If I had a nickel for every time my father suggested I slow down, I’d be a very wealthy man. Patience has, like a lot of us with ADHD, been a pretty elusive concept for most of my life. Lots of people gave me the suggestion to be more patient, but no one could tell me how to do it.
This isn’t to say that my friends and family were wrong to suggest I be more patient. It turns out that patience has proven to be a tremendous asset in my toolbox for managing my ADHD. But when they spoke of patience, it sounded like it was just something I could grab at the grocery store. I just needed to be patient! As if being patient was so easy, you “just do it!” As my friend and colleague, Riley Karbon, noted in a blog a few weeks back, it’s a great slogan for Nike, but it’s gaslighting for those with ADHD.
So, how do we find this elusive patience? How do we practice it? How do we pull it out of our ADHD toolbox in the moments we need patience most? The first step in this process, as it almost always is when working to manage your ADHD, is awareness. We need to learn to become aware of when we will need the tool of patience. We need to become aware of what types of events or experiences are likely to require patience. And we need to develop awareness of what types of actions help us step into a patient mindset.
I recently moved several states over, a process that required a large moving truck with an imposed speed limit of 75 mph. Unfortunately, the speed limit on most of the Interstate was 80 mph, and the drive was over 1,000 miles long. When I found out about that 75 mph limit, I knew this drive was going to require a lot of patience from me. Because I was aware of that, I was able to reframe the drive and the speed limit: I talked about it as a challenge with friends and colleagues and to myself. I acknowledged the significance of the challenge with my wife, and I did my best to hype myself up for this challenge.
In effect, I created a battle between myself and my impatience, or, more accurately, myself against my ADHD and its powerful desire to react and escape discomfort. All of this preparation was possible because I was aware prior to the drive that this was likely going to test my tolerance for discomfort and my ability to be patient. All of that preparation also meant an easier and more pleasant experience for myself and my even more patient wife.
Stepping into a patience mindset is not going to be the answer for everyone, but it might be a place to start when trying to determine how to manage your ADHD and some of the big emotions and feelings that come with it. It won’t be easy the first time (or probably the fifth or the tenth!), but practicing a patience mindset will ultimately make it easier for you to manage your ADHD.
ADHD Coach and Life Coach, Executive Skills Coach