Productivity

Two Life Changing Tips To Manage Your Time Better

Everybody’s busy. Everyone needs more time. But apart from Dr. Who, none of us can control how fast it passes.

We do control how we spend the time we have. But even when we ADDers have time – we often fail to use it effectively. For several reasons: we don’t have a firm concept of how it passes, we aren’t realistic about what we can do with it, and we struggle to make the most of it.

There are plenty of great Internet resources that will teach you some techniques to manage these challenges. But I am more interested in experience than how-to’s. It makes no difference how well you spend your time if you don’t enjoy it while you are spending it.

Most people have too much on their plate. In yesteryears, families resorted to two incomes as a way to make ends meet. As wealth increased, we used the superfluous earnings we had improving our quality of life. But as a society seduced by consumerism, we’ve lost track of the difference between needs and wants. Often, we work for our things rather than our needs, sacrificing time for money.

No one needs an extra bedroom or a cottage at the lake. Granted, they are nice to have. A room for company to sleep in and a cottage for respite certainly improve quality of life. But only if you’ve made the conscious decision that they are worth the time and money they require. The point isn’t whether or not you should have these things, it is whether or not you value them enough to sacrifice your time.

The challenge for everyday tasks is no different. In order to get a firm grip on how you spend your time, it is important to clarify between your needs and your wants. More importantly, you need to clarify your values. Knowing why you are doing what you are doing, and whether the thing you are doing is something you value, helps you make more conscious choices over how you spend your time.

Which brings me to the next challenge we so often face: competing values. I value being a good mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, employee, coach, housekeeper, philanthropist… but I can’t be all of those things, all of the time. The sad truth is that when we spend time doing one thing we value, we unavoidably fail to spend time doing something else we value.

In Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness, Tal Ben-Shahar shares an anecdotal study that was done on women and happiness. He explains that women frequently report their least satisfying part of the day was the time that they were spending with their children. Not because they didn’t love their children or enjoy their company, but because the time they spent with them was often punctuated by multitasking and doing other things like chores, emailing, or talking on the phone. Quite simply, they were with their children in body but not in mind. Being with their kids simply highlighted the nagging sense that they weren’t really giving themselves over to their kids, but coping the best they could stretched out on life’s wooden horse.

Multitasking rarely makes life more enjoyable. But we do it, because it seems we have to. When was the last time you ate a meal and did nothing else? I mean – nothing else. No talking, driving, texting, opening emails, watching TV – only eating? Few of us sit down and just eat. Interestingly, unconscious eating is partially responsible for today’s obesity problem.  In his hugely successful series “I Can Make You Thin”, British hypnotist and neurolingistic programmer Paul McKenna advises that slow and deliberate eating, done in isolation of any other activity, is one key way to eat less and lose weight.

We don’t just need more time or less to do. We need to experience the time we have more fully, no matter how we are spending it. Stress doesn’t come from infinite to-do lists so much as it comes from the loss of seconds, minutes, hours or even days of your life. Doing five things at once is not time well spent. It’s the passing of a moment without ever really experiencing it.

This is one of the biggest challenges ADDers have with time. We are never really here, but a millions places at once. It’s hard to feel like you have any time when you’re never fully there to experience it.

If you want to make the most of your precious hours on this earth, you only need to focus on two things.

1. Quality

Increase the quality of the time you are spending (no matter what you are doing) by being as present as possible, whether it is through use of medication, mindfulness, single-tasking, or any other means. It may seem counterintuitive, but most people enjoy things more when they are present.

There is a way to slow time down. It’s called Mindfulness. Mindfulness can be extraordinarily hard to achieve at the best of times, let alone when you have ADD. Yet, it can be very simple at the same time. In the Joy of Living, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche makes it very accessible for amateurs. In its simplest form, it only requires you to notice and observe all that you are experiencing and doing in the present moment. And when you notice your mind slip out the back door and on to other things, you gently bring it back to the moment. You don’t even have to give up daydreaming (which I secretly love, when it is not interfering with other things in my life). You simply notice yourself daydreaming. And by doing so, you are present.

Slowing down and doing one thing at a time is another way to capture the moment, especially if you practice mindfulness at the same time. The idea of it may sound like nails on a chalkboard to us ADDers who thrive on momentum, velocity and multiple sources of stimulation. But a bit of slowing down once in awhile can actually make us more efficient, and even more fulfilled. I feel like a better mother when I am fully present during playtime with the kids, as hard as it is to do when Barbie vs Batman has had its third spontaneous plot change, directed by a 5 year old who demands perfection from the performance.

