In the Beginning

I started my coaching career in 1998 with a focus on coaching creative people.

Working with artists I heard that many of the challenges they were having sounded like my struggles as a person with ADHD. As I shared some of the structures and techniques that helped me stay focused I started getting more calls, not only from artists, but from people with ADHD who wanted to learn how to manage time, be organized, handle priorities and up their self esteem.

And thus was born Artful Coaching.

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Welcome to Artful Coaching

Are you reading this because you’re thinking about making some positive changes so your life works better? Consider this, taking the next step means you realize designing your life is serious, you can take action, and it will work.

Think about some of the challenges you currently have. Do these things happen repeatedly? Have they been around for a while? Consider these things as habits that don’t work…habits that can be replaced with behaviors that do work.

Artful Coaching focuses on your specific needs and challenges. Typically, coaching helps individuals with ADHD develop the structures, processes, and practical approaches necessary to meet the challenges of everyday life and excel in their areas of their strengths.

 
Myths and Facts about ADHD
Do I have ADHD? Take the Test
Frequently Asked Questions

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How Does Your Wheel Roll?

Life balance. What does that even mean? Can you have a balanced life? If so, how?

First, how’s your life at the moment? There are several assessments to see if you are in or out of balance. Many coaches use a tool called the “Wheel of Life” for this.

Most of us express our thoughts, time, and energy in eight to ten different areas. The “Wheel of Life” gives you a way to rate your life in each of these areas. Personally, I use the following categories with my clients:

  • Friends
  • Personal Growth
  • Family
  • Community
  • Health
  • Career
  • Home
  • Finances
  • Significant Other
  • Creative Expression

Feel free to substitute school for career, or whatever other changes will accurately reflect the key components of your life. Once you have your categories, assess your current level of satisfaction in each area on a scale of 1-10. Your consideration is based on what that category means to you. For example, in the Significant Other category: you have a significant other and it’s a good relationship, so you give yourself a 9; or, you don’t have a partner and don’t want one, that can also be a 9. But if you’re not happy with your relationship, perhaps you give yourself a 3 or 4.

This person is fairly pleased with their relationships with their home, community, health, significant other and personal growth. They are not satisfied with the relationships they have with friends, career and, finances, which indicates they would benefit from setting goals, deciding what is realistic. Family is another area they may wish to address.

Once you have all your numbers you can see if you’re balanced, such as all numbers fall between 7 and 9, or all between 4 and 7. Both ranges show balance, but only that first range shows satisfaction. Any area that indicates a satisfaction level of five or less would benefit from attention to bring it up. This means setting goals, creating plans to achieve them, scheduling and fulfilling action steps.

Do not expect to maintain balance once you reach it. Life has a way of changing and you can get out of balance without noticing. Personally, I re-do my wheel at the turn of every season.

-Sydney Metrick

 

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Re-Evaluating

What opportunities will you open up to in 2018?

This past Fall we said goodbye to California and moved to Mexico. Oh, and got married, too. For a person like myself with ADHD, the amount of details was overwhelming. Ordinarily, I would have said there is no way I could manage all the research involved with selling most of our possessions and our house, getting visas, planning a drive, and all the other details.

Yet, I did it.

We had decided to make this move a while ago, and now was the time. I gave up what I thought I was capable of and did what I needed to make the decision a reality.

Mexico is wonderful. But it is very different from California. Plus, we had to discover places to shop, eat, get things fixed. We needed to find doctors, dentists, lawyers, and friends. Think all that was challenging? Really, not so much. I know I am more capable than I thought I was. I can do without some of the things I thought were necessary (like Trader Joe’s), and I can learn just about any new thing with time and practice.

Perhaps you are holding some limiting stories about your capabilities and options based on your past or other people’s opinions.

The new year is a good time to re-evaluate your life. What from 2017 do you want to let go of? What will you develop further?

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

– Anaïs Nin

 

– Sydney Metrick

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Check Please

You know that phrase, “It seemed like a good idea at the time”?

 

In the western film, “The Magnificent Seven,” Steve McQueen, in the role of Vin, gives an example worth watching.

https://youtu.be/0ieicflBG_Y

 

The thing is, what seems like a good idea at the time or in the moment, may have consequences that, in retrospect, lead more to “What was I thinking?”

 

 

We’re all plagued by impulsivity from time to time; but for those with ADHD, impulsivity may be an ongoing challenge. Fortunately, there is a process that can broaden the sense of time so that actions taken in the present are seen to have repercussions in the future. Think of it as a future check.

