Inside a Tipping Point

ADHD Strategies, Adults with ADHD    December 28, 2012

A few months ago, I wrote about “tipping points:”

..a time in people’s lives when the strategies they have been using to compensate for their ADHD challenges no longer seem to be working.  This “tipping point” is often experienced along with feelings of overwhelm and chaos.  Up until a “tipping point,” people have been able to balance known or unknown challenges with ADHD with strategies they may not have even realized they were using.  Up until the “tipping point,” they had been able to adapt and cope well with their symptoms, even going as far as being under the radar for an official diagnosis of ADHD (in other words their symptoms were not interfering with their functioning). But for some reason a life change – it could be a job promotion, relationship change, a school change, or any myriad of different things – renders the current strategies ineffective and over time there is a sense that things are no longer “going well” and in fact, life seems to be falling apart in a big way.

This article really resonated with people. I received many emails from readers stating they had coasted along most of their life, never knowing they had ADHD until they changed jobs or had kids (the overwhelm and chaos that children bring seems to be one of the biggest tipping points). Yet once they read the article, it all made sense- they had ‘tipped over’ and were floundering with no idea why or how to right themselves.

I’ve lived through my own tipping points, most recently over the summer as I took my business ‘to the next level’ as they say. After years of managing all the components of my business on my own, I hired an assistant and a business manager. Then I upgraded my marketing system to a high tech operation that ideally encompassed all my emails, payment processes, calendar, etc. into a one stop shop. All positive and wonderful, and full of such hope and promise that I would be more accessible to my clients and provide more time for me to create the innovative projects that rambled inside my brain.

And while it has worked out, it took months of adapting to changes I hadn’t expected, and many sleepless nights of worry and anxiety. I had to reach down deep into my toolbox of strategies and learn how to reorganize, keep my focus and reduce the overwhelm.

If you are facing your own tipping point, here are some lessons that may help:

1. Delegating is a good thing. There’s not enough time in the day and you only have two hands and one brain. With ADHD, you have a brain that truly possibly can be everywhere at once. And when you add the stress of a tipping point to your ADHD, successful multitasking is impossible. So it is essential that you surround yourself with people you trust and then identify tasks they can accomplish for you. And let them do.

2.  Align yourself with someone who will help you stand firm. Many people with ADHD have challenges with boundaries and limits. We want to be able to say yes to everything and often impulsively do so without remembering we already scheduled our day or had decided to say no yesterday. Having someone remind you that ‘you can’t do that’ helps you stay on track.

3. Ask yourself, how bad is it really? ADHD can wreak havoc on your self-esteem and confidence. When things are at a tipping point, even the most minor incident or setback can feel like an ‘end of the world’ catastrophe. Taking a step back to put things into perspective can help with the overwhelm.

4. Look at what is working. Many of us tend to focus on the mess when we are stressed. Instead of being frustrated that you were late to work again, recognize the success in getting out of the house. How were you able to do that? What strategies did you use to accomplish that? And how can you build on that for tomorrow?

5. Because tomorrow is another day. I firmly believe in the sleep reset button which allows you to wake up with a clean slate. And while this doesn’t mean any transgressions from the day before are ignored, you have a new opportunity to try new strategies for success.

We all face tipping points in our lives. We wouldn’t grow and learn without them. In fact, tipping points can be a gift- a way to develop new strategies, strengths or a new way of being in your world.  Your ADHD – and its creativity, resourcefulness, adventurous out of the box thinking- may be just the key to putting your life back together after the tipping point is resolved.

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