But feeling like a better mom lets me focus more clearly by removing any source of guilt when I shift my attention to other things later on. Sometimes, you have to pay attention in “installments” by bringing your mind back, over and over and over again.

You won’t be able to slow down and be mindful all of the time, but any time you do will add a great deal of quality to your life.

2. Quantity:

Increase the quantity of time you spend doing things you value by clarifying your values and differentiating your needs from wants. Some things need to be done, but not nearly as many things as we think. Thinking about the “why” behind your activity can make it more rewarding for you, if it is in line with your values. I don’t value cooking and would happily eat out everyday – but I do value providing a nutritious meal for the family and reserving our finances for other things. Being conscious of the “why” can make certain tasks less frustrating, even if they aren’t that enjoyable.

You may be irritated right now that I haven’t highlight ways for you to get more done. But I can almost guarantee that when you spend more time on things you truly value or conversely, find value in the things you are already doing, your time will be better spent. And when you stop and pay attention to those things, the roller coaster slows down.

Productivity

Time Is On My Side (No It’s Not)

hi

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

No, not the sound of a clock, but my head banging on the counter top. It’s a little hollow right now (my head) – hence the tick-tock rather than a bang-bang or thud-thud.

The elusive concept of time …. eludes me. I have always maintained that if days had more hours, my ADD would have half the challenges. You see, while I am a terrible organizer, haphazardly inattentive, and slow to get started on most things – I’m convinced that I would be none of these things if time simply waited for me. I can pay attention – but only after I get around to doing everything else on my list, so that a million things aren’t competing for my head space like an under-priced house in a seller’s market. I could also be more organized – if someone else’s deadlines didn’t dictate the time frame within which I must work. If this were the case, getting started would be a non-issue, because when I got started and how long it took – would be irrelevant.

The biggest problem with time is that it seems to be moving faster and faster. It could be a sign of the ages – too much to do and too little time. Or it could be a sign of my age. My dad always warned me that life is like a roll of toilet paper – the closer you get to the end, the faster it goes. Funny guy my dad, he’s the Cliff Claven of sayings involving bodily functions.

But I don’t think it’s really going faster (quantum physicist’s post your arguments below). We are  going faster and time simply matches our pace. Every night before I go to bed, I review the day’s events in comparison to the next day’s itinerary and think:

“It’s too much”.

See, twenty-four hours in a day really isn’t enough, but since it is all we get, we need to pace ourselves accordingly rather than cramming more into each second. But with ADD, there are two huge barriers to doing this.

1. We have no concept of time.

We don’t know how long something should take or how much time we need to complete it. We have no idea how we spend most of our time, simply because we often aren’t “there” while we are spending it. But most of all – our biggest challenge with time is that we are overly optimistic. Most authorities on managing ADD will advise you to project how much time you think a task will take and double it, in order to get a more accurate figure of the time it will actually take. I am fully aware of that fact. However, when I look at how much I can get done in a day (realistically) and compare it to what I want to get done, there is a gross mismatch between the figures. Deep down I really believe I should and could get those things done, if I only I could find the focus.

2. We frequently take on too much.

Everybody takes on too much these days; busy-ness is not segregated to ADDers but seems to be a global dilemma. Next time you see a friend and ask her how she is doing, I will bet you a million bucks (the ones roaming the Boreal Forest, not the ones sitting in Bill Gates’ bank account) that she says “Oh, I am soooooo busy!” We ADDers don’t necessarily take on more than any other group of people, but we certainly do take on more than is good for us. Again, because of our optimism (I should and could) and because of this simple phenomenon:

When the going gets tough, ADDers … up the ante. (Click to tweet)

 

Yep. That’s what we do. For example, I started coaching last year and have been busily growing my business. Apart from my family, coaching is my priority numero uno because – it’s the thing I really love to do. Then, I started this blog, which has become priority numero dos because (as it turns out) – it’s the other thing I really love to do. So I do these two things joyfully, while coasting along with the “day job” and making time for my family and  friends. I could also pretend that I make time for housework to try and look good, but the amount of time I spend doing that is an inconsequential drop in the bucket.

The week that this blog went live was a crazy-busy, but totally exciting time. It seems a long time ago now but was less than a month (thanks to you again, elusive Father Time). The day after the blog was first published, I did the only rational and normal thing a woman in my position would do – I decided to relocate. Not next door or across town, but 840 km (522 miles) west of here. Wrapped up in the excitement and enthralled with the sense of completion the blog gave me, I was inspired to finally make the decision I had been postponing for nearly a year. Because that’s how my brain works.

