, it’s hard)
  • Living in fantasy vs. reality
  • Toxic positivity
  • Healing across generations
  • Why some people are more open to being held accountable than others
  • Self trust
  • Creating a strong family narrative

More about Whitney Goodman…

Whitney’s debut book (released February 2022), TOXIC POSITIVITY: KEEPING IT REAL IN A WORLD OBSESSED WITH BEING HAPPY, shows readers how to shift the goal from being happy to being authentic in order to live fully. 

Whitney has her own column in Psychology Today and has been featured in dozens of domestic and international publications, including The New York Times, Teen Vogue, NY Magazine, and Good Morning America. For more information, please visit



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Kristen Carder 0:07
Hey, what’s up? This is Kristen Carter and you’re listening to a new bi weekly series on the I have ADHD podcast called, maybe I’m not the problem. This is a different type of podcast where I have deep conversations with therapists, psychologists, and trauma informed coaches about how our pasts, our upbringing, our parents, or teachers or traumas or narrative urgencies, all of that have impacted us and how maybe, just maybe we are not the problem. Now, this is not ADHD specific content. So if that’s what you’re looking for, just click on one of the over 200 episodes of The I have ADHD podcast and enjoy, you can expect this bi weekly series of maybe I’m not the problem to be a casual, long form and really vulnerable conversation with someone that I deeply respect. For detailed information about today’s guest, check out the episode show notes for their bio and links. And now, let’s get started.

Kristen Carder 1:16
And I just want to tell you a little bit about like what this podcast even is because it’s a it’s really different from what I usually do. So I host the I have ADHD podcast, and my work is really centered around helping adults with ADHD, figure out where they are the problem and take accountability. And so I have a large coaching program. And I support adults with ADHD there as well. But in my own journey, in the last two years, what I’ve come to realize, and it’s really been a reckoning is that, yes, there’s a lot of accountability that I need to take. And there’s a lot of things that I need to make sure that I’m working on and changing and healing. But also, there are areas where I’m not the problem. And what’s so fascinating about that is that I found with myself and my clients, as I start to kind of broach this subject with them as well, that it’s a lot harder to realize where you’re not the problem than it is to see where you are the problem because especially for adults with ADHD, and I’m gonna make a blanket statement here. And it might not be true, but I’m gonna assume anybody with like no divergence, or, you know, a chronic health issue or something, we’ve been conditioned to understand that we don’t fit inside the box. We know. When our behavior is out of line, we understand like we’ve been on the performance improvement plans at work, we’ve we’ve gotten all the feedback from friends and family that like our, the way that we show up in the world is kind of a problem. And so we’re very quick to notice and take responsibility and, you know, feel shame and all of that which needs to be addressed. But when you start to realize like, oh, maybe I’m not the problem in this particular relationship, that can be a really difficult and tender experience. And I just thought it would be really special to be able to chat with people like yourself, who helped people through that kind of awakening, you know, and I’m just curious, like, when you’re working with a client who comes in, I’ll never forget. So example from my own therapy. My therapist asked me in this relationship, are you the giver or the taker? And I was like, obviously, I’m the taker, because that’s who I am in every relationship. And she just like, I could just see the compassion on her face. And she was like, No, honey, you’re not, you’re the giver. And I remember when she said that, I was shocked. And I’m just wondering what it’s like for you, or what you think your clients experience as you kind of help them wake up to certain areas of their relationships where they’re not the problem.

Whitney Goodman 4:23
So interesting that you bring this up, because I really haven’t thought about this idea of like, realizing that we’re not the problem and how painful that is, especially with the population that I work with is people who are dealing with issues in their family, right as adults. And so often the people that come to therapy for those issues are the ones that are breaking the cycle in their family. They’re trying to fix it. They’re trying to figure out what’s wrong, much like the population you’re speaking about. And it can be really foreign to to identify with that. Like, maybe I’m not the one that has to fix this. Maybe I’m not the problem, and there’s something really scary. I think about saying that because you then become kind of helpless. There’s also this feeling of like, but I have to be the problem in some way. Like, it’s, it’s got to be me. And I always find that it’s a little bit of, of both right? Like, even if it’s 7030 8020, we’re like, there’s something we could be doing a little bit differently, something we could change in some way, even if it’s just in our relationship with ourselves. But then there’s this other part of like surrendering to what we cannot control about the other people in our lives, who may be very unwilling to admit the ways that they are the problem. Yeah,

Kristen Carder 5:46
absolutely. I think that word that you use, like, unsettling, it’s like unstable. It, it turns the paradigm, completely upside down. And so if we talk about it in the context of families, you know, a lot of neurodivergent people grow up inside of family systems where they’re just like, I don’t really fit and that like my behavior, or like the way that I show up, just, it’s not acceptable. And so we’re conditioned to believe like, it’s, it’s my fault. It’s my fault. It’s my fault. And then when someone like yourself sits across from us and says, like, well, like, maybe this isn’t your fault, or maybe you’re not the problem here. It For Me, I, it took me a full year to wrap my head around the possibility that maybe it wasn’t my fault. Or maybe I wasn’t the one who had to change. It’s why us as wild

Whitney Goodman 6:47
is it is and I think we’re, we’re so hesitant. There’s people on both extremes, right? Like, I come in contact with people who like, everything is someone else’s fault. Yeah. And there’s no way for them to even like, remotely entertain the idea that they could play a role. And then you have these other people that I think we’re speaking out here where it’s like, everything is my fault. Nothing could be anybody else’s problem. And we could really all benefit from having some nuance and meeting in the middle, as with all things, totally, it can be both.

Kristen Carder 7:27
Yeah, that’s such a good point, like to accept where you should be held accountable, and to honor that, and to make the changes that you need to make. But I think it’s really hard to hold other people to the same standards that we hold ourselves. And I think, at least in my experience, like, we kind of create a fantasy around certain people where they can do no wrong or, and again, I think that keeps us safe, doesn’t it? Like, if I believe that my parent really loves me wants the best for me, like, as a child, I have to believe that that that keeps me safe, or in my marriage relationship. If I believe like, my husband can do no wrong, then I feel secure in the relationship. And when you start to realize like, wait a second, that’s like, this is not okay, then there’s a responsibility on me to maybe set a boundary or hold someone accountable. And that is so hard.

Whitney Goodman 8:31
Yeah, it’s reminding me I can never remember the name of the book. But there’s this line from a book about how when people are tasked with choosing whether they’re crazy, or their parent didn’t love them and abuse them, they will always pick being crazy. And I think that extends to all these types of relationships, right? Like, I would rather be the problem. I would rather be crazy. I would rather be messed up, then believe that somebody who’s supposed to love me, mistreated me, especially that they did that on purpose, or when they had another option. And that can be so difficult.

Kristen Carder 9:10
Yeah, that that got me right here. I think what we often do to kind of pat ourselves around that is like, you know, if it’s like a parent, like, oh, they did the best they could. They they did the best they knew how and that at least gives us like solace of feeling like they would have done it differently if they could have right or with a spouse like they’re really tired this weekend or they they worked they overworked they’re working so hard, and we just like make excuses that make us feel better for accepting treatment that is less than optimal.

