Mindset

What Do You Hate about ADHD?

I recently finished reading 10 Things I Hate about ADHD (Plus 10 more) by Bryan Hutchinson. In case you haven’t heard, I recently made Bryan’s list of top ADD blogs, which I am (super) proud of. Check it out here at ADDer World.

Now before you assume this post is merely a gratuity for the honour he bestowed me, let me snuff out your suspicion. I have read several of Bryan’s previous books and enjoyed them immensely. Quite simply, Bryan is a funny writer. Plus, he is a very generous person who has his given a lot of his time to the online ADHD community. He has a way of making people feel like they have found a friend in him, and that shines through in his writing.

If there was an adjunctive reason for me to review his book (apart from the fact that I enjoyed it), it would be this:

We (ADDers) have been misunderstood for most of our lives. Sometimes, just feeling understood – like somebody else “gets” us – can be a more powerful than many years of therapy. And its certainly better than the ass-kicking we give ourselves. 

If there was one book that could bring you face-to-face with your ADHD personified, this book would be it. Bryan, as always, does a fantastic job of bringing ADHD to life with his witty prose. Are there laugh-out-loud moments in this book? You bet. And also some cringe-worthy ones, but then – haven’t we all had more than our share of those too?

10 Things I Hate About ADHD is concise – a perfect read for the impatient mind. But don’t be fooled by its brevity. Its impact is far-reaching in its objective to show us we are (definitely) not alone in the crazy quirkiness of our ADHD lives. Each of the 20 things he mentions are things that drive me crazy about ADHD too. I won’t spoil the book for you (go get it here!), but I’ll bet they are the things that you hate too.

I spend a lot of time writing about acceptance and embracing the positive side of ADHD, so it’s hard to admit to the things I hate about it. Nevertheless, there ARE things I hate, and I wonder if you hate them too?

I hate the restlessness. I hate how, at times, NOW is never good enough. I am always reaching for the next thing or eagerly pursuing the next moment rather than being in the present. Hell, I can’t even have a good time without wondering what is going to happen when the good time is over. (BTW, when is this post going to be over? I was ready to start painting my basement door three paragraphs ago!)

I hate not being able to transition. I hate when I am really into whatever I am doing, but have to stop. It violates all the tasks I do afterwards. All I can do is perseverate on getting back to that thing I was doing before. Likewise, I hate it when I have no perseverance. My kids would tell you that hanging out with me is a kind of playtime speed-dating – we do lots of things together, but nothing for longer than 12 and a half minutes.

 

Lastly, I hate the impatience. In fact, I can’t stand one more second of life with impatience! No one understands the ills of waiting like an ADDer. Our minds run like the bus in the movie Speed – if you take your foot off the gas for one second, the whole thing is going to blow. And if it does, its taking everyone else with it!

Those are my top three, but I am more curious about you. What are the things you hate the most about ADHD? Or, what things have you learned to stop hating over the years? Tell us all in the comments below. But please hurry up, I can’t wait a second longer for your reply because I have other things I need to move on to! 😉

Mindset

The Joys of ADHD and the Risks of Being Normal

 

Most of us have spent our entire lives feeling broken.

We grew up knowing something was wrong with us, even if it at the time we didn’t know it by its four-letter acronym. We’ve spent years, even lifetimes, trying to get normal. We’d have been better off to escape Wonderland on the tail of a tardy rabbit. That would have been just as realistic.

What I’m saying is this:

If you are still trying to become normal, you need to wake up. There is no Wonderland. There is no normal.

Why Embrace the Joys of ADD?

Yes, 8 out of 10 kids may be able t0 sit still in class. Not all of those 8 will pass those classes with flying colours though. 8 out of 10 people don’t lose their keys every single day. But not all 8 of those will have tidy homes. 8 out of 10 people don’t interrupt in conversations. But not all 8 out of 10 are great conversationalists.

All of the things that make up our ADD-selves, the part of ourselves through which our ADD traits manifest themselves, those are things that other people (who don’t have ADD) also experience. Lots of people are frequently late. Lots of people are incredibly disorganized. Lots of people are long-winded interrupters who seem to have no point to their stories.

Just because we have all of those things, we are told we have ADD.

But let me ask you this: If a tree falls in a forest, does anybody hear?

Or put another way: if an ADDer is put in an ADD-friendly environment, do they still have ADD?