 

First, you have to be aware that you are making a decision about something. This can actually be the hardest part. Instead of just going along with the moment, stop and acknowledge that you are actually making a decision to do/not do something.

 

Call this your decision point. It’s like standing at a fork in the road and determining the way to go. Be there two or multiple options, you are now at step two in the process.

 

Second, use “if/then” thinking to consider your choices. Examples would be, “If I hang out on the internet instead of writing my newsletter, what would that mean to me and my business tomorrow or next week?” Or, “Those lemon bars are my favorite dessert. If I eat four of them (which would be so delicious and my mouth is watering) how will I feel later today and will my pants fit tomorrow?” Or, “How about I buy myself one too? Will I be able to pay my mortgage at the end of the month?”

 

Those of us who are not linear thinkers tend to make “in the moment” decisions based on what feels good right then. However, this month, with all the opportunities for buying and eating more than we need or can afford, it’s an excellent time to develop the habit of stopping at a decision point and considering consequences.

 

-Sydney Metrick

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4 Words That Keep You Small

Do any of these phrases sound familiar?

“I can’t find time to…”

“I really should get to bed earlier/exercise more/eat better.”

“I’ll try.”

“I never get anywhere on time.”

Those four words: “can’t,” “should,” “try,” and “never” may be keeping you from the successes you want. Each of these words creates a mental limitation.

  • You can but you don’t or won’t, so you feel bad about yourself.
  • You should… but you’re not, so you feel bad about yourself.
  • You’ll try, but either you haven’t made a commitment or you lack some confidence, and maybe you end up feeling bad about yourself if you don’t manage to fulfill your intention.
  • You never…, so why believe change is possible. Yes, you probably end up feeling bad about yourself.

All of these words make you feel bad about yourself, so stop using them and start being honest with yourself and others.

  • It is OK to say that you are not interested in doing something, or that you need help to accomplish something. There are very few things a person cannot do if they have the interest, tools, and support.
  • “Should” is a matter of other people’s opinion. If those things are in alignment with your perspective, you’ll do them. If not, then they are not of your concern.
  • When you try, you open the door in your brain to fail. Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found ten thousand ways that won’t work.” You don’t need to try, you just need to find the way that works for you.
  • Just because you never have does not mean that you never will. You could accidentally show up on time – you’ve just debunked your never. The phrase “never say never” is valuable because you really do not know what’s to come.

It is easy to fall into limiting language – it’s all around us. When you catch yourself, stop. Even if you’re in the middle of a sentence. Even if you are only talking or thinking to yourself. Stop, rephrase, move forward.

 

-Sydney Metrick

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Are you sleeping?

My alarm clock just let me know it’s time to wake up… but it’s still dark outside. The nights are getting progressively longer and even the days are darker when it’s raining. While my alarm clock is working fine my body clock is confused.

Disrupting decent sleep even more is that darn Daylight Saving Time. In the fall, when you turn the clocks back an hour you might think you can get an extra hour with the sand man. But few of you will actually get that additional hour of sleep. In the week after changing your clocks, you might wake up earlier than usual, have more trouble falling asleep, and be more likely to wake up during the night. You’re adjusting to shorter, darker days that just get shorter and darker.

All of this can affect both your health and your attitude. When it’s hard for you to get a good night sleep you might find that you’re irritable, groggy, and lacking focus during the day. You might also feel anxious or depressed.

Do you suffer from blues throughout the winter? If yes, you might have Seasonal Affective Disorder. The condition is defined by symptoms such as lethargy, low mood, excessive tiredness, and even weight gain. A drop in serotonin levels may play a part in the development of SAD. Not to get too technical, but less of this neurotransmitter at the nerve synapses is something those of you with ADHD are already dealing with.

What to do?

You may recall me harping on routines. Having a regular routine for winding down and going to bed at more or less the same time each night is important. This will help your body clock. You might also look into full spectrum lighting. The light therapy boxes mimic outdoor light and cause a change in your brain that modifies the impact of the long dark days.

Electronic screens can disrupt the brain cycles needed for sleep, so shut down the computer, television, tablet, and cell phone 30-60 minutes before bed. Need something to do in that 30-60 minutes? Read a book or do a crossword (both are available in paper formats).

Read more about how artificial light impacts sleep here:

https://www.livescience.com/53874-blue-light-sleep.html

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“Now where did I put my…?”

