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"

ADHD Is What You Make Of It: Disorder, Deficit, Illness, Difference, Gift, or Life

Post image for ADHD Is What You Make Of It: Disorder, Deficit, Illness, Difference, Gift, or Life

From Bryan: This is a guest post by Dr. Rory F. Stern. He is an author, speaker, and therapist who specializes in working with families and children affected by ADHD to make sure their children have a chance to experience success. Thetruthbehindadhd

It’s a misunderstood condition.

For a long time now I have said, “ADHD is the most misunderstood condition of all time.”  Everyone and anyone with an opinion thinks they understand ADHD.  From your doctor to the Hollywood writer to the man on the street, and everyone in between, opinions widely vary depending upon who you listen to.

And yet one thing is certain, no one can agree on much of anything.

Some people believe ADHD is a gift, while others ask for a receipt so they can return this gift.  Other believe ADHD is an illness, and that you or your child need to be fixed.  Yet we know there is no cure.  Still others believe that ADHD is about differences.

No matter your opinion, you’re not really wrong.  You just might not be right…

As harsh as it sounds, there is one thing I have learned from my own childhood differences to my years now as an author, speaker, therapist and passionate advocate in this wonderful community.

What is your mindset?

That one thing is that your mindset and how you view your circumstances dramatically impacts your ability to overcome your challenges.

As a misunderstood child growing up, I knew I was different.  I dreamed about what it must be like to be normal.

And yet I still have no idea.

Despite being identified, and testing out, as gifted and talented, everyone is convinced I have ADHD.

And maybe I do…  But so what?

I learned growing up that my differences didn’t define me.  They didn’t restrict me, and they didn’t prevent me from accomplishing what I wanted.

My parents taught me to set high standards and expectations, and made certain to give me the resources and support to accomplish whatever I set my mind to.

I am convinced that is what helped me become the man I am today, and it certainly drives my agenda as a child and family advocate for misunderstood children across the world.

We all have challenges in our lives.

Don’t be fooled that just because a person is diagnosed with ADHD, that you (or they) are the only ones with challenges around hyperactivity, impulsivity, inattention, time management, organization, and all the other trimmings associated with this condition.

At the end of the day, it is your differences that make you unique.

It is your differences that make you capable of accomplishing what others cannot.  And yes, at the same time, it is these differences that likely keep you from doing what others can do.

Now I ask you, which area will you focus on in your life?

Will you focus on what you can do, often times better than others?  Or will you focus on what you are not capable of doing?

If we cut through all the therapy and behavior modification, this is what we are left to consider.

That’s not to discredit the role of medication if you choose to use it, for yourself or your child.  This is not meant to spark anger or suggest anyone is making excuses.

It’s just that I’ve found over the years, personally and in my work with others, what you pay attention grows.

With the right support, encouragement, and attitude, you can accomplish anything you want. (Click Here to tweet that if you agree.)

If you have the wrong support, lack of encouragement, and perhaps, a bad attitude, you will likely continue to struggle in almost everything you do.

You must understand yourself.


When all is said and done, my work with others depends on one principle, and one principle alone:  You must understand yourself.  You must know what you are capable of.  You must know what your limitations are.

I for one know that I am no Michael Jordan.  I am incapable of shooting a basketball.  I am no Michael Jackson.  I am not capable of singing, dancing, or acting.

But I am me, and I am really good at that.

Albert Einstein is attributed with saying, “Everybody is a genius.  But if you judge a fish by it’s ability to climb a tree, it will live it’s whole life believing that it is stupid.”

I don’t know how you interpret that.  But for me, I am going to continue focusing on what I can do and not letting my struggles stand in the way.

What are you focusing on? Share in the comments.


Checked out my new blog Positive Writer (not about ADHD). Latest post: Exclusive Interview With Seth Godin, The World’s Greatest Blogger! ~Bryan

Kimberly November 28, 2012 at 5:41 pm

Unfortunately, I have this habit of giving way too much thought to things that go wrong. Especially at work and the behavior of others that I find confusing, mean or blatantly unfair. I let it take way way too much of my time. It’s almost as though that I am under the belief that if I don’t give it focus they get one over on me or I become a push over or something in that order.

I am aware of it, but find it really hard to redircet my focus. Although using a chart method I have learned in CBT does help to give it perspective and to line it up like. Well really is your reaction normal? Is there anything you really can do about this person or taht person? No okay then you can let it go. It’s just being disciplined enough to add this exercise to my everyday.

But, yes I think there is a self destructive defeatist in me that was cultivated in childhood that I need to strangle. LOL No, but redirect. Then again I feel like such a contradiction of myself the pessimistic optimist. ADHD and a Gemini. : )

Andrea Nordstrom November 30, 2012 at 4:45 am

Well said Rory, I couldn’t agree more that mindset is what determines whether you will struggle with ADHD for a lifetime or flourish with it. I do think mindsets can be changed, but as you highlighted – it starts with coming to a new understanding of yourself and how you operate best. I wonder how getting to a true understanding of this self early on life would affect an ADDer’s mindset and therefore his or her challenges, possibly even pre-empting some of them? Great post, thanks for sharing!

Erich August 22, 2013 at 3:49 pm

What leaps out at me from this is the basic need to -know- yourself, which ain’t no easy thing when you’re fighting a lifetime of defeat, doubt, and deficit of self-understanding. A big problem for me is the intense awareness of all the stuff that hasn’t been attended to or dealt with, the big gaps in my human development- add to that the ADD-linked impatience that screams ‘fix this crap NOW!’ under the sense that if not NOW then it won’t ever happen.

Previous post:

Next post: