ADHD Tricks and Halloween Treats

ADHD in Children, ADHD Strategies, Adults with ADHD    October 31, 2018

ADHD fearsIt’s October 31st so of course I have Halloween on my mind – scary ghosts, wicked vampires and long-legged creepy spiders!

And…I will admit that my bowl of treats (my favorites are Reese Peanut Butter Cups) is sitting by the door waiting for my neighborhood to knock with a few pieces missing.

This is the time of year when we put on costumes and look forward to being tricked or spooked!  That is the fun kind of scared.  The kind that gets your adrenaline going, your heart pumping and then laughing when you realize that once again your son put that giant rubber rat sitting on your kitchen floor and tricked you!

But what about those other fears?  The ones we usually don’t talk about that keep us up at night?  Or drain our energy?  The ones that last year-round and keep us from living the life we want?  Fears about the future, our jobs, our relationships…our ADHD?  Fears that lurk in those dark, lonely places of our mind and haunt us.

Fears like…

Ghostly ADHD fears – no, not actual ghosts.  I mean the thinly veiled, always lurking, lives in the shadows fear that has made you work incredibly hard to hide your ADHD.  The fears you keep hidden behind the daily façade you put up, ones just waiting to come out and reveal the “truth”.  Fear that people will see through your intelligence, creativity, good job or successes to the unorganized, forgetful, easily distracted ADHD person underneath.  The fear that once these things are known, all we have will disappear and we will be seen as someone less than, incompetent, or irresponsible.

Reality behind the fear?  These fears, like ghosts, have no substance.  And like ghosts they live in the past and we keep them alive only by believing in them.  The truth is we live now, in the present.  And today, in the now, it’s likely everyone around you already knows these things about you…and guess what?  The ones that matter, love you anyway.

Vampire Fears – the ones that drain you.  These ADHD fears exhaust you because they keep you up at night and suck the energy from you during the day.  The ‘What ifs’…what if my ADHD keeps me from getting that promotion?  What if my spouse gets fed up with my forgetting things?  What if my son has ADHD?  These ADHD fears never stop, they feed on your life, leave you feeling empty.

Reality behind the fear?  This worrying is not going to change one thing and often results in bringing to life your worst fears coming true.  Instead, notice the fear, ask yourself if this is something you can change and begin to channel your worry into action – shining a light on our fears helps us see them for what they – much smaller once the dark shadows are gone.

Creeping Spider Fears – these are the worst.  That creeping sensation that something is wrong with you because you have ADHD.  These fears crawl along your skin and settle there quietly, waiting for just the right moment when success or even possibility is within reach.  It’s then that they show themselves and we are caught helpless in the ‘I don’t deserve this’ or ‘I can’t do that’ web.

Reality behind the fear?  You can do anything!  ADHD is not an excuse or a reason that you can’t do or have the life you want.  These fears have no hold over you if you stop struggling and learn how to maximize and leverage your other strengths.

We all have fears…and when living with ADHD they can creep into our minds at any moment.  They are thoughts…not actual things…that hold us back and prevent us from success and experiencing life the way we want.

Knowing the difference between what’s “real” and what we’ve made up to believe and is no longer true or serving us is key in being able to minimize those fears that keep us stuck so we can enjoy all the tricks and treats of ADHD along the way!

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How to Survive Small Talk with ADHD

ADHD Strategies, Adults with ADHD    October 1, 2018

small talk and ADHDHate small talk?

Does the thought of making small talk fill you with dread? You’re not alone. Most people dislike idle chitchat because it feels fake and like a waste of time. If you have ADHD it is likely that making small talk is one of your top least favorite things to do.

Over the years I have listened as clients describe the lengths to which they go to avoid having to make small talk. Arriving to class just after the bell rings. Skipping lunches. Turning down invitations for social events because they were preceded by a period likely to include the need for “small talk”. Surviving small talk is not a small problem for many people with ADHD.

Why is this trivial style of conversation so difficult for some people with ADHD? Well, the problem lies in the very definition. Small talk is defined as the art of having conversation about “unimportant” things. Unimportant, aka uninteresting and boring to people with active, creative ADHD brains.

In fact, I like the definition given by the Urban dictionary best when it defines small talk as:

Useless and unnecessary conversation attempted to fill the silence in an awkward situation. Commonly backfires into feelings of loneliness and social discomfort. Usually is initiated by comments regarding the current weather, weather pattern of the past/future few days or major weather disturbances in the recent past. (Insert yawn here). Lucky for those people who find the weather incredibly interesting. And for the rest of us…a topic about as interesting as discussing paint drying.

People with ADHD are not alone with finding small talk meaningless. Studies show that in general people prefer having deeper and more meaningful discussions. Conversation with more substance are linked to increased happiness and well being. Social customs and etiquette aside, we are social beings. Good conversations create greater connection. Simply put, talking about stuff that matters, not trivial matters, make us happier.

