Typing on Stilts and Other Things We with ADHD Tolerate

Adults with ADHD    March 2, 2016

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This past month I made a big mistake. During a routine manicure, I impulsively had the technician apply acrylic nails. You know, those long unbreakable nails that seem so elegant on someone else? Well, ever since, it’s like I have been typing on stilts.  It’s amazing how an additional ½ inch at the end of your fingers can throw off everything from typing, to cleaning, to getting dressed and to making it impossible to play the new ukulele I bought in December. It’s like walking around with a small pebble in my shoe and trying to ignore it, but it’s always there…irritating, distracting, and bothersome…energy draining…not to mention the additional typos I am making and the extra spell check time! Putting up with these nails for the past couple of weeks, how distracting they have been, I began considering other things I am tolerating in my life, little and big, and how I could eliminate them.

You see, tolerations are things we put up with, situations and/or persons that drain our energy, hold us back and create stress. Often we may not even be aware of what we are tolerating, the things that annoy, irritate, stress our energy and make it difficult to move forward. For people with ADHD, tolerations create considerable distractions!

A toleration can be big… like living in a cramped home in an unsafe neighborhood. Or it can be little and seemingly insignificant, like having a burnt out light bulb in your coat closet…or…dare I say it…too long of nails. Tolerations could include: incomplete tasks, frustrations, problems, other people’s or your own behavior, clutter, “shoulds”, unmet needs, crossed boundaries, outdated wardrobe, unresolved issues or guilt, lack of exercise, eating habits, being indecisive, procrastinating, lack of sleep, uncomfortable bed, etc. Many things we might not have even considered because we just put up with them. Unaware of the underlying toll they are putting on our lives.

Take a moment now to consider your life and ask yourself: what are you tolerating?

Following are some steps you may want to try to help manage if not eliminate the tolerations in your life.

First, make a list of your tolerations. Challenge yourself to come up with 10 things you are tolerating. Once started, most people can think of at least 10 things they are tolerating currently in their lives that they had not previously been aware of. Don’t worry if some of them seem “impossible” to handle. In order to address them, you first need to acknowledge and be aware of them. The best way to do that is by writing them down.

Next, you may want to prioritize your list and focus on five at any one time in order to avoid overwhelm. Because prioritization can be difficult when you have ADHD, think about this as a task of including a mix of two big and three small tolerations in these five. The “bigger” tolerations may take more time to eliminate and having “smaller” tolerations that are relatively quick and easy to handle will have you enjoying the feeling of relief, success and accomplishment as you cross them off your list!

Finally, decide what you want to do with these tolerations. Typically there are three things we can do with tolerations:

  1. Decide to keep it – Don’t do anything about it right now.
  2. Fix it/eliminate it – Take action that will take care of the toleration so it isn’t bothersome anymore. Change the light bulb, create one spot for paper clutter to go, have annoying acrylic nails shortened. What tolerations can you take care of today?
  3. Change your perspective about it – Make the decision that you are going to reframe how you experience a “toleration” as something that has been bothersome for you. For instance, the carpet in your living room that is like a constant eyesore due to the activity of kids, their friends coming over and family pets could take on a new perspective that is grateful for the reminder of a house full of fun and laughter.

Some tolerations – like the burnt out light bulb – can be addressed quickly and easily. Simply change the light bulb so every time you go to turn on that light you don’t have that annoyance of no light. Handling others can require a significant investment of time, energy and money – such as finding, and being able to afford, a new and better place to live.

You may not want to do anything or take action to change your tolerations right now, but just writing them down and getting them out of our busy ADHD brains will raise your awareness of what they are. You’ll naturally start deciding which to keep, which to fix and/or which to change your perspective about.

I recommend going back on a quarterly basis and repeating the process of identifying tolerations that might have crept back into your life. Decide if you want to keep, fix or change your perspective around any new tolerations you notice.

As for me…I have already made an appointment to have these elegant nails that I have been tolerating shortened…and look forward to an evening of strumming my ukulele once again.

How about you?  What are you tolerating in your life? What can you get rid of, fix or change your perspective about?  I’d love to hear from you. Email me at .

One Response to Typing on Stilts and Other Things We with ADHD Tolerate

  1. Mandy     March 7, 2016    5:35 pm    Reply

    Wow, what a great article. This is exactly what I have been experiencing and have not given myself time to put the words to my frustrations or why things can’t change. I am going to put my son to bed and get my journal out and free my mind off the oh so many “should, could, if onlys, when this happens”… things I tolerate and have tolerated for way too long. I can’t wait… I am ready to move forward and see some new scenery. Thank you for being my words!

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