The big question here is, “How do you help someone become more Emotionally Intelligent?”
We admit that this is not an easy proposition, but it can be done. We hope that when we are working with new clients, we are working with individuals that both know they have some work to do in order to change the dynamic of the relationship. It takes two. Both partners need to be willing to find out what is not working. Both need to be willing to look inside themselves to see what behaviors each of them is displaying that has resulted in their present difficulties.
With the ADHD partner, if they are not displaying empathy towards their partner, it is important that they recognize this as a factor in the present state of their relationship. And, they need to be willing to go beyond their intellectual responses to a deeper level of feeling.
How to create change
Noticeable change requires the ADHD partner learning to speak about what they feel inside at any given moment . For the ADHD partner to become more adept at appreciating their partner’s feelings, they must first be in touch with their own. It is important they recognize that feelings are emotions like: sad, mad, glad, distressed, disappointed, fearful, frustrated and resentful, to name a few.
Helping them get in touch with what is going on inside at any given moment is key to developing their emotional intelligence. And when they are able to accomplish this, it is not such a big stretch for the ADHD partner to relate what they are experiencing to what their Non-ADHD partner feels in relation to situations in their mutual lives.
In communication exercises, we ask the couple to identify what they believe their partner is feeling, and to check back with their Non-ADHD partner to see if they are identifying the feeling correctly. If not, they get feedback right away about what a more accurate feeling word would be to describe what is going on inside their partner.
It is some of these tools and exercises that help the ADHD partner zero in on the emotional and feeling levels. These experiences support the ADHD partner in developing a greater understanding of what it can feel like to be in the shoes of their Non-ADHD partner. This can change a very meaningful dynamic in the relationship.
It’s important to be aware that this kind of adjustment can take some time. We don’t have any quick fixes. They are unlearning years, and maybe even decades, of responding from a mental level. We know that this switch to a feeling level can bring about significant and deep changes. Both partners need to be willing to hang in there to ensure a successful process. When they are willing to do so, a significant shift in how they interact is very possible.