It doesn’t seem like it should be this hard to get on top of things, does it?
If you know what needs to be done, you should be able to just do it, right?
Maybe its the approach you’re taking.
I’m going to shoot myself in the foot when I say this, but you don’t need coaching to help you manage the challenges of ADHD. To say that in writing is a bit bonkers, since I am an ADHD coach. Why would I tell you that the thing I have to offer is something you don’t actually need? Hint: it’s not because I lack sales skills (though actually, I do) or because I am a half-wit (though actually, I hope I’m not!)
In truth, no one needs coaching. No one needs counseling either. There’s no rule of physics, philosophy or otherwise, that states things have to be any different than they are right now.
But when you want to feel better, leave a problem behind you, or move past a limitation – you may choose to get help. Through coaching or counseling or whatever means available. You don’t need to overcome challenges. You want to.
And get this: a lot of the help available, should you choose to seek it out, is free – or close to it. ADHD resources – such as books, websites, online videos and courses – are bountiful and relatively inexpensive. Most of them are but a click away, at any time, from anywhere in the world. Maybe not from my house on a Sunday evening, when the Internet connection collapses from winter traffic. But from anywhere else, anytime else.
But here’s the catch:
Just reading the book or watching the video is not the same as doing the work.
A lot of people use self-help materials. It’s a huge industry. No doubt, some of them are better than others (this blog is one of the better ones, just ask my mom). In any case, it doesn’t really matter. You have all the answers you need within yourself. Whatever resource you consult is merely a way of tapping into those answers.
That’s why I want to share with you the “secrets” of coaching. There’s no real mystery to it. You are the expert on you. And you can coach yourself through ADHD if you know how to approach it.
Here’s How to Coach Yourself
1. Find out everything you can about it
Books, videos… whatever! A good ADHD coach knows a lot about ADHD, and not just about the typical symptoms listed in a wiki. They know that ADDers can be accident prone but also make great athletes, can be unfocused at work but awesome in emergencies, and can look like they’re procrastinating when really they’re perfectionisting (my word, but you can use it).
ADD is full of paradoxes. Learn about those paradoxes so you can understand why some so-called easy things are hard while other, objectively harder things – are easy.
2. Become more aware of YOUR ADD
It’s been said that there are around 18 thousand variations of the ADHD presentation. That’s why it’s so highly misunderstood.
My ADHD will most definitely look different than yours. Coaches help individuals figure out their own brand of ADHD, from the big challenges to the more subtle nuances of it.
3. Be More Accepting of Yourself
My most important job as a coach is to teach my clients how to let up on themselves a bit. You know how honey catches more flies than vinegar? My clients work harder when they know it’s okay to screw up. I don’t lecture them because I’ve made all the same screw ups in the past too. Except for my client who once burned down his garage. I haven’t done that (yet?)
Don’t lecture yourself. Remember: you are learning. You don’t have to get it perfect. You just have to step back and think:
What did I learn from this and what will I change next time?
4. Stick to one or two strategies at a time
My clients show up to our first meeting wanting to work on time management, clearing up clutter on the second, and by the third – they want to launch a new business selling personalized hour glasses to house keepers.
I’m no different. I’m an avid reader. I’m certain that each book is “the one” that will change my life forever. I’m a book-promiscuous. My Kindle has become a cemetery for forgotten epiphanies.
An ADHD coach’s job is to hold dear what the client quickly forgets. When my clients bring up new goals, I check in with them… “Are you sure you want to tackle thermodynamics right now? Cuz we haven’t really nailed the scientific method yet!”
In the beginning, focus on one or two of your “this-will-be-a-huge-relief-when-it’s-gone” type of challenges. Focus on first-things-first, before you take on the complete redesign of your entire life.
5. Keep doing the work
Richard Branson wasn’t built in a day. He may have been made in 15 minutes or less, but his empire took years to build. And he built it by making records and launching airlines, not watching TV.
My job as a coach is to keep my clients working hard, even when they don’t feel hopeful or motivated. Your job, as your own ADHD coach, is to make that commitment to yourself. Show up. Do the work. Repeat.
6. Celebrate successes
My favorite coachy things to say is: “Whoa pony, slow down! You just did what?!”
Not because my clients like being referred to as equines, but because my clients rarely take a moment to congratulate themselves when they kick butt. That’s where I step in and high-five their butt-kicking.
So when you coach yourself, make sure you high-five yourself. A lot. When no one is looking of course.
There’s no mystery to coaching yourself to overcome ADHD challenges, it just takes the right mindset and a willingness to accept your challenges, learn from them, and take a moment to celebrate when things go well. Now that I’ve talked myself out of a job, I must add that I’ve been incredibly happy to do so. I want everyone to know that the power to change their lives is within themselves, but you have to treat yourself the way a coach would treat you. Do onto yourself as a coach would do onto you – remember that okay?
