October 4, 2022

ADHD and Relationships Part 2: Show Up to Meet Others' Needs

In this episode, we talk about surrounding ourselves with people who are willing and able to meet our needs. AND we talk about the importance of being willing and able to meet THEIR needs, too. It’s both/and.

You’ll learn my 4-tier system for prioritizing relationships and I’ll give you permission to let some relationships go.

If you want to take these concepts deeper, join my coaching program FOCUSED.



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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.

Hey, what’s up, this is Kristen Carter and you are listening to the I have ADHD podcast episode number 179. I am medicated I am caffeinated. I am picking up Chipotle as soon as I’m done recording this episode. And I am ready to roll.

Let’s go. I’m excited to talk to you today. Today is part two in our relationship series here on the I have ADHD podcast. And if you’re curious how many parts there will be, I really don’t know, I have no idea. What I do know is that ADHD are struggle with relationships that we have a lot to learn when it comes to having healthy relationships with ourselves, with our co workers and partners and friends and parents and family members and all of the people. And I think one of the hallmark traits of ADHD that is obviously not listed as a symptom, or a defining characteristic, you know, based on research necessarily, but in my experience, coaching 1000s of people with ADHD, most of us have really sucky relationships at one time or another. And so this series is dedicated to helping you to understand yourself and understand other people understand what you need in relationships and what you deserve and relationships and help you to navigate, you know, healthy relationships moving forward.

My goal here is to really help you to uncover the things that you can change within yourself. And maybe some things that you want to change in your relationships and just empower you to make really proactive and strong decisions in this department. Because we all crave connection. We all deserve connection and relationship is one of the things that we are wired for as humans. And even though you have ADHD, and there was a lot about you, that is probably a little bit annoying to the people that you’re in relationship with.

There’s also a lot of good that you bring to the table. And I encourage you to recognize that about yourself as you move forward. Just kind of learning more about relationships and how you can show up as a healthy person in your relationships. If this series sparks an interest in you and you want to take this work deeper, please come join my ADHD coaching program focused is a monthly coaching membership where I support hundreds of adults with ADHD who are on a self development journey, moving forward making changes, all while learning to accept themselves and enjoy the experience of their own reality. Right now, I have an entire course on relationships that you get complete access to in month four of focused, we save that for tier two, we have four tiers, you get access to four courses right away. And then the next set of courses happens it like unlocks for you after three months so like the first day of your fourth month. And relationships are in that second tier. The reason why I put it in the second tier not the first is because there is so much like triaging that we have to do with most people when they come into the program, there’s so much that they most of the time need to learn and kind of uncover and relationship work is pretty deep. And so I save it for people who are really committed and continuing in that journey.

So if this sounds delightful, delicious, amazing to you, I would absolutely love to invite you to come and join focused, join the others that are on this journey. It’s an amazing investment in yourself. And I would love to welcome you into the program. In last week’s episode, we talked about your relationship with yourself. And I listed out some just very basic relational needs. And we chatted about how you can meet those needs for yourself. And today, we’re going to kind of assess how those needs are being met in your relationships with other people in your life. Now, it’s important that we start right here at this one little spot we’re gonna dive in real deep right Anyway, my opinion is that nobody has to meet your relational needs. And truthfully, not everyone can. A lot of people are not equipped to meet the needs that you have.

This is a revelation in my own life that I’m kind of waking up to. And it’s been a little bit painful to realize my own needs and begin to meet them for myself, and then go and kind of assess the relationships that I have, and realize that there are people that I’ve been in relationship with that are really not able to or equipped to meet my relational needs. But obviously, you know, not everyone can, but it is much more pleasant and fun and fulfilling to be in a friendship or a partnership, where you are mutually willing and able to show up for each other in a give and take fashion, right. So I like to think about relationships as both. And we need to learn to meet our own needs, yes, but we can’t stop there. Because one of the ways that we meet our own needs is that we surround ourselves with people who are also willing and able to meet our needs.

Does that make sense? So we meet our own needs, but also we find people we bring people into our lives, who are willing to meet our needs as well. That’s one of the ways that we take care of ourselves. Both of these things are true at the same time, you’re not solely responsible to meet your needs on your own, you’re also responsible to go find people that can provide that that safety, that security, that connection, that relational beauty for you, as well, because remember, we are wired for relationships, we’re wired for connection, we’re wired for community, and we’re wired to have our needs met by others as the way that we are made, okay. But if we rely solely exclusively on others to meet our needs, there are always going to be times when we are going to feel deficient, or needy or insecure, because we’re putting our needs being met outside of our own control.

