Where you can find Pam:
[Jon Dabach] 00:00
Today on the relationship Revival Show, I’m joined by Pam shaver. Pam is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, musician and host of Why not both podcast. She likes crafting surreal Sonic landscapes with her synthesizers, reading books in every corner of her home and drinking cold brew with reckless abandon, while creating a better world for her fellow neurodivergent. Humans.
[Jon Dabach] 00:23
You’re listening to the relationship revival podcast with Jon Dabach, also known as Mr. Spirituality. That’s me. I’m your host giving you insights and guidance from over 10 years in the field of this amazing journey we call romance on this show, I go over everything you need to know about how to get into a relationship, how to get the most out of a relationship, and sometimes even how to gracefully end a relationship without pulling your hair out and going crazy. And occasionally, I’m even joined by new and old friends who are also relationship experts to bring you guidance and wisdom with new perspectives. Thanks for stopping by.
[Pam Shaffer] 01:00
[Jon Dabach] 01:01
Thanks for being here. Appreciate it. So neurodivergent let’s back it up. I’m sure your core audience is like, oh, yeah, I’m neurodivergent neuro spicy. And they’re like that this is great. I’m into it. I can tell you 99% of people who listen to this is like, what the heck is that? So let’s define the terms so that we know exactly what kind of stage we’re standing on here.
[Pam Shaffer] 01:26
Yes, um, neuro divergence is a large umbrella. So in the immortal words of Rihanna, you can stand under my umbrella, Ella, um, it exactly. It covers like some of the broader ones are like ADHD, autism spectrum, sensory processing, what are now known as like learning differences or processing differences, also movement, things like dyspraxia, things like that. So it’s essentially the variations on the ways that our brain takes in sensory information.
[Pam Shaffer] 02:08
And also, in some ways, different, just variations on we all have the same brain structures, but it’s like how those work together, what’s being used during certain things, how things move through the mind, what’s going on with our neurotransmitters. And so I mean, there’s vast neurodiversity, I would say in the human population, but right now, we’re very concerned with a certain neuro type, which people describe now as neurotypical because it’s more of the default. Yeah. But that’s the one that our society is geared around currently.
[Jon Dabach] 02:35
Sure, sure. And so your brain works differently is like the short answer, though, it processes things in a different way. That’s kind of the kind of catch all term of being neurodiverse. And obviously, there are subsets of everything like ADHD, or dyslexia or dyspraxia, or all these different things. So
[Pam Shaffer] 02:56
Yes, and the difference is relative to what we consider the norm much like, like how we only discern different colors by comparing them to each other. It’s like, they’re not absolute rice.
[Jon Dabach] 03:08
Right. And the funny thing is, is my wife tells me, and I had someone who was an ADHD expert on the show, they told me, they both have told me I probably have ADHD. And I was like, in shock, because I was like, No, I’m, you know, I was I’m kind of hyper focused. And they said, well, that’s a symptom.
[Jon Dabach] 03:26
And I was like, why? So it like was cute. My wife was like, like, when we’re sitting at a table. I will fidget with things. I’ll fold my napkin and not even do it absent mindedly and like, move my glass and like it’s it never stops. And she said, yeah, and the funny thing is, most people don’t notice it.
[Jon Dabach] 03:44
But after being married for over 10 years, she’s like, No, you do this every time we sit down. So, so it’s funny. And so after talking to the ADHD expert, I found out that I’m just a very high functioning like, I’ve learned to use phone alarms. So like, my phone goes off constantly, because otherwise I’ll get lost in nine hours of research or something. So interesting. So I guess I’m part of the community and I didn’t even know it.
[Pam Shaffer] 04:09
Yeah, and that that happens a lot. The more we’re learning about it. And also, I feel like it’s a very misnamed phenomenon. Like I, I think of it more as either, like inconsistent attention. Where it’s not a deficit, it’s just that it seems like, in a way, like neurotypical people have what I would describe as like B plus attention to everything, where it’s not like necessarily like super attentive, but it’s not an attentive, it’s just kind of like the tepid of attention.
[Pam Shaffer] 04:38
Where’s for me, it’s either I like attend to it like 1,010% or I really struggle with even holding it in my mind where it’s like, it’s more kind of like min max. And so it’s not that I’m inattentive. It’s just that I sometimes have difficulty it’s like directing a powerful laser. Yeah.
[Jon Dabach] 04:57
Yeah. And that’s just one possible way of probably dozens and dozens of being neurodiverse.