Whitney Goodman 9:54
Yeah, it’s it’s making me think of it. I wonder what you think about this like when it comes to neuro divergence, ADHD, things like that. We we do know so much more now. Right? And I think there are a lot of adults that I work with that tell me stories from their childhood of like, I didn’t have resources, no one believed me. I was labeled this way in school. And when we look back, it’s kind of easy to see how that happened, right? I’ve seen some really well intentioned, even really good parents have this happen to their children. And so that’s where it gets so tricky again, right? It’s like, navigating like, maybe it was the best in some of those areas. But it wasn’t good. And it was still painful. And there were long lasting consequences to that.

Kristen Carder 10:46
Yeah. And I wonder what your experience is, with these cycle breakers that you work with? First of all, can you? Why don’t we just start with like, what is a cycle breaker? Like, well, how do you how would you define that?

Whitney Goodman 11:01
I think, someone that’s breaking the cycle in the context of their family, as someone that’s really waking up and saying, I want to do things differently, I want to learn a different way, I want to end generational patterns. And those are typically going to be the people that you see going to therapy, they’re the ones that are noticing the problems, they’re waking up to them. And they’re saying like, I can’t pretend anymore, that nothing is going on. And those people are typically the people that can sometimes be labeled in their family as difficult or annoying, or whatever it is, because they just have trouble going along with the status quo.

Kristen Carder 11:43
The family rules, I watched a real like a really old reel of yours recently. And you talk about like the family rules, like every family has a set of rules. And like this is kind of how we show up, this is what we expect. And when you start to question or say like that doesn’t really work for me, or this isn’t really fair or kind or respectful. There can be some pushback on that.

Whitney Goodman 12:08
100%. And like, we have to remember that the world is always changing. And so family rules are not going to fit for, you know, the rest of time. And I think rules that even in my family growing up, you know, not that long ago, don’t fit the world that we live in anymore. And so I find that a lot of like, the family cycle breakers that I work with now, are really just trying to be a little bit more flexible with what their families are doing. It’s not necessarily that they all want to up end and destroy everything that existed, but it’s like, how can we just like tweak this a little bit so that it works better for the people that are failing that have been typically marginalized? So whether that’s like neurodivergent, members of the family, women, children, you know, all these groups that maybe the rules didn’t help? Yeah,

Kristen Carder 13:05
that’s so interesting. Do you often have like when a cycle breaker goes to therapy? Do you observe that usually, they are the only ones in their family? Are there multiple people? Are parents sometimes involved in your sessions? Like? I guess what I’m asking is, do you see examples of just beautiful families that are like, Yeah, let’s work together on this. And parents, like, take accountability, and they’re willing to change and grow with maybe a new set of rules? Mm

Whitney Goodman 13:46
hmm. I have. I have definitely seen more of the latter right of like, I don’t want to be involved in therapy. I don’t want to fix this problem. I’m not willing to take accountability. And that is really challenging. But I have also seen some really great examples where there are parents who maybe didn’t even come to therapy with me that have responded well, to the boundaries or interventions that I have been working on with their child. In therapy,

Kristen Carder 14:22
you just throw a party every time that happens. We’re going out into the world. Yes. So so amazing. Um, one of the things that I have been thinking about a lot and talking to my clients about as well, so I coach in a group context. So when I’m coaching, you know, I’ll lead a class and people will like join the class via webinar or I’ll have a one on one conversation, but like in front of the group, and one of the things we’ve been talking about a lot is the concept of being committed. to reality, like seeing reality, and living in reality, and not creating a fantasy that makes ourselves feel better, or that protects us, or that protects someone else. But just being really committed to seeing reality and and something that I’ve noticed, as I kind of reflect back on my own journey is that up until two years ago, I struggled with reality, I struggled to even know what is real, what is not real. And, like, am I wrong here? It’s like what’s going on here? And I just wonder if you have any thoughts about that, like fantasy versus reality? Is that something that you see whether it’s like cycle breakers or just people that you work with? I just think that fantasy can be so protective. And we use that so often to keep ourselves safe, but then we struggle to move forward.

Whitney Goodman 16:00
Yeah, what you’re speaking to is one of the hallmarks of dysfunctional families, right, is that dysfunctional families do not admit that the dysfunction exists, they live in an alternate universe, where everything that’s happening in the family is normal, they deny reality, they minimize it, they meet it with silence, or denials. And so a lot of people are living, you know, outside of reality. And it’s so much more harmful and painful, actually, I think, than people realize, than if you were to just live in the reality and see it because you don’t realize, when you’re in that space, I think when you’re out of it, you can look back and realize how much mental energy you spent every day, trying to build up walls and protect yourself from the reality that is your life. It’s exhausting.

Kristen Carder 16:57
What do you feel like is required if you’re going to live in reality, so the mental exhaustion on the side of fantasy and kind of like building those stories for ourselves, so that we can kind of keep that same narrative that we’ve always had, or see people in the way that we’ve always seen them, but what’s required for reality.

Whitney Goodman 17:21
In order to be in your reality, I like to practice something called radical acceptance, which is part of dialectical behavioral therapy. And it’s really just this idea that I acknowledge what is in front of me, I acknowledge what I can see what is real, I don’t have to like it. I don’t necessarily have to want to keep it or to accept it, but I am accepting that it is there and it is happening. And I think this requires like a lot of humility, patience. You need to to have coping skills to be able to face reality, but so much of what people do that harms them, whether that’s like addiction, different types of coping mechanisms, it’s just an attempt to avoid reality. Right? And to, to avoid the pain that comes with being able to sit in that space.

Kristen Carder 18:17
Yeah, I found reality to be excruciating. Truthfully. At least the first like year of reality, I think is, is really hard. At least it was for me. And I would just add, so it’s like accepting what you see. And I think also, what do you think about the, like, accepting how whatever you see makes you feel. So for me, that was really hard because I could talk myself out of what I see pretty easily. I mean, I was like, I’m expert. I’m an expert. Um, so you know, I would be able to gaslight myself, essentially, into being like, it’s not that big of a deal. Didn’t mean it’s, you know, whatever. But when, when I was truthful with myself about how I felt about what that made me feel. That’s when I started to, I feel like that’s when the reckoning started for me. You know, it was like, Oh, okay. I can talk myself out of it logically. But my body’s not lying to me.

Whitney Goodman 19:34
Yeah, that’s like the floodgates open, right? And it’s so hard to deny the discomfort anymore. Once you’re feeling it on that level, and no amount of like, rational, logical thought can explain away the feeling. And that’s when it’s hard because I think when people get to that point, right, where it’s like, I see it, I feel it. I know what’s happening. It’s like, I can’t go back, I have to do something about this now, because it is so hard for me to pretend that I don’t see or feel this, that it’s, it becomes impossible. And this is, I think, a really defining moment, especially in families, because this is what a lot of people might choose estrangement or isolation or something like that. Maybe prematurely or without working through the feelings or maybe addressing it. They’ll say, I just need to get away from this. isolate myself, so that I don’t have to deal with it. And there can be healing involved in that when there’s abuse or things like that. Absolutely. But the clock runs out on that type of healing, right that at some point, you’re there, and you’re like, I didn’t fix anything. I just isolated myself from it. And those feelings go with you.

