Mindset

A Perfect Letter to Your Critics

Dear Perfect Person,

I feel the need to write and explain myself because I think you may have gotten the wrong idea about me.

When you walked into my house today, you saw a disaster zone – stuff scattered all over, finger-printed walls and dust proliferating in the far corners of the floor. You saw counters littered with homeless debris, old dishes and clothing displaced like refugees from their rightful homes.

You didn’t see how many times I cleaned up this week, only to have my work undone by some other disruptive demand.

I know this shocks you, Perfect Person, because I’ve been to your home and seen with my own eyes just how perfect your home is. Everything in its place, including the dust – which lives not on your house but in your garden – where it should be.

When I interrupted you today (each time), I sensed your disgust at my utter lack of manners. You don’t interrupt, Perfect Person, but I am sorry that I can’t contain myself as well as you do. I just get excited when our conversation inspires new ideas in me.

You don’t know how many times I wanted to interrupt you, but held myself back – even though what I had to say was really good. How is it that you are always so stoic and controlled in your conversation? Where’s your enthusiasm?

And another thing – when you asked me if I’d gotten around to doing that thing you asked, your disappointment was palpable. I know it was very important to you. I really do want to be someone you can rely on.

But everyone in my life has something to ask of me – something that is very important to them. I don’t want to disappoint any of them, so what should I do, Perfect Person? I say “yes” to everyone. I’ve tried to say no, but I can see the distrust in their eyes when I do. I see it in your eyes, Perfect Person. When I admit the things I haven’t done, you don’t see the things I have.

When I’m late, I can tell how annoyed you are, Perfect Person. I don’t know how you manage to get everywhere on time, looking perfect and having it all-together. How can you possibly manage it EVERY TIME, hey Perfect Person? Maybe you don’t have enough to do, maybe you should be busier, maybe you should quit being so damn punctual, PERFECT PERSON!

By the way, back to the whole conversation thing… I know it annoys you when I go off on a tangent about something. I see your eyes glaze over. If you stayed tuned for just for a minute longer, you’d see the association I am trying to draw out is not only completely relevant, but also – very, very interesting!

*sigh*

Can I ask you something, Perfect Person?

How come you always blame me for not listening when you’re talking trite small- talk? I may waffle a bit, but why should I listen to your boring stories when you don’t listen to my long-winded ones?

And one last thing…

Yes, Perfect Person, I am scattered. I am disorganized, and waffly and forgetful and dithery. I am restless, and irritable, and sometimes – a bit emotionally unstable. I’ll admit to all these things.

Why is it that these things are so easy to point out in me, just because someone diagnosed me with ADD? If I take you to a psychiatrist, and he diagnoses your insensitive, arrogant, puritanical, anal, holier-than-thou finger-pointing as “Hypocriticalitis”…

Can I take YOU to task on all those things, the way you repeatedly blame me for my symptoms?

Good. I’m glad we talked and got this all figured out, Perfect Person. I certainly feel a lot better. Thank you for “listening”.

Now get out of my head, so I can start imagining what all the other people in my life are thinking about me too.

Sincerely,

Sensitive About ADD

 

Nine times out of ten, the critic who scorns you most for being scattered is you. That’s who this letter is really for, just to be clear. “Perfect Person” is just a figment of your imagination, just as anyone who pretends to be perfect is a figment of their own imagination.

Stop imagining what other people think about you and your ADHD, and get working on what you think about it.

How many times in day do you notice all the things you didn’t get done, instead of the things you did finish?

When you look at your home or your office – how often do you notice the clutter but fail to acknowledge all the other things you do on a regular basis just to maintain it?

If your ADD flares during a conversation with a friend or a new acquaintance, how much of your “post-mortem” focuses on repetitively replaying the silly things you said, rather than the meaningful and successful parts of the encounter?

How frequently do you focus on what sucks about you, but COMPLETELY IGNORE WHAT IS AWESOME!?

You gotta wake up, friend. The only person you can never get away from is you.

So if you want more from yourself, you’d better start with being a little bit kinder.

Please share this with anyone who needs a wake-up-call to their awesomeness.

And have an awesome day.

Focus

Could this New Year’s Resolution Change Your Life in 2014?

 

If you could make one resolution this New Year – one you could easily stick to, that would enhance all facets of your life, but require very little effort – it would be a no-brainer to make that resolution, right?

We all know New Year’s resolutions are easy to make but hard to keep. Turning our desires into actions we will commit ourselves to, consistently, beyond the first week or month of the year – well, that’s the hard part. It’s easy to want something, much harder to make it happen.