Let’s imagine I sent you on a little vacay for a couple of weeks. I left you on a deserted island, with only a spoon, a tarp and a box of matches to aid your survival. Because I am a wonderful travel agent, I also informed you that there were wild beasts from which you would need to defend yourself whilst simultaneously searching out a food source. Then I left.

Would your ADD hinder you in any way during your stay?

Think about it. You have no itinerary. You don’t have to awake at any set time, and there is nowhere you have to be. You have no home to maintain, no items to lose but the clothes on your back, and no one expecting you to remember the shopping. There is no TV to distract you. It’s just you and the elements of nature. Your duty is to survive and enjoy whatever the day may bring.

Would ADD get in your way AT ALL?

How might it help you?

People with ADD are often quick to react. They are frequently distracted by all the stimuli in the environment which, in this hypothetical environment, makes them a “scanner”. It’s pretty useful to scan the environment frequently when you need to watch out for predators and seek out your prey. Hyperactivity wouldn’t harm you in anyway either – it’s quite useful to be constantly on the move when you need to survive, or so I’ve learned from the Walking Dead anyway.

If you still can’t see what I am blatantly trying to tell you, let me encourage you to think of it from a different perspective. How useful are the skills of sitting still, listening in class, being neat, tidy and organized and punctual when you are running for your life (or at least for your stomach)?

Yes, of course, it’s not a real-life situation except on Survivor. But that doesn’t change the fact that if you were able to live in a different environment, your ADD might not be a problem at all. Maybe you don’t live on a deserted island, but that doesn’t mean you have to conceptualize yourself as the problem, rather than the environments modern society allocates us to live in.

You know, it’s only been in the last 100 or so years that kids were forced to sit down and learn the same standardized curriculum in a group of thirty same-aged peers. We think that’s normal. But if the world is tens of thousands of years old, and we’ve only started teaching our kids that way in the last century, in my books – that makes school abnormal. It may be the way we do things currently, but it’s not the way we have always done things and it’s very unlikely to be the way we will always do them.

Yes, the world has seen an explosion in ADD diagnoses. I don’t think it will always be this way. If Daniel Pink in A Whole New Mind has anything to say about it, I’m right. You should go read that book (or listen to the audio).

There are plenty of things that the ADD mind is adeptly built for. Like creativity, and innovation. Like chaos management and crisis resolution.  Like firefighting and emergency response. Like, like, like….

You see, when you look at things from a “broken” perspective, you assume that you need to fix something that is wrong, when nothing is wrong at all. It is what it is. When you celebrate what is good about that thing, you find a place for it.

That’s not to say that ADD doesn’t have its disadvantages, of course it does. But there are a lot of hazards to being a genius. And many hazards of being frugal. And also many hazards of reclusive or self-restricted. We don’t have to think that those things are ALL BAD though.

I happen to think that there is a place in this world for us ADDers. Thom Hartmann, author of The Edison Gene: ADHD and the Gift of the Hunter Child, agrees with me. He’s a pretty smart guy, so you should believe us both. Even if you don’t agree, at the very least you must accept that having ADD isn’t all bad, all of the time.

Research shows that ADDers have a higher tendency towards creativity. They also suggest that ADDers are frequently drawn to intense, high-demand and high-risk careers such as entrepreneurship.

You may not be one of those people. You may be, like so many of us, stuck in a career that is ill-suited to your energetic, associative, divergent thinking and need for constant stimulation and frequently changing environment.

It’s a lot easier to feel bad about being in the wrong place than it is to feel about being the wrong person.

I don’t have a simple solution to this. Try as hard as you can to find a better job for yourself. But in the meantime, try as hard as you can to make your job fit you.

The point about celebrating ADD isn’t to stand on top of your roof top and shout into a megaphone how wonderful you are. That tends to draw the wrong kind of attention to yourself and may lead to an all-expenses paid trip to a psychiatric facility.

However, celebrating your differences can have real advantages. People who celebrate their differences aren’t limited to ADDers. With the change in the way we think about “normal”, the idea of normal becomes a more and more obscure concept. Once upon a time, the only so-called normal people were white heterosexuals, with husbands who worked 12 hour days and smoked cigars, while their wives baked bread all day and their children played kick-the-can.

C’mon. Normal is so last century. But even last century…

Albert Einstein was not normal. Thomas Edison was not normal. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks were not normal.

Normal never changed the world.

The Risks of Trying to Be Normal

The strengths of ADD are inherent in their challenges. Abundant minds tend to be scattered. Energetic people tend to have a hard time sitting still. And quick-reactors tend to be impulsive at other times. It’s just the way it is.