Kristen Carder 20:53
Yeah. That is fascinating. And then perhaps we start projecting those feelings onto different situations, different people. It’s not showing up at work, it starts showing up in romantic relationships. And we’re wanting other people to heal that wound. That’s really meant for someone else.

Whitney Goodman 21:18
Yep, exactly, exactly. It’s tricky. When that happens. That’s real tricky.

Kristen Carder 21:24
Oh my gosh, it’s just so fascinating. So I’ll give an example i i am really wanting to be grounded in reality. But what that means for me, is that reality is more dangerous for me, because then I am kind of responsible to confront people. And here’s what I mean. So, there, I work in an office, like I rent space within an office, and somebody started bringing their dog. Great. But the dog would not be leashed. Right. So it’s like, in order to use the restroom. I walk through just like a hallway and common area, whatever. And I would be on my way to the restroom. And this dog would like come out after like, after me not chasing me. Let’s not get too dramatic. But I have a lot of fear around unleashed dogs that stems from like, I lived on the island of Guam for eight years. That’s where I grew up. And there were stray dogs everywhere. And they were not kind dogs. Yeah, right. So like, I really liked dogs, but I like leashed dogs, those those dogs are my favorite. So what like the first time that it happened? I was like, Oh my gosh, and I just like tried to say, but it was so hard out loud. Like people are looking at you. And they’re just like, it’s a dog. It’s like so cute. And you’re just like, panicking on the inside. But wanting to be cool. Like be cool. Christian is like not a big deal. Like, and I’m I’m working through it like so fast. And like everybody loves dogs. Dogs are great. Like this dog is not going to attack Ebola, but at the same time, I’m so uncomfortable. I’m just running for a quick restroom break before a meeting, like I don’t want to be activated. Triggered is maybe maybe stronger, but I don’t want to be activated as I’m like, headed into a coaching call, right? So the next time it happens, I said something. And the person said oh, she’s fine. Talking about the dog. Oh, she’s fine. I said, I really don’t like being around unleashed dogs. And the person said, Oh, she’s fine. And I had prepared I prepared in my head and I said I am not fine. Like the dog might be fine, but I’m not fine. And then later I was able to circle back and say like it’s not like I I don’t want to be in the presence of a dog that I don’t know who’s off the leash and like I’m at work like I should just be able to have a quick pee and come back and not be like scared and but my brain so that was like over a two week period my brain worked so hard to tell me it’s not a big deal. You’re just making you’re making way too big of a problem about this because what my brain wanted me to do was not have that uncomfortable conversation where I have to be vulnerable. And I have to say actually like I’m really afraid and like my sister was bit when we were little and like she was rushed to the hospital like that’s like nobody wants to say that was like so of course I didn’t have to share that like personal information but I think that the living and fantasy of like it’s fine. The dog is spot on. I’m fine, everybody’s fine would have, quote unquote, like protected me from just telling the truth, like this feels really unsafe to me. And I don’t think it’s appropriate to have to be afraid, where I work. But when we are living in reality, then we have to confront reality. And confronting reality can be really scary. That’s the end of my story. That’s the end. And I love dogs, man, Please don’t get mad at me, everyone listening dogs to the best dogs to the vet.

Whitney Goodman 25:33
I think what you’re saying makes so much sense. So like that it would have been, it felt like it could have been easier to deny what you were feeling, choose that discomfort over the discomfort that might come up by telling this person that you were uncomfortable. And it’s not like you were at like a dog park saying I don’t want your dog around me, you know, you’re you’re making a totally reasonable request to be able to use the bathroom without like an unleashed dog being around. But there’s this feeling sometimes of like, Oh, but I don’t want to make them uncomfortable. Their comfort is more important than mine. I’m making a big deal out of this. But then you start to think like, this other person didn’t even think how this would impact anybody else. And I think this is a grateful circle moment back to like how we started and like, maybe I’m not the problem here. You know,

Kristen Carder 26:33
that has been a mantra for me, where I really do a check in to see, am I crossing boundaries? Am I going against, like my own values? Or morals or ethics? Am I being kind like I really kind of go through this check list of you know, making sure that I’m not just now ever saying like everyone else is the problem, because that would be fun, but probably not like healthy. But once I go through that checklist, like Am I being unreasonable? What’s the context here? What role? What’s the role that I play? What’s the role that this other person plays? And then I go through the checklist, I’m like, Okay, I’m not the problem. And it does empower me, then I would have never been able to say to someone, like, it’s actually really uncomfortable for me, I would have been mad about it. And like talked about them, you know, behind their back, which is not healthy. But I wouldn’t have been able to say it to their face, like this is really hard. And so what I would have done is rely on my good old buddy dissociation to pretend that like I’m not afraid of dogs, I’m just gonna go ahead and pretend that I love them. It’s so interesting, because my husband is like, when did this like fear of dogs develop? And I’m like, it’s always been there. But now I’m like, not dissociating anymore. And I’m able to say like, oh, I’m actually uncomfortable, actually recognize what my body feels. It’s such a different experience, which is again, like, can you make a case for living in reality? Because fantasy actually sounds better, right? When I’m like, oh, yeah, I wasn’t afraid. I just pretended that I wasn’t afraid. And I just like detach from my body. And I would just, like, take a deep breath, and just like, and not ever say to someone, like, do you mind leashing your dog like it’s really uncomfortable.

Whitney Goodman 28:31
I think one of the best like, points of research on this is that we really can’t just suppress or avoid our negative feelings, right? Like, when you’re dissociating like that, you know, around dogs in your workplace, you’re probably doing it in a lot of other areas of life or the the exertion the effort that you’re putting into all that it’s taking you away from so much other stuff and from trying to be present, and in the moment and actually feel like those good feelings. And some people dissociate or feel uncomfortable with quote, unquote good feelings, too. Like, I’ve talked with a lot of people who, you know, holidays make them very uncomfortable celebrations like moments where you might feel like I’m supposed to be happy can be a point of dissociation and discomfort as well. And so I think you can live a life of avoidance in whatever way but you have to know that if you do that, you are not going to get the benefits at all that come with reality like growth and closeness and enjoyment and even like that knowing the feeling of peace or call. None of that comes through avoidance.

Kristen Carder 29:50
That really resonates with me, because so many of my clients and I would say myself as well. Previously, struggle to identify emotions struggled to connect with emotions. And when you said like, it’s actually very exhausting to live in, like, avoidance dissociative state, I wonder if that can sometimes contribute to ADHD. Just like the the mental load that we carry the emotional load that we carry, and the distractibility even it’s like, I’m spending so much time over here trying to like, suppress, repress, I’m not sure dissociate from pretend that I’m not feeling what I’m actually feeling talk myself out of it, that I’m not able to just like be grounded and be present and just live in the moment, which is the thing that we all struggle with so much.