Does this ever happen to you? You’re carrying a few bags of groceries from the car to the house. In a hurry to go out again later that day, you’re distressed to discover your keys are nowhere to be found.

 

There are only so many things you can fully attend to at a time. When you’re engaged in a conversation, or have ten things on your mind something as “trivial” as where you set something down may not shoot right past your short term memory.

 

My uncle Leon would have his glasses pushed up on top of his head. Look all over the house for them and offer me a quarter if I could find them for him. That was the easiest quarter I ever made. Like Leon, everyone misplaces things from time to time-you put your keys in your pocket because you’re carrying a few bags, hang up your jacket and later wonder where your keys are, or put your phone down to get some information in another room then return and don’t remember where you set the phone.

 

Two solutions. Places where you always (okay almost always) put certain items, like keys, phone, wallet, shoes. It’s kind of like having the address for them. Once you develop the habit, chances are lots higher that you’ll find your items where they belong.

 

But sometimes you won’t put things where they belong, right? Even if you’re in a rush, stop. Sit down. Close your eyes and breathe. Think about what you were doing when you last had the item. Recreate your steps. Do this as calmly as possible.

 

How do you decide where something “belongs” anyway? Have you ever put something important in a safe place and then forgotten just where that place is? Again, having a special safe place that you use all the time can make a huge difference. Trust me. I still haven’t found two hundred dollar bills I put safely away last fall.

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Moving is Overwhelming

How long does it take to accumulate more stuff than you need? I’m a person who detests clutter not only for aesthetic reasons, but because I think better when things are neat and organized. Yet, it appears I have waaaay more stuff than I need or would ever use.

Stuff seems to fall into six categories:

  1. The things I use regularly and actually need
  2. Items I acquired because they were interesting and I might enjoy them
  3. The “someday” items that are clothed with good intentions
  4. Gifts
  5. Memorabilia
  6. Mystery items

Because I’m moving, drastic downsizing is mandatory. Going through two decades of books, clothes, art, and extensive miscellaneous stuff, I’ve learned two really important things. The first thing is that only the stuff in category #1 is worth packing and taking, like insurance papers, my computer, clothing, and shoes. The second insight came about from looking through everything in categories #2-#6. That is, looking through them is enough. It’s kind of like a review and letting go. It was nice to take those little trips down memory lane, but bottom line, living in the past is not for me. Would I truly miss a wooden cigar box, or a meditation candle I received one holiday? Did I really care about the glass that acknowledged Peter and Jennifer’s wedding? And what exactly are the little brushes for anyway that were in the box with printer ink?

So, in addition to scheduling time to go through everything, I also had to pack and label the things I’m keeping, and arrange for everything else to be sold, donated, given away, or shredded. It was a lot. But I thought how moving is such a great motivator. Going through all those things was fun, interesting, informative, and useful.

Wondering how this might work for you if you’re not moving? Consider the “gift of the month” exercise. Pick a drawer, shelf, box or whatever, that you haven’t gone through for quite a while (or ever). Set aside an hour or so one day that you’ll devote to emptying and looking at everything in that space. Put back only what really makes sense and discard the rest. What’s the gift? Well, it may be that you find something you’d been looking for or had forgotten. Or you have the gift of a newly decluttered and organized space.

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Wouldn’t it be Nice if…


Let’s play a game. It’s called “Wouldn’t it be nice if…”

Here’s how to play– think of something specific you want to do, have, or be. Add that to the framework. For example, “Wouldn’t it be nice if I got eight hours of sleep,” or “Wouldn’t it be nice if it was easy for me to prioritize.”

Sure, there are some things that would be nice … winning the lottery, finding the fountain of youth, having a chauffeur. But those may be just a bit beyond your reach. However, sufficient sleep or being able to prioritize are totally doable. That is if you really want them and are ready to make it happen.

John Asseraf said, “If you’re interested you’ll do what’s convenient; if you’re committed, you’ll do whatever it takes.”

Sometimes it’s easier to know what you don’t want than what you do want. So get clear about what you really want. Can you imagine being the person who does what it takes to have what you say you want?

  1. Do you believe you can have it, that you deserve to have it?
  2. Do you really want it or just think it would be nice?
  3. Finally, are you ready to do whatever it takes?