But if you can’t do that, then maybe we should talk. Drop me a line on the contact page and we’ll see what we can do.
As Christmas approaches, the pressure is on to find orginal gifts for those we love. Every year, it seems to get harder and harder to find just the right thing. The best gifts in live are free, they say. While you can’t wrap these gifts up and put them under the tree, they are infinitely more rewarding than anything Mr. Mastercard could give your loved ones.
Be courageous. Start showing up as yourself, wherever you go. No pretending you have it all together. No confabulating answers to questions you can’t answer. And no holding yourself back to appear less than you are.
If you wear your heart like a cuff-link – then wear it proud.
If you’re absentminded – then wave your flag high, as a wayward wanderer who navigates life through the scenic route.
If you don’t know or understand something – be wise enough to say so.
This kind of realness is electrifying. It puts people at ease around you and inspires them to be their real selves with confidence.
Be thankful for who you are, knowing that your unique perspective and skill-set in life is a beautiful thread in the tapestry of humankind. Be thankful for the other people – flaws and all – knowing that they, too, are perfectly woven into the fabric of life.
Show your gratitude. Its easy to say thank-you when someone does something for you. Its profound when you say thank-you to someone for being who they are.
3. Be transparent
“Say what you mean and mean what you say.” Don’t fake it – it doesn’t fool anyone. And by skirting around an issue, it denies everyone the opportunity of growing together.
Say what you think. By all means, say it politely – but don’t sell yourself out by saving someone’s feelings. By doing so, you’re selling them out too.
Like authenticity, transparency saves people the guesswork of trying to figure out what’s going on with you.
4. Start and stop – talking and listening
If you’re a Chatty Kathy, then take the batteries out and give other people some airtime. Don’t finish their sentences or anticipate your next. Give them the space to express themselves and your patience to wait for it. You never know what you might learn.
Likewise, if you’re a Silent Sam – start talking. Sometimes over-talkers only do so because they feel compelled to fill the dead airspace. Let them off the hook and fill the space yourself. If you think you have nothing to say – remember points one and three. Be yourself. If you’re at a loss for words – say so.
5. Give only what you won’t regret giving
Asking if someone needs help is nice. Asking how you can help is better. Suggesting how you can help is the best.
Sometimes, people are too nice to ask for help. Other times, they aren’t sure you can help. And what they need, may be something you aren’t willing to offer. Help given begrudgingly is worse than not helping at all. Make it easy to be helped, by articulating exactly what you can offer.
6. Sometimes, just do it
Asking – “Do you need any help?” – when you can clearly see they do, is really saying:
“Can you please not be angry at me for doing nothing. I feel bad, but not bad enough to pitch in”.
Sometimes, the best thing to do is to role up your sleeves and get stuck in, without being asked.
7. Ask for what you want
In the spirit of transparency, don’t assume other people read minds. Ask for what you want – in plain and simple terms.
Just because they “should know”, doesn’t mean they do. You have no idea what else is on their mind. Don’t be a martyr. Be assertive. If you don’t ask, you won’t get.
8. Challenge your negative thoughts
Your inner thoughts may be a private membership club, but what’s going on in there will leak out and affect other people – by what you say, how you say it, and what you do.
Don’t accept your thoughts at face value, as if they are factual just because you are thinking them. Challenge them by asking yourself:
“How does this thought serve (or sabotage) me?”
“What am I missing?”
“What’s another way I could look at this situation?”
Being more open-minded allows you to be non-judgmental. It doesn’t mean that you will think positively no matter what, but that you will think more objectively without being offended, defensive, or rehashing old wounds (and damaging relationships in the process).
9. Speak positively
Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can spread like viruses.
Find positive meaning in experiences and vocalize it, even if the negative can’t be ignored. Most people aren’t hardwired for noticing the positive aspects of a difficult situation. Disappointment, hassle and hardship all have voices too loud to ignore. But focusing on the positive aspects of a situation helps people be more resilient to the hardships of life.
You don’t need to be syrupy or sappy. But showing off your own silver lining inadvertently teaches other people to look for their own.
10. Accept, unconditionally, yourself and others
Love is patient, love is kind… you know the rest.
We know how important unconditional acceptance is if we want to have a meaningful relationship with other people. But giving it to ourselves is just as important.
When you accept yourself, you lead the way for other people to become more accepting of themselves too. Growing as person and overcoming challenges is always easier when you start from a stand-point of
“I’m okay, but I’m getting even better”.
Teach unconditional acceptance to other people by offering it to them and yourself first.
No matter what you put under the tree this Christmas, make a point in the coming year to give more of these gifts to the people in your life and notice the difference it makes to everyone. Got anymore ideas? Share them in the comments below….
PS. This post was a mash-up of a post I did a few years ago. I’m going to be taking a break from posting until the New Year, so I can leave myself some space to focus on others things. Mostly, time with my family, freinds, and my first few batches of homemade Bailey’s.
I also intend to use this break to conjure up some fresh ideas for next year’s posts. Unless I have too much Bailey’s. Then who knows what I’ll come up with.
Don’t you hate it when people say things that seem like ordinary comments, but really are little digs to point out your flaws?
I was waiting for a courier delivery the other day. When my package arrived, I was surprised by the driver’s greeting. Rather than the expected “Hello ma’am… sign here”, he decided to criticize my kids.
My kids had posted a note on our front door, proclaiming our house to be haunted, or rather – “hanted”. I opened the door to this brown-suited man, pen in hand, correcting their spelling mistake. I would have shrugged this off, assuming him to be a very conscientious delivery professional with a penchant for spelling. But no. He didn’t leave it at that.
He told my kids, eager as beagles whenever the door rings, about their error. And then made a big deal about the importance of spelling.
Thank you Mr. Delivery Man, for lecturing my wayward children. The neighbors will sleep better knowing our house is not hanted, as my “illiterate” kids would have everyone believe. I shudder to think of the whispers down the avenue.
And by the way – mind your own freaking business! I get to choose what I correct my kids on, not you, a complete stranger!
Maybe he was having a dig at me, the idiot who let the note stand as it was.
Little digs can never hurt me…
What really bugged me was that this statement was a little dig – having your mistakes pointed out for no other purpose than to make a spectacle of them. It makes the other people feel big.
But why should little digs even bug me?
Before I knew about ADHD, I thought I was inept. I had experienced a reasonable amount of success in my professional and personal life, but I just couldn’t get it together on the day-to-day stuff like being organized, on time, etc. It was those things that I counted as measurements of my success, or lack-thereof. I cared more about those trivial things than I did about the fact that I had a happy relationship, great friends, and I job I loved and was good at!
So, that’s why I took offense with little digs. I didn’t take them at face value, I took them as an assault on my character. And most of the time, I blew them way out of proportion.
It wasn’t until I had done A LOT of work on self-acceptance that I was able to thicken my skin to criticism – the real and the perceived kind. When I learned to embrace my own values, I cared less about what other people thought.
Sometimes, criticism can be constructive. But criticism based on personal opinions and values, not on general concern for another’s welfare…. that’s called judgement.
I have no room for judgment in the list of things that keep me up at night.
My hanted house is the only thing that stops me from sleeping these days.
When was the last time you congratulated yourself for screwing up?
No, I’m not kidding.
We’re conditioned to believe that mistakes are bad things, and sometimes they are. Screw ups – while devastating at times – can also create fresh starts towards new and better things.
Two weeks ago, I tried to tweak this website. A function wasn’t working properly, so I went into the abyss of WordPress to attempt a fix. It didn’t fix. Instead, it booted me out and gave me an error message that could be loosely translated:
“You royal idiot. Don’t play with things you don’t understand. You are officially banned!!!”
I was locked out. The Art of ADD initiated a coup on me.
Eventually, I got help and fixed it. Since I’d been thinking about a revamp for awhile, I used the rebuild time to make The Art of ADD new. Hopefully better.
The redesign wouldn’t have happened had it not been for the crash. Why fix something that isn’t broken, right? But when it is broken – why stop at fixing it? Why not try to make it better than it was before?
The point is: not all wrecks are total wrecks. Occasionally, they are catalysts for better – sometimes outstanding – things.
Some famous screw-ups…
Traf-o-data was a 1970’s company that aimed to process traffic counting cheaper and quicker than the existing methods of the time. As fascinating as it sounds, it didn’t last. But its co-founder, Bill Gates, did last – and went on to create Microsoft.
Laugh-O-Gram Studio had short lived success in the 1920’s before it went bankrupt. Its co-founder had the last laugh, though. He was Walt Disney.
A two-time Yale dropout authored a novel that didn’t make it to publication until 30 years later! In the meantime, he became the movie producer, Oliver Stone.
(Check out this post for a list of 50 famous people who failed in their careers before achieving massive success later on.)
What they had in common…
They weren’t held back by temporary screw-ups.
They believed that success was inevitable – and that failure was an unavoidable obstacle on that path.
They looked for new opportunities and applied what they’d learned to find future success.
What this means for you…
Of course, not all of your screw ups will lead to huge breakthroughs or gigantic achievements.
But if you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back to work – fresh starts may lead you down paths to better and brighter opportunities.