[Pam Shaffer] 05:04
Yes, yes. And what you said also like the the high functioning in a way those labels are, like, ascribe to either you figure it out systems that work well enough that you can kind of like glide through, like with a system, or like you’ve developed kind of like masking or their supports that you weren’t sure were, unless you really investigate. We’re scaffolding up for Yeah. And so it’s interesting when you kind of do like a zoom out through that lens where you’re like, wait a second, like, have I? Did I? Oh, I’ve always been this way.
[Jon Dabach] 05:36
Yeah, totally, totally. And I mean, I think it’s, it’s interesting to think of it in the context of a being an adult versus being a kid. And now, when you look back in retrospect with that information, like I remember, something happened in third grade or fourth grade were suddenly I just decided to start paying attention in class. And then went from being in like, the lowest tier educational to honors and everything, because I was like, Oh, I just have to pay attention. And it was like, and now I’m thinking that was probably because I was just distracted. And I do, do you find that a lot of people who are neurodiverse are also drawn to the arts.
[Pam Shaffer] 06:21
I do. And I’ve been so curious about this, because there are some people that ascribe to the thing of Oh, Nora diverse, or neuro divergence is a superpower in a way. And I do feel that way, in some ways. But in other ways, I feel that sometimes that can then dismiss, like some of the, you know, more difficult things that come with it. But I do find that one of like the quote, superpowers is, for whatever reason, because of the way in which we process things.
[Pam Shaffer] 06:51
Oftentimes, we are drawn to the arts or creative endeavors, because we see things outside of the normal, quote, and normal way. And so that’s very, you know, like, it’s almost like web thinking. And if you’re a kind of web Galaxy brain thinking, you’re probably going to stumble upon something that you wouldn’t have if you just went kind of like a to be
[Jon Dabach] 07:11
[Pam Shaffer] 07:12
Yeah, yeah. So well, what do?
[Jon Dabach] 07:15
You find as when you talk about society, kind of build for neurotypical people? What are some of the things that aren’t as accommodating, accommodating for people who do have a brain that works a little bit differently? Like where? How could we build a better world for people who are neurotypical neurodiverse?
[Pam Shaffer] 07:36
Oh, my gosh, I’m like, How much time do you have? Um, I guess the things that that like spring to mind are flexibility with time. Because we do perceive time differently, I’ve noticed either one of my friends calls it the time pi. Either the time pi weighs heavily upon us, we know how the time pi is divided. And we’re so cognizant of that that can be almost stressful. Whereas others of us don’t even know how to bake a time pie.
[Pam Shaffer] 08:06
And wouldn’t know a time pie if it hit us in the face. And so time for me personally, is very much predicated on effort activity setting, like my sense of time is not a constant. And so people in my life who are understanding of that I deeply appreciate because sometimes, like time is seen as a marker of like respect, like, if you’re late to something, it’s like that you aren’t respecting the person.
[Pam Shaffer] 08:34
And that, for me, has caused so much shame because oftentimes, if I’m running late, it is because I have not thought to do things like for instance, for this interview, troubleshoot my audio when my power turned on and off due to a rainstorm. I did not book time for that, because it didn’t occur to me because it didn’t fit in my schema of what the activity was.
[Pam Shaffer] 08:54
And so and even thinking of it, now, I might write that like on my whiteboard later, like when I am now planning for podcasts, testing’s, even if it’s not raining, test things 10 minutes earlier, because that doesn’t occur to me. And so that’s like something that could really help and neurotypical society is understanding that like, if someone is demonstrating difficulty with time or time management, that it might not be like a judgment on you, it might actually have, you know, 99% of the time, nothing to do with you.
[Pam Shaffer] 09:25
It may in fact, have something to do with how that person operates. Yeah. And either offering support with that, or offering scaffolding. Like for instance, I might say to my partner when he gets some Hey, remind me next time I do a pod. I need to troubleshoot 10 minutes before even though we were troubleshooting last night. Sure. Um, so there’s like accommodations like that.
[Pam Shaffer] 09:46
And the next thing that sprang to mind was like sensory stuff. Like, I have difficulty and I didn’t realize that other people go to the grocery store and like, aren’t completely just like nerfed on energy for the rest of the day.
[Jon Dabach] 10:00
I mean, the grocery store, and then you’re just done. That’s it. I am
[Pam Shaffer] 10:04
Done. Yeah. And rings, like even putting the groceries away. I’m like, oh, there’s so many decisions of where oh my god, like, because sincerely being in there is overwhelming. For me, it’s incredibly bright. There’s a lot of decisions I have to make. If I’m going to get peanut butter, I have to look at like 17 jars of peanut butter and decide which is the correct peanut butter.
[Pam Shaffer] 10:25
Or I have to find the one that I’ve already determined is my correct peanut butter. There’s like music going on. There’s social interactions that I have to do. Like, there’s all these different things. And there’s a transition of going from like, inside my home to my car to the shop, getting the stuff back in the car, then transitioning the stuff from the car to my home. Like there’s a lot of multistep things.
