Consumed by Reactivity?

happy student #18People with ADD tend to feel their emotions more intensely than others, whether it’s excitement, compassion, or anger. While strong reactions and heightened emotions are not listed in the diagnostic criteria, many consider them a hallmark of ADD.

The ADD brain doesn’t function terribly efficiently in terms of inhibition, and emotions tend to come out in full force, or at least be experienced that way internally.  When strong reactions are expressed to others, it can lead to alienation, arguments or if you’re lucky, shared sentiments.  When reactivity is directed inwards, it can create a whirlwind to navigate.

The upside
Experiencing things intensely can be positive.  Consider the alternative of being flat and remote; while an extreme comparison, it’s helpful to appreciate the upside.  Being highly emotional can be an engaging way to live if you don’t allow it to take over.

Consumed by Feelings
Even pleasant feelings, like excitement, can take you away from your priorities.  In general, it takes a lot of energy to deal with strong reactions of any kind, but when they’re upsetting, it can take hours or sometimes days to get back on track.

Learn to separate your feelings from the need to act or respond immediately; at a later time you can consider possible responses. In the moment, pause and step back.  By detaching just a bit, you can look at the situation from afar, as if you’re an outside observer, and be in a better position to respond calmly.[…] Continue Reading

Fall in love with getting back on track

heart and arrow_269702When it comes to making life changes, consistently sticking to your plans is challenging.  Whether you’re trying to follow an exercise plan or cutting back on spending, there will be times of high motivation followed by serious lags. It’s tempting to give in – but consider:

“If you do not change direction, you may end up
where you are heading.”    
~Lao Tzu

When you give up, not only do you remain stuck but feelings of failure or even self-disgust can set in. We all know that the longer you flounder, the bigger the setback.  So why does it take so long to get back on track?

Consider these common reasons:

“It’s too hard!”
When you believe that a change will be near impossible or unsustainable, you’re jumping too far ahead. It’s important to choose small attainable steps and to know that you’ll get over the initial hump quickly. We forget that our perspective changes, often significantly, as we make gradual advances.  Get support, celebrate your successes, and switch your focus from catastrophic thoughts to what it will feel like to succeed! 

“I already blew it so I might as well give in.”
This type of ‘all or nothing’ thinking is common but will slow or halt your progress.  Since it’s highly unrealistic to sustain ‘all’, this perspective leads to the ‘nothing’ side of the equation far too often. Refuse to minimize your accomplishments! Would you tell a 5 year old that none of their efforts mattered, so why bother?  Obviously not, and the same goes for you. Instead, hold on to all your successes, however small, and don’t succumb to the false belief that they don’t make a difference.

[…] Continue Reading

ADHD Related Clutter or Hoarding?

IMG_0702(Originally posted in April 2013: Re-posted by request)

The other day I noticed that one of my kitchen drawers was overflowing.  There were so many potholders, oven mitts and dish towels, that every time I took something out, other items fell to the floor.  Trying to close that stuffed drawer was like engaging in a Houdini act.

When I finally broke down and pulled everything out, I was honestly perplexed.  Why on earth would I keep all these things when I had more than enough?  And why is it such a challenge for me, and millions of others, to throw things out?

Hoarders
In the April 2013 edition of Attention Magazine, there was an article titled, “ADHD and Hoarding”.  The author, Debbie Stanley, LPC, NCC, CPO-CD, made a distinction between hoarding and tendencies to collect, clutter, and be disorganized.  Her fundamental point was that hoarding is about strong emotional attachment to things, often developed as a coping mechanism after a traumatic period in life.  Due to the severe origin of the problem, addressing hoarding can be a slow and difficult process.

Clutter and ADHD
While some people with ADHD may fall into the category of hoarding, most do not.  Instead, the clutter often begins as a “natural response” to intellectual curiosity.  It’s common for those with ADHD to pursue many ideas and interests.  While it’s a wonderful trait, the resulting living space can end up having piles of books and magazines (half-read!), multiple incomplete projects and mounds of unsorted papers.  In addition, items are often kept out in full view to prevent the out of sight out of mind tendency.  (If something is put away, not only may it be forgotten entirely, but also finding it again may take hours.)[…] Continue Reading

Thumbs up, not down!

Thumbs upIf you believe you fall short compared to others, it’s natural to feel insecure or inadequate. But when you add in some ADD tendencies, like making careless mistakes or blurting out comments you later regret, it’s easy to understand the sense of incompetency, or even worse – the accompanying shame. As one client said, “but I am inadequate,” to which I strongly disagreed!

A Sense of Not Being Good Enough
A sense of inadequacy includes feeling incapable, incompetent or simply not good enough. You may be forgetful or mess up occasionally, but these things don’t make you inadequate, nor do they trump your capabilities. No one is on top of everything and the reality is that you may need to ask for help, set reminders, or even work harder than some. But repeatedly focusing on shortcomings is destructive.

It’s our cultural norm to focus on blunders and ‘areas for improvement’. We’ve been trained to seek perfectionism by scanning for weaknesses and correcting them. While improving ourselves is important, it’s also vital to consider our attitude and method of going about it.

Give Yourself a Thumbs Up!
Consider that kids with ADHD do best when they hear positive feedback three times more often than negative. That approach would probably serve adults well too. Are you shooting to be a person who never burns the toast or always says the perfect thing? Or could you go a little easier on yourself while still aiming to do your best?[…] Continue Reading

Hyperfocus: An Upside to ADHD

hyperfocus

People with ADHD know that despite their reputation for being easily distracted, they can also have an uncanny ability to concentrate when truly engaged with something they enjoy.  It may not happen all the time -or at the best time (!) - but it’s still worth celebrating. The official term in the ADHD world is hyperfocus, […]

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It’s Time to Care Less

begging for chance - business woman

Whether you worry about what people think, try not to offend anyone or put on a happy face all the time, you’re living from a place of fear. We all want to fit in. But focusing too much on pleasing others takes us away from being fully present. Consider that you cannot know most people’s true […]

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