You won’t know for sure, though, if you don’t get back up.
Today’s post is a Guest Post By Rawhide Boys Ranch, a non-profit organization helping at-risk youth in the state of Wisconsin.
Today, 6.4 million American children are diagnosed with ADHD. This, coupled with the fact that the number of children diagnosed in the last 10 years has increased 42%, make ADHD one of the most common and fastest growing childhood disorders in America.
Despite it’s prevalence, ADHD is still a widely misunderstood condition.
Did you know 50% of children with ADHD will continue to experience symptoms into adulthood?
Or, girls are just as likely to have ADHD as boys, but half as likely to be diagnosed?
There are many myths and facts every parent needs to know.
As part of ADHD Awareness Month, the team at Rawhide Boys Ranch have put together the infographic shown below. It covers everything from prevalence rates, types, warning signs, myths and facts, adult symptoms and parenting tips.
See a doctor, get diagnosed, get treatment, get better. That’s how it goes for adults who find out they have ADHD, right?
Yes. Yes, it does. And afterwards, a pink elephant swings by the doctor’s office, scoops you up onto his flying, technicolor carpet and gives you a lift home to your mushroom mansion on cloud cuckoo land.
Here in the real world, it doesn’t work that way. Many places – especially rural areas, but even large urban centres – have few services for folks with ADHD, none the least adults. Getting diagnosed is often the easiest part, but even that can be tricky. What comes afterwards, though, can be logarithmic. As in – the problem can be solved, but few of us know how.
As October is International ADHD Awareness Month, I’d like to make help* more accessible for everyone. Surprisingly, some of the best help out there is location-independent – you can access it no matter where you live. If you have a telephone or internet connection, you’re golden.
To follow is a plethora of ADHD resources. I will explain what they’re about, who they are best suited to, and how you can access them and use them most effectively. It’s a pretty robust list, but don’t get overwhelmed. You don’t need to read this whole post. Skim the headings, find the sections that interest you, and come back to it later. And if you have a recommendation, please share it in the comments at the end. If suitable, I will revise this post and add it in.
Adult ADHD Coaching
I have a bias here. I am an Adult ADHD Coach, so of course it’s going to be the first resource I recommend. I became a coach because coaching changed my life. It gave me insight, awareness, and the power to make things different.
But what exactly is ADHD Coaching?
It is a unique relationship, like no other. You get to talk to someone who is intently interested in what you have to say, and whose entire aim is to help you move forward in life. Your coach has an adept sense of how to get the most out of you – to challenge limiting beliefs and help you design strategies for success. On top of this, he or she knows all about ADHD and what it’s like to struggle with it.
Where else could you get this kind of focused, strategic and supportive help?
The beauty of ADHD coaching is that you can access it from almost anywhere. You don’t need to find a coach in your community – most coaches work over the phone. Telephone coaching works brilliantly, sometimes better than face-to-face. My clients fit me around their busy lives. They call me on their lunch breaks, from the office, from a parking lot or the side of the road.
Telephone coaching works well for adults with ADHD because it minimizes hassle and maximizes time. You don’t have to drive to get it. You don’t have to find parking. You don’t even have to get dressed if you don’t want to. (Though if you decide to do Skype coaching, it is recommended you at least put on a housecoat.)
If you want to know more about coaching, feel free to email me. This isn’t a sales pitch – I give free advice all the time. There are also a few coaching directories I can recommend. They will help you pick a coach based on particular attributes.
Just a bit of advice as you do your search – shop around. A great coaching partnership is not just about a person’s credentials or their price. Coaching works best when the two of you gel. Whenever I get a call from a new client, I always encourage them to speak to a few other coaches as well. I want to make sure they find the coach that is the right fit for them.
There are many great videos that can help you understand your ADHD and teach you effective tools for managing it. These videos are stimulating, engaging and thought-provoking. And the beauty of them is that they take very little effort – just sit back, relax and enjoy.
I’m kidding about that last part. While the videos I am about to mention are completely enjoyable, you’ll only get as much out them as you put into them. Watch them attentively. Take notes. Do the exercises. Then watch them again and repeat. They are meant to change your life, so it’s only natural you take them more seriously than watching Netflix.
1. ADDcrusher.com – When Alan Brown says his videos (aimed at helping you CRUSH your ADHD) “kick the crap out of reading books”, he’s not kidding. Alan is just the kind of boot-camp-drill-sergeant I’d have on my team if I was embarking on siege to take my life back. It helps that he’s also a really great guy – entertaining, witty and very engaging. It’s his personal mission to help ADDers worldwide live up to their potential. I, for one, am glad he’s on our side.