So if we just rely on other people exclusively, then whether or not I feel connected or secure or safe is in someone else’s hands and not my own hands. And so there will be times when the people in my life or the people in your life just are not able to show up and meet needs because of what they’re going through, which is totally understandable. So we can’t put our needs exclusively in the hands of someone else. Because sometimes other people really suck at meeting. Right, because they’re on their own journey. So what I’m trying to get across here is that it’s both and we can rely on other people to meet needs, or we can find people go out and search for people who are willing to meet needs. But we also need to make sure that we’re taking responsibility to meet our own needs as well. So it’s both meeting our own needs, and surrounding ourselves with people who are willing to do their best, you know, we’re all human, but to do their best at meeting needs as well. One of the things that I’ve been processing recently is that we all have just one life, which is so cliche and like annoying, but it’s true, we get we’ve got one life, we get to decide who to spend our time with.

So I highly recommend that you make conscious choices to spend time with people who also prioritize like the both and have relationships, the self responsibility and the meeting other people’s needs, to the best of their ability and capacity. Let’s just have a quick reminder of like a compilation of basic human needs, affection, acceptance, validation, autonomy, security, which I like to really I think it’s easier to call that section like safety, feeling safe and a relationship, trust, empathy, prioritization, connection, and space. So I’m curious who in your life is amazing at meeting these needs for you, I would highly recommend just pausing here and grabbing a piece of paper or your notes app on your phone and like making a list of people who are amazing at meeting your needs. And as much as it may seem a little weird. I would also make a list of people who struggle to show up for you and meet your needs.

Now, I am not saying that you need to like call these people out or text them and say, Hey, I’ve discovered you suck at meeting my needs. It’s not at all what I’m saying. I am just suggesting that maybe assessing the people in your life and determining who’s is really great at meeting needs and who kind of sucks at it, it’s just something really interesting to notice. If someone refuses to meet your needs and relationships. Notice, if someone withholds affection or acceptance from you, because of the way you show up in the world. Notice, if someone is constantly looking to you to meet their needs without taking responsibility for their needs, or without showing up for you in any way in the relationship, notice, these are things that deserve to be noticed.

One of the things that I did for years and years and years was excuse the behavior of people in my life. And I’m curious if you do the same, are there people that you have relationships with whose behavior you excuse? Sometimes we do this because we are so used to believing that we are a problem, that we are the problem that the if there’s ever a rift in the relationship, that it’s our faults. And so sometimes we fail to see the flaws in other people. Sometimes we excuse people’s behavior, because we’re too insecure to hold them accountable. Most of the time. Most of the time, and this is this is a little bit tough, but most of the time, we excuse behavior patterns, because we think it will go easier for us. If we do, if we excuse it, then I don’t have to be in conflict. And I don’t have to do anything hard. So it’s actually easier for me if I excuse this behavior. Not all people are for you. And it’s important that we understand that it doesn’t make them bad people throughout the work that we’re going to do in this relationship series. Or maybe that you would want to do with your therapist, you may realize that you’d like to spend less time with some people, distance yourself from other people, and maybe even let some relationships go.

If and when this happens, I encourage you to do it with acceptance, and if you can, with some love, not with resentment or disdain. But creating distance in a relationship can be very healthy, especially when you know that the relationship is not one in which you are able to show up as your full self and be accepted. Creating distance. It doesn’t make you rude. It doesn’t make you a failure. It makes you a human with preferences. As you grow and evolve, your relationships will grow and evolve to or they won’t. And those that don’t might not be for you anymore. Now, it’s your responsibility to understand your own needs. And make sure those needs are being met. Like from yourself from a therapist from a coach from the humans in your life. And one of the ways that you do this is to create distance and remove yourself from certain relationships that you know are not healthy for you or you know, they’re not serving you, or they may even be toxic. How are you handling this? You’re doing? Okay, so with me, one of my favorite therapists is Nedra swab, and I am so thrilled to tell you that she is going to be on the podcast either next episode or the episode after we just recorded an interview this week. It’s all about boundaries. I cannot wait for you to hear it. You should definitely go follow her on Instagram immediately at Nedra and her book set boundaries find peace is incredible. I love it.