I have a theory about that.

All actions we take, or don’t take, are filtered through a cost-benefit system of analysis. In other words, we consciously or subconsciously weigh the pros and cons of taking an action against the pros and cons of not taking it.

For example, I may want to lose weight but the “benefit” of being slim does not outweigh the “cost” associated with dieting and rigorous exercise. Or put another weigh – the pain of maintaining status quo seems more worth it than the effort involved in getting thinner.

Those failed resolutions we make every year – the ones that don’t last as long as a celebrity marriage – they aren’t resolutions at all. They are simply desires. Desires that are inevitably eclipsed by other competing motivations. More often than not, the competing motivation that wins is the one that wants to avoid the cost of the EFFORT.

But a resolution, a REAL resolution, is actually a “firm decision to do or not do something”. Whatever intention you set, you will keep to it because you are certain of your choice and committed to the action. The benefit is worth the effort, no matter how little or great. It doesn’t mean you’ll find immediate success, but that you will keep working at it with the tenacity of a terrier.

This New Year, I invite you take a little journey with me. Find your inner terrier. Chase something with me.

It will take very little effort. It costs nothing. You won’t have to give anything up. And you won’t have to commit yourself to any strenuous activity.

In 2014, I challenge you to work on being more mindful, every single day.

(This isn’t a joke, by the way – it is possible to be mindful with ADD/ADHD). 

Would you like to take this journey with me? Could you stand to find more calmness, peace and joy in your life? Would you like to slow time down – be more present, experience life in real time, as it is happening?

What about quieting the mental chatter? Paying attention and focusing on what you are doing? How about eating healthier and taking better care of your body? What if you even stopped misplacing things so often? Learned to listen better during conversations? Became more productive at work? Had more fun with your family?

Could you spare a few minutes a day, maybe even 5, to work on this with me over the coming year? I propose that this one resolution could go a long way to improving almost every single facet of our lives.

I can’t think of a single thing in my life that couldn’t be helped by more mindful presence. Can you?

Later this week, I will be publishing a follow up to this post, to explain more about what it means to be mindful; specifically, how mindfulness can help ADHD.

In future posts, I will be setting up experiments we can try out together. In the meantime, you have a think about making this resolution that requires very little effort but could change your life in countless ways.

We’ll talk later.

If you are up for the challenge and want to invite others, tweet this: Tweet: In 2014, I challenge you to work on being more mindful, every single day. @andreanordstrom

Growth

You Never Thought Of This Strategy To Manage Your Adult ADHD?

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.

Late, lost, rejected, flustered, frustrated, distracted, disconnected, disjointed, discombobulated, dis…ordered???

You’ve been here so many times – this place you can’t unstuck from – it’s starting to feel like a deja vu, recycled on a scratched vinyl merry-go-round.

These changes you keep trying to make – they never stick anyway. Maybe change is possible. But – oh! Please somebody tell me – what will it take to sort these things out?!

Once. and. for. all!?

I’ll bet you never thought of this strategy to manage your adult ADHD.

How about starting by lightening up a bit?

“When it comes to living happily with ADHD, the art of play is a game-changer.”

Click to TWEET if you agree!

The lifelong battle of

YOU vs ADHD

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.

Mindset

13 Interrogation Tactics for a Confidence Break-Through (and why you deserve it)

IF YOUR CONFIDENCE HAS EVER BEEN AT ROCK BOTTOM, THEN MAYBE IT IS TIME TO HOLD THAT SELF-DOUBT ACCOUNTABLE FOR WHAT IT DOES TO YOUR LIFE…

The room is dark and damp, the lights are bright and oppressive. Self-loathing is in the interrogation room, charged with the crime of ruining your life. It says:

I don’t deserve to feel good about myself.

I have had so many failures and made so many mistakes, there is nothing in my life to feel good about. No matter how hard I try, I let people down. I let myself down. There is nothing about me to feel confident about. I don’t deserve it. I’m not good enough. 

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, Who am i to be brilliant,

Gorgeous, talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

 

Your playing small does not serve the world.

There is nothing enlightened about shrinking

So that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine, as children do.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

 

It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone.

And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously

Give other people the permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear,

Our presence automatically liberates others.” 

                                                                                                   

Says the good cop, quoting Marianne Williamson.

Nice try. Sweet, poetic, moving words but they didn’t break through to your self-loathing whose conviction in its righteousness is inpenetrable. It won’t budge, won’t confess its sins.