But there is more to this point than accepting it’s okay not to be normal. You can never get to where you want to be – to get the most out of life – when you are trying to work towards a false ideal.

Sometime, you might get to where you wanted to be. You may get very, very close to normal. And in the process, you may lose everything that was wonderful about you as you were.

I know this first hand.

I will never profess to be normal but I can say that I got very close to acting like a normal person on a routine basis. I got to the point where I was never late. But it usually meant that I was a harried mess trying to get out the door, shouting and badgering the kids to hurry up. I stopped making impulsive decisions and “winging it” most of the time. Instead, I was always thinking about next steps, appropriate courses of action, and reasonable expectations. I lost the ability to be spontaneous.

I became an automaton of efficiency. I was the family Border Collie, herding them all day long.

I learned to keep my environment neat and organized. But I became dependent on it. I couldn’t function in a disorganized environment. I spent so much of my time keeping things in check that I started doing less of the creative stuff. I daydreamed less. Which meant that I seldom had any ideas at all, let alone good ones.

I became very dangerously close to not having ADD anymore. Though it would never go away, I came close to shoving it in to remission. It required herculean effort to be normal. So much so that I lost my way. I actually caught myself wishing I could be more ADD again.

Life was certainly more chaotic with full blown ADD, but it was also a lot more fun. Though at times it was frustrating, I enjoyed living in my head and having interesting ideas. Sure, there were many projects that I never finished. But without my ADD brain, there were also fewer ideas and the projects that I did take on all tended to be very mechanical and lacked flare.

I couldn’t keep it up, being someone who I wasn’t. The pendulum, they say, swings both ways. It seems that my pendulum had to swing completely in the other direction, before it could come back to the middle ground in a reasonably feasible way.

Now, I am living in what I call ADHD Integration. Its where I am able to take the parts that work for me and keep them, while managing the parts of ADD that don’t work for me. I don’t want to give the impression that I can turn it on and off, but rather that I have the ability to switch gears when I need to.

The whole point is that I was extremely unhappy when I wasn’t letting myself be ADD. I was functioning better on the exterior, but I had lost a core part of myself and failed to fulfill my needs to be creative, expressive and spontaneous.

Embracing ADD does not mean that you just let yourself be late, disorganized or dysfunctional in many areas of your life. But don’t try so hard to not be ADD that you lose everything that is wonderful in the process. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

Some of the most interesting people I know have ADD. I also know many interesting people who don’t have ADD. The difference is that the people who don’t have ADD don’t walk around feeling broken because they don’t fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants. They fit in to the world but that doesn’t make them better people. It just means they’re better at fitting in.

People who don’t fit in have a place in this world. The shoes you have to fill may not be comfortable but no one said life was going to be comfortable.

Embrace who you are and what you have to offer the world. Be yourself. Manage ADD by all means, and don’t let it interfere with your happiness, but don’t let yourself be fooled into thinking you’d be happier without ADD in your life because trust me, you won’t.

 

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.

Mindset

How Do You Feel About Having ADHD?

Not so long ago, somebody asked me this question: how do you feel about having ADHD? I had to stop and think about it for a minute. I mean, how do you answer a question like that? It’s not possible to give an answer. There are many valid responses – each of them equally true. 

 

Multi-tiered responses seem dithery. But it’s not really a multiple choice question. No matter how you fill in the blanks, having ADD means a lot of things – none of which can be summed up in one final conclusion.

Could Spongebob have ADHD? I wonder…

How do I feel about having ADD?

Well… um… !?!?

It reminds me of a story. A young man was sitting his college final in philosophy. Daunted by the knowledge the result accounted for 50% of his final grade, he was understandably uptight. Furthermore, there was only one question on the exam. One question in which to achieve exactly half of his final mark in the class. While he had really enjoyed the class, the idea that he could blow it all on one question unnerved him.

The question was “Why?”

Nothing more, just “Why?” It was a philosophy class, after all.

Others applied pen to paper madly and fervently, concocting all sorts of intelligent and articulate rejoinders, the kind expected in academia.  He was stunned and did not know where to begin. Surveying the plethora of options, he could not comfortably and confidently choose a solid debate. So instead he sifted through and pushed aside all ideas, going straight to his gut for his response. Which was:

Why not?

He aced the exam. One hundred percent. Ten thousand words more could not offer up a better answer.

So how do I feel about having ADHD?