I’ve referenced it on here before I use it in my program, often I highly recommend you rush to Amazon and get it right the second she gives so much content away for free on her Instagram. And here’s a post that she created from December 9 2021. And it’s reasons that you might end a relationship and I just wanted to read it for you here. So this is from Nedra twelves. Instagram, December 9 2021 reasons that you might end a relationship. You love peace, more than you love the chaos of the relationship. You aren’t emotionally equipped to handle the relationship. You don’t feel seen or heard. You’ve tried working things out but nothing has improved. You want to be mentally and emotionally healthy and the relationship doesn’t serve that you tried implementing boundaries and they weren’t respected. Your values no longer align with the other person. You’ve grown apart. You’ve accepted who they are and decided not to tolerate their behaviors. This is a big one. That’s like wow, we could We could have a whole episode on seeing the reality of people, and accepting who they truly are not with judgment, just with an understanding of like, oh, they continue to show me who they are, this is who they are, I finally accept that. I’m not excusing it, I’m not trying to change it, I’m not wishing it away, I’m just accepting it. And it doesn’t work for me, I’ve, I’ve decided not to tolerate it anymore. Okay. And then the last one that she lists is the relationship doesn’t support you being your highest self. Now, again, we’re talking about other people being able to meet your needs in relationships. Obviously, we’re talking about mutual relationships here. So it’s, you know, partners, or friends, I wouldn’t put kids in this category at all, a parent child relationship is not a mutual relationship.

So we don’t look to our children to meet our needs. But I’m talking specifically about like friends and partners. And what’s really interesting about our culture, at least here in America is that we don’t talk about the end of friendships very much. And one of the things that has happened for me in the last couple of years, as I’ve, you know, my kids have grown up and gotten more involved in sports and all of that. So like, my life is fuller, and busier. And I have a thriving company that also requires a lot of my attention. And I support hundreds and hundreds of clients. And I’ve done a lot of self development and work in therapy, one of the things that I’ve seen is that there have been several friendships in my life that have come to a very natural, close. And it wasn’t anything about, you know, bad blood or a blow up. But me just realizing that like, this relationship was beautiful, and it served a purpose. But I’m not the same person anymore. And it doesn’t really make sense to move forward with this friendship.

And so I just want to release you have any guilt that you might feel if you have some friendships that you would like to let go, if you have some friendships that you’d kind of like to put a bow on and call it complete, and put it on the shelf and admire what it was for you for the time being, but just kind of purposefully step away from being in relationship, you are allowed to do that. Now, here’s a question that I wanted to answer. What if I know that the person I’m in relationship with is an amazing? Like, I am accepting the reality of who they are. And I know they’re probably unsafe, which we’re going to talk about. And I know that they are not able or willing to meet my needs, but I don’t want to let go of the relationship. And that’s totally fine. You get to choose not to let go of the relationship. Okay, what do we do? Now, sometimes we’re in relationships that just aren’t great. But we don’t want to let them go. And so when this happens when you’re making this choice, here’s what I suggest. I suggest you tell yourself the truth about the person always be living in reality. So don’t sugarcoat it. And don’t make excuses. Don’t excuse anything away. tell yourself the truth. So that might sound like this person is regularly unkind, and I’m still willing to be around them. Or this person doesn’t accept me for who I am. But I still want to be in relationship with them.

Or, I understand that this person will yell at me when I’m with them. And I’m willing to endure this, or this person is straight up mean, and accept who they are. So I don’t recommend that you just like try to make yourself feel better. By excusing things, I would just really, really encourage you to name the truth, see the truth. And just tell yourself the truth about it. Okay, this person is not super healthy, and I still want to be around them. I’m not willing to part ways at this point. And I just accept where we are right now.

Now, always remember that it’s your job to keep you peaceful, and it’s your job to keep you safe. Next week, or in a couple of weeks, we’re going to have that episode with Ninja 12. It’s all about setting boundaries. But I would recommend that you prioritize your own peace and prioritize your own safety and if that means setting boundaries and limiting time with these people who are you know, you know, are not really healthy, that’s totally fine. And ultimately make sure that you’re taking responsibility for yourself Have, you already know the truth about who this person is, don’t expect them to be different than they are. And don’t blame them for being who they are, they are who they are, take responsibility for you, you are choosing to be around them. And that’s perfectly okay. But take ownership of that choice, you are choosing to have your piece disrupted, that is perfectly okay. Just take ownership of that choice, and you will feel so much more empowered. Okay, we’re going to shift gears here.

