You and I have great potential within us. Only you know what your potential is. It is not what others tell you it is. Your potential can be found within your desires, your interests and your dreams. I consider one of the greatest difficulties for those of us with ADHD is that we are in a modern world of saturation. Following our dreams, desires and interests is considered by too many to be wasteful, shameful and selfish; however, that’s only not true if you happen to be the very best at whatever your interests have created.
Not everyone will become the best or find life sustaining success in the area of their desires; therefore, it is more appropriate to be realistic and join the conveyer belt of the modern world. It’s an inspiring reality, right? It is what it is…
The most significant improvements in my life came through therapy and discovering that negative thinking and self defeating thoughts were holding me back, this was long before I was diagnosed with ADHD. I also discovered that I was always trying to live up to the expectations of others and their beliefs. It was a difficult, tragic and unfulfilling way to live. I am thankful that I was diagnosed with ADHD after my therapist worked his way through my developed negative thinking patterns. That’s right ‘developed’, developed for survival, ADHD affects our entire lives and has repercussions far beyond the symptoms – those repercussions help develop our experiences and our beliefs. If I had been diagnosed with ADHD at the onset of therapy, I think it would have been much more difficult to get well, because, I may have developed a seemingly verifiable belief that the symptoms of ADHD prevent improvement and that my lot in life is what it is and nothing can change that. What proof would it have taken to recover? Thankfully, the proof came with the differences in my life via therapy and a new found way of thinking in a healthy, life sustaining and life fulfilling way before the diagnosis of ADHD!
There is a secret to overcoming ADHD. I have discovered it. The secret to overcoming ADHD is to accept it as part of who we are. There is no cure for it, it’s not going anywhere. The impact of the symptoms of ADHD can be limited, in some cases controlled and we can develop ADHD characteristics which can become benefits. It’s a matter of perspective and belief. Yes, you and I have verifiable experiences which prove how devastating ADHD can be. Those experiences are powerful and are easy to validate and build upon. Building upon negative experiences, no matter how real and how much influence they have had, only builds more negative experiences. It’s the perpetual belief that the haves will always have and the have not’s will always have not… Deal with it… right? It is what it is… no, nothing is what it is… life is not that simple or easy. Everything is what we make it to be, if we want it to be better, it can be better. Maybe things will not improve overnight, but, they can improve – unless you are proving to yourself otherwise. The secret to overcoming ADHD is that it is not a label, it is not an extension of ourselves, it is a part of our being and it encompasses everything we do. The secret to ADHD is to accept it, work with it and not allow the negativity to build or have power, no matter how difficult or challenging circumstances may be. The secret to overcoming ADHD is to realize that negative thinking is separate from ADHD, it can be a result, a consequence, however, negative thinking – defeat, and the results there of, are not in of themselves alone ADHD.
I truly believe that negative thinking is far more devastating than ADHD. That’s my belief – I had the benefit of therapy first and it made a significant difference.
Recently, Jennifer Kuntzi wrote my bio for use on my websites and speaking engagements. In order to write my bio she needed to ask a few penatrating questions. I would like to share with you one particular question and my answer:
4. How have your views on ADHD changed since your diagnosis, if they have?
My views continue to progress. There are so many characteristics to ADHD and we do not all share each and every one of them. As I get to know more people with ADHD I have noticed what is most often different is the degree to which we have been affected and the type of support we have received, if any. Too many are angry, depressed and filled with doubt and self defeatism. And it’s not a surprise the way society has treated many of us, within families even and the fact that treatment is too often ineffectual, because ADHD isn’t universally understood in all it’s type and sub-type glory. I do my best to reach out, tell my story and offer support and encouragement from my own experiences. Too many with ADHD are living in defeat and refuse to believe there is any way to higher ground, what’s worse is that some seek out verification that they are failures, they will argue the point until they are convinced all over again. I have been there and I have done that, it doesn’t help and it makes things far more difficult. I believe in positive thinking, positive redirection and positive reinforcement – it has worked in my life and I know it can work for others too. It’s the founding principle behind all that I do. You’ve read my book, you know how far down I was. If I wanted to I could argue with the best of them that I was worse off, hated myself etc, etc. Sometimes that’s what is wanted. It’s a truth that pains me. There is no quick cure or solution and that’s a crucial issue. We do not have patience. Remember, it took me a decade of therapy and good mentorship to learn the value of positive thinking and how devastating our negative, self-defeating thoughts can be. Now-a-day’s many think my case of ADD is mild and do not realize or want to give credit to the hard work I went through to improve myself, because, the fact of the matter is, if it works for me – why can’t it work for others? It can, nevertheless, too many do not want to face that rocky, uphill road which involves a clear, honest look in the mirror. It’s my goal to help others realize that yes, we indeed can, but it’s not going to happen in a day or a week, still, with constant positive reminders it can be done, we can get better and we will get better. Let’s hope everyone comes to a point when others think their ADD is either very mild or non-existent.