Whitney Goodman 30:55
100%. And I think one common feeling that I hear from people that feel like that is like, I’m scared to feel what it’ll feel like if I stop. Yeah. And so I have to keep picking up projects and more things to do and more ways to be distracted. That can be symptoms of ADHD, they can also manifest in the same way when you’re dealing with, you know, trauma or things like that. And this feeling of just like, I want to be pulled in 100 different directions, because that feels better than sitting with my pain. And so I’ll just continue to feed the beast. Like until

Kristen Carder 31:36
I crash. Yeah, and that’s exactly what happens for so many. Again, I keep bringing it back to ADHD, but like, I think that this is a human thing that we often do, where we work, and we we overworked, we hustle, and then we burn out and crash. And then we kind of go into the cave. And you know, we avoid everything. And we get some sort of like renewal there. And then we come back and the cycle starts over all over again. It’s like that’s back to hustle back to burnout. Then we’re removing ourselves and avoiding everything. finally being able to like take a breath. And then it’s just like this never ending cycle. And what’s so interesting. I was also someone who was very afraid of emotional pain. But what I realized now is that pain was always there. I wasn’t escaping it. Right now. I’m more in tune with it, I can name it, I can recognize it. I can sit with it and practice. You know, I practice active mindfulness, I like go on a hike and go in a rage run. And like all of those things that helped me to process the emotion but but realizing like that was there all along, I just was trying to avoid it by being busy, which actually made it a lot worse, because then I was carrying the busyness and the pain instead of just the pain true. Oh my gosh. And now a word from our sponsor. As a person with ADHD and occasional anxiety and depression, food and nutrition are parts of my life that I’ve always been a struggle for me. I don’t love to cook, I forget to eat meals and the texture of mushy, cooked vegetables really drives my sensory issues. Crazy. This is why I rely on ag one as a daily nutrition supplement that supports whole body health. Now I started using this product a year and a half ago on my own with my own money paying out of pocket. And I’ve loved it. I’ve used it persistently, and I’ve noticed a big difference in the way that I feel. So when ag one reached out to sponsor this podcast, it was literally the first partnership ever that I’ve wanted to say yes to. And so here we are. I love that AG one is made with 75 high quality vitamins and minerals and Whole Foods sourced ingredients. I love that no matter how inconsistent my diet is, I can always count on it to provide daily nutrients and gut health support that my body craves. My body is like Oh, actual nutrition. Thank you so much Kristen Carter. So if you want to take ownership of your health, it starts with ag one. Try ag one and get a free one year supply of vitamin D and five free travel packs with your first purchase. Go to drink ag have ADHD. That’s drink ag have ADHD, check it out. So I love what you said about how like trauma symptoms can often manifest as like distractibility. And I’ve been doing so much research and reading and I don’t have it integrated and like fleshed out yet so I haven’t talked about it much but I mean on the podcast, but the more that I learned about trauma and PTSD and complex PTSD, the more I see ADHD everywhere, and I have a lot of Questions and absolutely no answers. And I’ve been reading like the work of Gabor Ma Tei. And asking him to kind of hide cast like 700 times, like, when are you going to say yes, come on, I’m going, Oh, my gosh, I will continue. I’ve asked him so many times, okay, but it’s fine. It’s fine. I’m not bitter at all. Um, where was I going with this? Okay, so I’m curious how I struggled to find like a beautiful, concise definition of trauma. And I know it’s complex, but I’m wondering like, how you talk about it, and what you consider to be trauma, because it kind of is like a buzzword right now. Or it’s, like really trendy, you know, like, everybody who’s anybody is talking about trauma. But like, also, we all have it. And we’re all kind of products of trauma. So I’m just curious how you like to maybe define it. I don’t know if you’d like a working definition or how you talk about it.

Whitney Goodman 36:00
Yeah, like, like you said, I feel like I’m also still in the process of like, wrapping my head around the ways that the word trauma has evolved, for better or worse over the last year. So I posted about this a little while ago, and it had some like polarizing reactions that I believe that like all childhoods are distressing, but not traumatic. But I also, as a therapist, I’m not in the business of ever telling someone, this is trauma, this isn’t sure. I just did. And I really think like what we consider to be trauma is a lot about like, an event or a series of events, overriding our capacity to cope. And that’s going to look different for everyone. What I’m concerned about now is kind of just I feel this way about all diagnoses, is identifying too heavily with a diagnostic label, what no matter what that is, and kind of making it the center of your identity in a way that it’s hard to see the other parts of you. And I think that trauma can be a way of understanding your life, it can be helpful, but I hate for anyone to feel like their life is all a product of trauma, they are their trauma, their traumas, what led to everything good and bad in their life. And I also just think there’s a lot of like, kind of gritty people out there now, like, using the word trauma to make money, and I don’t like that. So

Kristen Carder 37:38
I totally agree, people saying that they’re trauma informed and running trainings. And then you look at the content, and you’re like, Oh, my goodness, it’s so scary.

Whitney Goodman 37:49
Yeah, and I’m, you know, I’m a clinician with, you know, almost 10 years of practicing, and all our 1000s of hours of working with clients. And I think to myself, like, I don’t really have a full working definition or feeling that it’s hard for me to see people who, like they did did a one hour training, and they’re like, I’m trauma informed. Oh, but I still feel so clueless,

Kristen Carder 38:13
you know, on the topic. So yeah, yep. Yeah, I totally resonate with that I actually wrote down the quote that you’re referencing from your social media, and at sit with wit, you know, if y’all want to go ahead and give her a follow, I let me know if this is the one that you were referring to. There’s a big difference between the many awkward, uncomfortable, distressing moments that people experience in childhood. And what we mean when we’re referring to adverse childhood experiences, is that the one that you are referring to?

Whitney Goodman 38:48
Yes, yes. So adverse childhood experiences, like an ACE score, which is one of the metrics to define, you know, childhood trauma, you can look on line and see how many of those you experience. I think those are, you know, completely traumatic for a lot of people, even if you’ve experienced one of those. But I also think everybody, myself included, has a lot of these memories from childhood, where I’m like, I can still remember this kid that bullied me in seventh grade. He said one thing to me, and I wasn’t necessarily traumatized by that, but it did have an impact on me and made me who I am today. And when I think about it, it makes me feel bad. So that’s like one end of the spectrum. And then we have like chronic bullying where you were constantly being put down at school, you did not have a good sense of self. It really wrecked your life as a kid. And I think we have to have some type of definition there because I would treat as a therapist each of those things quite differently.

Kristen Carder 39:57
It’s so true, what you’re saying and I’m wondering reading what you think about this. So you know, the body keeps score is like so trendy to read, which is like, it’s the most difficult book ever. I’ve heard people now say consider it like a textbook, which I think puts it into a much better context in my brain because I was trying to read it, like before bed every night like, and then I was like do not do that. Relaxing, it was awful. It was so activating. And I’m like, why can’t I sleep? I’m like, okay, maybe don’t read the Body Keeps the Score right before bed. So anyway, in there somewhere. Bessel Vander Kolk says that trauma is not necessarily the event that happened. But it’s not having a soft place to land or a safe place after the event happened. And I’m curious if you agree with that, or like what your thoughts are with that. So you know, you’re bullied in seventh grade by this person, but you can go home and talk to your mom about it. And she or whoever, right, you have a safe place to go. They they build you up, they listen to you, they mirror you. There’s there’s a lot of validation. And so maybe that event, while unpleasant, doesn’t have that same traumatic impact as if, if you’re bullied and you have nowhere to go, no one to tell, and maybe you’re going home and being bullied at home as well. What are your thoughts?

