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The #1 ADHD podcast on iTunes, hosted by

Creating Connected Relationships w/ Psychotherapist Lissy Abrahams

by Faster Than Normal

Lissy Abrahams is passionate about helping people create healthier lives for themselves, as well strengthening the connection for partners in couple relationships. She is a leading psychotherapist who has dedicated her career to helping her clients navigate life’s obstacles and challenges. When our lives or our couple relationship goes off the rails, for whatever reason, we can all feel distressed and anxious. Lissy helps her individual and couple clients not just get back on track but also to thrive again. Lissy believes we all have the capacity to improve our lives and couple relationships with the right knowledge and skills. Her mission is to help as many people as possible transform their lives by creating happier and more connected relationships. Lissy completed her Masters at the internationally renowned Tavistock Relationships, a unit of the Tavistock Institute of Medical Psychology in London. She has held positions on the British Society of Couple Psychotherapists and Counsellors (BSCPC) and was Vice President of the Couple, Child, and Family Psychotherapy Association of Australasia (CCAFPAA). Lissy is available for speaking opportunities on podcasts, radio, television, expert panels, webinars, and corporate wellness programs. Lissy runs a Sydney-based therapy clinic, Heath Group Practice, and works therapeutically with clients here and around the world via online sessions. She has recently launched an online course, ‘Learn to skillfully communicate with your partner and decrease conflict’. The course explores the real reasons why couples fight, provides guided activities for participants to identify why they are having difficulty communicating, and teaches the vital skills needed to break repeated cycles of conflict. Today we’re going to talk a little bit about balance and a little bit about strengthening the connection for couples who are trying to find that balance, as well as a few tips on more effective verbal communication in general. Enjoy!

In this episode Peter and Lissy discuss:  

1:25 – Intro and welcome Lissy Abrahams!

2:55 – As ADHDer’s, we’re a bit trigger happy in our communication(s). What advice do you have to manage that fire? Ref: Rejection Sensitivity

3:15 – Sometimes when we don’t feel we’re being heard, we raise the volume.

5:12 – Sometimes we’re present but not really ‘there’ with our partners. How do we stay present and how can our partners help? 

7:00 – We can be a little like the Road Runner to be around from time to time.

8:10 – What would your advice be on verbal communication & amount of content therein in our relationships?

10:50 – Is the basis of your relationship good verbal communication?

11:50 – A basic tip for better communication

12:10 – Our ADHD brains are usually going super fast; what is your advice on how to calm down for better communications?

13:39 – How can people find more about you and what you’re doing? www.lissyabrahams.com and on the Socials: @AbrahamsLissy on Twitter,  @ lissy-abrahams on LinkedIN and @LissyAbrahamsCourses on Facebook and get her FREE E-book here! 

14:04 – Thank you Lissy! Guys, as always, we are here for you and we love the responses and the notes that we get from you; so please continue to do that! Tell us who you want to hear on the podcast, anything at all; we’d love to know.  Leave us a review on any of the places you get your podcasts, and if you ever need our help I’m www.petershankman.com and you can reach out anytime via [email protected] or @petershankman on all of the socials. You can also find us at @FasterNormal on all of the socials. It really helps when you drop us a review on iTunes and of course, subscribe to the podcast if you haven’t already! As you know, the more reviews we get, the more people we can reach. Help us to show the world that ADHD is a gift, not a curse! 

14:29 – Faster Than Normal Podcast info & credits

TRANSCRIPT: 

Welcome to another episode of Faster Than Normal! My name is Peter Shankman.  Happy Monday, wherever you might be. It’s probably a Wednesday when you’re reading, when you’re listening to this, but it’s a Monday here. It is a gorgeous day in NYC. A little cold, but finally starting to warm up into what we hope will be two days of spring before we get into 90 degrees and humid for the rest of the summer. Anyway, we are going to talk today about healthier lives. Now I say that as someone who has two speeds, as most of us with ADHD do, which is either eating tremendously healthy or eating six pizzas and a box of wine. So knowing that we’re going to talk a little bit about balance and a little bit about strengthening the connection for couples who are trying to find that balance as well. We’re talking to Lissy Abrahams. She believes that all people have capacity to improve our lives and relationships with the right knowledge and skills. She completed her masters at the internationally renowned Tavistock relationships, even of Tavistock Institute of medical psychology in London, she’s held positions on the British society of couples, psycho psychotherapists, and counselors, and was the vice president of the couple child and family psychotherapy association of Australia, Asia CCA, F P AA That must be a lot of fun to say. Lissie runs a Sydney-based therapy clinic, a therapy clinic called health group practice and works therapeutically with clients there and around the world by online sessions; she’s launched an online course called learn to skillfully, communicate with your partner and decrease conflict. Welcome to the podcast. 

Hi, thanks for having me. 