I could say that I hate it. I’m tired of the restlessness, the inability to focus at times and the incessant drive to always be “doing something”. I’m sick of misplacing things and forgetting important tasks, and of losing my train of thought every… what was I going to say?

I could say that I love it. It blesses me with an abundance of ideas. It keeps me on my toes. It makes me good at handling unpredictable circumstances, to think quickly and take decisive action with little preparation or notice. It certainly makes life interesting.

Depending on when you catch me, both those answers are true – at times. But for the most part, my real answer is a simple as the Why Not that aced the exam.

How do I feel about having ADD?

I don’t. I don’t feel anything about having ADD.

How do you feel about it?

How about your teeth? How do you feel about having teeth?

How do feel about having a heart? How about your lungs? What do you think about breathing air? How do feel about living on land? What about gravity – how do you feel about that?

You don’t, right?

After many years of learning about my ADD and growing with it, I have learned to accept it. I’ve had much help in learning to manage my challenges, and most of my growth has been realized through discovering and fully embracing my strengths as well. I’ve taken the good along with the bad and the ugly. My ADD hasn’t got better. I’ve just got better at living well with it. So the challenges have been minimized, opening the door for the positives to manifest themselves.

Oh yeah… and through doing this all I have been blessed with the opportunity to coach my ADD comrades and help them manifest the same in their lives. Not a bad job eh?

Truly accepting and working with ADHD means that eventually, for the most part, you won’t have too many feelings about it at all. It’s just a part of you, like your teeth and your heart. It’s just a part of life, like gravity and living on land.

You won’t have to feel anything about it. You will take the good and the bad along with the air and the gravity. It’s just a part of life. And you’ll just get on with it.

In part two to this post, we will explore why this kind of acceptance is so important. Not just important, but absolutely crucial to creating your greatest masterpiece – a life lived well. But for now, I leave you with the question once more…

How do you feel about having ADHD?

(See those spaces down there? The ones under the heading “comments”? Those spaces are for your answers so go ahead and comment! I guarantee, every comment will get a 100% mark from me!)

Image courtesy of http://unh-ed604.wikispaces.com/Feelings

Mindset

5 Myths About Confidence with ADHD (Debunked!)

If you don’t feel confident in who you are as a person with ADHD, then mastering any ADHD challenges you face is pointless.

Who would you be trying to master them for? Other people? Why? So they can be happier with you, even if you’re not going to be happy with yourself?

What would that say to other people? That you aren’t worth the effort, but they are? Sell yourself out, basically?

Confidence is an elusive and abstract concept. I happen to have an affinity for making the abstract more transparent and accessible. You don’t have to agree with my conceptualizations. I am so confident in my beliefs that I welcome objections.

Confidence is something that many people struggle with, and even more so when you have ADD. When the way the world is built, structured and organized is almost directly oppositional to the way your brain works – finding your confidence in that world can be a bit like looking for Waldo wearing kaleidoscope glasses.

At the same time, how confident you are with you ADHD all depends on how you choose to view it.

If you want to get truly confident in yourself, you need to know what this thing is you are striving for. There are a lot of fallacies about confidence that need to be exposed. These false beliefs about confidence may be the very things stopping you from actually getting it.

 

1. Confidence is something you’re born with.

The only traits we know, beyond doubt, that people are born with is their natural propensity towards having skin, teeth, organs, bones and hair (until middle age, anyway). Even eye colour changes around six months of age.

There are many diagnosable conditions that experts surmise are present from birth. Self-esteem and confidence are not any of these conditions.

Plenty of attentive and well-meaning parents breed non-confident children. Many children are born more introspective and shy. These two things do not exclude one from being confidant. Yes, you can be quiet and confident. On the other hand, I have known exuberant and outgoing children who have been reared by introverted parents. Again, confidence is not tied to your personality or style of relating to people.

It is certainly not tied to genetics.

 

2. Confidence is the result of achievement.

Achievement certainly adds kindling to the fire of self-confidence. Several studies indicate that ultimately the best way to foster a child’s self-esteem is not to bolster it with floods of praise, but to give them ample opportunities to achieve a feeling of self-efficacy. That is – give them opportunities to challenge themselves and succeed. Acknowledge their effort and dedication rather than an innate ability(being naturally good at something) that they have no control over. This gives them a feeling of mastery and develops their internal-locus of control – a phenomena closely linked to resilience in life.

However, if that sense of self-efficacy is lacking in adulthood, we lose the courage to challenge ourselves. Our history tells us it’s pointless. Experience of “failures” and criticisms prevent us from exposing ourselves to further humiliation and we tell ourselves that it is better not to try at all.