Let’s look at your answers:

  • If the answer to #1 is “not sure” or “no” you might want to start smaller and work your way up to your bigger, ultimate goal.
  • How about #2? Do you think you “should” want to do, have, or be whatever you have in mind? For example, you have friends with new cars and you have an old Toyota that you actually love, but wonder what kind of statement it makes about you. I am anti-should, so don’t let others tell you what you feel. On the other hand, it never hurts to get an outsider’s opinion on how your image is impacting your reputation.
  • Number #3 is easy. If you’re ready, it’s good to have support. Here’s where I can help. As a coach, I help you clarify your goals, create realistic action plans, schedule the steps, work through obstacles, and get results.
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Thoughts Impact Our Feelings and Actions – Steps to help shift overwhelm

Guest Blog

– Bowbang Feng, LMFT

“I always mess it up! I never get it right!”

“I’m making progress. It’s easier when I break it down it to smaller steps.”

When you read those two sentences how do you feel? Thoughts like these may be helpful at times and lead to positive feelings and effective coping; or, strong negative thoughts can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety, or overwhelm.

Many non-linear thinkers develop patterns of negative thinking and have a strong internalized critical voice. Negative thoughts are typically based on irrational beliefs or cognitive distortions. These beliefs are often things we may have been told by others or by society. See if any of these sound familiar. Most of us do these sometimes.

Examples include:

  • all-or-nothing thinking, which gives rise to perfectionism
    • The belief that it has to be perfect or it has no value, and you failed. This can lead to procrastination, worry, and frustration.
  • selective attention to negative events or outcomes (and overlooking positive outcomes)
    • It’s hard to hold on to the positives when it feels like the negatives are so huge and overwhelming. We overlook the positives as if they weren’t true.
  • catastrophizing, believing that it would be a catastrophe if something does or does not occur
    • Imagining all the horrible things that might or might not happen and projecting them into the future. This can lead to being in a state of flight, fight or freeze – perceiving a constant threat.
  • personalization, seeing oneself as the cause of some negative external event for which one is not, in fact, primarily responsible. This often leads to feelings of guilt, shame, and anxiety.
    • My partner is upset…it must be my fault.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy offers a simple technique that can be very helpful – a Thought Record. This is a way of slowing down and mindfully looking at a situation. Writing down the facts along with our automatic thoughts and feelings gives a reality check that allows us to come up with a more balanced thought or belief. Give it a try.

Here are the steps:

  1. What is the situation? Just the facts. Who, What, When, Where, etc.
  2. Mood: How do you feel? How intense is that feeling from 1-100?
  3. Automatic Thoughts: What beliefs come up? What am I afraid of? What does this mean about me or the world? What images or memories does it evoke? What are the possible irrational beliefs?
  4. What is the evidence that supports this idea?
  5. What is the evidence against this idea?
  6. Is there an alternative view point that is able to take a balanced perspective of all the evidence? Come from a place of self-compassion and a non-judgmental perspective.
    1. You can also explore what is the effect of my believing the automatic thought or belief?
    2. What could be the effect of changing my thinking or how might I feel different?
  7. Check back in on your mood. How intense is it now on a scale of 1-100? Often times we feel better when we shift our thoughts and perspective.

The more you do this, the easier it gets. It can be a simple and powerful tool to shift our thoughts, moods, and behaviors as well as to gain more understanding about what it is that is really upsetting us. Once we understand the real problem, we can deal with it.

Bowbay Feng, LMFT
510-629-0239
bowbayfeng@gmail.com
www.bowbayfeng.com

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The Magic of “What if…”

Are you satisfied with the results of your actions (or lack of actions)?

Consider this cycle:

  1. You hold certain beliefs, such as “I’m not a person who…” or “I can’t use a calendar.”
  2. When you think about doing one of those things, you feel apathy or even defiance.
  3. The unpleasant or negative feelings lead to avoiding actions that would have furthered you towards a goal.
  4. You don’t like the results you do get and possibly feel a bit of self-recrimination.

The results become evidence and the cycle continues.

Beliefs lead to thoughts which bring about feelings that influence behaviors and consequently results.

When you repeatedly get results that do not support your goals or your happiness it’s time to stop and consider what could be in the way. What if you interrupt the “I’ll do that later…” or “It’s too hard…” or any other sad excuse? What if you notice when you have a thought that is likely to interfere with an intended action? What if you reflect on how you’ll feel later if you avoid following through with your intention? What if you disregard the excuses and take the intended action anyway?

What if you give yourself the chance to do more of what you say you want for yourself and be more of who you say you want to be?

If you want different results, then you need different actions. Different actions require different feelings, and different feelings need different beliefs. So, when you hear yourself thinking “I’m not …” STOP.

You are, you can, and you will.

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