When ADDers get busy, we have a tendency to take on even more. Being busy, harried, and hanging on by the skin of our teeth activates our adrenaline, aka mother nature’s Ritalin. However, adrenaline has serious side effects if we rely on it long-term, and while it gives us a boost in the short-term, it doesn’t really increase productivity. But its not just the adrenaline we crave. While other people can get their noses to the grind when they really need to, ADDers need to get into the right mental state to get focused and productively active. When that state hits us, we don’t want to lose our momentum. So we decide to take it all on. And that’s the reason we believe we should and could do it all : because when we’re in hyper-focus, we can and do. At times, we “can” and “do” do more than anyone else “could” or “would”. The problem is, the momentum doesn’t last forever. Yet we seem to think that because we can get a lot done in hyperfocus, we can get that much done at other times. It’s a faulty principle. Hyper-focus is the exception, not the norm. If it was, your life would be very one-dimensional and devoid of enjoyment and rest. In short, you’d burn out.

So yes, we need to project a realistic view of how long things will actually take. And yes, we should learn to take on only what we can feasibly do in normal times, not hyper-focus times. But more importantly – we need to learn to appreciate what we are doing, when we are doing it. And we need to appreciate why we are doing all that we are. Because without meaning and purpose, all busy-ness is wasted effort. Thinking about the purpose behind our actions can put more joy into the time we do have. It can even slow time down.  Being fulfilled and full of joy transcends the ticking of the clock and nullifies the relevance of the passing seconds. It is time well-spent, not time maxed out.

Being busy or pushed for time doesn’t matter when you make each minute an important part of your day.

In the next post, we will explore time more and try to harness it like a cowboy halts a bucking bronco. But for now, please leave me your comments and share your experience of time and its challenges. I want to know that I am not the only one who can’t get a firm grip on the clock!

Growth

Seven Ways to Kick Chronic Self-Doubt in the Face

Everyone doubts themselves now and then. A moderate dose of doubt can be good for a person, as long as it doesn’t take over. However, the effects of growing up in an environment (i.e. school) whose infrastructure is in direct conflict with the way many an ADD brain works, make it not uncommon for ADDers to doubt their abilities and suffer low self-esteem because of these doubts.

The problem lies in the fact that many ADDers have come to conclusions about themselves that are not as true as they believe them to be. They may see themselves as stupid, incompetent or incapable of learning. They may believe themselves to be obnoxious, unruly, or just plain bad. These kinds of labels do nothing to help an ADDer “perform” better, and in fact can be debilitating. Never mind the fact that they are just plain wrong.

The problem is, these negative self-beliefs have become so ingrained by the time a person reaches adulthood, it feels impossible to shake them. It is at these times that you must go to war with your negative self. The steps to fighting it aren’t easy, but then again – neither is feeling bad about yourself.

 

1. Declare war

Decide right now that you will no longer submit to totalitarian rule and plan your coup against the “authority” that tells you can’t do it:

 

Until you declare outright war, you will never be sovereign from a limiting view of yourself. (Click to tweet)

 

2. Name your opponent

Imagine self-doubt (substitute self-loathing, self-criticism, low confidence) as a tangible opponent. Give it a face, a body and a name if possible. What would it look like or sound like? I see mine as Goliath, much larger and uglier than me, his arms are big and his voice is booming but he is Neanderthal-esque. He’s a brute but an idiot. I can be smarter than him. Know who it is you are fighting.

 

3. Get in the ring

Your opponent expects you to back down. Surprise him with hand-to-hand combat. This starts with a decision that no matter what that inner voice of treason tells you, you will swing your bat at every ball. Start by simply saying “No, I will not listen to you.”

 

 

4. Bring out the big guns

Daily affirmations and letters of gratitude may help when you’re feeling a bit low on yourself, but when your self-esteem has launched a full-blown assaultive, you need heavy artillery to win the battle. Decide that with each blow that inner voice delivers, you will throw a bigger punch. Bigger punches come in three different forms:

A. The lefthook: Undermine self-doubt by focusing on every piece of evidence that contradicts it, no matter how small that piece of evidence may seem. This means tit for tat. If you notice self-doubt telling you can’t do something or aren’t good enough, then you must deliberately look for evidence that says you can and are good enough. Every piece of evidence counts. If, at the beginning, your mind can’t focus on what’s good about you, then try a reverse tactic – focus on why your negative views are wrong.