Great to have you. So one of the key things about add and ADHD is sort of that we because we only have two speeds. We, I think one of the things we need the most work. Okay. Sort of decreasing turning down the volume. When we get into an argument, get into a conversation, it’s hard for us to just listen. It’s hard for us to just, you know, we hear something we immediately want to respond and if we respond and it’s not the response that someone expansion that there’s not someone wants and may con they come back with it, we feel like we weren’t heard. And that’s what causes massive fights for us. So I think the first question, you know, in terms of creating a healthier life and sort of allowing our brains to chill and to calm down so we can actually hear the other person.. when you’re ADHD and you’re up against that times 10. What are your thoughts there? Right? From the beginning? 

I think the biggest gift we can give ourselves is a pause. If we could just take a moment to, even if it’s just two seconds to pause before we react, because we’re so trigger happy as ADHDer’s, we are so quick to just become little firecrackers. So one of the things I tell all of my clients with ADHD is that just taking a breath and pausing is our best friend. If we don’t, we’re just going to get ourselves in so much trouble. We we’re quite a sensitive group as well. Um, a lot of us have rejection sensitivity as well, so we can very easily feel slighted. So. If we can just slow things down. So in fact, as speeds, slow and fast, we could do really well with that. But I think just slowing it down and breathing; because so often we’ll jump in before someone’s even finished a sentence and we’re not even necessarily grabbing the full context and content of what they’re saying, that being a firecracker, we can get ourselves into quite a bit of trouble with that. 

Um, most definitely. I think one of the things also is that, you know, when we, when we’re trying to talk and we’re consistently, we need to feel heard. Um, and so we’re not feeling heard. We raised the volume, which doesn’t help. 

It doesn’t help at all and one of the things that happens there is that our partner can be quite confused and they often don’t know what to do with that volume. Whereas someone with ADHD they’re quite, they can be quite used to it. It’s not as startling for non ADHDer’s who don’t have that register necessarily. It can be quite a shock to their system and they, that cause a lot of defensiveness on their side and they’ll come in and be quite triggered in return. So I think that level of that volume that we can, we can project can be quite frightening at times. 

Definitely. Definitely. What do you, um, so how do you work with people when, you know, a lot of times I remember when I was married, um, and I’m still, you know, very close friends with my ex, but when we were together, one of the things that she, she, she comments on a lot was that I was, I was there, but I wasn’t really there. I never had any, you know, if the house was burning down, you wanted me there. I would, I would take control of the situation and fix everything, but the day-to-day stuff. You know, I had more of a problem dealing with the, the, for lack of a better word, the boring stuff. 

That’s a really common one that day, but not there. And the way I see that is that we can become the person with ADHD becomes quite a tantalizing figure when someone’s physically present, it’s an invitation to connect with them. But if they’re not really there in their minds and somewhere else, it’s a, they become tantalizing and quite elusive at the same time. So it’s a confusing proposal for a partner to, to know whether to do with that because they are wanting the connection. But then the message that’s often given off is I’m in my own world and I can actually stay here quite happily thanks. 

I think that, that one of the things that you learn, um, as you’re going through that. And it goes back to what you said about a pause, is that anything can really be sort of fixed if you’re just able to give it time and stop and listen and think. 

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I don’t know. Did you get, you get the cartoon Roadrunner? 

Of course! 

Yeah. Yeah. That’s the way I, I, I think of ADHD, I think a Roadrunner who buzzes around and beep-beeps and there’s all that dust. And I think that if if ADHD is and I’m one, so I totally relate to road runner. If we can remember that we are causing a lot of dust at times as well. So we might be really confusing in the sense that we run and scurry around and beep-beep over the place. But then there is that other part that you’re talking about, but we can leave our partner out and get so much into our own zone. And when we’ve got our hyper-focus on, that’s incredibly compelling for us to stay there. So w we can be a bit of a confusing partner at times. And, uh, and really quite rattling. I mean, I know in one of my, with one of my couples that I see when Trump came in, there were four years of that there but not there experience because this person was so obsessed with Trump and what was going on, watching every video that came up and every news article was read and attended to, it caused so many problems in the relationship, but that is the power of the hyper-focus. So it, it, it is a confusing picture because that there but not there is really not there at times. And this went on for four years. 

Yeah, definitely. Very good point. Um, talk about communication. So a lot of times I think that the, you know, the best relationships are the ones that have free communication and yet, no matter how much you love a person or how much you’re, you’re, you’re involved with the person you’re close to the person. Sometimes talking to them, especially when you’re ADHD becomes difficult, right? Whether it’s that you can’t get the words out or what you’re trying to say, or in the case of study, what can you tell people who might be going through communications issues? You know, I know that that, um, There’s sometimes there’s so much stress in a daily relationship, right? Just this day in-day-out that the concept of talking and really just having a conversation that doesn’t revolve around: Oh, did you make the kids’ lunches or, oh, you know what time is the play date?” You know, it sort of goes out the window.

