A diagnosis of ADHD doesn’t give you license to be stuck

A diagnosis is NOT a license to remain stuck in life. Especially in the area of mental health.

Many look to the deficit laden criteria of their diagnosis (e.g. ADHD) and use it as evidence they CAN’T do something.

This is a very disempowered way of viewing the diagnosis.

A more empowered way to see it is as a map of your skill gaps. Gaps that can be reduced in size with the right strategies.

A diagnosis shows you where your unique struggles are and where you need to focus your personal growth efforts.

You CAN increase your competence in areas where you now struggle. It may be harder than for most but so what?

Do the work because that process, that journey will provide opportunities beyond improving your abilities in say, focus, impulse control or organization.

You can also increase your capacity for self-compassion, patience, resilience and more.

You don’t get big biceps in a day, nor do you build the emotional muscle of resilience without walking the path to get you there.

Want to learn how to do this?

Swallowing pride is essential for you

Swallowing your pride is something you must be prepared to do if you’re committed to personal growth.

I spent most of yesterday at a hospital complex for a few medical tests.

​Use of my walker was required for the first test and thank goodness for that. The distance between appts was further than I anticipated.


​I felt how unsteady I was as I navigated the distance. A walk I likely couldn’t have made with a cane because of how much more difficult it is to balance.

​Why had I been resisting the walker? Others have remarked to me what an easier time I appeared to have walking with it.

​The villain was the negative conversation I had between my ears. “Walkers are for old people.”

​That limiting belief (among others) has held me back.

​Today, as I roamed the complex I saw plenty of people walking, using canes, wheelchairs etc.

​Including people who looked my age.

​It occurred to me in that moment that one reason I’ve resisted using the walker is because (in my mind), I couldn’t be invisible when I wanted to.

​I’m part introvert and largely want to be left alone in public. When I do stand out I want it on my terms. Sound familiar?

​Hard to do that with a walker.

​In the complex I felt like I fit in more, like people weren’t watching me and judging me because there were so many more like me.

​Right! Don’t care so much about what others think. I can do that, but only in the areas of my life I’ve made peace with.

​Still working on the disabilities that often move faster than the speed of acceptance.

​There’s a problem. I don’t want to live in a hospital complex. So how do I change my inner conversation to make me more at home with the walker?

​I remember the others my age I saw throughout the day. The ones refuting the limiting belief that walkers are for old people.

​The truth is, walkers are also for people like me. I can work with that.

How does this resonate with you? ​​

What a difference a day makes

What a difference a day makes. Yesterday afternoon an ice storm came through and my body responded with headache, nausea and pain.

I indulged in a lot of self-care (sleep mostly) and this morning I feel pretty darn good now that the storm has passed. Being a human barometer can be very trying.

I did my share of wishing I lived someplace else and cursing my body.

After while I dug deeper.

To a deeper place located in the neighborhood of acceptance and perseverance. The “just hang on, this won’t last forever” voice.

I will be mindful and treat myself with love until this passes. Practice that.

One of the best ways to improve focus

Sitting still is usually not conducive to focus in the ADHD brain. UNLESS the activity is so entertaining it releases the brain pleasure/focus chemical dopamine (video games anyone).

A common complaint of the digital generation when asked to do something they don’t enjoy is that it isn’t fun or its boring. Actually, many adults have the same complaint.

Who said it has to be entertaining to be worth doing?

You know what else releases dopamine? Movement, exercise, using your body in some way. Sitting around increases boredom because you aren’t generating enough dopamine.

Don’t run for the device to get your fix, get moving. Listen to music while taking a walk. Find entertainment in nature or a museum that requires you to walk.

Engage life for your fix of natures’ focus chemical instead of a device that encourages you to sit still and merely consume.

Choosing resilience is an act of self love

“If you went through what I went through you wouldn’t trust people either.”

“If this happened to you you’d be angry too.”

These statements sound familiar? Yes, I’ve felt that way on occasion. My concern is for the person who feels this way for years.

To hang on to the feelings experienced at the time of any emotionally significant event requires a great commitment.

A commitment to fear, blame, resentment and an unwillingness to forgive.

I see this in people with ADHD or Asperger’s who’ve encountered person after person who was ignorant or simply mean. That was my childhood experience and some of my adult life as well.

The solution isn’t to minimize it, ignore it or get over it.

One solution is to learn at a deep level that YOU are not the opinions of others about you. As Les Brown says, “Don’t let someone else’s opinion of you become your reality.”

This mindset requires a different kind of commitment. One in which you introspect often, get to know and love yourself as an imperfect human being who is on a journey to learn and grow by gathering wisdom from your experiences.

A journey in which learning is the measure of success. LEARNING, not avoiding hurt and not avoiding mistakes of any kind. This is important work and an act of self-love.

4 keys to helping your child believe in themselves

You can teach your child with ADHD all the skills you like.

But if they don’t believe in themselves they probably won’t use them.

Keys to believing in yourself:

🔑 Quit comparing yourself to others who aren’t walking your path

🔑 Practice self-compassion

🔑 Acknowledge your successes without minimizing them

🔑 Define success as progress instead of perfection

It isn’t a lack of common sense, it’s an executive function problem

Many with ADHD get trapped in the thinking that they’d rather accomplish things perfectly or not at all.

That thinking leaves out the most important part, learning.

With our executive function challenges (i.e. self-reflection, analyzing the facts of the experience) it can be difficult to understand why our actions caused the results they did let alone how to adjust our actions for the next attempt.

This helps explain why many of us have difficulty learning from our mistakes and instead keep doing the same thing over and over again.

Here’s one solution. Your mind tends to process more slowly so give your mind time to work with what happened. Don’t settle for, “I don’t know” and giving up on problem-solving. Step away and let your subconscious work on it.

The answer may pop in your head later.

I’ve helped many clients get much better at this.

A more practical solution would be to review the scenario with someone and ask if they think you missed something.

We may be accused of lacking common sense in this instance. That isn’t the case at all, it’s an executive functioning issue and asking for help from others is a courageous move.

That pesky ALL or Nothing thinking

“Things will NEVER change.” 
“It’s ALWAYS been this way.”

When you find yourself stuck in sadness, anxiety or in your thinking, chances are you’re practicing all or nothing thinking.

This is a common trap for people with ADHD and very important to become aware of for your emotional, psychological and relationship health.

Freedom and solutions are found in the gray and rarely in the extremes.

Taking meds for ADHD doesn’t have to change who you are

Many youth and adults with ADHD resist the idea of medication to manage the challenges ADHD can create.

Meds are historically associated with the treatment of illness, an infection you want to get rid of.

Mental illness, as a result, is so stigmatized in our culture the mere idea one may need to treat something mentally through medication can result in great fear and shame.

Though ADHD isn’t considered a mental illness, the idea of meds for treatment can make it appear so.

“There’s nothing wrong with me,” or “I’m not crazy” are common reactions.

What this expresses is, “My brain is me!” “If I take a medication for my brain it means something is wrong with me!” “I don’t want to change me!”

If I’ve learned anything it’s that my brain isn’t me. My brain is what helps bring me into the world. It learns language, remembers people and important things about them.

It reminds me of the values that connect with my spirit so I can live those values consistently. The better I can live my values the greater the impact I can make on the world.

If my brain or anything else results in me being inconsistent and unreliable. I’d like to do something about it.

I don’t take meds but my sons do and the results are miraculous. I use meditation and mindfulness to manage my ADHD.

The point here is to put greater importance on the results you want to create instead of protecting the mistaken belief that who you are rests solely in your brain.