[Pam Shaffer] 10:45
And so since orally, I have a difficult time with that. Whereas for instance, if I go to like, like a small boutique or coffee shop or like little bodega, I have a way easier time since orally. So thinking about it that way of how can we make things since orally, better for people to be able to navigate the world because like, I didn’t understand that about myself until everything kind of shut down. And I started ordering groceries and was like, what is this divine sorcery?
[Jon Dabach] 11:15
Yeah. I mean, so it’s an interesting, it’s an interesting question. And I love having the dialogue I can’t think of because obviously commerce is going to dictate that you need to be able to move a mass of people in certain industries where there are going to be sensory issues. So what’s he’s the solution is always the question. I don’t I can’t think of one right off the bat. Have you thought about ways you could approach this other than just asking the question of like, let’s have a discussion about it.
[Pam Shaffer] 11:48
I mean, I feel like even just having the discussion is what would be get solutions, because I think even talking about it, as opposed to like being ashamed of it, or dismissing it as something that doesn’t exist. Because for so long, it was seen as like you had said that label high function Yeah.
[Pam Shaffer] 12:08
That if you could function in society in a certain way that it wasn’t a problem. But you’re also then discounting potentially the distress that you’re causing people, or the energy that you’re taking away from them that could be dedicated towards other endeavors. And so, it’s not a conscious thing. It’s not like people are like out to get us. I don’t think that hopefully,
[Jon Dabach] 12:32
Nobody had wheelchair ramps, they just didn’t think about it, you know, it’s like, okay.
[Pam Shaffer] 12:39
Yes, it’s yes, it’s exactly that and like, even just being open to being like, Okay, well, what if there’s like, a few hours that are like, either night owl, or neurodiversity? Friendly, we’re like, the lights are a little dimmer. We’re not playing the background music at all. It’s interesting.
[Jon Dabach] 12:56
It’s an interesting topic. And that’s something that’s so low impact on a business, that it’s fair to ask that as a trial or as a pilot program. You know what I mean? Like, if you would say, well, why you don’t build a whole room where the lights were, it’s like, that’s a huge expense. But all you’re asking is, well, let’s see, if you just stop the background music, and then the lights a little bit is does that help people?
[Jon Dabach] 13:22
And if it if it does, and it actually helps them drive more business than more businesses would adopt it. And you’d have this kind of up upward trend. So I liked that. I liked that. The ask that the first ask is, let’s try something small that costs them nothing, you know, and let’s see if that’s great. I love that. Because you know, as soon as you hear about the problem, it’s like, okay, well, the business owner in me is always like, well, and how much is the solution?
[Jon Dabach] 13:51
How expensive is you’re making? It’s so palatable, you know, and the thing is, I’ve had clients in my private practice where they are, and I don’t even use labels like this, but they’re sensitive to light. So I dim the lights, it’s like, well, who cares? What do I give a crap, I could still see my pad of paper. That’s all I need, you know. So
[Pam Shaffer] 14:10
That’s, yeah, that’s the thing with accommodations is like, is interpersonally. Also, you just express something that’s so lovely that you recognized about your clients. It’s something that made some of them feel more comfortable and more at ease, and were able to engage was Dimming the lights and you’re like, Okay, this is like zero cost to me. Why wouldn’t I tune into something that another person needs to feel more comfortable?
[Jon Dabach] 14:29
Sure, or taking their shoes off or walking around? Sometimes instead of sitting on the couch? It’s like, okay, as long as it’s not a distraction for them to kind of not face their real issues, then I think it’s healthy.
[Pam Shaffer] 14:43
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Like, I wish that I mean, now we’re discovering more things. I wish that a lot of this had been known when I was younger, like I would get in trouble for. The way that I would focus in class sometimes is by braiding, and I’m braiding my hair by playing with the things in my pencil box. Like I’d take everything out, put it back in If I would do it all, like I would do something that would keep me occupied in some way, especially like, sensory wise. And that actually helped me focus. But it was seen as that I was being distracted when in fact, the thing that appeared to be a distraction was the thing that was keeping me engaged. Yeah,
[Jon Dabach] 15:17
Absolutely. There’s so there’s this one brilliant teacher, I can’t remember his name. I’m so I feel so bad. But he and I have a lot of ties into the Jewish role that was almost orthodox rabbi, and he has a yeshiva in New York, that he that and I think he moved to Israel. But you know, these kids in yeshiva, because of the religious dogma, the way it’s structured and everything, they have these incredibly long days.