It’s a really good question about that one! The difficulty in communication, it can, it can be that they either don’t know what to say or how to, how to speak to their partner or what to communicate that difficulty in it. But it could also be that there’s an excessive amount of content. You know, if you’re, if you’re in your hyper-focus, I don’t know about you, I can, I can go on for quite a while when my ?height and stuff that I’m really, really interested in. And sometimes I actually need to just check in with my partner to see if I’m just bombarding him with information. I mean, he also has ADHD, so he can come along for the ride to a certain extent, but sometimes I can say, you know, the eyes are going darting around because it’s too much information and my intensity and excitement might not be matching where he is at times. So that’s another form of it. Um, but I think.. if looking at the other side of what I often say in couples and communication is, you know, what you were saying about the kids and you know, that the logistics and there’s also a very critical component that happens in couple relationships and I think that’s what really gets into part of the problem communicating; because the person with ADHD has often really annoyed their partner, especially if it’s been undiagnosed. And there’s a lot of.. the partner can be quite, uh, um, they can complain a lot, they can be critical, they can nag and nitpick because they feel that their partner with ADHD isn’t pulling their weight. I mean, they often don’t know how hard they’re really trying. Um, but the, the communication is really tainted I think if the ADHD isn’t well-managed between the two of them. 

Most definitely. I think that it’s a lot of, you know, it’s not something that you go e., you know, you don’t think about going into a relationship knowing that you have to talk. 

A-hah!

I think that’s been a problem. You know, everyone’s had that at some point, they go into these relationships and they don’t, you know, you think, okay. Yeah, I’ll be a good guy, I’ll bring flowers. You don’t realize that that, that the entire basis, most of the time is based on communication!

Yeah. And I guess the thing is when we first meet somebody it’s less on, it’s not always necessarily around the talking because we can always take off another tangent into the sexual arena whenever and it’s all so compelling in that area too. So yeah, I guess there, there. I haven’t come across as many people who struggle with the talking part so it’s interesting hearing you say that 

I think it’s combined with the listening. 

Okay. Yeah, definitely the listening part. And of course, it’s very hard to get somebody’s attention all the time. And that’s where it’s important for communication to show; I’ve got a rule that you’ve got eye contact telephones down, I make a rule that I don’t talk to someone who’s staring at their screen because I know they’re not listening properly. So. Try not to do that as well. Um, cause we’ve yeah, we can’t, if we’re not attending, we’re not going to hear anything so it doesn’t matter what’s actually said. 

One final question. Um, give us, you know, our ADHD brains are usually going 500 miles a minute. Give us two or three really quick strategies to help us calm down. 

So the first one is to pause. That one is the most important one because our brain really won’t deal with anything if it loses the capacity to think so, once we’re triggered we’re in trouble. So that’s the first one. The second one is really about breathing. I think if we just do 5, 5, 5 breathing that’s five seconds in- and you can either hold it for five seconds or not hold it for five seconds and then just breathe it out for five seconds, just very slowly. And repeat it five times. F or me, that is the absolute game changer or ADHD is. And I would say that’s one of my top tips actually, um, for calming down. And then the other one is to just be able to go into a place that’s just your own. And to really go inside your own mind, join up, what’s upset me, what is it about this that’s triggered me and to be able to do the work because it’s so easy just to blame our partner for what they’ve done to us or in that moment. But actually so much of what we get upset about is actually our own stuff. So it could have been childhood stuff that we could have been told that we were lazy or selfish as a kid or misunderstood, whatever that was but it doesn’t mean that our partner is necessarily saying it in the present, but it often has more impact because of what we’ve gone through as kids undiagnosed or diagnosed. Yeah. 

Very cool. This has been great. I really appreciate you taking the time Lissy, and, and, and more importantly, giving us your advice and valuable advice on this. Um, how can people find you?

[[13:39 – How can people find more about you and what you’re doing? www.lissyabrahams.com and on the Socials: @AbrahamsLissy on Twitter,  @ lissy-abrahams on LinkedIN and @LissyAbrahamsCourses on Facebook]]

Uh, people can find me at my website. It’s you see Abraham’s dot com and I’ve got some blogs on there and I’ve got my course on there as well. And I’ve got a book coming out in August, so feel free to contact me!

Awesome. Very cool. Lissy Abrahams, thank you so much for taking the time! Guys, as always, we want to hear what you think. If you like what you heard, leave us a review. If you have anyone you think would be a great guest, shoot me an email. [email protected] We would love to hear who that might be and get them on the podcast. We are Faster Than Normal. We believe that ADHD and all neuro-diversity is a gift rather than a curse. And we will see you next week with a brand new episode. Thank you so much for listening and have a great day!

Credits: You’ve been listening to the Faster Than Normal podcast. We’re available on iTunes, Stitcher and Google play and of course at www.FasterThanNormal.com I’m your host, Peter Shankman and you can find me at petershankman.com and @petershankman on all of the socials. If you like what you’ve heard, why not head over to your favorite podcast platform of choice and leave us a review, come more people who leave positive reviews, the more the podcast has shown, and the more people we can help understand that ADHD is a gift, not a curse. Opening and closing themes were composed and produced by Steven Byrom who also produces this podcast, and the opening introduction was recorded by Bernie Wagenblast. Thank you so much for listening. We’ll see you next week!

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