I just wrote a blog about understanding ADHD and found myself writing out the same tendencies and symptoms you’ve probably seen a million times before. The problem is that the list focuses on the negatives of the “disorder.” The truth is that ADHD is neurological in nature and can also be explained as just different brain wiring. Think of it as being left handed in a right handed world.
At this point, you may be thinking “Yeah, yeah, but what can I do to fix it?”
Before you try to eradicate the “symptoms” completely, think about the advantages of an ADHD wired brain. Here is a completely different list of questions that susses out the positive personality traits of ADHD.
- Do you have lots of energy and enthusiasm?
- Do you like to try new things?
- Are you an idea person?
- Are you intuitive?
- Are you driven in the area of your passion?
- Do you have a great imagination?
- Are you a great problem solver?
- Are you able to bring a high level of concentration to something you’re interested in?
- Are you empathetic?
- Are you easy going?
- Do you have a strong desire to contribute?
As an ADHD coach, one of the questions I am frequently asked is “What is the difference between therapists and ADHD coaches?” While there is some overlap between the two professions, therapists and ADHD coaches have two distinct roles:
Role of Therapists
Therapists help folks deal with their feelings. They help get to the root of emotional issues by looking at the “why” behind them. This often involves looking into a person’s past and diagnosing psychological issues or conditions. In other words, a therapist is an expert who is focused on healing. The therapeutic process often starts with a diagnosis and moves from there to treatment, which often includes dealing with any emotional issues – depression, anxiety, stress – arising from or surrounding the condition.
In terms of ADHD, a therapist is often the professional who first diagnoses it. While a therapist may refer a patient to a physician for a medical prescription, a therapist also helps a patient deal with the emotional impact of ADHD on his or her life.
Role of ADHD Coaches:
Coaches, on the other hand, help folks to clarify and reach their goals by asking “what now?” and “how?” A coaching relationship is focused on action and moving forward to deal with practical issues and reach goals. The relationship is a collaboration and is often more flexible than that of a therapist and patient.
In terms of ADHD, a coach initially helps a client understand how ADHD is impacting his or her efforts to move forward in their lives. A coach acts as a project manager for a person by working with him or her to find direction, motivation, resources, and strategies. A coach helps a person break down a goal into manageable tasks and provides consistent accountability. Most importantly, a coach often acts as a cheerleader, providing a positive “you can do it” voice amid the negative self talk that is so often present with ADHD.
Sometimes dealing with ADHD challenges is a matter of perspective. The key is to look at our unique brain wiring and ADHD tendencies in a positive light. The author of Winnie the Pooh, A.A. Milne, gives us a great example of how to do this by looking at the positives of disorganization:
One of the advantages of being disorganized is that one is always having surprising discoveries.
For those of us with ADHD, feeling different from those around us can sometimes be challenging. We all strive to be accepted and tend to conform to the crowd. That being said, try to remember the immortal words of Frank Zappa when you start to worry about being different with ADHD:
Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.
In my last post regarding follow through, we explored the idea of using cues or triggers to remind ourselves to take action toward a goal. As part of the example of this strategy, I mentioned the idea of exposing yourself to cues and triggers while at the same time eliminating distractions.
Preparing for Successful Follow Through
This concept of taking a few small actions today to better increase the likelihood of following through with your intentions tomorrow is called “Willpower Leveraging,” at least by the authors of the book Following Through: A Revolutionary New Model for Finishing Whatever You Start. In other words, you set yourself up for success by making it more easy to follow through than to not follow through.
For example, let’s once again consider that goal of yours to take the dog for a walk every morning. In addition to the cues/triggers you expose yourself to as a reminder, you can work to mostly eliminate the obstacles that could distract you. If you’re a web junkie, this might mean putting your laptop in the car and parking the car around the corner the night before. This action serves to both eliminate your biggest distraction and forces you to walk to get your car and/or laptop.
Another example involves your goal to improve your diet. You might take some time today to throw out sweets and chips from your kitchen and restock it with fruits and vegetables. This would make it much more likely that you will make good food choices tomorrow as you simply don’t have the junk food alternative without making a trip out of the house.
While I hope these examples prove intriguing to you, the authors of the book give a lot more background and details regarding the strategy. If you try something along these lines, be sure to tell me how it goes.