B. The uppercut: If you can’t generate your own evidence, turn to others who can. What would your closest family member or best friend say about the negative thought you are having about yourself? If you can, seek out their advice directly. If the people in your life don’t know how to be supportive, think about what a trusted expert in the field of ADD or someone else you admire might say.

C. The low blow: Find the Achilles heal. Every point of view is just a view, a negative one is no more correct than a positive one. It only feels like it is because you have learned to judge yourself against faulty standards that tell you that you are wrong or not good enough. Find holes in the standards that fuel your low opinion of yourself. Are the standards too black and white? Do you apply these standards only to yourself and not other people? Do your views neglect key pieces of information? Is there another way of looking at things?

 

5. Change your tactics

In “How David Beats Goliath”, Malcolm Gladwell points out that the underdog actually has a bigger advantage than the titan when he employs unconventional tactics. David brought Goliath down with one stone. Think carefully about one thing in your life you could change. That thing might be the stone to throw your self-doubt off its feet. You may need to start doing something small that will give you even one more ounce confidence. Ounces added to ounces make up gallons, eventually. Think of yourself as a learner, rather than a master. Failure is okay, because each failure teaches you something. After all, “an ounce of action is worth a ton of theory. Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions.”(Ralph Waldo Emerson).

 

 

6. Strengthen your defenses

Get busy, surround yourself with things that make you feel good. Banish negative thoughts with the one thing they can’t argue with: the law of averages says that repeated efforts are those most likely to bring about success. Give yourself every opportunity to succeed starting with small efforts. Don’t allow that voice to negate your efforts by telling you small successes don’t count. Lots of little things contribute to the big picture.

7. Declare victory, but keep your guard up

Self-doubt never goes away completely, but you can quiet it significantly by closing the door on it, and being mindful when it starts to creep up again. Watch for it, but don’t let it in the door. A bouncer at a nightclub has the authority to decided who does or doesn’t get into the club. If someone looks like they are up for causing a bit of trouble, a bouncer doesn’t let him in and then wait to see if he’ll cause trouble. He knows it’s much easier to keep a trouble maker out in the first place than to try and get him out later. Guard your mind like a bouncer.

The war on chronic self-doubt can be an epic one, but the more battles you win, the more you stand the chance of claiming victory and ending the war.

The most important thing is that you never give up.

Share you strategies for overcoming self-doubt in the comments below!

Growth

Defeating Self-Doubt: Awakening the Warrior Within

This post isn’t for everyone. But if you battle low self-esteem, confidence or worth as a consequence of your ADHD – then this post is absolutely FOR YOU!

 

In her book Courage: Overcoming Fear & Igniting Self-Confidence, the author Debbie Ford instructs readers depleted in self-esteem to become warriors against the self-defeating forces within. At a glance her instruction may seem exaggerated or over-zealous, but as someone who has battled low self-esteem and helped countless others do the same, her advice is measured in just the right dose.

You will never win a battle against low self-esteem without going to war. And trust me when I say this, it is a war. Your opponent has been growing in strength in the hidden realms of your psyche since you were a small child. It has found ways to twist events in your life and suck them in as energy to feed itself. It continually finds ways to exploit your human flaws, and negate your strengths and achievements, rendering you an insignificant adversary. It is a cunning, formidable foe who deceives you into believing that its agenda is the only option available to you.

Most of all, it is sly. It lays dormant most of the time, whispering in your ear but not speaking so loudly as to bring attention to itself. It is noticeable when you look for it, like the beating of your heart, but does not make itself obvious. By this, it ensures its existence, like a parasite that drains energy from its host while inconspicuously ensuring the host does not notice its interference. But, but, but …. If you do notice it and decide to take action, this beast launches a surprise attack on you, assailing you with all its reserves. With every effort you make to strengthen your armour or to step up your tactics, it responds by upping the ante. At this point you feel helpless, defeated, resigned to the fact that it will always win. And so you give up the fight and remain a prisoner of war to self-loathing.

Like the parasite, self-reproach needs you to survive. You feed it unwittingly, and it grows in strength and control over you. But if you starve it, it dies.

And the worst part is, it’s all a delusion.

You’ve had the power all along. Like running away from a monster in a bad dream, all you need to do is wake up. Wake up to the beauties and talents and strengths you possess, the ones the monster told you were inconsequential or meaningless. Wake up to the power of who you are, and always were, when that monster was spinning fiction to serve its own gain. Wake up to your potential and who you can be, now that the monster is dead. It was the one who told you to feel bad about yourself. That feeling made you make certain choices in your life, then it turned those choices against you, using them as more evidence as to why you should feel bad about yourself.