Have a look at his Crusher video series or check out his newly launched Crusher TV series. They are like having a personal coach in your living room, on demand, whenever you need it. Here’s a little taster…
2. TotallyADD.com – No doubt, you’ve seen the PBS favourite “ADD & Loving It?!”. If you haven’t, you should check out the trailer.
Rick Green et al bring you solid information about ADHD – what it is and what it isn’t – as well as strategies for managing your life better, getting professional help, and just about any other ADHD-related topic you can think of. Bonus – they are funny. Like, spew-coffee-through-your-nose funny. You’ll be able to pay attention without much effort at all.
Check out the Totally ADD‘s online videos and their videosavailable for purchase. Also, have a look at their YouTube channel – you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll wonder why you haven’t watched these videos before now.
3. The CHADD National Resource on ADHD also has an array of webcasts in their “Ask the Expert Series”. Make sure to have a look around their website – they have a TON of other resources as well, including their Adult ADHD Toolkit.
Online/Distance Learning Classes
People don’t realize that effective help doesn’t have to come in the form of one-on-one conversations. Sometimes the first step to figuring out your challenges is to learn from others who have mastered their own.
1. ADDCA – The coaching academy I trained with offers two classes that are specifically designed to help you understand and manage your ADHD better: Simply ADHD and Personal Transformation. The classes are done via conference calls, and by participating you get a chance to connect with a skilled ADHD coach, as well as a cohort of people who “totally get it” when you say you feel like a light bulb has just switched on. Not sure if this is for you? Enroll for one of their free introductory teleclasses.
2. ADDclasses.com offers several web-based training opportunities specific to ADHD challenges. Check them out soon and you’ll still have time to register for their free online ADHD Expo (October 25 to October 31). ADHD Experts will share tips and strategies via video while you connect with other ADDers in the chat room.
3. ADDitude Magazine – ADDitude Online offers several webinars hosted by the field’s top experts, addressing your most common concerns.
4. ADHDMarriage.com – Offers two courses via telephone – both live and recorded – aimed at helping couple who experience the impact of ADHD on their marriage. The ADHD Effect In-Depth with Melissa Orlovnot only improves your understanding of how ADHD affects the marriage for both spouses, it will give you concrete strategies for moving your relationship forward. Recovering Intimacy in Your Relationship is a multi-week seminar that will provide you with tools and exercises to bring back “those lovin’ feelings.”
Podcasts are another great way to get more information and help for your ADHD. They don’t have the visually stimulating effect of videos, but sometimes that’s a bonus. You can listen to a podcast while you do other things. You know how we all love to multi-task. Now you can feel good about it, knowing you’re actually helping yourself while you play video games, put away your laundry, or pick your nose.
My recommended podcasts:
1. Attention Talk Radio – Hosted by Attention Coach Jeff Copper, Attention Talk Radio puts spotlight on how paying attention to your attention gets you unstuck. That’s a lot of attention.
2. ADDitude’s ADHD Experts Podcast – ADHD Experts answer questions posed by parents and adults with ADHD.
3. ADHD People – The Tom Nardone Show – An Enema of ADHD (Not necessarily aimed at tricks and tips, but the name says it all – you’re in for a cathartic experience. Have fun, you can thank me later.)
4. ADHD reWired – Hosted by therapist and coach Eric Tivers, reWired broadcasts interviews with real people living with ADHD, including entrepreneurs and professionals working within our tribe.
5. ADHD Support Talk Radio – Founder and Director of ADDClasses.com, Tara McGillicuddy, shares her expertise and interviews other experts in the field.
There is a lot to be gained from participating in a program with other people who understand what it’s like to have the challenges you do. I’ve often talked about how finding my tribe was one of the best things I ever did for my confidence. Since I’ve started talking to other people with ADHD, I’ve become a different person. I now belong to a tribe of incredible dreamers, visionaries, innovators and scatterbrains. We’re an awesome group, flaws and all, don’t you think?
1. Check out CHADD to see if there is a chapter local to you or have a look around your community for a support group. If you can’t find one, consider starting one. You’ll be surprized how many other adults like you will be glad you did. If you want to know how to start a support group, CHADD can be a great resource to get you started.
2. ADDforums.com – If you’d like some support from the comfort of your couch (as opposed to lying back on your shrink’s proverbial couch), check ADDforums. Post your question or concern and get feedback from other ADDers who have experienced the same dilemmas.
3. ADDconsults.com – Ladies only! A pioneer in the niche of women with ADHD, Terry Matlen’s ADDconsults.com hosts a forum area where women can connect with her and with other women living with ADHD.
