Mindset

Warning to Pessimists: I May Be Wrong, But You’re Not Right

I know there is going to be a small legion of people (pessimists) out there who will to try their best to poke holes in everything I have to say. I welcome critical appraisals that challenge me to think and question my ideology. I don’t think blindly. But some people have a tendency to point out flaws for no other reason than to disagree.

Bring it, I say.

But first ask yourself, why are you even reading this? Be sure of your response before you answer, because I ask with an intuitive knowing what your latent intention is. Usually, it is some combination of the following phenomena:

–        You are jaded about something in your own experience and you haven’t found a way to get past it. The best way to bring yourself up is to pull other people down.

–        You flaunt your intelligence by deconstructing and criticizing someone else’s attitude because it makes you feel right about yours.

–        You are frequently negative, so by nature you subconsciously put a negative slant on things making them cohesive with your view – anything that doesn’t fit with the way you see things must be wrong.

To those legions of naysayers (who argue for argument’s sake), I truly wish you well but I am officially uninviting you from coming on this journey. If you choose to follow along, it is by your own choice and at the risk of your own nerves. I am not here to convert anyone who wants to wallow in the misery of their ADD. I am here to promote, inspire and motivate those who allow ADD to be a part of them, but do not grant the deficit model to govern their entire view of themselves.

But in the spirit of debate, I’m not shy of poking holes in my own theories. Holes could be stated as follows:

There is no science to suggest that ADD is a gift.

Yep, you’re right. There are camps of people who believe ADD is a gift. I’m not sure I totally support that idea; however, I will not deny the fact that having ADD can bring with it some strengths. There is science to suggest a strong link between certain genes (the 7R allele of DRD4 gene) and ADD, and these genes have had a specific advantage, evolutionarily speaking. More about that in a later post.

Telling people there are benefits to ADD is giving them false hope.

I am not telling anyone that life with ADD is wonderful, easy, or even something to aspire to (let’s face it – if you don’t have it, you probably can’t get it). I am not selling snake oil that intoxicates people with a notion of a perfect life, free from adversity. If you have ADD, then you already know what it is you are dealing with.

What I am selling is the idea that because of the adversity, you can bring strengths to the table that other people may not possess. People who are blind often have more acute hearing than others. That could be construed as a strength. It doesn’t mean they don’t wish they could see, it just means they use what they have got to the best of their abilities. And maybe they use some of those things just a little better than people who have all their senses do.

In the grand scheme of things, ADD isn’t the worst thing in the world to have. However, if having ADD has made you live your whole life feeling as if you aren’t good enough, it can certainly make it feel that way. Pessimists are prime example of this.

 

Playing to the strengths of an ADDer excuses bad behaviour and stops them from trying harder.

This is the single most damaging idea that ADDers and non-ADDers alike have about it. ADD has never been associated with a lack of moral character, any more than impotence has been connected to effeminate tendencies.

And anyway, when has being negative and ruminating on flaws ever done anyone any good? Unless you’re a poet or philosopher, negative rumination is probably going to do only one thing for you – hold you back.

The learned-helplessness model (see Martin Seligman and company) shows that people can be conditioned to give up trying when they believe they are powerless to change their situation. Finding opportunities to excel shows people where their power is.  What harm could amplifying your strengths do, apart from maybe depleting your deficits?

There are no strengths of ADD, only deficits.

Clearly, the bumblebee does not know that it is aerodynamically impossible for it to fly – because it does. Richard Branson was a high-school dropout. Thomas Edison was a third-grade drop out. For anyone to define a strength by merit of whether or not it is normal, assumes that being normal is, in and of it’s self –  a strength. You could argue that almost any attribute could be a personal strength, depending on what you do with it.

 

So there you go, you now have four ready-made responses if anyone challenges the view that your ADD has certain strengths. If I’ve missed any obvious holes to my own theories, please don’t hesitate to point them out in the comments below. We can meet at the O.K. Corral at dawn, just remember to bring your pistols.

In all seriousness, I would love to hear any of your objections or ideas about my theories, and especially any of your experiences when having ADD has been advantageous.

Growth

Two Rules to Becoming an Artist of ADD

 

The first rule in learning the Art of ADD is very simple, yet incredibly hard at the same time. The first rule requires a paradigm shift, accepting what is, in order to allow what’s possible.

Rule number one

Accept that you suck. Accept that no matter how hard you try, you will never be as good as you could be.

Harsh words maybe, but true nonetheless. Take comfort in knowing that you are not alone. In fact, you are so not alone that the whole world is in your sucky boat with you. No one will ever be as good as they could be. You could always be better. Apart from Jesus Christ and few sacred others, perfection is a commodity that won’t be accumulated by anyone in this lifetime.

So accept that you suck because we all do. Then get over it and move on.

Rule number two

Realize you can suck less, or be better than what you are now. How can you be a better version, or even the best possible version of yourself in this lifetime? Here’s where rule number two and one collide. You won’t, or can’t, be better than what you are right now until you accept the fact that you have ADD and that you may never be that ideal person you imagine in your head.

That person you imagine in your head doesn’t exist.

Welcome ADD

In accepting ADD, I don’t mean just accepting you have the diagnosis that goes by those call letters, or that you admit it to other people or even shout it to the world. It is more important for you to accept what having ADD means in your world. You aren’t built like other people. Your brain operates in an entirely different fashion, and you need to learn everything you can about yourself so that you can live life the way you were meant to live it.

What I really mean is, that instead of fighting ADD, you lean into it.

When someone accosts you by the arm and tries to hold you back, simply pulling your arm away will only work if your upper body is much stronger than their grip. But if you lean in, ever so slightly, you can get a better stance and leverage your stronger muscles and agility against the hold to set yourself free. If your brain wiring is holding you back, it’s possible that you might free yourself of your challenges using brute force and sheer might, but my guess is that the “try harder” model hasn’t worked so far.

Acceptance means you let ADD be there, knowing that ultimately, it’s not going to go away. Take a deep breath, let a sigh out, and say “you are welcome here” to your ADD. Then, start looking for ways you and ADD can live together ”happily ever after”. Okay, back to reality: nobody lives happy ever after, but we can certainly live “happier ever after” if we let ourselves be just who we are.

Don’t you think?