A colleague and mentor once told me, “Having ADHD is hard; it’s not your job to make everyone else’s life easier. You’ve got to do things how you do them and make your life easier.” This is good advice! But how do we become aware enough to understand how to do things our way? How do we figure out what works best for us to make our lives easier?
“Doing things the way that works for you” is probably the best definition I can think of for what it looks like to accept your ADHD and how it impacts your life. One of my favorite stories to this effect is that of a client who was working on remembering and using positive affirmations. The client, Jimmy, had spent a good amount of time identifying the root cause of his struggles with his ADHD. One of those struggles (common for those of us with ADHD) was negative self-talk. After a series of failed attempts at finding ways to combat that negative self-talk (notebooks, planners, backpacks, writing on his body, among others), Jimmy came up with a brilliant idea: he bought a wristband that quarterbacks use to remember plays. He wrote his positive affirmations on the wristband so that he could remember and reference them any time negative self-talk started to creep in.
The results were overwhelmingly positive! And, because Jimmy had done the work in coaching to identify the pain points that might derail his solution, Jimmy was also prepared to make small changes to this system that allowed those positive results to continue. For instance, he methodically adjusted a color-coded system, included stickers, and adjusted his wristband, where he kept his pen, etc. Because Jimmy was aware of what would (and wouldn’t) make his life easier, he created an effective system for managing his negative self-talk.
When it comes to coaching clients on finding what works for them, there are only three key things to remember: process, process, and process. And part of that process is acceptance. Acceptance of the fact that you do have a neurological disorder that impacts the chemical balance of your brain. Acceptance that this means systems, tools, and techniques that work for others are likely not going to work for you. Acceptance that this isn’t your fault, and also, you will need to find what does work for you. Acceptance that this particular disorder gives your brain a motivational urge to avoid or escape thinking toward a goal makes finding what does work for you that much harder. Accepting that this is hard, and that’s ok because you can do hard things. Acceptance that you don’t need to try harder; you need to try differently.
The power and impact of acceptance in our lives as people who struggle with this invisible disorder simply cannot be overstated. And, like most things worth doing, accepting all of these things as a person with ADHD is hard, sometimes really hard. The good news is you can do hard things!
ADHD Coach and Life Coach, Executive Skills Coach