Books on ADHD
Books are probably one of the most accessible yet underrated resources for ADHD. Books are great for helping you to get a new understanding of ADHD – not just its symptoms, but what it actually means to have ADHD and the skills necessary to thrive with it. They are also great because you can keep them to refer to later, as many of us will forget new tips and tricks.
They aren’t great for people who find it difficult to concentrate or have a hard time sitting still long enough to read them. If this is the case for you, you may want to check out my post How to Read Like a Pro and Enjoy It (Even if You Hate Reading). An even simpler tactic is to get an audio book that you can listen to while walking the dog, cleaning the house, or dance up a storm at Zumba. Okay, maybe not.
Here are my favourite ADHD books (these, of course, are just some of the many out there).
1. 10 Things I Hate about ADHD, Bryan Hutchinson – A great read to start with – especially if you’re not really looking to change things but just want to feel like someone else “gets it”. Reading it is like talking to a good friend about everything you’ve been through – the good, the bad, and the laugh-out-loud ugly. Bryan’s written a lot of other excellent books on ADHD and positive psychology related topics, check them out here.
2. Taking Charge of Adult ADHD, Russell A. Barkley – From the world’s leading authority on ADHD, you will find step-by-step strategies for managing ADHD with exercises to build your skills.
5. ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life, Judith Kolberg and Kathleen Nadeau – These ladies have compiled the best organization suggestions that are congruent with how an ADDer actually operates. (Audio Version Available)
8. ADD Stole My Car Keys, Rick Green and Umesh Jain – My psychiatrist gave me this book a few years ago, and it was probably the best book he ever gave me (it was the only book he gave me). The way it is set up is very cool and very novel (and hey – don’t we all love cool, new things?). It gives parallel perspectives from both an ADDer (Rick Green of ADD & Loving It?! fame) and his psychiatrist. So it’s kind of like seeing a shrink, but not footing the bill. And … each chapter is very short (great for quick minds).
10. The Adult ADHD Tool Kit: Using CBT to Facilitate Coping Inside and Out, J. Russell Ramsay and Anthony L. Rostain – I’m a firm believer in the power of CBT (so much so, I did a post-grad in it!) – not just for ADDers, but for everyone with a pulse. One of the biggest problems ADHD folks face is the fact that the symptoms of ADHD can actually interfere with your ability to get help for ADHD. This user-friendly book doesn’t just teach you skills, it offers you tactics to help you apply the skills in your everyday life. .
11. The Edison Gene: ADHD and the Gift of the Hunter Child Paperback, Thom Hartmann – This is one of my all-time favourite books. Ever. It explores how our traits as ADDers have been very necessary in the evolution of society. It won’t change your ADHD. But it will make you feel a heck of a lot better about having it. That, to me, is worth more than a thousand hours of therapy.
There are a gazillion great websites and blogs out there on ADHD and related topics – too many to add to this (already too-long) post. Each offers readers a unique take on what it takes to manage ADHD and thrive with it. Here are a dozen or so of my favourites (Apart from The Art of ADD of course!):
ADDerworld – Bryan Hutchinson’s positive take on ADHD
A Splintered Mind – Douglas Cootey tackles ADHD & Depression with “lots of humor and attitude”
ADHD and Marriage – Brought to you by ADHD Expert & Relationship Consultant Melissa Orlov in partnership with Dr. Ned Hallowell – this website offers information, connection & support for couples experiencing ADHD
Phew. That was exhausting, don’t you think? The ADHD in you probably thought this post would never end. The ADHD in me wants to quit right here – no conclusion, or wrap-up – it just wants me to bolt. But since I’m in control, not my ADHD, let me conclude this post saying one more thing:
You may feel alone in your search for self-assurance and a better life. You so aren’t. You may think you’ll never figure it out, never live your best life. You so will. You may think there’s no help out there for you to access. There so is!
I hope this list of ADHD resources has shown you that, at the very least, there is help for you – no matter where you live. Most of these resources have been created by the people, for the people – ADDers united. Reach out to these resources and reach out to each other.
This is ADHD Awareness Month but we need to be aware of ADHD every day of the year. I hope these resources will give you a good start. And again – if you have any more resources you’d like to add to this list, or great idea for a resource you’d like to see available – please share it in the comments below!
* (Caveat – For the purpose of this post, I’m referring to non-medicinal help. Whether or not you take it is a matter of personal choice. But I stand firm that medication alone is not an effective treatment regimen. It helps you reign your mind, but it doesn’t teach you how to use it.)
Have you ever really seen yourself? I don’t mean checking yourself out in the mirror as you shave in the morning or try on a new outfit. I mean:
Have you ever really looked at yourself? Like – watched yourself, as you go about your business in a normal day?