Who are you now, without that delusion?

After all, the only thing that is stopping you from being as brilliant as you really are is that monster.

When you fight this devious self-esteem, you must imagine yourself as a warrior, like William Wallace in Braveheart. You will not give up your freedom. You will not give up the fight.

And every time you win, you grow stronger in force, and depth, and magnitude. Each time you let your light shine, you hug yourself from the inside, or your consciousness whispers encouragement to its subconscious, you grow into being your true self, the one who accepts who he or she is. Each time you accept yourself and live with the belief that you are perfectly whole, you fulfill your purpose in life to bring gifts to this world, sharing the energy and essence of who you are.

The battle starts now with one choice.

You must do whatever it takes to starve the monster and awaken the warrior within. The only other option is to be eaten alive by self-doubt.

Growth

10 ADD Trailblazers Share Their Biggest Assets

It’s no secret that I am a big fan of ADDers. Truth be told, I am a big fan of people in general, but those who dare to be a little different are certainly my favourite kind. The Art of ADD has one modus operandi – to help people find strengths in their differences. So for this post, I have rounded-up some expert insights from trailblazers of the ADD world, asking them this question:

“What is one ADHD trait you have learned to use to your advantage or that you believe serves you well in life?”

 

Terry Matlen

I’d have to say that being bored easily and being easily distracted has helped me. It has offered me the path to creative thinking and to pursue creative activities. In my ADHD related work, I do many different things to help people: writing (book, blogs, articles, etc.), consulting, coming up with various projects, ie group coaching, newsletters…the list goes on.

For my non-ADHD related work/activities, I’ve found that those two ADHD traits (distracted and easily bored) have given me the ability to be creative in other areas. I’m an accomplished artist and an amateur musician.

So…I am *never* bored because I cannot tolerate BEING bored. My energy then becomes a creative force that allows me to do all these different things.

Terry Matlen is the Author of Survival Tips for Women with ADHD and Director of www.ADDconsults.com, www.ADDactionTeam.com and www.MomsWithADD.com. Reach her at terry@addconsults.com.

Sari Solden

My ability to create even in chaos and work through confusion till I get to the place where I am calm, focused and strong.

Sari Solden is the author of Women With Attention Deficit Disorder and Journeys Through ADDulthood. A psychotherapist with ADD herself, Sari has worked with individuals and families affected by ADD for over 25 years. Find her at www.addjourneys.com.

 

Rick Green

Hyper-focus. At one point in my career I was co-writing, co-starring and directing The Red Green show (all 24 episodes of the season) and that same year I was writing and hosting 30 episodes of my science-fiction/comics/horror series Prisoners of Gravity. In my spare time, I ate food and tried to squeeze in a bath.

Rick Green is a Canadian comedian, writer, and producer of ADD & Loving It?! and ADD & Mastering It! He is also the co-author of ADD Stole My Car Keys and founder of www.TotallyADD.com.

Zoe Kessler

Creativity.

By definition, ADHD brains think differently. An ADHD mind is the perfect incubator for creativity: for seeing connections where others wouldn’t; for interpreting things in fresh ways; and for creating humour in any situation. The latter ability has served me, and helped me to serve others, more times than I can count. Most importantly, it’s a healing balm that can be applied in life’s toughest moments. And for that, I am deeply grateful.

Zoe is the author of the blog ADHD from A to Zoë. You can also find her at www.chickadd.com, www.youtube.com/user/ChickADD44/videos, and www.additudemag.com/authorID/359.html.

Laurie Dupar

One ADHD trait that I have used to my advantage in my professional success is creativity. Not necessarily creativity in the artistic sense, although I am quite a crafty person and enjoy this part of my ADHD in my hobbies and personal interests, but in the sense of always being able to create new innovative solutions and possibilities for my clients to better manage their ADHD. Creativity in thinking of new ideas or ways to serve and meet the needs of the community of ADHD. Creativity and out of the box thinking in discovering better ways to manage some of my own challenges. With ADHD, I firmly believe creativity reigns supreme!

Laurie Dupar, PMHNP, RN, PCC has been a Certified ADHD Coach for over nine years. She has been the host of the Succeed With ADHD Telesummit in 2011 and 2012, and is author of 365 Ways to Succeed With ADHD. Find her at www.CoachingforADHD.com and www.Facebook.com/CoachingforADHD.

