Why “HOW” is Not Enough for People with ADHD

ADHD Awareness    November 30, 2018

Laurie DuparStarting out over 35 years ago as a fledging nurse I spent a great deal of time learning “how” to do things.

HOW to give an injection so it never hurt. HOW to identify life-threatening heart rhythms and perform defibrillation. And most impressive, HOW to completely change a person into a clean hospital gown and fresh linen while they lay in the bed!

Being a nurse taught me HOW to do lots of things. And I was good at it. Knowing what to do and HOW to take care of people when they were hospitalized, compromised, and not at their best felt good. Using my knowledge and telling patients HOW to do things to help them recover from their hospitalization just came naturally to me. And for the most part it seemed to be the way of the world. Or so I thought.

And then I discovered the profession of coaching. And I remember when I heard my instructor say that telling someone what to do, or “how” to do it wasn’t what a life coach did.

Say, what?!

I had spent most of my 40 years and completed three academic degrees, learning HOW. I did how really well. And now, some new fangled profession was telling me that “how” wasn’t enough?!

Well….if not “how” then what?! It made zero sense to me at the time. So little sense, in fact, that I’ve remembered that moment for years and…

Turns out it was true.

Especially for persons with ADHD.

While it is, indeed, my responsibility to master the HOWs and whys of being an ADHD life coach. And I make sure to stay abreast of the various strategies, tips, resources and techniques for better managing ADHD. I now know that individuals struggling with ADHD don’t really need or want all of that.

Not one client in 17 years has asked me, “Hey, HOW many hours do most people with ADHD sleep at night?”

Not one ever asked me, “Hey, HOW do people with ADHD remember to take their medication?”

Not a soul ever seemed interested in listening to the plethora of solutions, strategies, techniques, and details I know of HOW to with ADHD.

What I have noticed most in people’s mind and heart when they have ADHD is WHO they are. The unique beautifully complex fully whole and capable person they are. That I am willing and able to come to the table (or phone) and meet them WHO and where they are…

During our work together, they want me to I listen generously to their experiences, without judgment, and appreciate their WHY and their ways. And know, that I would leave no stone unturned. No question unasked in my pursuit in providing them with the individualized attention they needed.

That I really hear, appreciate and understand Who They Are. What they want uniquely. What is important to them. That I am as interested in their talents and passions as I am in their struggles and challenges. Because when this happens, a space is created into which together we can relax. In coaching we call it a partnership.

In this partnership clients feel safe and can begin tapping into their own knowing and creative solutions. Then, when the HOWs are discovered they end up being uniquely suited for that person. Including and appreciating WHO in their wholeness does this.

Knowing “how” is not enough with ADHD. There are books by the dozens giving the HOWs (I have written several myself). These are a great start, but not the complete answer. For persons living with ADHD, the real transformation happens when WHO you are is understood and invited into designing the HOWs.

I expect many of you already know this.

We live in a world that is (very often) HOW-Focused. We watch athletes win races and wonder — How did she DO that?!?

We watch movies, listen to music, see Instagram posts, advertisements, read articles, listen to podcasts and wonder “HOW”?

But let’s just for a moment consider this.

Is perhaps the real answer about WHO she is that she decided to train and compete…and the winning is merely a result of that bigger answer?

Maybe you have noticed someone consistently striving to increase the awareness of ADHD. They seemingly have endless determination to make a difference. Isn’t the more profound insight found when we consider WHO he is that drives such passion and commitment?

You have seen frustrated overwhelmed children with ADHD lashing out. Or adults with ADHD self-medicating with alcohol, risk taking, or isolation.

Yet, something profound happens when we allow ourselves to look past judging the behavior. To see beyond just HOW to fix it. The deeper awareness is found when we ask “WHO” this person is and discover they are so frustrated, sad or lonely.

I know this is a different conversation, a different way of Being. I struggled myself to wrap my head around it after years of focusing on the HOWs. Yet, 17 years as a coach has proven that it’s a whole lot more powerful when WHO is asked.

Being a WHO Person isn’t always easy. It can seem weird or strange to others living in a How World. Especially when you have ADHD and all the HOWs of others don’t or haven’t seemed to work.

But I promise you, knowing WHO you are assures that any HOWs you design will be rooted in what is true and most meaningful for you. And when that’s the case there is more likelihood that they will work for you.

Stay amazing!

 

 

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