And I want us to take some time to self reflect and question ourselves as to whether or not we show up to meet other people’s needs in the relationships that we have. Obviously, relationships are not just one sided. And if all we’re doing in a relationship is trying to get our needs met, we are not going to have very good relationships, right? So of course, I encourage you to be in relationships with people who are willing and able to meet your needs. But also, we need to make sure that we spend time questioning whether or not we’re willing and able to meet other people’s needs. Think about your most important relationships. Are you willing to give affection, acceptance, validation, autonomy, safety and security, trust, empathy, prioritization, connection? And space? Are you willing to meet those needs for the people that you’re in relationship with? I’m curious, what do you feel like you’re really good at when it comes to meeting needs? Like which need Are you like, Yes, I’m really good at that one. Maybe it’s affection. Maybe you’re like I love being affectionate. I love meeting that need for other people. But I’m curious which ones you think you struggle to meet? For me personally, validation was one that I struggled to meet for other people. Now I know now that it’s because that need was never met, for me, especially as a kiddo, right? And so I just never saw it as a legitimate need. And now through all the work that I’m doing, one of the ways that I’m really trying to grow and improve is showing up as someone who is willing to be validating in my relationships, willing to meet the need that other people have for validation.

So I really, really encourage you to consider how you are showing up with other people are you willing to meet needs are you willing, again, I’m going to list them to provide within the context of your relationships, affection, acceptance, validation, autonomy, security and safety, trust, empathy, prioritization, connection, and space. Now, when we talk about like meeting other people’s needs, this is a great place to really honor the fact that we can’t meet every single humans needs that we come into contact with. One of the things that I see so commonly with adults with ADHD is that we have so many relationships, like so. So, so so many relationships, and one of the things that I really coach my clients on is being very intentional, to kind of, like, suss out the priorities that they have within relationships. And here’s what I mean, that’s a little bit unclear. So I want to, I want to clear that up. What I mean by that is, you cannot prioritize every single relationship, there needs to be like levels or tiers, to the relationships that you have. Now, when I first started talking about this, people were so confused, like, wait, what, I don’t treat every single human in my life the same way. I just want to bring this back to our ADHD and our executive function does deficiencies. Of course, we would have trouble prioritizing. Of course, we wouldn’t realize that not everything has to scream at us at the same volume, right? Because that is actually connected to our executive function deficiency.

So what I want you to do is I want you to think about that in the context of relationships. Some of you are giving the best of yourself to people that you don’t actually want to prioritize. So you’re expending your mental and emotional and physical energy Now on people who are not actually the most important people in your life, and this is likely because you struggled to prioritize, which is a very normal struggle for adults with ADHD. So there is no shame or blame here. But what I want to do is kind of marry the idea of like, as someone in relationship, I want you to really decide to show up and meet other people’s needs. And at the same time realize like wow, that’s kind of a big responsibility to meet people’s needs and relationship. Cannot I give affection acceptance, validation, autonomy, safety and security, trust, empathy, prioritization, connection and space to every single human that I know, can I? And should I? And, and am I required to? And so this is where I kind of want to walk you through like a prioritization exercise. Okay. I teach my clients to view their relationships in tears, T i e, r. S, tears, like, kind of like levels, okay?

Because if you think about all of the people in your life, there are so many relational needs to be met. I, I can’t and you can’t show up well enough to meet everyone’s needs, like every single human right? Like, take the need of prioritization. If I personally have 10, close friends, in addition to my husband, How in the world, am I going to meet the need for prioritization for all 10 of my besties, right, I can’t, it’s literally impossible. Now, this may seem extreme, but I’m gonna walk you through this exercise. The first thing I want to say is a caveat. The caveat here is if you are currently parenting children, you need to acknowledge how much space that takes up for you. Because parenting children is a one way street, they are not here to meet our needs. We are here to meet their needs exclusively. And so if you are parenting children, I want you to consider how much mental and emotional and physical space and energy that takes from you. Okay, I’m not going to talk about children, when it comes to these relational tears, I have three tears, because these tears are primarily for mutual relationships, relationships, where you’re on the same level. And that is not the case with children. And in my opinion, even adult children, and I’ve been thinking about like, I really need to do a podcast on my view of parenting in this way. But this is not the time for it.

So I just want to say like, consider these tears, and I wouldn’t put kids in these tears. But if you are parenting children right now, and you know that, you know, your job is to show up and meet their needs, and not expect anything from them. Then consider how much space and energy and time that takes from you, as you are looking at these tiers and assessing like how many people can you prioritize? Okay, so that’s just a caveat before we get started. All right. So here’s how I tear out my relationships. Again, we’re talking T i e are tier two, your number one is you are my priority. I am here to meet your needs. All the time, no matter what. There are literally four people in this category for me. Again, my kids are in a separate category. This is for mutual relationships. So there are four people in this category husband, sister’s best friend.