Enter the bad cop.

He has only one question for self-loathing and its kind of a rhetorical one at that.

 

“Who the hell do you think you are?”

 

You can tell by the tone he’s not looking for existential prose.

He’s stating a pivotal truth.

 

You don’t deserve to feel bad about yourself.

 

Your self-loathing doesn’t buy that. It has plenty of bonafide reasons to believe it has every right to be there. Failures from your past, experiences that shaped your lack of confidence and criticisms from important people whose opinions really mattered at the time.

But the bad cop doesn’t give up just yet. He’s got plenty of staying power, just like your self-defeat. He challenges you with these concepts:

 1. You are human.

We all make mistakes. Everyone knows that. Nowhere in the book of life does it indicate a cut off point which divides the worthy from the unworthy. Fifty mistakes and you’re a-okay, 75 and you’re a loser? Its not in the rule book – go ahead and check.

2. Your life is a miracle.

I don’t care what you believe about the origin of the universe and mankind, the fact that you are alive is a miracle. The plight that one single sperm goes through to force itself through the millions of others, through hazardous and hostile environmental conditions, to penetrate the egg and form the union that made you – is a miracle.

To loathe “that you” is pure irreverence to the majesty and miracle of life.

3. You’re not here for you. 

You weren’t born to serve only your own purpose. If that were the case, you would have manifested as a virus or a parasite. You are here to make a difference, no matter how small it may seem, to the world and the people in it. Confidence in your worth opens the door to making that difference in a bigger way. Self-doubt keeps you locked in the closet.

 

4. You’re wasting time.

I’ve got some terrible news for you – you’re dying.

Every day we live, we are all dying. Its not a reason to get depressed. Its a valid and paramount reason to not waste a single minute of this life. This life that we have already established is a complete miracle.

If being small and self-oppressive serves in any way to make the most of your life, then go ahead and keeping on despising yourself. But most of the time, self-reproach stops you from doing valid and important things with your life.

 5. Your critics are human too.

The voices who have influenced your low opinion of yourself belong to people who have a multitude of their own sins. Casting stones may be one way of protecting themselves but it doesn’t mean that they have chosen the best self-defense strategy. Psychological offence is not the best defense, its the best demise of everyone involved.

6. Your inner critic doesn’t know everything.

If you are so wrong about everything, if you are such a failure and incompetent – why would that inner voice who tells you so be given so much undoubted authority? If you are incompetent, then isn’t it possible that inner critic is also incompetent?

7. You don’t know what you don’t know.

Lack of self-worth is usually a rigid, over-generalized belief that serves to feed itself by focusing on all the mistakes you have made in your life and your perceived inadequacies. No one with a strong conviction sets out to prove themselves wrong. How this translates in real life is that you never notice, or very frequently overlook or discount anything you have done that proves your worth and capability.

Self-doubt is a bias, a prejudice.

8. You aren’t omnipresent.

There is nothing about you that is always the same, all of the time. Its human nature to define the present and predict the future based on past experiences. But you are never exactly the same as you were the moment before. You are always capable of being different.

9. You aren’t omnipotent either.

You were designed to be flawed and make mistakes. Perfection is reserved for God, the Higher Power or Universe – however you choose to see it. Our flaws and mistakes are what challenge us to grow in spirit and determination. Which leads to the next point…

10. You’re stagnating.

You were made for growth and development. Hating yourself doesn’t help you grow. It keeps you oppressed.

11. You are in grave danger.

The voice of self-doubt usually grows as a protective mechanism to keep you from risking vulnerability and potential humiliation. What it also does is it exposes you to the risk of terminal disappointment. When you make it to 80+ years of age (God-willing) and you review the movie that was your life, you will rue all the things you never did or gave of yourself because you were filled with doubt.

You may also regret some lengths you went to in order to protect your fragile ego.

12. You’re setting a bad example.

If you are a member of any society (my apologies to cave-dwelling hermits who probably wouldn’t be reading this anyway), you are always influencing and affecting other people. Whether you mean to or not, feeling bad about yourself – to the extent that you don’t value who you are as being – says to others that there are particular standards that define worth. If those standards define you, they must define them.

Your self-reproach could inadvertently teach someone else to dislike themselves as well.

13. Your incapacitating humility is conceited and selfish.

Whoa, I can’t believe I really said that out loud.

Low blow, eh? I’m a bit nervous now, but let me explain. I have been locked in mental closet of rumination and self-reproach for many years, and now I am free I can say with experience I recognize its narcissism.

