Motivational and inspirational writer, Bryan Hutchinson is the author of several books about life with ADHD including the highly acclaimed, best selling "One Boy′s Struggle: A Memoir" and the author of the hilarious eBook that went viral "10 Things I Hate about ADHD"

Knowing Thyself With ADHD Can Improve Quality of Life!

Today I read a great blog post on our ADHD Social Network. The author presented a list of things she knows about herself. This article I’ve written today is inspired by her post and the comment I added there. I often recommend therapy for people like me, with ADHD, and sometimes there is a bit of confusion as to how therapy can help and although she did not talk about therapy, her blog post still pretty much hit the nail on the head! 
Therapy helps us discover who we are, the ‘whys’ behind the things we do and the patterns we have put in place for ourselves and, helps us discover the things ‘we can do well’. Too many of us with ADHD struggle trying everything we can in order to do the things we are not good at, or to be how we believe we should be, either because we have been taught we need to be different than we are, or we don’t think we are good enough. What may result is that some of us get stuck in the middle of trying to ‘be’ something or some way for others and not doing the things we enjoy, are interested in and are good at. It usually doesn’t go much further than that, because, it may seem that if we don’t try to be what others want us to be then we are either selfish or just don’t care. Those things aren’t true of us. What is true is that we have ADHD and we must find ways that work for us, according to the things we can do well. When we don’t and we get stuck in trying to be ‘different’ or ‘better’ we may become depressed and/or filled with anxiety, and therefore, become ineffective. At least, that’s what I learned about myself.
Knowing one’s self is extremely valuable. What I have noticed is that the people who are doing relatively, or very, well, ‘know’ themselves. They have identified what makes them ‘tick’ and direct their work and personal lives accordingly. Too many work so hard to shore up their weaknesses and do not realize how their strengths might benefit them – I think that is mostly because many of us do not take the time to realize our strengths or admit to them. By knowing ourselves we can at least have a starting point each day and work from there. Raising high expectations about things we are not good at is like running into a wall every day. However, understanding those things, finding good alternatives and discovering what we can do well – that may change everything!
One of the major problems I see is people with ADHD trying so hard to conform to how others think they ‘should’ be or how they should ‘act and behave’, but those who try to conform seem to have lower self-esteem and find life extremely difficult. The blame gets mostly put on ADHD, but what’s not getting enough attention is how well they might do if they knew enough about themselves and what they can do well, and then work on those things, using them to their benefit.
I’ve spent the last decade or so getting to know myself and what I can do well. I use those things to my benefit and have pretty much put my life in order based around them. The problem for me comes in when others want me to be different or do things differently (their way) – things that I know I am not that good at or that I struggle with, but for whatever reason they want me to do them and when I refuse or ‘go my own way’ they tend to get upset without realizing that if I try to do those things ‘their way’ I am setting myself up for failure.
Yes, we should face our demons in the things we fear, but with ADHD or ADD, it is important to realize that no matter how much we try something or give it our best, if it is something that our ADHD mind simply cannot do, then no matter how much we try to change the way our brain functions, or the way we do things, it won’t happen and that’s where I think a lot of people get stuck = thinking they can change the way their brain works instead of looking at how it does work and in what ways they can use it as it is.
We have been taught there is no such thing as ‘can’t’, but the reality for people with ADHD is that there is indeed a word such as ‘can’t’ if we try to do things or be a certain way that goes against the natural functioning of our brains. However, as I mentioned, there are many things we can do very well naturally and if we learn what those things are and redirect our focus to them, instead of on our weaknesses, we have the opportunity to discover how we can use those ways of thinking, or of ‘being’, that may help us get the results we want or need. Think of it this way, when we try to be ‘normal’ or do things the way others think we should do them, it’s like walking up an escalator that is going down. But, when we learn to use our way of thinking and doing things, according to our natural strengths and abilities, then it is like riding the ‘up’ escalator going up!
One more thing, the more we get to know ourselves and work and ‘do’ in the areas that we can do well and that we feel confident doing or ‘being’, the less anxiety we may have and the less we might think that ‘we are not good enough’, and naturally the less we might feel that others will discover ‘we really aren’t that good’ because, in fact, we are very good at certain things and in certain ways, but when we try to go against ourselves by working too hard and focusing too much on what we don’t do well, that’s usually when we tend to crumble and feel inferior.
There is, of course, a limitation and it is very important, I think: No matter how great we may know ourselves and ‘how we do things’, and no matter how successful we become with the results to prove it, there will still be those who will not recognize those things as legitimate accomplishments, perhaps because they are done in ways that are either unusual, unorthodox or just plain ‘doesn’t seem right to them’.  
I think this is also part of the reason why so many people with ADHD become entrepreneurs. However, even those who become entrepreneurs must learn to trust themselves and ‘how they do things’. If they are still stuck in believing they should do things the way ‘others’ do them, which goes against their natural talents, abilities and tendencies, then they may still struggle.  (The same can be said for relationships, but that’s another topic.) It’s also important to note that even when doing things the way ‘we do them’, there are things we will still need assistance with. It’s amazing how many of us get it into our heads that we need to do everything ourselves, but we don’t and what’s more is that no one should try to do everything themselves even if they do not have ADHD.
That’s my take on this.

  • In what ways do you do things, or have you done things, that are not considered ‘normal’, but have proven effective for you? 
  • What things would others like you to do, or in certain ways, that just doesn’t work for you? – Can you do them differently, or is it better to stay away from doing those things?


PS: In the working world, I have noticed that bosses are usually open to different ways of getting things done, as long as they are legal, ethical, effective, meet or surpass standards and are timely! Production is value, even if it is your way of doing it. Might be a good idea to inquire first, though.