Okay, so for me, that means that I am here to provide emotional support and relational needs being met for these people. I’m willing to do it, I’m choosing to do it, I want to do it. But that’s only or painful. Do you see that? That’s not many. That’s not many people at all. Okay, tier two is I love you, I like you. I love being in relationship with you. You’re very important to me. And if I have the capacity to be there for you, I’m thrilled to do it.

So these are the people in my life that I like and I love and I want like I want to be with these are like Friendsgiving people and like really close people to me, but they’re not like priority number one, okay. And I would say that there’s about six to seven people in that category who I absolutely adore and want to show up to meet their needs as best as I can. Okay, so we have like A very, very core, then we have like one tier below that. And then there’s tier three, which is I like you, we’re totally cool. And if we’re able to hang out, awesome, I enjoy it, and I have fun. But I 100% I’m not going to make this relationship a priority, because I simply don’t have the capacity to consistently meet your needs. So this means that I usually say No, when you ask me to hang out, and pretty much everyone else in my life is in that category. And this, I would say, is the hardest tear. Because there’s a lot of really fun, nice, funny, smart kind people in the world. And you know, as someone who has a large community, and you know, I’m a pastor’s wife, and I, I know, wow, I can’t even get the words out. I know a lot of really amazing people that I would love to hang out with. But I know my limits. And I know that when I say yes, to a tier three person, I’m saying no to either myself, or someone in my tier one or tier two.

This is really hard. For me, there’s, there’s a lot of people, women in my life that I truly love and enjoy, who I I cannot show up for I simply don’t have the capacity. And I want to point out that there really is a feeling of loss. There’s a there’s a grief that I feel when I know, I just can’t be, you know, close to someone who I think is amazing. There’s definitely some FOMO, which is why I think we ADHD has tried to keep everyone on the same level and try to juggle all these different relationships, because we really do have FOMO. But what I want to say is that, as I have really prioritized the relationships in my life, and really thought about, like, who’s important to me, whose needs do I want to meet, who’s really good at meeting my needs, who do I enjoy being around and feel like it’s healthy, and save, I have been able to really lean into those connections and relationships and build just like a beautiful support system for myself that wasn’t there when I was trying to juggle so many different relationships. I do want to say that there is a tier four and tier four i i personally call it the dead to me box. But I have heard clients of mine don’t appreciate it when I call it the dead to me box.

So what we came up with in my focused program is these are the people who’ve been voted off the island. To your for our people that it’s a it’s a hard now, you know that they’re not safe people, you know that they’re not people who you want to be in relationship with, you have maybe tried and failed at cultivating connection with them. And you’re just like, I just know that this tier of people is just now. And so we voted them off the island, it’s just a now, it doesn’t mean that you don’t respect them, or that you’re not kind to them, or that you are like having hateful feelings towards them. It just means that there are no, that’s just a no. So Tier one is like a very small small core group, the Inner Inner Inner Circle where you are willing to show up and meet the needs anytime, anyplace. Tier two is you love them, you like them. And when you have the capacity, you’re 100% excited to show up for them. tier three is like these are casual people that you are like totally fine with and you might really enjoy them. But you just know like you don’t have space for all of the relationships. And so they are like you’re usually gonna say no if they ask you to hang out. And then tier four is you voted them off the island. They’re an immediate now. It’s just not even a question.

Oh, I’m curious if you think that this is helpful to you in thinking through the priorities in your relationship. It’s been very helpful to me, I hope it’s helpful to you as well. All right, my friend, next week, we’re going to talk about safety. We’re gonna have a whole episode on it. Because there’s two types of people there are safe people and they’re unsafe people. And I’m not talking physically safe. I’m talking emotionally safe people. This is a concept that is totally new to me in the last two years.

I used to roll my eyes when people referred to really SunChips has being safe or unsafe. I’m done rolling my eyes. I’ve totally changed my mind and I can’t wait to talk to you about that next week. I’ll see you then. Bye bye. If you’re being treated for your ADHD, but you still don’t feel like you’re reaching your potential you’ve got to join focused. It’s my monthly coaching membership where I teach you how to tame your wild thoughts and create the life that you’ve always wanted. No matter what season of life you’re in, or where you are in the world, focus is for you. All materials and call recordings are stored in the site for you to access at your convenience. Go to Ihaveadhd.com/focused for all the info

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