Worthlessness always has some roots in comparison. Its pretty conceited to think that your faults are so much worse than anyone else’s. Its arrogant to believe that the voice of self-doubt has more validity than any other possible opinion. Its selfish to hold yourself back from being your true self because of greed.

Greed? Yes, greed – indulging your own need for self-preservation while denying the world its right to benefit from the miracle of your unique contribution to it.

 

At the start of this series of gaining confidence as an ADDer, I told you I want to do everything I can to help you grow that confidence.

I didn’t say I was going to be nice about it.

If my hypothetical “bad cop” seemed a bit harsh, I can assure you that it wasn’t done sensationally or without good reason.

I know, intimately, what it is like to feel worthless and incompetent. I also know a lot about human psychology. Enough to know that the voice that feeds self-doubt is not kind or soothing. That voice is harsh, mean and just plain cruel.

That kind of voice does not respond to sweet and supportive words of encouragement like the beautiful sonnet from Marianne Williamson. It responds to a voice that lambastes it.

Fight fire with fire. So I have been cruel to be kind.

Please know this, as you finish reading this installment…

My “bad cop” was not talking to you. He was talking to the self-doubt that is interloping your psyche. If you want to start feeling more confident in yourself from this moment, the one thing you can do is make this differentiation.

That voice is not you. It’s just an opinion.

And opinions can be changed.

Mindset

The Gift of Confidence with ADHD

Last post I disclosed that I am doing a series entirely dedicated to finding confidence in your ADD life. This is the next installment – where I will explain what I have to offer and why you should bother reading it.

 

I haven’t read every book out there written on ADHD. Since I have ADHD and likely so do you, I’m sure that doesn’t surprise you. I have read a lot, but only what would likely be tantamount to a mere drop in a literary bucket.

But what I have done is think about ADHD. A lot. In fact, I’ve thought about it for thirty plus years. Possibly even 35 years, but I can’t recall what I thought about before the age of five.

Of course I haven’t been thinking about the diagnosis of ADD since childhood, that would be sad and weird. I didn’t even know that I had ADD until later in adulthood. But even before I had a name for it, I knew ADD – I knew the experience of it intimately. So I am not exaggerating when I say, in the grand scheme of my inner contemplative world, I have thought about very little else for a great many years.

The wonderful thing is that now I am thriving with my ADHD, I think much less about it. The way that I used to think about it was, for lack of a better term, obsessive. Maybe ruminative actually. I was stuck in a world of self-involvement, though not the conceited kind. The same kind of obsession a mad-scientist has when he is on the verge of solving a major equation but hasn’t yet determined exactly the right variables for the formula.

My own ADHD is not such a conundrum anymore. I have been freed from the chains of rumination and self-analysis. Now I like to think about it in a way that is much more fun and exciting to me. I like to think about the way the other members of my tribe experience ADHD. And how I can help. I have been liberated from disability of ADHD. It no longer holds me back. In fact, ADHD has become my art. I can help make it your art too.

Of course, I am digressing here so let me get back to the original point. My thinking all these years has not been merely self-obsession. I have been obsessed with the concept of ADHD. What it means. What it feels like. What it’s all about. And (most importantly) how to feel good about having it despite a lifetime of feeling second-rate and inadequate.

Yeah, you heard me right… feel good about having ADD. We’ll get back to that in a minute.

So I have thought a lot about it. And I have read a lot about it. Before sitting down to write this it did cross my mind that I couldn’t possibly have anything to say about ADHD that hasn’t been said before. I probably don’t. Previously I have talked about how there are virtually no new ideas out there anymore (except for “wireless” hovercraft toilets, most useful for times of performing a bodily function and midway realizing you are without the appropriate tools – no one has thought of that yet).

What can I add to the world of knowledge and literature on the subject of ADD? My own perspective of it, that’s what. Nothing less, nothing more. Why should my little perspective on this huge issue matter to you? You don’t really know me. I haven’t told you much about who I am that would make my two-cents worth your time.

I also know how hard it is to read when you have ADD. I know how hard it is to find the time to read at all these days, for anyone. So I am hugely honoured that you have even made it through these first 650+ words, and maybe perhaps even some of my other posts on this blog. I am also highly conscious of the fact that I better give you a pretty solid sales-pitch right now if I am going to convince you to keep reading any further.

Why should my ADHD theories matter to you?

Because I am your biggest fan.

When you are a fan of something, a team or an artist, it means you like them. They mean something to you. You have made a personal choice to stand behind them, when times are good and bad. And you want them to do well.