The irony is that we will never feel better about ourselves unless we try.

Sometimes we need to start with a bit of self-confidence, a little seed that can be sprouted with gentle care and nurturing, and planted to grow on its own against the elements once it is heartier. Confidence won’t grow out of nothing. Plant the seedling safe in your heart first. When it is stronger and ready to bud, you will be readier to challenge yourself again.

Seedlings of confidence start sprouting when you look for the small successes. No success is too small to overlook. The smallest of achievements, when focused on a celebrate, will combine and grow together into much bigger accomplishments.

 

 3. Confidence is fixed.

Once you are confident, you will never doubt yourself again right?

No. This is one of the most damaging falsehoods commonly perceived about this topic.

The truth is, confident people frequently lack confidence.

Huh? Yes, that is exactly it – confidence waxes and wanes in different times and situations in life.

However, intrinsically confident people consciously accept the ebb and flow of it. They know there are times they will doubt themselves. The difference is – they don’t endorse feelings of un-sureness as a truth or statement about themselves. They accept the feeling will go away and that feeling down about yourself is not the same as loathing yourself.

They don’t attach confidence to their identity.

They don’t say “I knew I was crap! I will never amount to anything.” They say “I am feeling like crap right now. But I have plenty of reasons to believe that I won’t feel this way forever.”

Why is this idea so damaging?

If you believed that ultimate confidence is something to be achieved as an end result, like winning The X Factor or becoming UFC’s next victor, you wouldn’t bother trying very hard for it. That ideal would be so incomprehensible to your psyche it would seem impossible.

The climb to that ideal would feel too hard to even bother trying. And even if you did pursue it, any little event that challenged you along the way would send you sailing back down the pit.

But knowing that confidence is something you can build upon, step by step, makes it feel so much more achievable. The path to confidence is not an elevator ride straight to the top. It is a slow-escalator ride, that perhaps does a little reverse every once in a while.

Little bursts of confidence then tap into that self-efficacy thing we talked about a minute ago. A positive cycle emerges…

 

4. Confidence is global.

Truly confident people feel confident in all situations.

If you believe that, then you’ve got a case of mistaken identity, like when you confuse actors who resemble each other or mix up the plots of two similar stories.

As in the point made in #3, truly confident people do not feel confident in all situations. But they accept themselves in all situations. They have a worth that is not threatened by holding their hand up and saying “I’m out of my depth here”.Confidence doesn’t mean being the best. It means being okay with not being good at something at all – and still feeling good about yourself. Its about knowing what is important for you to care about, and what isn’t. 

 

4. Confidence is arrogant.

Wrong answer. Arrogance is arrogance. Conceit is conceit. Confidence is neither of these things.

Confidence is an acceptance of yourself, as you are. It is the willingness to try, even when you may fail. It is being okay with the fact that you are flawed but not letting those flaws stand in the way of your happiness. It means not letting your flaws dictate how you feel about yourself, and maybe even celebrating some of your failures as wonderful learning experiences.

Confidence is also accepting that other people are flawed too, and that their flaws do not determine their worth or abilities.

Confident people make other people feel good about themselves just being around them. Boastful, egoistic and narcissistic people who appear confident, but annoy and intimidate other people, actually exemplify non-confidence in its most complicated form. Those elaborate defense mechanisms merely masque a highly vulnerable and fragile sense of self-worth at the core. The most dangerous form of non-confidence, these people aren’t even aware of it.

Truly confident people have no need to belittle others because how they feel about themselves and their abilities has absolutely no dependence on the attributes of others.

 

5. I don’t deserve to feel confident.

I saved this one for last because it is one of the most influential beliefs that keep people down. It’s a huge issue and we really need to talk about it.

So I ‘m not going to.

Until next week!

In the mean time, you may want to prepare yourself for the road to confidence by what knowing what kind of fight you are in for and what kind of steps you can start taking now. 

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!

 

Mindset

Paradigm Shift: I’m Not Weird, I’m ADD

I always suspected I was weird but kept it quiet and hoped no one else would notice.

Ten years ago, my mom suggested I might have Attention Deficit Disorder. I read a seminal self-help book and agreed that I did.

Then, a few weeks later, I decided I didn’t. There was no way I would let pathology excuse my character deficits or allow me to pretend I was somehow unique or special. I wasn’t good enough to have ADD. I just needed to try harder.