Whitney Goodman 41:29
Yes, that is, that’s extremely correct, in my anecdotal experience, as a therapist, and also in my knowledge on trauma is that there are of course, risk factors and protective factors, right. And so something that affects one child in this way, could be very different for another simply because of their risk and protective factors. So of course, if I got bullied at school, and then I went home, and my parents, like, validated that bullying and bullied me more. And I also have food insecurity. And I live in a neighborhood with a lot of violence, that bullying is going to impact me so much more than the kid who has food and a stable home and parents who are able to build them up. And so it’s not really just about the event, right? It’s the context around the event, which I think is why I love working like with families and systems so much, because it’s not just about that one thing we have to like, map out from that point and see, okay, what else made this event so much more salient for you what other factors were involved?

Kristen Carder 42:43
I think that is so beautiful, because I think a lot of people who do struggle with events that maybe don’t seem like that big of a deal, like I’m using air quotes. Maybe we’re not taking into consideration everything else that’s involved in that moment. And that really, I love the way that you explain that because I think a lot of us kind of dismiss the things that actually were super painful. Because we say like, Well, yeah, everybody’s bullied in seventh grade. Who cares, right? But but the fact that I didn’t have somewhere to go afterwards, or I didn’t, you know, I came home to an insecure family system or a neighborhood that was also riddled with violence, that then complicates it, it compounds it, maybe.

Whitney Goodman 43:36
Yes. And that can be such a helpful exercise for people like for anyone listening, I think, if you have something in your life that is really challenging for you, and keep sticking around. Sometimes it can be helpful to be like, what else was going on at that time? In my life? Who else was struggling around me? What did I not have access to? And if you can create just like a little bit of a map, I’ve done this with clients in the past and they’re like, oh, wait, it wasn’t just that. Like, my mom also got cancer that year, and we moved and you know, all these other things that you can cut yourself some slack. I think when you realize the context of your struggles

Kristen Carder 44:18
I feel like that’s so much of the work in healing is cutting yourself some slack. Because and again, it kind of relates back to where we were at the beginning with realizing like that may not have been your fault, or that may not have been your problem to solve or that may not be your shame to carry. And I think that as we are in that healing journey, and I am still in it, but realizing those areas where it’s like, okay, I can cut myself some slack. I can issue myself some forgiveness with my clients, I talk about pardoning our past selves, we just need to issue a pardon. Like, I just am not going to hold myself to the shame and the blame and the judgment that I’ve been kind of inflicting over this one event. So like one of my recurring things as my wedding, I don’t know, anybody who has ADHD, like weddings are usually just a shit show, if I’m going to be honest. And it that was my that was my experience. And like, my parents have ADHD as a whole thing. So one thing that I used to do was like, lay in bed at night and think about all the things that went wrong. Right? And it’s just like, I should have done that differently. I should have done that differently. But even taking into context, like what were my other family members going through at the time? What was my life, like, at the time? Where was my fiance at the time, he was not like, we had a long distance relationship at the time, like, being able to understand there was a lot more going on than just like you being a flake, you know, are you not having it together? And that’s really helpful.

Whitney Goodman 46:08
Yeah, and I think when you say that, like you were a flake, you didn’t have it all together. Like, I think so often, those are the things that people have told us before, or that are maybe associated with something that we’re dealing with, like, I work with so many adults that feel bad about things that they did as kids that they could have never known how to do differently, and we’re never their fault. But their parents may have blamed them, you know, like your parents say, Oh, you’re so distracted, you can never get anything done. You forgot to do this again, like, particularly with people who might be neurodivergent, chronically ill, whatever it is, and you start to tack all that stuff onto you in it, it just becomes this lens through which you see all your mistakes, like, look, there’s more evidence that I am XY and Z, and you just replay it over and over.

Kristen Carder 47:03
And then it also becomes a self fulfilling prophecy for the next time that something goes wrong. And and you automatically assume the blame and you say like, Yep, I already know that I’m a flake, I already know that I do everything wrong. I already know I’m the problem. I already know that I’m the problem. So we can just all agree that this is my fault, and that this is my issue to solve. And I’ll just go and, you know, heap on all of that self blame and self judgment, partially so that, like, if I do it first, maybe other people won’t do it. But also because like, I’m just so used to being told that it’s on me. Hmm, so true. Man, oh, man. I want to read another one of your posts. You say, stop telling people to be grateful for their trauma or to celebrate everything that they’ve learned from their trauma. When we look back on our lives, we want things to make sense. And I think this is part of the fantasy. So it’s easy to say, I wouldn’t change a thing. It made me who I am today. But you gain the skills that you needed to get through this, you became stronger because you had to you found the resources you needed. You asked for help. You are the reason you’re who you are today, your trauma doesn’t get to take credit for who you are, and what you’ve become. Mike, drop. So good. So good. I love that because so often people want to say that ADHD is a superpower. And that ADHD is just like, it’s a gift. And it’s lovely. And it’s great. And I say something similar in regards to ADHD where it’s like, no, no, the superpower is the fact that I’ve been able to learn how to manage it and work with in the context of having a neuro divergent brain and still be able to create a healthy family and build a business and have connections and a life that I love. Even with ADHD. That’s my superpower. I’m not gonna give ADHD credit for who I am. Because ADHD does not get to take the credit for all of the work that I have done.

Whitney Goodman 49:23
Mm hmm. I love that. Because people to say that all the time, like that was that’s really what inspired like a lot of my desire to write about toxic positivity and to write my book was like, I would hear people, especially on podcasts all the time, like retell this traumatic story about their mom dying, whatever. And the host would be like, you wouldn’t change a thing, right? Because it led you to where you are today. And you put people in this position where they almost have to be like, Yeah, I wouldn’t change a thing. Like it’s so wonderful and I’m like, I find that so hard to believe. Like you It only it’s genuine. And I think we do, we do want to have this fantasy that a plus b equals c. And that’s how life works. And everything happens for a reason, very scary to imagine that we do not have control over everything that happens in our lives. And it’s very scary, I think we’re very hard to admit, like you were saying that maybe I have this part of me that like, actually kind of makes my life more difficult sometimes, and I have to work very hard to, you know, manipulate my life in a way that makes sense. And the world sometimes is working against people like me. And I think there’s a really healthy balance where you can be empowered, and also acknowledge those realities and how hard you’ve had to work at times to overcome certain challenges.

Kristen Carder 50:48
Absolutely, absolutely. And I think toxic positivity is the perfect word for that, because we really do. Again, it just relates back to like wanting to live in fantasy, wanting to pretend we have control, wanting to believe the best about ourselves and everyone and just being like, it’s all great, when, like the reality of it. Like, it’s not always great. Sometimes it’s hard. And sometimes it’s harder for some people than it is for other people and acknowledging that. Then there’s like competitive trauma, and we’re all just trying to like out trauma each other and it’s like, everyone settle down. Take a chill pill, it’s just not. Is that helpful to anyone I think we can like exactly what you’re saying, like acknowledge pain, and also acknowledge triumph and hold the truth, the truth of both at the same time.