I want you to do well. I want all ADDers to do well. They are my tribe. I found myself and where I belong when I discovered the true nature of my differences. That is what has made all the difference in my life – finding the team that I play for. So of course I want my team to do well. My “two-cents” is in reality a personal investment of the most valuable kind – I give over completely my head and my heart to support my team and help them do well. I write this for you, my teammate, my tribes-member, to help you do well too.

I spent the first half of my career helping people with depression, anxiety and other mental illness free themselves from those debilitations. A great deal of this work was centred on self-esteem and confidence. Now that I have found a new calling, I have reinvented my career and now dedicate it to coaching other ADDers through their challenges towards their place of confidence and success. My training, my coaching, my blog – are my contributions to that mission.

Which brings me back to the reading. I know you don’t have a lot of time. Your attention is a scarce commodity. I respect that about you. So I will cut to the chase right now with a caveat that will excuse you if you want to don’t want to invest anymore time.

This is, in some ways I suppose, a self-help blog. But not the kind permeates tactics and strategies for “overcoming” ADHD and becoming more “normal”. Strategies for self-improvement and gaining confidence are certainly explored, but not from a standpoint that negates how great you already are. If that’s what you want, I’ll tell you now you’ve got the wrong blog.

If, however, what you want right now is to find a new meaning to your life, to find some direction, build up your confidence and discover a new sense of worth and value that coexists with your ADHD – then you have found the right blog. This is what I am talking about. This is what I am all about. I don’t want you to relegate your ADD like some sort of cognitive cancer now in remission. I want you to rock it.

This is an existential journey into the depths of the collective ADHD conscious, searching for meaning, hope and acceptance. For it is in those realms that true freedom and mastery are born. True success with ADHD starts and ends with authentic self-worth. Put it this way: a low opinion of yourself won’t make your ADD any better and perhaps, makes it infinitely worse.  No strategy in the world will change your life if your head’s not going to change too. (Click to tweet)

Writing this series now, word by word, I will admit that I have no idea how deep this rabbit hole will go. But I am glad that you are coming on this journey with me.

 

 

Mindset

The First (And Most Important) Step in Getting Your Act Together

It sucks when you really want to do something and you just can’t do it.

It sucks even more when you know you can, but for whatever reason, it seems you can’t get your sh*t together and get it done.

If only I could get organized, then I could get this project done.

If only I knew where to start, then I could get this business up and running.

If only I would pay more attention to what I am doing, I wouldn’t lose everything I own.

If only I’d start remembering to do the important stuff, my bank account wouldn’t have gone overdrawn again for the third time this year.

 If only I’d get it together, I could really go for my dreams. I could live the life I want. I could stop living on the edge of greatness and become the person I really want to be and know I could be.

Why can’t I just get it together?

Have you been there? Cryptic words written on long-gone but not forgotten report cards echoing through your memory… “Would do well to pay attention.” “Must try harder.” Reminiscent of troubles that have repeated themselves throughout your life’s timeline…

Pay attention? Try harder? Thank you very much for the well-meaning advice, but when you take your car into the mechanic for a service, you don’t expect him to turn around and say to you “Your car needs a service”. That part is obvious. What you really want to know is: what needs to be done and how are you going to do it?

We are always trying harder. We are always paying attention. In fact, we overpay it. If attention was a currency, then we ADDers invest in so many different funds it would give the hardiest of accountants a stroke trying to keeping track of it all. We hemorrhage attention and have no innate ability to cauterize it. That’s why we can’t get our acts together.

So where does that leave us?

Usually, we just try harder. And hope that this time it will really work.

Like the latest business cliché, we don’t want to try harder. We want to try smarter. Most of us have this latent sense that we are capable of so much more than what we are doing right now. We sense that we could do great and wonderful things if a few habitual barriers would just get out of our way. And we tell ourselves that we will be truly happy with ourselves once we finally get our act together.

I hate to tell you this but it doesn’t work that way. That little piece of misinformation is what keeps you chasing your own tail in life’s revolving door of chaos.

The truth, in fact, is diametrically the opposite. You will get your act together in a much greater way once you become happier with yourself just the way you are.

It sounds crazy. Its feels counter-intuitive. How could being happier with how I am right now help me get more organized and on top of my game, if how I am right now is a complete mess?

I’ll tell you how in a minute, but first let me share with you a little analogy. When working as a Cognitive-Behavioural Therapist, I did a lot of work with people suffering from Panic Disorder. If you’ve ever suffered from a panic attack, you can appreciate how dreadful this condition can be. The question I was most often asked by clients at the beginning of therapy was:

“When will the panic attacks stop for good?”