 

Alan Brown (ADD Crusher)

As an advertising executive and entrepreneur, I use my ADHD mind to brainstorm new ideas and creatively problem-solve. Linear-thinking, NON-ADDers can’t do what we right-brained, LATERAL-thinking ADDers can do – which is the synaptic thinking leveraged by inventors, artists and business pioneers. Yay us!!

Alan Brown, a struggling exec until diagnosed, crafted the success strategies in ADD Crusher™ videos — interactive tools helping ADDers live to their potential. Check out ADDCrusher.com!

Marilyn Strong

The one ADHD trait that I have learned to use to my advantage is procrastination combined with a ‘gut feeling’.

Over the years I have procrastinated about nearly everything. Eventually I may get ‘to it’ by hyperfocusing, fueling up on adrenalin and caffeine and then crashing when the task or project is done. I’m much better now, working in smaller ‘bites’, taking deep breaths and planning all sorts of fantastic rewards when I accomplish a task or project. There are still times though when, technically, I’m procrastinating but in reality I’m not.

You see, I’ve discovered that if I’m procrastinating and I recognize that I’m procrastinating and there doesn’t seem to be a logical reason for procrastinating, and when I attempt the project or task it just doesn’t go together well, there still is a reason – albeit not a ‘logical reason’. Instead, it’s a gut feeling I get that tells me to wait. In this case, waiting is not procrastinating. Waiting is waiting for the right moment or the right timing or the right resources to come along. More times than not that waiting has saved me energy, time and money!

I can feel and tell the difference between procrastinating and my gut telling me to wait. And I have enough integrity to determine if that ‘gut feeling’ is real or imagined and to make sure I either plow through the task or project or recognize it’s truly a ‘wait’ time.

In spite of her ADD/ADHD Marilyn Strong, BA, MBA is an award winning newspaper publisher, successful business and marketing strategist and best selling author. In her book, “Getting Paid to Pay Attention”, Marilyn shares the strategies and action plans that will help struggling solo entrepreneurs and small business owners with ADD/ADHD end their procrastination, avoid distraction and conquer hyper-focus tendencies and become successful in their own businesses. Marilyn can be found at www.gettingpaidtopayattention.com.

 

Karen O’Donnell

I find that the hyperfocus aspect of ADD really, really works for me. In my work, I am required to get many things done very quickly and it seems at times, all at the same time. I have learned over the years that instead of panicking I seem to be able to switch into “hyperfocus” mode and the world around me falls into the background until I get what I need to get done!….This has taken a lot of practice however. The down side is turning it off!….which is where the practice really comes in. As we know, our biggest strengths can also be our weakness if we are not fully aware of how to use our abilities to our advantage. I am very thankful for this ADD trait of hyperfocus as it truly assists me in my work each and every day.

Karen O’Donnell is the founder of the production company Wordshop Productions and the producer of the ADHD documentaries Odd Kid Out and A Mind Like Mine. Check her out at www.wordshopproductions.com.

 

Stephanie Sarkis

I believe that my ability to connect with people, particularly those with ADHD, has allowed me to help people who are facing life’s challenges.

Stephanie Sarkis PhD NCC LMHC is a Psychotherapist, coach, and author of books on adult ADHD, including 10 Simple Solutions to Adult ADD. Her website is www.StephanieSarkis.com.

 

Jonathan Chesner

Having an overactive mind. I’m always thinking up new ideas and different ways of doing stuff!

Jonathan Chesner is the author of ADHD in HD: Brains Gone Wild. Find him at www.jonathanchesner.com and www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYalNQ9hB7E.

 

I want to thank everyone for sharing their experiences and “insider information”, and for taking a chance to share it with me before The Art of ADD was even live. It is because of ADDers like this – who are so willing to share – that the rest of us can open ourselves up to our strengths too. A special thanks also goes out to Zoe Kessler, who was a great support in helping me connect with some REALLY GREAT ADDERS! Thanks all!

Mindset

The Art of ADD Video Manifesto

Presenting…. a short and sweet version of the manifesto, condensed and animated for my visual friends. I would like to give a special thanks to Aidar Algozhin for his expertise and craftsmanship in designing and producing this video. He is a wonderful and talented animator/producer to work with – find him at Elance.com or check out samatalgozhin.com.

Thank you Aidar for your work!

Thank you everyone else for watching my video. Let me known what you think!

Mindset

Fighting the Waves of ADD

 

I almost died and still – I just didn’t get it. I guess wake- up calls don’t always resonate the loudest rings.