Whitney Goodman 51:45
For sure, and like it distracts from what’s necessary, right? Like, if you have a child who has ADHD or something, and everyone’s I call, it’s a superpower. It’s so wonderful. But the school is not like providing any resources, they’re not teaching in a different way. Like, I don’t really care if you think my kid is a superpower. Like, I just want to know that something is being done to accommodate this. And I think that’s one of the real dangers of this type of like positivity is that it kind of placates people of like, look how wonderful it is, we see this with autism, cancer, or any diagnosis out there, and it gets to be a problem.

Kristen Carder 52:21
Absolutely. And then from the perspective of the child, so I spent a decade working with kids with learning issues, many of them had ADHD. And that’s kind of what led me to this work. From the perspective of the child, if you tell a child who’s struggling, that their struggle is actually a superpower, it is hella invalidating, like, that is so inappropriate to tell an eight year old whose teacher is like, frustrated with them, whose classmates aren’t playing with them, who’s struggling every night with homework, who is crying, trying to get things done, who’s not able to follow directions at home and receiving so much more negative feedback than positive feedback. And then you turn around and say, but it’s a superpower, Johnny, your ADHD is a superpower that is so confusing, that’s so invalidating, I get a little bit fired up. I’m gonna call myself down here, everyone, I’m gonna calm myself down. But I’ve just seen it so many times. And, you know, I would work with families whose children were like, recently diagnosed, and they would say, I don’t want to tell my kid, I don’t want to tell my child that they have a diagnosis. And I will be like, why? And of course, I wouldn’t say that to their face. But in my brain, like, Well, why? So helping the family to navigate like, the, like, there’s actually a reason why you’re struggling, and it’s not your fault. That conversation is so beautiful, and so healing and so affirming, right, like you’re, I see that you’re struggling. And now we have a name for why you’re struggling. And it’s not because you’re a bad person.

Whitney Goodman 54:09
100% I share your excitement and passion for this topic. Because I think when you say that, like I see your struggle. Yeah, for a kid. It’s like, okay, and I’m an adult that I recognize it and now I’m going to be in it with you. I’m going to make it less scary for you. I’m going to help you navigate this, which is like, what every kid wants with every problem because they don’t know what they’re doing. Exactly.

Kristen Carder 54:35
That also brings us back to like, it’s not like, if you are that safe place for your child, then getting a diagnosis does not have to be traumatic. It can actually be really healing because you’re giving them a safe place to land as they hear the words. Hey, we’ve we figured out why you’re struggling and it’s because you have ADHD or autism, or whatever the case may be, maybe you’re dyslexic or something. And I mean, so many listeners have probably had this conversation, either with their children or their parents had it with them, right? And I’ll tell you what, in the 90s, that conversation was different than it is today, right? So so many of us are in the 80s, or whatever. Like, it’s just, it’s evolved, which is great. But I think that we can be the parents that we needed, you know, and like, maybe that conversation wasn’t great for you when you had it with your parents. But now, you can be that parent for your kiddo and just give them that safety of like, I got you. Like, we’re gonna figure out how to help you. I’m gonna make sure you get everything that you need at school, I’m gonna write all the emails, I’m gonna have all the meetings like, that’s my job. Your job is to just keep going and work hard. I love that. If you are loving this podcast, would you take a moment and share it with a friend, there are so many people in the world who need to know that they are not a problem. And I know that there are a lot of people in your life who would benefit from hearing these conversations with therapists and coaches about how to establish a healthy sense of self and create better relationships. So take a moment and share this episode with someone that you respect. There’ll be like a beautiful free gift from you to them. And if you’d like to share it to your socials, make sure to tag me at I have ADHD podcast, and maybe even today’s guest so that we can both say thank you to you and give you a virtual hug. All right, back to the show. Tell me about your book. It’s on toxic positivity. How do you define toxic positivity? Or like what are your thoughts about it?

Whitney Goodman 56:59
So toxic positivity is really the unrelenting pressure to be happy all the time, no matter what the circumstances are to put a positive spin on everything. And I see it as a cultural phenomenon that we really use against ourselves and other people in their deepest moments of struggle. Mm hmm.

Kristen Carder 57:23
Yep. So it’s like having an Instagrammable life at all times.

Whitney Goodman 57:28
Yeah, yeah. And just constantly wanting everybody to be happy and positive. And think of what we were just talking about with like, even getting a diagnosis or the way that we frame these challenges in life is like such a perfect example of toxic positivity.

Kristen Carder 57:47
What makes positivity toxic? Like, at what point does it cross over into like, Yeah, this is not appropriate.

Whitney Goodman 57:56
Yeah. So whenever it’s dismissive, it denies someone’s reality, what they’re experiencing, it tells them that they shouldn’t be feeling what they’re feeling. That’s when we know that we’ve entered into toxic positivity because positivity is not toxic, it becomes toxic.

Kristen Carder 58:17
Positivity is not toxic. It becomes toxic when we’re gaslighting when we’re dismissing when we’re brushing things aside and saying, like, oh, but this was actually this made you who you were, or this is gonna make you so strong, or your family’s gonna get so close because of your cancer struggle, or whatever the case may be.

Unknown Speaker 58:38
Exactly, exactly.

Kristen Carder 58:41
What is the like, antidote to toxic positivity? Do you think?

Whitney Goodman 58:48
So? Actually, I think it’s exactly what we have been talking about during this episode, is that idea of radically accepting your reality? And looking at how can I have hope and optimism for the future? How can I feel empowered over my individual experience and look at what I have access to change and to do while also accepting that life is hard, accepting what’s happening around us and really being able to hold space for both were toxic, positive HSP I’m going to ignore everything in my life that is bad or negative, or low, bright vibration or whatever it is. And only look on the bright side.

Kristen Carder 59:33
Good Vibes only. Yes. It’s interesting, because I see that on the internet, of course, like we all see that in social media, but I think there’s a level of like delusional toxic positivity within families, even just like family systems, like generations talking about other generations and and being nostalgic about certain things and as you’re listening, you’re like, well, that’s super abusive. Like, how are we taught? Have we joking about this? Or how are we talking about your childhood where like, like your dad made you go pick an apple switch and like, he, he then would like, beat you with it. And you’re just like laughing with your family is like, that just doesn’t seem right. But that seems to be pretty prevalent among families. Would you agree? At least in my experience? Hypothetically, not my Anyway, go on.

Whitney Goodman 1:00:30
No, it’s true. There’s actually there’s a girl I wish I could remember her username on Tik Tok, that is doing these videos about like, joking about hitting kids, and how crazy it sounds, when you like, say it out loud and talk about it like, Oh, when I have kids, I can’t wait to like hit them. And this is how we talk about things in our families, right? Like, we make jokes about these things. I think a lot of that has to do with what we were talking about earlier of like, it is too painful for me to admit that this was happening in my family that this is a reality that the adults around us chose to make these decisions for whatever reason, right? And I would rather laugh about it and joke about it, then say it hurt me. Because if I say it hurt me that comes with a whole other set of problems

Kristen Carder 1:01:20
totally agree, including the problem of like, how do I reconcile the relationship with the person that I have now? Right, that’s a big problem. So I’ll just keep joking about it. And going along with jokes that are made about it so that I think that holding someone accountable, and not even like you deserve to be held accountable, but just like seeing them in a realistic picture can be so hard. Do you find that that is generationally harder for certain generations more than others?