[Jon Dabach] 15:42
So they started like seven in the morning. They don’t end till like 9pm at night, like it’s, there’s breaks and stuff, and they pray it, but like, it’s a lot. And some of these kids do have these neuro kind of challenges. And I asked them, I said, do you know what do you do for someone who has a 14 hour essentially school day? What do you do if they if they have egos? Oh, you mean like the ADHD kids? I said, Yeah.
[Jon Dabach] 16:02
What do you do? He goes, I let them stand. I said, what do you mean? Yeah, because I let them stand. And so I have one kid that paces in the back. And whenever he has an answer to a question, you raise his hand, he goes, but that solves it. He goes, you let them explore learning in the way that’s comfortable for them.
[Jon Dabach] 16:17
And so he says, I even have some desks. They call them senders in Yiddish. But he’s like, yeah, like, I just let them I just let them stand. What do I care? He’s like, they’re learning art. That is.
[Pam Shaffer] 16:29
That is so funny. That was the attitude. I remember, I was raised reformed. And my, my parents rabbi, like at our temple was very, very understanding of the way that my brain worked is how I’d put it, like, especially I remember in confirmation class, I was like, I am bored. I have learned all of this. I don’t want to do any of this. Why am I here, and I would ditch class to go to the warehouse where I would buy CDs and listen to music.
[Pam Shaffer] 16:59
And so his. His way of keeping me engaged was to be like, you can just play the piano while this is happening. And I actually played the piano at confirmation where it was like, he was like, How do I keep him engaged? And it was like, well, if Pam can do something, that’s one of her favorite things for hyper focus. To hear.
[Jon Dabach] 17:17
Yeah, for sure. And I think you know what the funny thing is, people asked me what the secret to Jewish education is, because we’ve had it as part of our culture for so many years. And I think, you know, it’s the opposite of the tiger mom. So like, Asians are great at it, too. Culturally speaking, obviously, it’s a huge sweeping stereotype. But just on a cultural level, it is valued there.
[Jon Dabach] 17:37
And there’s that tiger mom stereotype of like, strict discipline and stuff. And I think the Jewish approach is totally the opposite. It’s like, look, our goal is we want you to learn this one thing. And so we want to give you the right motivation, right. So if you want to become a doctor, because you want to make a good living, while also helping people, there’s your motivation, and then the flexibility of you learn it the way that works for you. So if you want to play piano, play piano, if you want to stand and pace, stand and pace, as long as you reach the goal, we don’t really care how it’s done. If you need a tutor, we’ll get you a tutor.
[Jon Dabach] 18:11
If you want to learn in a group teaching group, that the important thing is that the information seeps into the brain on a cognitive level and then can get embodied, right, which is why there’s so much experiential learning that is being taken seriously. Now, instead of just lecture, it’s like, okay, because there’s an Old Danish expression is, if you can’t teach it, you don’t know it. So it’s like there’s that attitude of like, you need to be able to speak it just as much as hear it. So
[Pam Shaffer] 18:37
Yes, yes. And that’s especially I was thinking of multimodal learning in regards to my nieces, that Mitzvah is coming up. And she was very proud to be practicing her Torah portion and was chanting it to me over FaceTime. It was really cute. She got to them and she’s like, Aunt Pam, I don’t know that.
[Pam Shaffer] 18:54
There was no nice way to be like, I wouldn’t have known that. I was like, thank you for being honest about. Um, but I thought about how I memorize things. And it’s because I make songs up in my head. And I thought of in a way how easy it was for me to memorize my Torah portion because of that, and that I still sometimes get like prayer stuck in my head. Which is so fascinating to me that there’s something about the cadence of like, of cheering Sure.
[Pam Shaffer] 19:26
And I think about how I was like, Ah, why don’t we apply that to more learning absolute like that right there is like how you said like, oh, what’s an accommodation? It’s like that’s an accommodation that I didn’t even think of until right now that it’s like we’re encouraging multimodal multi-sensory learning.
[Jon Dabach] 19:41
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And I there’s other systems out there, I don’t use them but I was I was a magician for many years growing up in LA went to the Magic Castle and like there are a lot of a lot of mentalists and mind readers and things like that, that that use what’s called a peg system. And so you know, there used to be much more popular form of entertainments a little too slow pace for today’s audience, but where you would, they would shout out 50 random objects, and you would peg them into this preexisting list of 50.
[Jon Dabach] 20:13
And sometimes it was pneumonic based, sometimes it was visual based, but there were, there are ways where you can memorize a list of 50 backwards and forwards and say what number 23 is, but it’s training the mind to work in a way that works for the mind, you know, as opposed to like working against it by just rote and repeating and repeating and repeating. You know, it’s really it’s fascinating what the brain is capable of, if you work with the grain as opposed to against the grain.