Thirteen years ago, I was caught in a rip tide off the Eastern Coast of Australia, near a lovely little seaside resort called Byron Bay. Being from a landlocked Canadian prairie province, I was a virgin when it came to coastal aquatics. I leaped in to cool off in the effervescent waves, drunk on the beauty of the sea and alight with the energy of the glorious Australian sun. I was oblivious to the rip and its intent for me.

Thanks to my lack of attention, it took some time for me to realize I was in trouble. It wasn’t until I looked up and noticed my traveling partner half a mile down the beach from me, flailing her arms in desperate exhaustion, that I twigged to the fact that something wasn’t right. I started swimming mightily for the shoreline, getting nowhere but further out to sea. My dear friend remembers it as the most frightening experience of her life. I only remember intense frustration and the incredible urge to bitch-slap mother nature in the face.

Thankfully, after an eternal fifteen minutes or so, a couple of surfers showed up and rescued us like knights in shining board gear.

I later learned that rips have a tendency to suck swimmers further and further out, but never actually pull them under. The unfamiliar swimmer, if not rescued, drowns from exhaustion. What you are meant to do is to let the rip pull you out a bit, then swim casually across, perpendicular to the shore, until you find the spot where the rip ceases. And then swim in.

I had no idea.

Swimming straight to the shore, even though faced with a fierce rip, seemed intuitively right. I didn’t know what I was up against. And yet my determination to fight against the waves is the very thing that would have killed me had it not been for a nearby surf school.

I wish that incident had awoken me to the preciousness of life and the need to soak up every moment of it, knowing that at any minute it could be ripped away. It didn’t. I’m not always an apt pupil of life’s lessons. I never could pay attention in class, regardless of the teacher. At best, my near-death drowning experience became a good anecdote to share once and awhile when the beer was flowing and there was nothing else to brag about.

I had no idea what a metaphor for my life that moment had been. I fought those waves for several minutes, but I had been fighting against who I am for a lifetime. I wonder if this kind of fight sounds at all familiar to you?

Years later, a light bulb went off and I made a deliberate decision to stop swimming against my ADD. The light bulb was a lot subtler than the oppressive waves, yet hit me with much greater impact. I simply listened – and observed – as an ADD expert talked to a group of people about the challenges of ADD, and how the ethos of brokenness keeps them stuck. As I listened, I suddenly realized this man knew more about my angst than anyone else in the world, and he had never met me. And it got me thinking – what was this thing I had been fighting against all my life? And more importantly – where was this fight getting me? Maybe, this thing and I didn’t have to be enemies anymore. Maybe, letting this wave take me out a bit could lead me to calmer waters.

The fight against my ADD self was exhausting me and it never worked – the harder I fought it, the further I got from where I wanted to be. So I gave up the fight; I gave in. I let the rip of ADD take me. I accepted that it is a part of who I am and that the things I was fighting so hard against would always be with me. It didn’t happen overnight, but when I finally accepted ADD as a part of me instead of trying to “will it away”, my self-concept, and subsequently self-worth, started changing rapidly-  for the better.

Things started to shift. I had a clearer picture of what it was I was dealing with. I could accept my flaws as part of my brain-wiring, rather than berating myself for not trying hard enough. I could find a way to live with those flaws, but manage them better. That part, of course, is still a work in progress. But the most disastrous part of my ADD is no longer an issue – I don’t beat myself up for it. I am swimming across the rip and making my way to shore.

For what it’s worth, I consider it an endurance swim for leisure, not a race.

I don’t know where you are in relation to your ADD – it may be somewhere completely different than where I am. Or, we may be on the same course. What I do know is that as ADDers, our greatest opportunity for growth and learning is from each other, as we are all part of the same tribe. I would love for you to share your experience of the ADD path in the comments below, and let us know how you have (or haven’t yet) come to terms with it, so that we all benefit from your insight!

Growth

Insider Information For Those Frustrated With Their ADDers

 

This post is dedicated to anyone who has the pleasure of living with someone with ADD.

The last thing I want is for you to think I have forgotten about you, the unsung heroes of the ADD world.

I’m not being obsequious when I call you an unsung hero. I’ve had to live with me for nearly four decades, and at least I could daydream my way through most of it. When I die and my life flashes before my eyes, it will be truly fascinating as I never saw most of it the first time around. But you (collectively, the ones who live with us) saw all of it. And lived with it. Somehow. How?