That said getting a conversation going is not always easy. On a date, at a dinner party, or even with a loved one, dialogue doesn’t always flow. The good news is it doesn’t have to be this way. Following are 6 ways to turn small talk into conversations that are more meaningful.

  1. Ask open ended questions. Starting a question with a “what” leads to answers that are fuller and expand the conversation. “What” questions encourage introspection and show you are genuinely interested in the other person’s experience.
  2. Be curious. Ask questions that will help you find common topics. Avoid asking the predictable questions like, “Where are you from?” and “What do you do?” Be curious about the people you meet. Find out what makes them unique, what you might have in common, what new interesting thing you might learn. Instead ask “What’s something most people don’t appreciate about your work?” or “What’s one of your fondest memories growing up?”
  3. Ask for advice. For the most part, people love to talk about themselves and their experiences. Studies show that talking about ourselves feels good. In fact it activates the same areas of the brain when eating good food and being with people we like. Note: For the purposes of small talk remember this is about asking the other person for advice and their experiences.
  4. Apply generous listening. Generous listening involves hearing the words the other person is saying and paying attention to what they are not saying. Try to notice when the topic is something the other person is passionate about. You’ll know this when the speed of their speech increases. Their eyes light up. And they seem to be unaware of much else but the topic. Once that happens all you have to do is listen.
  5. Consider the 80/20 rule. The aim is to get the other person talking 80% of the time while you talk 20% of the time. The right questions will do this. Getting the other person talking is one of the best ways to get through small talk.
  6. Give the long answer. Holding up your end of the conversation means you give the other person something to work with. For example, if asked about the weather, don’t give the short answer…this is your chance to embellish. Talk about what you like to do in weather like this. Or talk about your favorite time of year.

Bottom line: You can turn around your previous dread with small talk. By changing your perspective, your questions, and your answers, you can change small talk into something important and interesting.

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. – Eleanor Roosevelt

What are some of your best ideas for surviving small talk? I’d love to hear from you.

When Your Father Dies

Adults with ADHD    August 29, 2018

ADHD tipping pointWhen your father dies some say you lose your biggest fan.  Some say your childhood ends.

The thing is — when your father dies, it doesn’t matter that other people’s fathers have died, that fathers have been dying since human time began. What matters is that he was your father. Your one and only father. The loss is unique and yours alone.

When your father dies, people say many things. Things like: Sorry for your loss. Condolences to you and your family. May he rest in peace. He is in a better place. Our prayers and thoughts are with you.

It’s not easy to remember all the words, but you will remember the kindness and know that death is not easy for them either.

When your father dies, close friends and extended family become very important and comforting because they know your story and his more intimately and fully than most.

When your father dies, it feels impossible. How can a man who has defied medicine for 40 years, delivered babies, was a Navy Captain, saved lives, had two last right blessings… finally succumb to something so human as death? Heroes in stories don’t die.

When your father dies, and you weren’t there with him, you might carry that like a permanent hole in your heart. Something you’ll get used to, but part of you will always know it’s there.

When your father dies, and you were with him, you will be grateful you were holding his hand when he took his last breath…and still think of all the things you meant to say.

Things like I love you and thank you one more time.

When your father dies, you’ll realize you want to know more about who he was other  than your father.

When your father dies, you will remember his words of wisdom with a new fondness…advice such as “when all else fails read the directions”, and that “changing a tire and learning to play poker is something every gal needs to know how to do”.

When your father dies, you will see your mother a bit differently. Especially if she is the one who cared for him. You’ll wonder who she will be without him after 62 years of marriage.

When your father dies, you will be thankful for siblings who shared the same childhood and the same memories and stories of your father.

When your father dies, you will be glad that you named one of your children after him, that his grandchildren spent time with him and inherited his intellect, charm, compassion, and determination.

When your father dies, the small particulars of his life grow more significant.

The baseball caps he always wore, the tenderness in his large mitt-like hands, his appreciation for sweets and musicals.

When your father dies, even though at times he was bigger than life, you realize ultimately how frail, and human he really was.

When your father dies, you will become intrigued by the life he built for his children and grandchildren considering the humble childhood he started from.

When your father dies, you adjust your place in the world, in your family. You are now a core family of four, one step closer to your own death and things will never be the same.

When your father dies, you learn how others — friends, relatives, colleagues, neighbors, patients — saw and experienced him differently. Their memories and stories will fill spaces in your own heart and mind.

When your father dies, you start to notice or maybe just perhaps want to notice how much you’re like him. Your love of people and reading. Your curiosity. Your sense of humor. Your impatience. It’s not all good, but it helps to keep him with you.

When your father dies, you will grieve the man who was once at the center of your universe. And maybe, one day you’ll notice your grief has lessened. Maybe you’ll feel relieved and your relief may leave you feeling guilty.

But every now and then, when you hear a John Phillip Souza marching band song, or you see a man wearing a Boston Red Sox hat, or hear his familiar words “if all else fails read the directions” come from your mouth, you will smile, feel that familiar knot in your chest, and perhaps to no one in particular, you’ll say, “Love you, Dad.”

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