[Pam Shaffer] 20:39
Yes, that that I think hits it exactly where it’s like working with instead of I think I made the joke before we’re there. I can work on before we were recording. I can work, can you sometimes I think my brain moves so much faster than my mouth is able to despite how fast my mouth yeah.
[Jon Dabach] 21:07
I find that when I’m reading intros, were like, I want to read it clear. And I’m on the sixth word, my mouth is catching up. And I’m just like, alright, just stay at that distance. Stay at that pace, and you’ll be fine.
[Pam Shaffer] 21:18
Exactly. Just keep going at that pace. No, I was I was thinking about like working with the mind. Like, that’s when you’d said accommodations. That’s exactly what I mean, where it’s just like, instead of like the joke I had made earlier about, like cosplaying as a neurotypical instead of like, pretending that that is how my brain works. It’s like, by actually accepting how my brain works and exploring with like, gentle curiosity, how does this work? And then rolling with that like that has a much higher quote, success rate really interesting?
[Jon Dabach] 21:49
Well, let’s so let’s talk about being neurodiverse. In the context of romantic relationship, and how that might help things, and how it might also challenge be, you know, presents some challenges, because you have a lot of in your own private practice, you’ve dealt with people who have neurodivergent tendencies are they are neurodivergent. And so what are some of those huge superpower benefits, as well as some of the challenges that they see in a relationship?
[Pam Shaffer] 22:17
Yes, um, I think one of the biggest benefits is just the curiosity, flexibility and kind of, I put it into words, it’s like, emotional curiosity. It’s not even necessarily empathy. But it’s like, it’s curiosity around yours and other people’s emotions and experience of the world. Because if you’re having an experience of the world that appears to be slightly kind of, like different than other people’s.
[Pam Shaffer] 22:46
Once you pick up on that, whether as a child or an adult, a lot of people become curious about their own experience and about other people’s experience, which fosters sometimes an effect of empathy, but at the very least, like pretty high cognitive empathy and curiosity. So that can be a huge strength in a relationship. Because you might, you might pause and be like, oh, wow, since I experienced things differently, I might need to articulate my experience. That helps my partners.
[Pam Shaffer] 23:12
But if I’m doing that now, I’m really curious about their experience. Like I want to ask them about their experience and respect their experience and accommodate their experience. So in a way that can be that can be a superpower. The way that can be kind of a detriment is if you haven’t done your own exploration, or if you erroneously assume that everyone’s experience of the world is your own.
[Pam Shaffer] 23:33
That tends to go very sideways, neurotypical or otherwise. But or when you think, Okay, well, since I’m neurodivergent, in this specific way, my partner must feel this way too. That can also be an error where especially if people have like different flavors of the brain space that you might assume something about your partner based on how you interact with the world simply because you’re both neurodiverse Yeah. So that can that can get kind of rough.
[Jon Dabach] 24:05
Yeah, I had a great therapist on who and she has a great name Barbosa do sir so I’ll look it up. So that said, I’ve not been 35 but Trish, it’s her name is Patricia but like her last name, because she’s from Chile and stuff. So there’s, it was Patricia Timmerman is and then Barbosa DE SILVA So, but she had this whole framework to talk about intention, action and perception, which if you had if you’re neurodiverse, I think that for me what has allowed me to kind of function with ADHD assuming I haven’t, I’ve never been officially diagnosed, but it feels like an accurate diagnosis.
[Jon Dabach] 24:45
I think what’s really you hit it right on the head, the ability to articulate the way I see the world is really valuable for my relationships. And I made a mistake of assuming like, I hear something that feels so good truthful and at home to me, and I’ll adopt it. And then I have to think well, does everybody experience it that way? Like one one great example was I read, I was talking to someone who wrote a book on ADHD 10 years ago. And he said, well, you know, a lot of people say that multitasking is a myth.
[Jon Dabach] 25:16
And immediately I went, yes, it is. And the truth is, it’s not there are people who are capable of multitasking, I’m just not one of them. So like, it’s very, very, it’s very helpful. When I’m talking to my wife, she’s, well, can you do the dishes and help them with some homework? And I’m like, well, I could do one of those things first, and then I could do the, you know, otherwise, it’s just going to take me three times as long to do both of them because I’m taking these long weird breaks.
[Pam Shaffer] 25:41
Yeah, and you’re going to be like, wait, I did a dish. I talked to a person who am I? What is my life?
[Jon Dabach] 25:48
Yeah, it’s weird. It’s is and everybody’s brain works a little differently. So like, for me, it doesn’t feel overwhelming, it just feels painfully slow. Because it’s like, look, if I focus on something, I’ll just get it done fast. And the truth is, I’m not getting it done fast. It just feels fast. It just feels like lose track of time. Right? So it’s great. But if you look at the clock, it’s the same amount, you know, but I feel better about it.