I suspect not. Most ADDers are not keen observers. Sure, we’re great at noticing new and unusual things. We pick up on seemingly irrelevant details or quickly draw lines between dots, to find connections that other people don’t see. In some situations, our ability to observe these kinds of obscurities is an asset. It can certainly lend to creativity and divergent problem-solving.
In general, though, we are not great observers of the mundane and ordinary. Unfortunately, most days tend to fit this description. It’s why we repeatedly misplace keys, start multiple tasks but finish none, or show up late after trying to fit in “just one more thing”. We don’t observe our ordinary selves.
And that leads to poor performance or – at best – performing below our capabilities. Poor performance can show up anywhere – during tasks at work or at home, during conversations, during self-talk, even.
It’s common to have difficulties recounting the events of our days to family members. We know that we were busy, but we can’t really say why. On the outside it appears as if we accomplished nothing.
Wherever we are in the world, we’re never really there. And more often than not, that’s how things get messy. Have you ever left a toddler unattended for 10 minutes? When you come back to the mayhem, he’ll act as if he has no idea what happened. It’s a mystery how all the books ended up on the sofa, the lamp got knocked over, or the soda got spilled… on the ceiling. He really doesn’t know – it was so 5 minutes ago!
Sometimes, we are kind of like giant toddlers. Life gets out of control because we aren’t really supervising ourselves.
So let’s say that, in the pursuit of better performance or just having less stress in your life (perhaps by eliminating the need to clean soda off the ceiling?), you started to supervise yourself a little bit better. How exactly would you go about doing that? Doesn’t that involve paying better attention? And isn’t paying attention difficult to begin with?
The answer to those questions are yes, and yes. It does involve paying better attention, and attention is scarce. But… it’s also abundant when things are interesting.
We know that our brains are hardwired towards new and interesting things. Maybe you, in your ordinary day, are more interesting than you think.
So, for the sake of experimentation, and in the spirit of curiosity, I suggest you try paying attention (aka supervise yourself) in a way that you have never tried before.
In Neuro-linguistic Programming, there’s a little trick you can use to detach yourself from emotionally charged situations. It helps you adopt a more objective perspective of the situation. It’s called The Observer perspective. When you adopt The Observer perspective, you see yourself from the outside.
What if you tried to observe yourself in an ordinary moment in your life? Imagine yourself as an actor or actress in his or her own life. Wherever you are in that moment becomes the stage. Whatever you are doing becomes the scene, and your awareness becomes the audience.
In this kind of perspective (though it sounds a bit kooky), you become both the actor and the audience at the same time. Of course this requires a little imagination, but essentially, what you are trying to do is to see yourself from the outside, as you are going about whatever it is you were doing. Breaking it down to the nuts and bolts, what you are really doing is witnessing yourself.
I admit, it sounds a bit odd as I write it out. But let me make it simpler. All this actor/audience viewpoint does is to give you another tactic for finding more presence and thereby improving your performance, with almost any task.
People with ADHD don’t naturally witness themselves. We bounce around from moment to moment, being extremely busy but completely unproductive because we don’t see ourselves being pulled around at the mercy of distracted and tangential thinking and ungoverned impulses. Sometimes we are so wrapped up in the multiple things we are doing, or lost in the multiple thoughts we are thinking, that we can spend an entire day being extremely busy but accomplishing nothing. This is the essence of a less-than-stellar performance. In fact, it’s kind of a doozy.
With a little supervision, though, we find it easier to keep on task or to take a thoughtful and insightful change of direction, if we assess that we need to change our performance. Watching yourself in action, as if you are your own audience, is one way of supervising yourself. And it will help you to notice details – such as when you are starting to get off-track – that you would otherwise be oblivious too.
Through the “audience perspective”, you become a more informed Director. You can direct the actor to making changes that will enhance his or her performance. Without feedback from “the audience” and a director’s supervision, your effort might be sloppy or lack lustre. Try adding this novel perspective, however, and you might find your efforts become Academy Award-worthy.
At the very least, it certainly makes the ordinary day a little more fun and interesting. Have you ever tried this technique? Let us know how it went!
Don’t you ever wish that living with ADD wasn’t such a struggle?
Maybe being late once in awhile, getting sidetracked in conversations or forgetting to pick up the dog from the groomers because you stayed too long at the cafe … yum, remember that unbelievable chocolate eclair you had there? The naughty little morsel of decadence you should have left well enough alone but instead scoffed, totally blowing your diet. Now you won’t fit into the dress you bought for next week’s office party, meaning you’ll have to buy another one, and of course blow your budget for this month too (again!)… how are you going to pay for that parking ticket now?
Whoaaaa, slow down pony – get back on the track!
Maybe these things wouldn’t be so hard to live with, if you didn’t have to live with all the other symptoms of ADD too. And you didn’t have to live with them all of the time. And you didn’t have to live with all the other people in your life, the ones who have to live with you.