My reply was always the same.

“When you stop being afraid of having them.”

This is the irony of Panic Disorder. It’s almost impossible to have a panic attack if you are totally comfortable with the experience of them. They’re never going to feel nice. But if you get to a place where they are reduced to the annoyance-level equivalent of a hiccup, they’ll pretty much disappear.

And so it is with ADHD. Not saying ADD will disappear once you learn to accept yourself with it. But the grip that ADD challenges have over your life will loosen. The less important they become in your mind, the less power they will have over you. New ways of being will finally feel free to manifest in your life when they no longer fear getting caught in the crossfire between you and your “old self”. When you open up your arms and embrace who you are right now, you are also welcoming the you that you are becoming. (Click to tweet)

When will you start getting your sh*t together?

When you stop being afraid of who you are with ADD.

This is what I am talking about…

Obviously, there is a lot more to getting your act together than this. But learning to embrace yourself as you are is the first and most crucial step in breaking through the glass ceiling of ADHD and moving up to the next level.

This post is the first in a series I intend to do on the topic of learning to be confident in yourself and flourishing with ADD. If you have any questions you would like addressed in this series, here’s your chance to let me know by leaving a comment below. If you are a blogger, don’t forget to sign in with Commentluv so you can promote your latest posts as well.

Creativity

50 Inspirational Quotes for ADDers to Live By

If I am completely honest with you, which I always am, doing this post today makes me feel like a bit of a rip-off artist.

For a couple of reasons. Firstly, doing a compendium of inspirational quotes is hardly an original idea. If you’re not an avid blog reader you’ll have to trust me when I say this topic has been done literally thousands of times before. Put it this way: an post about quotes is to blogging what a banana peel and an idiot are to slapstick comedy. Cliche.

The other reason it makes me feel like a swindler is a pretty obvious one, but I’ll point it out anyway. I am creating a post almost fully comprised of other people’s words. It’s like plagiarism – only justified through the use of proper punctuation.

So why do it?

You know me (you do by now, don’t you?) – I am eternally transparent and honest about what I am thinking and doing. I am also pretty upfront about why I write what I write. So here is the explanation.

There are no original ideas these days. Everything you read, whether through the medium of books, blogs, newspapers or the back of shampoo bottles – has all been thought of before. However, the ingenuity of literature comes not from the idea itself, but how its presented or dressed-up, if you will. Old ideas continue to be fresh and relevant when you put your own stamp on them.

Of course there are some original ideas hanging around in the creative jungle waiting to be snared, but I can’t think of any because… no one has thought of them yet. If you don’t quite follow me, close your eyes and try to imagine a brand-new, completely original colour – one that’s never been seen before. (I’ll give you a few minutes to scan your cerebrum…)

You see what I mean?

What we imagine or create is a combination of things we have already witnessed, but the way we combine those things is unique to ourselves.

So I can create my own rendition of a quotation-round-up post, but what about the fact that a bulk of the content, or in essence the storyline of this post, has been created primarily by the words of other people?

I have no excuse other than the fact that I love quotes. Apparently, so do a lot of other people, or bloggers at least.

To me, an inspirational quote is not merely a statement grazed from some famous person’s speech or an abridged form of a celebrated soliloquy. It is a concise, well-composed statement that powerfully articulates an important concept, one that is spoken by … anyone. Famous or not. I may have generated one of two inspirational “quotes” in my time. I’m almost certain that you will have too, whether or not you realize it. It’s not who says it that’s important, it’s what’s said.

The power of the inspirational quote is that, by employing a few carefully chosen and arranged words, it conveys a much bigger message in a single dose. Quotes can move you or simply make you laugh. They can motivate you, help you switch perspectives, or even shift entrenched emotional states. They can make you feel validated, vindicated, understood. They can innervate, intrigue, and inspire you to be in a different state, even if for just a moment.

Inspirational quotes make an effect on you, and they do it with very few words (“unlike me”, I’m thinking).

They are like self-help in a shot-glass. Like injectable therapy. The ultimate philosophy-hack.

That’s why they are wonderful for us ADDers. We like things with a kick – short, sharp, quick and powerful. We like short-cuts. We are drawn to metaphors that evoke vivid imagery. Many of us also have a love of language and play with words like they’re a form of linguistic Lego – quotes can be a fun and engaging way to inspire us.