If there is one thing I have learned in my life and hold to be truer above all other truths is that negative thinking is the most damaging and life wasting thing to do. It’s habitual, it’s easy and for those of us with ADHD we have seemingly natural justifications for it. And this is part of the basis behind the ADDer World Social Network founding principle:
We are capable of far more than we give ourselves credit for. Feelings of defeat and rejection are far too common and have far too much control over us; they hold us back and make us feel lesser than what we are. It doesn’t have to be that way, it should never be that way – for anyone, or, for any reason.
That’s why I created ADDerWorld.ning.com, to bring us together as a community, to build each other up, and to help each other realize our potential. Together we take steps forward that continue to go forward. And if we do take steps back, we are here for each other to lift each other up and keep on keeping on.
It doesn’t matter if you believe ADHD is a Gift or a Curse or a ‘condition’, it only matters that you have resources that work for you, your spouse or your children. I believe in positive thinking, positive redirection and community. It’s not always easy, but nothing truly worth it ever is.
Now, for the real secret: There is no secret! The problem with positive thinking in the modern world is that it is hard work, it is not easy and there are just too many factors which cultivate negative thoughts and beliefs. Everything seems to be instant in today’s world, we are taught in the now, now, now, we have become reactionary, and yet, anything worth its salt takes time to be cultivated and nurtured. Instant demands and instant changes are not helpful, and are, in fact, usually short lasting. And then there are some people who are just plain mean and live to tear others down, their hopes, their dreams and their aspirations. Bullies, they are a part of our living culture – we must learn to recognize them and learn strategies to reduce their influence.
Here are some tips that I live by:
1) Do not hang around and befriend negative people, or, people who try to control you and keep you within a box of their vision of you. Your vision of you is the most important vision and is the ultimate vision that will form your future.
2) Debating with others about who you are is useless. You are who you are, only you have the power to change what you think and believe. Inform yourself, discuss the issues, but, never enter a debate about who you are. Trying to prove who you are only indicates that you, yourself, are not sure of who you are. That may be true and in that case I recommend finding a good therapist and perhaps a coach and/or mentor. I recommend a good coach and/or mentor in any case – I have found such resources indispensible.
3) Trying to change another person’s belief through argument or debate is an energy drainer and can be destructive. Many wars have started on this very principle. Example: If you want to believe ADHD is a gift, more power to you, especially if it empowers you to feel better, be better and move forward. Belief’s have incredible power. If you want to believe ADHD is only destructive and has no positive qualities, well, that’s up to you – I present my experiences, take them or leave them, it’s not a debate for me. I will continue to move forward. How are you doing with that? … see how it starts? It’s not worth it. This doesn’t mean I can’t take a stand.
4) Find things to do that empower you, befriend people that empower you, watch movies, listen to music and join support groups that empower you.
5) Find things in your job, your home and everywhere you go that you like and expand on them. Find things to like and appreciate in all the things you are involved with.
6) In any situation that a negative feeling or thought pops up in your mind, take a moment and ask yourself what 5 things are positive about this situation, or, what can I make positive about this. 5 things for every 1 negative thought or feeling. Over time, this one thing, above so many others, can change everything!
7) Build others up, support them and take time to be considerate of others thoughts and feelings, no matter what they may be. Be positive, be a builder and a creator in all the things that you do.
The reality of these tips is that all of them are hard work and demand constant reminders. It takes will power and a cultivation of strong, empowering character – it’s tough for people without ADHD, so give yourself some room to improve with time. Being positive alone doesn’t cure ADHD. Nothing cures ADHD. However, a healthy, positive attitude can create energy and willpower. Having ADHD may not be fair, but we have it and must find ways forward, whichever ways that work for us. I have my way. – Would you like my step by step plan? Take a step forward, then another and if you take a step back, that’s okay, find those who will support you in taking another, new step forward.
Which one empowers you:
Yes, I can
No, I can’t
The proof I gather is the proof I live by. Sometimes I have to take a step back and examine the proof I am gathering. Does the proof support “Yes, I can” or “No, I can’t”?
Finally, if positive thinking is such hard work for people without ADHD – how can I possible do it? First, you and I are not the center of the universe, the world revolves around communication and interaction with others, we must learn to recognize support as imperative. You decide which support works for you. Find an ADHD support group in your area, seek a therapist who is highly recommended and be aware of the things you say through-out the day. You can start right now, by forming your phrases into positive affirmations. Consider the things you say about yourself (we do it all the time), we are often our most critical critics internally and it is very hard, so very hard to move forward when we constantly criticize ourselves. Start a positive journal, only write positive things in it day to day, a little more each day.
Together, supporting each other, believing in each other – we can.
I am respectful of others, their thoughts, their beliefs and their opinions. I treat others as I would like for them to treat me, if they treat me the same or not, doesn’t matter. If we learn to treat our friends, our parents, our children, our bosses, our teachers and our peers with respect and courtesy, reciprocated or not, this builds character within. It’s not a matter of being liked, it’s about building our very own ever powerful internal self-respect. It makes me feel better about my day, the people around me and myself.