[Pam Shaffer] 26:15
And that’s what matters. Like, I would rather feel better about doing a task and do it in the same amount of time, then do it in that amount of time and feel kind of poop?
[Jon Dabach] 26:23
Yeah, especially where you don’t want to do it to begin with, you know, it’s like, okay, right. Absolutely. So fast writing so fast.
[Pam Shaffer] 26:32
That’s, and I like what you said about being able to articulate it to your wife, because I don’t know if your wife is neurotypical. Yeah, like, and that like, I find there’s an I don’t know, if you’ve seen this in your practice, I find a lot of pairings of either different flavors of neurodiverse, or a neurodiverse person and a neurotypical person, because in a lot of ways, we seek out people that complement our strengths, but also challenges for sure ways. And so I very rarely see two people together who have necessarily like the same strengths in the same challenge. Yeah,
[Jon Dabach] 27:04
I mean, especially I work exclusively with couples or people in relationships. That’s the only thing I do. And I’ve, excuse me, one of the most interesting things when I bring up love languages to people is like, Well, why don’t we have the same one? And I’m like, it almost never happens that you marry the same person. Why would you write and then it’s because they just stare at each other all day and give each other compliments and nothing would ever get done. That’s not the way humans are.
[Jon Dabach] 27:29
If you’re both physical touch, you’ll just be sitting in a room touching each other for 20 years. Yeah, it’s like, it’ll be a pet fast. Listen, not that that’s not fun on a Sunday. But you know, there’s so yeah, and it’s but its fascinating people. And it’s true, you attract those voids that you crave to have in your own life. And the other person, guess what having those strengths have the voids that you fill. And that’s what makes it such a yin yang kind of harmonious relationship.
[Pam Shaffer] 28:01
Yes, and that it can be one of the challenges. And I don’t know if you’ve seen this, but one of the ones that I see sometimes particularly with either different flavors of neurodiverse, or neurodiverse, and neurotypical is that in some ways, it challenges our ideas of what like a quote, adult functions like.
[Pam Shaffer] 28:20
And sometimes, and this is a common pitfall, not always a pitfall. But sometimes, the neurotypical partner will take on more of like the executive functioning within the partnership and some of the unseen labor, but then be resentful of it. Because they assume that their neurodiverse partner is either not doing it on purpose, or like has like weaponized incompetence, or things like that.
[Pam Shaffer] 28:44
And so once you understand more about the boundaries, lay and also how to maybe help the neurodiverse person to take on more of this in a way that works for them and works for the couple. And also accepting that your neurodiverse partner may not do things in the way that you write. That usually is what helps that but that can be a very painful process.
[Pam Shaffer] 29:05
Because oftentimes, I don’t know if you’ve seen this, but sometimes I’ll have people come in and the neurotypical partner, or the person with a different flavor of brain spice is like, why is my partner not acting like a grown up? And it’s like, well, what’s your definition of grown up? And how are you defining how people are getting things done? And so I do see that disparity a lot.
[Jon Dabach] 29:25
I see something similar. So like in heteronormative couples, which is most of my practice, for whatever reason, I there’s a there’s a lot of executive decisions and functioning in the relationship that the wife takes on just simple decisions and stuff. And yet they want their husband to be a leader.
[Jon Dabach] 29:45
And so that switch to that to the husband suddenly stepping in and making those adult decisions of things that are simple, like where do you want to go to dinner?
[Jon Dabach] 29:52
You end up with this endless cycle of I mean, you know, wherever you want to go, which if I ever made a restaurant, I think I would call it you choose because then everybody If you just go to that restaurant, so you get this and it’s like, look, just make the decision, you know, but it’s hard for people to switch that in their brain, especially if they have a taxing job mentally, and they come home and they just want to check out, you know, and it’s like, yes, they want to be the kid, they want to be the greedy, selfish, like mindless thing when they come home, you know, in their head, but they can’t, because they are married, or they’re in a relationship where they need to kind of assert themselves a little bit.
[Jon Dabach] 30:30
If for no other reason, then your partner also needs a break, you know, to also be that kid who’s just like you decide, I just want to be swept away.
[Pam Shaffer] 30:40
Yes. And I encourage people, because I do see, we have a few heteronormative pairings in our practice, but for the most part, it is not within that model. And so it’s people who are investigating, operating outside that model. And even those who do come in that are maybe outwardly passing as heteronormative are usually questioning like, is this a great model for relationships?
[Jon Dabach] 31:00
No, and that’s why that’s why I love having people on the show, because then I have someone to refer to and vice versa, because it’s like, it’s true. I feel like finding the right counselor is it’s like dating, you know, you have to you really have to find the right fit.