You know what I mean.
You have been working at this ADD for years. Serious business it has been too, to manage your ADHD. While some of the challenges you encounter are new, many of them have been around since you were first old enough to be told “Sit quiet and be still”.
Most people seeking ADD help look for strategies to squash their symptoms. Or shrink them at least. Its pretty frustrating chasing the same tail that has eluded you since childhood. Especially when you should be chasing bigger pay cheques, better jobs, fancier houses or exotic vacations … like all the other grown ups do. Yet you are, still trying to figure out how to keep your room clean, remember to eat lunch and (for goodness sake!) stop interrupting people all the time.
The same things you have been trying to figure out since childhood.
may have taught you to be less passionate. It may have quashed your impulsivity and dampened your spark.
But the secret to unlocking your ADD challenges is inherent in the coding of the “disorder” itself. There’s an antidote to be found within the venom, so to speak.
You see, our true nature is built on play. We are designed to seek out novel things. We are fuelled by excitement, creativity and adventure.
We are built for having fun and playing games.
And what is life, if nothing but a giant game, played out (hopefully) over many years?
Are video games good, bad or benign to a kid’s physical, emotional, psychological, and intellectual development? I have no idea. I’m not an pundit on this hot issue.
But having played and watched other people playing video games, I can tell you what they do offer: a challenge.
The character, or avatar that represents “you” in the game, powers up and takes a journey of some sort. Along the way, it acquires assets and loses them, learns new skills, fights and defeats enemies. And loses battles or power. And sometimes dies. Or – wins the game.
If you are one of the lucky few who actually makes it to the last level and wins the game, the satisfaction of the victory quickly dissolves with the fading of fake fireworks from the TV screen. The whole point of trying to win was not to actually win, but to keep on trying.
It was the journey that mattered. The fun was in the playing.
And so it goes with ADD. We overcome our challenges – we “power up”, “defeat” our enemies and acquire new skills and assets by employing those skills that come naturally to us.
Being curious. Being creative. Being adventurous.
So be what comes naturally to you.
Let me be more specific. Be curious about your ADD. Be creative in how you approach your challenges. Be adventurous in spirit and willing to try as hard as you can, no matter what.
And have fun.
Our souls are meant to leap for joy. The challenges will be there whether you have fun with them or not. Why not approach them with an attitude of having fun?
How do you turn ADD into a game?
Laugh at yourself. Allow other people to laugh with you.
Get excited by every opportunity for learning and growth.
Remember opportunities for learning and growth are found in the mistakes and arguments and frustrations. They are also found in the quiet space of disappointment.
Stop chasing your tail. Seek out new ways of approaching old challenges. Maybe all you need to do is chase it the other way around. Or learn to live with your tail. It’s a part of you too.
Focus on the novelty in every situation, no matter how small. Seeking out novelty in this way becomes a new experience in itself.
Anything can become interesting if you look at it with curious and interested eyes.
See the world from a child’s eyes. Remember that, once upon a time, you pretended to be a grown up for fun. Now, you actually get to be one. Why should that be any less fun just because some people pretend being grown up is a serious and stressful business?
Go ahead and be sorry for your mistakes. Be passionately, emphatically and whole-heartedly apologetic for your oversights and errors. Mean it when you say it.
But don’t apologize for who you are. Own your mistakes. Laugh at them. Try hard to do better but remember – we all mess up. ADDers don’t own the copyright to screwing up.
Kids learn skills for life through play. Playing pretend taught us about feelings, relationships and responsibilities. Playing board games taught us how to cooperate, manage money and make good choices. Or bounce back from bad ones. Playing cards taught us to think ahead, plan strategies and employ tactics. And like it or not, video games taught us many of those things as well.
Games also taught us that its okay to lose sometimes. But that losing only takes away a hope in acquiring a momentary prize – it doesn’t take away the joy of playing.
Never stop playing.
We now know about the neuroplasticity of the adult brain. We never stop learning or forming new connections between neurons. Still, no matter how many potential connections there are to be made in our adult brains, they will never proliferate at the rate they did when we were children.
You know – childhood. That time in life when everything was a game. When learning was fun. And it was okay to laugh at ourselves. Not saying that that it was fun to fall off your bike. But it sure was fun to get back up and show that bike who was boss.
Show your ADD whose boss. And have some fun while you are at it. Who said you couldn’t have fun AND manage your adult ADHD?
Tell us about a time you’ve used curiosity, creativity or fun to approach a challenge in your life – ADD or not. What was the challenge and how did you decide to take the approach you did? How did it work out? The zanier the better – all comments (except rude or mean ones!) are welcome.