Whitney Goodman 1:01:54
Yeah, and I’m speaking about this purely from like an anecdotal perspective of my experience is that I find that like, the, you know, Generation X, the boomer generation, there is more of this fixed mindset in some ways that like, because we didn’t talk about it with our parents, you shouldn’t talk about it with me. I see more, most of that more among like Boomers and Gen Xers, some flexibility. And then millennials and Gen Z are like this therapy, you know, obsessed kind of group where we’re like, we want to talk about everything and talk about our feelings. And the older generations don’t have as much of a script for that this is all very new for them. And there’s this feeling of like, if you come to me with some anything from childhood, I’m a bad parent, I did a bad job. You hate me, like there’s no room for nuance. And that’s something that I am really like is my biggest passion right now is trying to help the generations like talk to each other and interact and see like we can have conversations about this stuff. I mean, the world is always changing. We can say, Wow, that wasn’t the best thing to do. And now I know better. So I’m going to do better. It doesn’t make you a bad person.

Kristen Carder 1:03:13
How have you felt like that conversation? Or that? Like, quest for nuance like, how’s it going? What have you tried what’s working? It’s like

Whitney Goodman 1:03:27
wild out there. Because I feel like my, my following online tends to skew younger. So mainly, like, I would say, 25 to 40. So whenever I speak at all about like understanding your parents, trying to empathize with them, I get a lot of pushback. Then when I speak from only the child’s perspective, I’ll get parents on there. Like you don’t know how hard it is. And it’s like, there’s a big disconnect between the two groups. And for good reason that I think we have to find a way to talk to one another, the only way forward.

Kristen Carder 1:04:10
I so I resonate with that. And I, you know, and just following you and following other accounts, and then even like listening, I started listening to this podcast called unfollowing. Mum, it’s like a British lady. She’s incredible. Highly recommend. Very good, very good. Yeah, it’s really good. And she talks a lot about like, the pushback that she gets, and she describes it very similarly, where you know, when she’s talking about one topic, the younger people are, like, all in and excited when she’s talking about another topic. It’s like, there’s so much pushback from an older generation. And I just wonder like, at what point are people going to start kind of accepting that the only road forward like the The only way to move forward the only way to have relationship the only way to like heal is to have those hard conversations. I don’t, it’s baffling to me that that’s not something that is like on their radar.

Whitney Goodman 1:05:18
Yeah, there’s so much think when we’re talking about parent child relationships, family relationships, there’s so much history there, that it’s so difficult because parents seem to, in my experience, lately want to have equal relationships with their adult child, almost like where the slate was wiped clean when they turned 18. And that’s not ever going to happen. And the adult child is like, whoa, we have 18 or 20 something years of stuff here that you want me to just forget. And pretend it didn’t happen, because you’re not doing it anymore. And the only reason you’re not doing it anymore is because now I’m an adult, and not like a defenseless child. And so I think there’s, there’s a big desire to talk about things from the past, and that is uncomfortable. But it’s the only way forward. And most of the adults I talked to literally all they want to hear is, I’m sorry, that happened. I shouldn’t have done that. I’m trying to be better. Now. Some version of that would fix so many problems.

Kristen Carder 1:06:28
And that is a hard ask, because of the pain. Do you think that the older like the parent would experience if they were to admit that they had something to apologize for? Or like what do you think?

Whitney Goodman 1:06:44
I think there’s pain. I think there’s also I don’t know if you’re familiar with the book, adult children of emotionally immature parents, girl. It’s wonderful book.

Kristen Carder 1:06:55
And Lindsay Gibson is a doll. She is incredible. I had the opportunity to interview her and it was Wow, that’s awesome. Incredible. Yes. But please continue. Because that book is incredible. I’m

Whitney Goodman 1:07:07
a big fan of hers. And I think what I’ve noticed is that a lot of the problem is that we have to remember and I try to remind myself of this that like that generation, a lot of the time when we’re talking about people, especially who are 60. And up, did not grow up with all of this therapy, knowledge. Some of them are just coming into it now. And there are some very wonderful older adults who are saying, I want to learn about this, I want to be better. But there are others who are saying, I want to learn about that. I think it’s like fluffy and makes you soft. And they’re they’re going up against their own preconceived notions about what it means to be a good parent. And so there’s that there’s conditioning, there’s generational differences, there’s cultural differences, and there’s pain. I think that all make these conversations so difficult.

Kristen Carder 1:07:59
And I think that generationally, it would be really difficult to acknowledge that something that you did was maybe inappropriate, because then you would have to reconcile, well, that’s how I was parented. And so yeah, if I acknowledged to my child, Hey, I see now that that was inappropriate, and I’m sorry, then what you’re also having to do is acknowledge the reality of how you were parented, and maybe name harm that was caused to you which, that’s so hard to do, I think, for that generation as well.

Whitney Goodman 1:08:48
Yes. And that’s a big generational difference that I see now is that among the, you know, 25 to 40 year olds I work with, they’re so aware of the things like, I love that my parents did this, I hate that my parents did that. And they’re like, trying to integrate and figure out what they want to do. And I think that’s so cool. Like, I think it’s great that we can try to see our parents as human, except that they were raising us for the world that they knew. And that might not be the world that exists today. And try to figure out what we want to do differently.

Kristen Carder 1:09:25
I keep hearing this statistic, I’m wondering if you can confirm or deny, or maybe you just don’t know, but I keep hearing this statistic or the saying that parents only have to get it right about 30% of the time to have a connected attachment. What does that called? Secure, secure attachment left my brain to have a secure attachment with their child? Is that is that just made up for tick tock or is that true?

Whitney Goodman 1:09:58
No, that’s, that is reflected in research on attachment. I don’t know. Like, I think that that’s in the context, though, and don’t quote me on this, but have like, a normal parenting situation where you’re maybe not attuned to your child all the time you’re frustrated, you’re going through normal life stuff. Not necessarily that a parent could like, be causing trauma 70% of the time to and 30% of the time,

Kristen Carder 1:10:27
sure, make

Whitney Goodman 1:10:28
up for it. Okay.

Kristen Carder 1:10:31
So maybe we take like abuse out of it. And we say, like, for parents who are not abusive, right, right. And like, I don’t even want to say the word typical, because in a non abusive situation where the parent is maybe not attuned, but then 30% of the time they are.

Whitney Goodman 1:10:52
Right, exactly. So there are going to be days where a normal non abusive parent is going to be frustrated, short, with their child distracted. And in those cases, like it is good to remind yourself, like, oh, I only need to be attuned this percentage of the time. But if if there’s a situation where a child is being physically abused, not eating, things like that in the parent is nice to them. 30%, I have not seen that data.

Kristen Carder 1:11:22
That’s a really important distinction. Would you would you put emotional neglect into the category of abuse? Or where does that fall for you?