[Pam Shaffer] 31:16
Yes, yes. Like, especially finding like I mean, at least in my own in my own life, finding a counselor that I felt comfortable with, because in some ways, I don’t know if you have this as a therapist, but sometimes, like, of course, therapists need therapists are people. But when I would be consulting, it felt sometimes very Spider Man versus spider.
[Jon Dabach] 31:38
And you and you have therapists working under you that you supervise. So like even that is another relationship where you have to kind of make sure that you’re the right fit to.
[Pam Shaffer] 31:48
Yes, like I have found that I am so grateful that people that I supervised came to me like, it’s people that either were recommended to me or that came through kind of like my network of humans. And so hands down, everyone I’ve supervised has been a wonderful interpersonal fit.
[Pam Shaffer] 32:08
And it’s much the same way as like, when a client comes to the practice. It’s like, the way that I put out any of like, our web copy any of anything, is that I want to speak to the people who this practice will help. If this practice is not for you, that is also okay for sure. Like there are people I’m sure that like read our website and are like, Oh, this is absolutely not my jammy jam.
[Pam Shaffer] 32:30
And I’m like that is okay that this is not your jammy jam, please go find your flavor of jammy jam. I want people that are like, Oh, this, this is what I feel like is really resonating, this is going to actually help me. Because what you’re talking about in like those heteronormative pairings especially is being able to put down the mental load, but being able to trust that your partner can pick up the mental load, which it’s like a bit of a trustful and if your partner, whatever whoever they may be, either isn’t used to that, or like might have stories about that in the head of what that mental load might be.
[Pam Shaffer] 33:03
They might have been practicing, like I said, like either weaponized incompetence or learned helplessness where the first few times might not go so hot. And so you need to keep trying, you need to keep giving people chances and you need to be flexible with what your definition of quote successes, goes back
[Jon Dabach] 33:19
to being able to articulate things, which is, you know, that 90% of what we do is learning how to actually verbalize what the hell’s going on between your ears. So
[Pam Shaffer] 33:29
yes, yes, and giving, giving your partner that grace to sort through that, especially like, with different parts of neuro divergence, we may struggle with interoception. So we might, it might take a hot minute to check in with our bodies and be able to articulate that in our words, like I find at least like my primary partner is a sis man. And I have very strong mirror neurons, which means that I have strong aspects of empathy. I’m not a mind reader, but I’m pretty good at picking up on affective cues.
[Pam Shaffer] 34:04
I don’t know why he’s feeling a certain way, what his story is about it. But also sometimes check in like, Hey, I’m getting a vibe from you have a feeling in your body. And usually, I’ll pick up on it a few minutes before he will. But I’m not going to ascribe an emotion to him. I’m not going to ascribe a story to it. I’m not going to interject myself. But that’s taken work not to do that. But it’s like what I’ll ask is just like, I’m getting a vibe. Are you having any feelings in your body?
[Pam Shaffer] 34:30
And so helping a neurodiverse partner with that can be invaluable? Because then they might be able to say like, usually its a few minutes later, he’s like, Oh, my stomach hurts. I was worried about blah, blah, blah. I’m overwhelmed. You know, like he’ll find the words. But sometimes he needs the prompting to check it. Yeah. And so and I don’t mind doing that labor because then the labor he does for me is like, Hey, bud, any food? When was last time you put food in your mouth? And I’m like, Oh my God, you’re right. I love you.
[Jon Dabach] 35:03
I’m convinced that old women have candy in their purses to shut up their husbands because they know hey, you need to eat.
[Pam Shaffer] 35:14
Like that’s my dad is the mildest mannered human being except for when he’s hungry. And then I’m like, oh my god, its like,
[Jon Dabach] 35:22
Angry kind of kicks them.
[Pam Shaffer] 35:25
Oh my God, because yeah, I get my friends call it it’s not hangry it’s like kung fu. Like, it’s like, totally baffled by the world. Yeah. And they’re just like, are you okay? And I’m like,
[Jon Dabach] 35:36
Yeah, it’s funny. Like, there’s a point in the day where if I haven’t eaten for because I’ll often skip breakfast. And then if it’s a busy day, I’ll skip lunch. It gets to like eight or nine o’clock I do get foggy, but at a certain point, I have a weird thing that happens where I feel almost noble, like, maybe I don’t have to eat for three days. Maybe I could go.
[Jon Dabach] 35:55
Let me put a clause in it’s so stupid. It’s like, just have a banana. Like, what’s wrong with you? But it’s almost like no, I’m better than this. I don’t need to eat.