But most importantly, there are times in life that we ADDers really need some inspiration. Or motivation. And certainly validation.

So without any further ado, firm in the belief that I have sufficiently defended my decision to “sell-out” with this cliché post, I present to you my top 50 quotes that every ADDer should live by.

Because this post will end up being a bazillion words, I have cataloged them according to the conditions for which they are most useful. You don’t need to read the whole post. Chances are good I have lost your attention already … (c’mon my ADD friend, don’t you realize I know you too?!)

Even if you don’t read the whole thing – make sure to skip to the comments at the end and share with me some of your favourite inspirational quotes. In fact, I even challenge you to create one or two of your own quotes and share them. If you’re worried about what other people will think, don’t – I have a quote for that too 🙂

Strength, Perseverance, and Overcoming Challenges

For those times when we feel like everything is impossible for us and are fed up with working so hard to do things that come easily to others. A few reminders that the daily trials and tribulations are what build our characters, give us strength and flexibility, and shape our determination.

“Stand up to your obstacles and do something about them. You will find that they haven’t half the strength you think they have.” Norman Vincent Peale

“Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”Art Linkletter

“Good timber does not grow with ease; the stronger the wind, the stronger the trees.” J. Willard Marriott

“The human spirit is never finished when it is defeated… it is finished when it surrenders.” Ben Stein

“It is not what happens to you that determines how far you go in life; it is what you do with what happens to you.” Zig Ziglar

“Inside of a ring or out, ain’t nothing wrong with going down. It’s staying down that’s wrong.” Muhammad Ali

“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” Friedrich Nietzsche

 

Risking the Humiliation of Failure

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For those times when by reaching for our dreams, living our adventures, or expressing our souls, we open ourselves up to the vulnerability and pain of possible failure, knowing that without that risk there can be no success.

“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dream.”

“… often just before the big achievement, comes apparent failure and discouragement.” Florence Scovel Shinn

“Behold the turtle: He only makes progress when he sticks his neck out.” James Bryant Conant

“I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why . . . I succeed.” Michael Jordan

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Winston Churchill

“You miss a 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” Wayne Gretzky

“Defeat is not the worst of failures. Not to have tried is the true failure.” George E. Woodberry

“I don’t think there’s any artist of any value who doesn’t doubt what they’re doing.”
Francis Ford Coppola

 

Being the Boss of Your Mind

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As we reside in our minds, we must remember that we are also the CEO of them. We lead the direction our minds take, and everything in life is experienced through our state of mind.

“Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.” Zig Ziglar

“Never tell yourself … I can’t go on. If you do you’re licked, and by your own thinking too.” Norman Vincent Peale

“The state of your life is nothing more than a reflection of your state of mind.” Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” Warren Buffett

“You become what you think about.” Earl Nightingale

“Some people have a negative attitude, and that’s their disability.” Marla Runyan

“If I shall have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it, even if I may not have it at the beginning.” Mahatma Gandhi

“Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” Charles Dickens

“The last of the human freedoms: to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Viktor Frankl

“Happiness is to be found along the way, not at the end of the road, for then the journey is over and it is too late. Today, this hour, this minute is the day, the hour, the minute for each of us to sense the fact that life is good, with all of its trials and troubles, and perhaps more interesting because of them.” Robert R. Updegraff

“When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than any talent for abstract, positive thinking.” Albert Einstein

“We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about.” Charles Kingsley

“There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.”
William Shakespeare

Giving Yourself the Present

To help us never forget our being while we’re so busy doing and thinking.

“Plenty of people miss their share of happiness, not because they never found it, but because they didn’t stop to enjoy it.” William Feather

“I can feel guilty about the past, apprehensive about the future, but only in the present can I act. The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.” Abraham Maslow

“Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul.” Thomas Merton

Going With the ADHD Flow

For when we are finally ready to give up being normal, and ready to be wonderfully, gloriously, successfully ADD.

“Work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.” Napoleon Hill

“To be upset about what you don’t have is to waste what you do have.” Ken Keyes, Jr.

“Happy people plan actions, they don’t plan results.” Denis Waitley

“The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they cannot find them, make them.” George Bernard Shaw

 

The Positive Symptoms

The yin and yang of ADD – reminders that not all the symptoms are always bad all of the time. To help us remember that sometimes a strength can come as a side effect of a “deficit”

“When your desires are strong enough you will appear to possess superhuman powers to achieve.” Napoleon Hill

“It’s always fun to do the impossible.” Walt Disney

“Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” Helen Keller

“The crisis of today is the joke of tomorrow.” H.G. Wells

“Thinking: the talking of the soul with itself.” Plato

“Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.” Napoleon Bonaparte

“Some say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” John Lennon.

