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with Natalia van Rikxoort, MSW, ACC

Guest Blog Post: Shifting From Shame and Blame to Fame

A big thank you to coach Sue Salontay, BBA, AACC for this piece.

What would happen if we were able to shift the shame and blame we feel daily as an ADHD individual in a neurotypical world and shift that energy to hyperfocusing on our passion?

When I coach my clients, I often name drop the rich and famous and revered individuals who did just that. Stephen Hawking, John Lennon, Walt Disney, and many of these countries’ presidents have either self identified or been identified through their detailed biographies. We can agree that they certainly achieved fame by working their strengths. 

While ADHD was identified as a specific condition hundreds of years ago, the past 30+ years of research by professionals such as psychiatrist Edward Hallowell and psychologist Russell Barkley has provided a much richer description of the ADHD individual. 

Many people have suggested that the term Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder be renamed in order to emphasize the important role of interest. Interest is what stimulates the release of dopamine, the essential chemical messenger that helps get your prefrontal cortex going. This is the part of the brain where challenges of ADHD are consistently identified. It is the part of your brain that is responsible for your ability to pay attention, manage your resistance to acting on impulses and control excess energy and activity both physically and cognitively. An absence of stimulation in this part of the brain – again, stimulation created by interest- can impair the prefrontal cortex’s ability to properly function. 

So often our clients and their families can’t rationalize why they are so good as some things and so completely unable to function is other areas of their lives. The only explanations they have at the ready are character flaws and other popular recriminations. Shame and blame. Enough to go around and easy to apply. But how tragically these two can cause havoc is our early education, our relationships with family and others close to us and eventually our ability to earn a living. 

The average ADHD adult working outside of the home comes into coaching with a long history of job turnovers and an equally long list of negative labels that they have self identified with.

The first order of business, after determining their grasp of ADHD, is to help the client learn what we call the “who” as opposed to the “what”. The “who” is that person’s passions and values. With some thoughtful introspection, they realize how using their passions and values led to their most “shining” moments. Again, what they saw as their finest hours. 

We ADDers must self identify our passions and values so that interest will be present in a constant abundance and that necessary release of dopamine to our prefrontal cortex will flow so that our executive functions will be firing on all pistons. Can fame be in our grasp? My keen interest is helping ADHD clients allowed me to first and final draft this blog. Being published in PsychCentral would certainly ring my chimes! 

About the author: Sue Salontay, BBA, AACC is a life coach specializing in the ADHD client. Her certification was earned through 200+ hours of training through ADDCA (Attention Deficit Disorder Coaching Academy). Her practice, Ohio ADHD Coaching LLC, provides remote coaching services to adults, students, and parents of ADHD children by phone or Skype.



Image: Pexels/Kat Jayne

Guest Blog Post: Shifting From Shame and Blame to Fame

Natalia van Rikxoort, MSW, ACC

Natalia van Rikxoort, MSW, ACC is a social worker, ADHD consultant, and certified life coach. Her practice, Lotus Life Coaching Services, provides coaching services for adults, youth, and families impacted by ADD/ADHD and executive function challenges.

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APA Reference
van Rikxoort, N. (2020). Guest Blog Post: Shifting From Shame and Blame to Fame. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 3, 2020, from


Last updated: 26 Feb 2020
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