[Pam Shaffer] 36:10
I said that last name literally at dinner. I was eating food. And I just like, my boyfriend knows. Just like, I’m so mad that eating food makes me feel such an easy life hack. And I’m annoyed that it works.
[Jon Dabach] 36:27
For sure. For sure. I’ve actually said that as I’m eating like a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. I’m like, at least someone loves me in
[Jon Dabach] 36:41
This has been so much fun. Thank you for coming on the show. Thank you for talking about all the neurons. Such a blast. Yes, thank you. So people want to work more with you and discover you should they go to Galaxy brains in Galaxy brains? unite.com? Or is there somewhere else that they can kind of explore more Pam Shaffer,
[Pam Shaffer] 37:02
Tiny plotting hands. Um, so let me see if I can actually list the things correctly. It’ll be a challenge.
[Jon Dabach] 37:10
I have some notes from things that I took so that I know you have the best self psych.com
[Pam Shaffer] 37:16
Yes, that is for counseling in California, as well as coaching. So if you’re a resident of California, we can therapies you if you do not live in California, we can coach you, but we cannot therapy. So but that is that would be where people would go if they would like to access therapy services, particularly around neurodiversity, ethical non monogamy, kink, all of that. That is, that is as I put it, our jammy jam,
[Jon Dabach] 37:48
Let me let me ask you, because there are people who are like, well, what’s the difference? And since you offer both coaching and therapy, in your practice, how do you delineate one from the other.
[Pam Shaffer] 37:57
Um, so therapy is more in a way client led and more open ended and more based around like the therapeutic relationship between the client and the therapist. So we’re more relationally based in that way, and it’s generally a longer term treatment, and delves into things like, what are the origins of this?
[Pam Shaffer] 38:18
How do we repattern this, like, it deals with more of I would say, like the psychosocial, emotional load of things. Whereas coaching is usually more solution focused and is more directive and kinder of coach led, where we will have coaching resources that we can suggest to you.
[Pam Shaffer] 38:38
But for instance, the difference might be, say you present and you’re like, gosh, I’m having such difficulty with time management. In therapy, what that might look like, is yes, there will be tools for time management, we can try out, but what are your stories about time management? What are some of the emotions around time management? What are some of the ways this impacts your interpersonal relationships?
[Pam Shaffer] 38:58
How do you communicate about it with other people, what’s you know, kind of what’s going on deeper in there, whereas coaching might be, here’s some tools for that.
[Pam Shaffer] 39:06
Here are some solution focused ways to manage your time, let’s troubleshoot some of these see which work see which don’t and have some in your back pocket, because with ADHD, eventually, your tools are not going to work anymore, for reasons completely unknown to us, and we need a few in our backup. So
[Jon Dabach] 39:21
That’s great. Fantastic, fantastic. And then you also have a couple of podcasts, right?
[Pam Shaffer] 39:28
I do I do. So why not both is a podcast that I do on people who have multiple passions and how that informs their sense of identity. I have focused primarily on people who are in creative fields because I’m in a creative field. Like I’m a musician and a therapist, I was like, what if I talk to other people who do the Ryan’s and so that kind of spiraled in the best way possible? So we are currently recording our next season, but people can definitely binge listen to there’s like 130 apps so loads, were up on Patreon.
[Pam Shaffer] 40:02
So if you like what we’re doing, toss us money for coffee. So there’s that. And then you had mentioned Galaxy brains unite, which is the group that I run for basically social support and resources for people who are neurodiverse. Primarily, it started as an ADHD group. But now we have partnered with neuro queer up in the Bay Area.
[Pam Shaffer] 40:23
And we are making tiny planning hands of how we might support the broader community. So that is where you would go if you’re like, gosh, if only there was a weekly group, where I could talk to other people with the brain space.
[Pam Shaffer] 40:39
And yeah, if you want to listen to like, how do I describe it? Imagine if Enya didn’t live in a castle, but in fact, lived in Hollywood, and had a lot of synthesizers. That’s my music.
[Jon Dabach] 40:58
I’m sure they could find you on Spotify, right?
[Pam Shaffer] 41:01
Yes, and my music name is Nixie so that’s NY X
[Jon Dabach] 41:05
Beautiful. If you’re interested in learning how to get the absolute most out of your romantic relationships, then you’re in luck because I have put together a free workshop or masterclass if you will, about three secrets that people in happy relationships have discovered. You can view the workshop and mister spirituality.com/three secrets again, it’s completely free. Just go there and watch it. It’ll help you on your journey give you some wisdom.
[Jon Dabach] 41:33
Some things to think about. The website again is Mr. spirituality.com/three secrets. That’s Mr. spirituality.com/the Number three, the word secrets. It’s all yours. Enjoy.