 

Dancing to Your Own Drumbeat

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No matter what other people think or how they may judge you or how you live your life – remember that you are the leading actor in the starring role of your life; they are merely supporting characters. There is no shame in authenticity but conformity for the sole purpose of fitting in, even when it goes against your true character, is negligent to the soul.

“Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires…courage.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.”
George S. Patton

“Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” Judy Garland

“Every production of an artist should be the expression of an adventure of his soul.”
W. Somerset Maugham

“Art is either plagiarism or revolution.”
Paul Gauguin

“The two worst strategic mistakes to make are acting prematurely and letting an opportunity slip; to avoid this, the warrior treats each situation as if it were unique and never resorts to formulae, recipes or other people’s opinions.”Paulo Coelho

 

I hope you enjoyed – let me know your thoughts and share your own inspiration in the comments below!

Mindset

The Scariest Part of Undiagnosed Adult ADHD

 

Wanna hear a scary story?

Since today is Hallowe’en, I thought I would take this opportunity to break from tradition and post a day early. Everyone loves a scary story now and then. And there is no better day than Hallowe’en to share one. Be warned though, sometimes reality is scarier than fiction.

No one knows for sure why we celebrate Hallowe’en in the way that we do. Some theories suggest that its origins are rooted in times when the Roman Empire ruled the world. Their tradition of conjointly honouring saints who had no other day bestowed to them became amalgamated with ancient Celtic beliefs that the dead revisit the earth one day a year.

Hallowe’en, the evening before All Saints Day, was seen as the time when the portal between earthly and ethereal realms would be opened. In attempt to appease the spirits, the people would leave food at the edge of their townships and adorn themselves in gruesome costumes, hoping to ward off harm from evil spirits. And somewhere along the line, the tradition of dressing up and trick-or-treating was born. (Aside – I’m no historian so I make no claims to this being anything more than a theory!)

When times are hard and we don’t understand why, people tell themselves stories to explain the difficulties and give them context. The theories, inaccurate though they may be, give us a sense that we are not completely lost and navigating life without a compass. Likewise, it is human tendency to seek safety in benign rituals when there is no power to be found in more logical defenses. The rituals may not always make sense or have even a modicum of plausibility, but they are nonetheless comforting because they offer us a sense of control over situations that are beyond comprehension.

Put it this way: if your community was poor, oppressed, illness-laden and there was nothing you could do about it, wouldn’t the idea that you could ward off further harm through engaging in ritualistic behaviours bring you some sense of assurance? You may not be able to change what’s already been done, but you could surely stop it from getting any worse!

Would scary costumes really defend a person from an evil spirit with malicious intentions? Probably not. I also have a vague sense that ghosts probably don’t eat, so I can’t see what good leaving out a picnic for them would do either. But that’s not the point. Doing those things gave the people a sense of control and an ability to take some sort of action. People need to feel that they have some power over their situation or they will lose all hope. Without hope, you have nothing.

And so it is the way for someone living an ADHD life never knowing that ADHD is what they are dealing with. They devise all sorts of theories and explanations to understand why they are the way that they are, and create elaborate rituals and systems to compensate for what they cannot explain. These are not the undead roaming our earth one day a year, but the undiagnosed wandering it every day of the year. They wander through life lost, knowing not they are undiagnosed, and missing their place in the tribe they never they belonged to.

Scary isn’t it?

I must point you towards my virtual face right now, so that can you see my cheek protruding with a tongue lodged firmly in it. I am not really likening my undiagnosed comrades to zombies and monsters. I was undiagnosed myself for most of my life. In my (always) melodramatic way I am highlighting a simile that I think is worth mentioning. The dead are fantasized to wander the earth because they don’t know they are dead. We ADDers also have a great tendency to wander aimlessly when we don’t know that we have ADD.

It’s not the diagnosis that’s important, it’s the understanding it brings us. Whether or not you chose to seek diagnosis or even treatment is not nearly as important as the choice to, once and for all, seek a new understanding of yourself and your brain chemistry. Most important, it’s the realization that we are not less-than-human because of our differences, but that we are an important part of the human tribe, that sets us free from the curse of being supposed interlopers. And then we can give up useless rituals in favour of ones that actually serve us.

We aren’t lost. With the right map we can find our way just fine. Take that with you as you wander the earth this Hallowe’en day!