Whitney Goodman 1:11:34
So emotional neglect is like listed a lot now in terms of I think it’s part of the ACE scores. Now. But it’s such a difficult to define. Yeah, right. Like the range that I hear from people about like what felt like emotional neglect to them, I think depends also on like, personality, temperament, culture, you know, what was going on in the world at the time, like, things like that, that it’s hard. And it also comes back to that 30% piece, I think that there are going to be times in life where maybe your parents were emotionally neglectful for a period of time because they were sick, something happened, but then they made up for it at another time in life. And so I don’t think everyone that experiences maybe even short periods of emotional neglect, will always have the same outcomes. And it’s hard to say,

Kristen Carder 1:12:31
That’s so interesting, because I think you’re right, emotional neglect is much more subjective. Yes. And it can be really tricky to define to explain to own and acknowledge like within yourself, because it’s like, I think it’s a lot easier to gaslight yourself with emotional neglect, rather than, you know, some sort of like physical abuse is like, they either hit you or they didn’t hit you. Right. It’s much more concrete.

Whitney Goodman 1:13:01
Yeah. I approach it with clients, much in the same way that I do trauma of like, I want to know what it felt like for you. I want to know what you think the impact was, what do you still notice today, instead of really trying to, like, I guess, classify it based on a metric of some kind? Yeah,

Kristen Carder 1:13:21
I think that makes a lot of sense. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So the last thing that I wanted to ask you about, you read a study recently, on your Instagram, about what makes families strong, and having a strong family narrative. And that was so interesting to me, because, okay, I’m just gonna read some of what you said. And we’ll have a chat, and then I’m going to ask you a couple questions. Okay, so I guess the study showed that the more that children know about their families history, the more that they had a sense of control over their own lives, the higher their self esteem was, and they were more resilient. So it’s about like, what is the story or the message that gets passed down? And I’m curious. So first of all, that’s fascinating. But I’m also curious, like, what if the family history is not pleasant? How do you build a strong family narrative in those cases?

Whitney Goodman 1:14:33
Yes. So something that I included in my newsletter that’s not part of this post is about something called the oscillating. I believe it’s oscillating family narrative, which is really about being able to talk about the good and the bad, the reality of the family. And of course, this needs to be done in a developmentally appropriate way for the age of the person in the family, and what they need to know. But a lot A lot of families will notice that their narrative is either one way of like, we overcome everything. We came to the United States we conquered, we made money we soared, or we’ve always been victims, we have never made it in life. That’s what it is to be a Smith, whatever. And the one that is the best is to combine the two of those and to really talk about these are the hardships our family has been through. Whether that’s, I mean, people were talking about things like how do I talk to my kids about slavery, the Holocaust, like, these are real realities for some families, but I know, you know, for like Jewish families, talking about the Holocaust is a very difficult thing. But it’s also a very empowering and strong narrative that is part of most Jewish families. And so thinking about like, how can we talk about the hard things in our family in a way that binds us connects us makes us stronger, can be such a beautiful thing. And I like to reiterate for people listening that this doesn’t have to go back that far in history. If you don’t know anything about your family, you can start today, and really start to talk about like, what has what have I done since I’ve been born? What is part of our family’s history now what is going to be part of this family that I am developing?

Kristen Carder 1:16:23
It’s so wild because I feel like for the most part, I can have a lovely back and forth and really be engaged and involved. And my mind is blank. Like how does someone just start with? So I have three kids 1513, and nine, they are the best. All three boys love them so much. We don’t spend time talking about our family history. And I wouldn’t even know where to start with like, how do you just be like, Well, boys? Like, can you? Can you help? Like, how did somebody just start a conversation like that?

Whitney Goodman 1:17:01
I mean, I would do it in like a fun interactive way to start honestly. So that could be doing like ancestry, looking at photos doing like genealogy. Even just talking about like, talking about your history as a married couple, you and your husband like when these are part of the narrative, like the questions that they asked in this study was like, Do you know where your parents met? Do you know where they got married, or when they got married? Like teaching your children about because you are their history, you know, you are the origination of them. And I think that brings such a connection to like our roots and who we are. And if you lived other places you went to school other places you can start just by working backwards from where you are now.

Kristen Carder 1:17:51
I love that. And I can see like a visual like filling out a family tree like all together like getting pictures of different people and like putting their faces where their family where they go in the family tree like I could totally, I could totally see that’s really

Whitney Goodman 1:18:07
and that’s that’s a big way to bring up other difficult topics. Like if you have divorce in your family, if anyone is estranged or has been adopted or like some of these different things that you might want to teach your kids about or talk to them about, you know, someone’s remarried blended families like, these are great ways to just discuss some of the stuff that could have bad messaging around it if you don’t.

Kristen Carder 1:18:35
Yeah, I love that. And even like, we don’t talk to this person anymore. And that’s okay. Like here, like, hey, like, why don’t I know this person? It’s like, well, figuring out and maybe even like, the narrative starts with you and how you want to like frame what you think about this person. But then teaching your kiddos like, just because someone has family doesn’t necessarily mean that we are always going to be around them. Because we get to choose who we who we spend our time with. Mm hmm. Absolutely. That’s a really and so many things you can do with it. That sounds that sounds like a whole project for the Carter family. Hope your kids are ready. Oh, my goodness. Oh, my goodness. All right. Thank you so much for this Convo. It’s been great to hang out. I really appreciate it. I hope you haven’t seen these gnats flying around. It’s because I have plants not because I’m a dirty person. I promise you. It is my winter time in Pennsylvania. And when it’s winter in Pennsylvania, you get gnats in your cute, adorable plants that make your office look pretty. Um, I’m curious if you could tell our listeners like where they can find you and how they can connect with you. I follow you on Instagram. I am Not on Tik Tok, but I do watch tiktoks on Instagram, like the grown up that I am. And so I spend a lot of time watching your content and I’ve subscribed to your newsletter, your substack it’s so so good. And actually when you were like, Yeah, I have a newsletter about that. I was like, damn it that is sitting in my inbox I didn’t read. And your book too. So tell us all the things.

Whitney Goodman 1:20:25
Yeah, thank you so much. So you can find me on Instagram Tik Tok. All the social medias I’d sit with with. And I do have a sub stack like you mentioned that’s linked through all the social media platforms. And my book is toxic positivity, which you can get anywhere books are sold.

Kristen Carder 1:20:41
And do you work with clients exclusively in Florida? Or can you work with people outside of the state?

Whitney Goodman 1:20:47
exclusively in Florida and I am not taking on new clients see this

Kristen Carder 1:20:51
books y’all. Sorry. No, that’s great. That’s so good. Thanks for being here. I appreciate it. Thank you.

Kristen Carder 1:21:10
Thanks for listening to maybe I’m not the problem, a biweekly series of the I have ADHD podcast. For more information about today’s guest, check out the episode show notes where you can find their bio links and all the fun things. Make sure to like subscribe and add this podcast to your feed and then tune in every Tuesday for new episodes of The I have ADHD podcast. And I’ll be back here with you in two weeks for the next episode of maybe I’m not the problem

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