And then I proceeded to carry on in the same never-ending, self-defeating cycle of searching for the cure to being me.

The possibility lingered somewhere in the back of my mind for quite some time, but I beat it into submission. Until it fought back with a force I could not deny. My ADD decided it would not be pushed away. It pushed me back.

So I revisited this notion that my “character deficits” may be, just maybe, connected to my attention deficits. My second child was nearing his first birthday, and I realized that the adjustment from one to two kids was taking me an exceedingly long time. It was probably made harder by the fact that being a parent the first time around came surprisingly easy to me. And because there were only 18 months between them.

As my son grew out of infancy and into toddlerhood it became clear that an 18 year gap wouldn’t have made a difference. I could not cope well with having my attention split between two beings I loved so passionately and so equally. And while I could just about manage myself and a child, I was not built to manage a family.

Or so I thought.

I searched, internally and outwardly, for the answers to my problems. If I could just figure out…

–         the “secret” to parenting

–         the key to guiding their behaviour consistently

–         the trick to keeping a house clean (or getting it clean in the first place), stocking a refrigerator, having the kids fed when they are hungry instead of an hour later, getting somewhere on time, not forgetting appointments, not forgetting necessary baby items on outings, getting out of the house at all, getting done what I’d said I get done, remembering in the first place that I’d said I’d do something, listening to what the kids were saying or just listening to anyone period …

… then I could figure out how to be a proper parent.

I knew other mothers were privy to this secret, but there was no way of asking them without incriminating myself as incompetent.

The fact is, in the realm of mature and responsible adults, I had always been a con artist. Having kids just shone a spotlight on me. I was a replication artist – I could make life look sort of like the real thing from a distance, but up close and personal it become obvious I scribbling outside the lines.

I researched and read what I could about every single dilemma I was faced with. I developed system after system to fix each of my issues. I devised schedules for laundry and cleaning, pre-printed grocery lists to track needed inventory. I pasted pictures of silly faces and soothing quotes around the house, reminding me to be mindful, to stay calm, to think clearly, and most of all – lighten up.

I kept a large white board on the kitchen wall inked with all my commitments, and a note pasted to my tea kettle reminding me to look at said white board. I even wrote a list of every single activity that I could do with the kids – at home or at large – when we were bored, so that I didn`t have to think on the spot. Listlessness (the state of being listless without a list) is my biggest barrier to planning.  Being bored doing nothing is favourable to being bored doing something that requires effort.

Not surprising then that I was bored a lot.

And none of those systems got implemented for more than a day. Maybe the tea-kettle-post-it-note should have been pink instead of yellow? Back to the drawing board (aka rumination) I went, again trying to figure out what was wrong with me.

Aha, I figured it out! It wasn’t that I was an inadequate mom; I was just an incompetent person. At day to day stuff anyway. Real life stuff. I’m pretty good at crisis and adventure, not so good at crying kids and afternoon naps.

No matter what the issue was, I was central to it. Everything was down to me, my fault. If I could fix me, I could fix everything.

It was kind of narcissistic, don’t you think?

I have been doing this dance for my entire life, as long as I can remember: the “what’s-really-wrong-with-me-and-how-can-I-fix-it” waltz. Maybe this sounds familiar to you?

Until ADD beat me into submission. It wouldn’t be ignored any longer.

I finally learned about ADD – the one possibility I’d never allowed myself to entertain because of an ego that told me ADD would take away my control in the matter. ADD wasn’t my fault. My ego wanted it to be my fault so that I could fix it.

All these years of trying to fix myself, I had actually been reading the wrong user’s manual. That’s what learning about ADD showed me. I had been trying to operate a Mac with a PC handbook or navigate New York with a city map of London.

What a waste of time!

I’d lost years of my life trying to fix the glitch in my matrix, never realizing I was working with the wrong code. That was the dawn of my “awakening”. Giving up control gave me the power to do something real about the challenges I face every day.

I got a new manual. The manual tells me how to work with my brain instead of against it. Interestingly, it doesn’t tell me how to be a domestic goddess, but it does tell me that I wasn’t built for that role in the first place. There are other ways to be a good mom.

My new manual reminds me that a Mac isn’t best used for spreadsheets but it does excel in other applications. In future blog posts I will reveal the “secrets” from my “manual” in hopes that it will help you gain greater clarity around your abilities and talents.

However, my manual is only an adjunct to the manual you must write for your own life. If you haven’t got around to it yet, quit wasting time and get writing it! And I hope you will share your wisdom …