My first post was a call-to-arms, recruiting struggling ADDers to embrace their ADD so that they can live their best possible lives by working with it. As I wrote that, I couldn’t wipe from my imagination the loved ones who might feel slightly disgruntled by my message, especially if it wasn’t received exactly as I had intended it. So if that’s the case, I will elucidate my intention to you now.

So What’s It All About?

Turning ADD into an art form does not mean that you throw yourself into it without consideration of the other people in your life. It doesn’t give you an excuse to stay unchanged, making no apology for your mistakes and no amends to correct them. It is not a license to be reckless, thoughtless or selfish. Those things aren’t inherent for all ADDers, nor are they exclusive to them. Everyone has the ability to be reckless, thoughtless and selfish. And everyone has the ability not to be.

The two most important constructs underlying the Art of ADD “theory” will make it clear to you that it is not permission to act wild with abandon and carelessness. An artist of ADD always strives for two things when they do what they do: Authenticity and Integrity.

Authenticity

Authenticity means that your ADDer shows up in the world as him or herself, being who he or she truly is, openly and honestly, and not hiding or denying their challenges. It also means that they do not hide or deny their strengths and gifts, even from themselves. Being authentic means being okay with who you are and being free to be yourself.

Integrity

Acting in integrity means that you learn to stop and think: about what you are doing or saying and why you are doing or saying it. It is making sure those things are in line with what you value and believe to be important in life. ADDers seldom have the chance to sit down and think pointedly about any topic, let alone those things that are globally important to them. Yet without thinking about it, it’s pretty hard to act in accordance with your values. From an outsider’s perspective, it’s easy to see why certain behaviours can appear to originate from a lack of integrity. As Russell Barkley tells us, ADD is not so much a disorder of attention as it is a disorder of intention. We do mean well. We just don’t always know how to act in line with these intentions. Part of that learning comes through building accountability into our lives.

That being said, I can’t pretend that your ADDer’s values will be the same as yours. That’s life. Any parent or spouse would pay big money for an elixir that seduces their loved ones into wanting what they want. But ADD doesn’t dictate what you will value in life. Becoming an Artist of ADD does help you figure out what you value and how to get more of it. Most people want to get along better with their loved ones and to feel that they are meaningful contributors to their relationships. If your ADDer doesn’t, I suspect it has little to do with their perspective of ADD, and more to do with things for which they should probably see a therapist.

What I want for ADDers is to see that there is nothing broken or wrong about their character, and that the path to living happier lives is not in trying to do things the way that others do them, but in finding unique ways that work for them. The bigger picture is that when an ADDer finds the way they work best, especially when they find their passion and flow, other challenges of ADD begin to lessen or dissipate. Some things that seem like an ADD symptom may actually be a faulty compensatory behaviour used in desperation to cope with “not being normal”.

What I want for you, the loved one of an ADDer is to know a few things.

Whose Problem Is It?

First, it’s not you. No matter what you might think, ADD can be crazy-making, so please don’t feel like it is your fault or responsibility to fix. Unless you are a neurobiologist working in the field of ADD research, it’s not up to you to figure out.

Second, it is you – kind of. Huh? Well, of course you have a part to play in the dynamics between you and your loved one. Humans who interact with each other, especially on a daily basis, affect each other and are responsible for one half of the relationship. I’m Okay, You’re Okay has a little known sequel called I’m Screwed Up, You’re Screwed Up. Read it. The point is, if there are difficulties in a relationship it is never down to only one person. Knowing this can help you work out what part you play in keeping an unhelpful dynamic going.

Third, Donne was right – no man an island, and no ADDer is the infallible deity he or she would like to be. Your ADDer needs your help, though he or she may resent that fact and is not likely to admit it openly. How you acknowledge this with your loved one all depends on where you are both at – in terms of understanding and accepting ADD, and the state of your relationship. If you can, find a quiet, unstressed time to sit down and talk about the challenges and what you both want to be different, and how you both can help. Sometimes, the only help needed is the open acknowledgement that your relationship needs equal participation in order to get better.

Lastly, you aren’t an island either. Loving an ADDer can be incredibly frustrating and at times downright exasperating. You need help too, a break or even some time out when it gets too much. But loving an ADDer can be wonderful as well (I have one of my own you see, so I know!), and only gets more wonderful when he or she learns to live in flow with ADD, instead of fighting against it.

I hope this makes clear the intentions of this blog. I would love to hear more about your challenges and successes in an ADD relationship, and of course your thoughts on my theories, so please comment!