Adults with ADD: Stop Punishing Yourself
Different people with different strengths make the world go 'round. And your strengths play an integral part...even if you have adult Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)! And when it comes to overcoming overwhelm, one thing is absolutely clear: if you don't allow yourself time to manage your stress, slow down, and make self-care a priority, then you'll never break out of the overwhelm-burnout cycle.
Copyright (c) 2008 Jennifer Koretsky
We're back from the Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA) Conference in Minneapolis and, as usual, it was fantastic!
My presentation on 'Overcoming the Chronic Overwhelm Associated with Adult AD/HD' was a hit.
I encouraged everyone in the audience to get a handle on overwhelm by managing stress, slowing down, and making self-care a priority.
In the Q&A at the end of my talk, a woman raised her hand and patiently waited to be called on. By all accounts, she was kind, articulate, and put together very well. So I was a bit surprised when she said something along the lines of:
Everything you're saying makes sense, but I feel like I bring chaos everywhere I go. How can I possibly spend time managing stress or taking care of myself when I cause so much stress for everyone around me?
As I asked her a few more questions, many in the audience were shaking their heads in agreement. I even saw a few people tear up. The general consensus was:
I make so many mistakes and I'm so difficult to deal with that I don't deserve to spend any time taking care of myself.
I was really glad that this woman had the courage to ask that question because it allowed me to address a mind set that I see over and over again in adults with ADD.
We think that we're so high-maintenance to those around us--what with our disorganization, trouble managing time, and lack of focus, among other things--that we need to be constantly making up for all the things we are, and are not.
If this is how you feel, then please take a deep breath and read me loud and clear on this: YOU ARE WRONG.
You are wrong, wrong, wrong! You could not be more wrong! And you're punishing yourself for who you are.
I know that sounds harsh, but this is one instance in which I have no problem telling someone that they are flat out wrong!
Having adult ADD might make you high-maintenance at times (I certainly am), but:
* Having adult ADD does not make you a bad person.
* Having adult ADD does not make you a difficult person.
* Having adult ADD is not a reason to punish yourself.
Rather, having adult ADD does mean that you have certain strengths and certain challenges. And guess what? So does everyone else.
You might have a hard time staying organized at work, AND be a superstar when it comes to customer service.
Meanwhile, your coworker might be extremely organized, but not so great when it comes to dealing with people.
Different people with different strengths make the world go 'round. And your strengths play an integral part...even if you have adult ADD!
I asked the audience a question as we were talking about this. I don't remember it exactly, but it was something like:
Would you ever tell your coworker, "Oh, you didn't get a chance to clean up your desk today? Yeah...then you better skip that dinner date and stay late until you get it done!"
Of course, everyone laughed. We would never dream of imposing the same punishments on others that we so easily impose on ourselves.
And when it comes to overcoming overwhelm, one thing is absolutely clear: if you don't allow yourself time to manage your stress, slow down, and make self-care a priority, then you'll never break out of the overwhelm-burnout cycle.
Stop punishing yourself. Start living.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jennifer Koretsky is the Founder of the ADD Management Group, LLC, author of Odd One Out: The Maverick's Guide to Adult ADD, and Co-Founder of the upcoming Virtual AD/HD Conference. Jennifer and her team work with ADD adults who are overwhelmed with everyday life in order to help them simplify, focus, and succeed. To learn more, visit http://www.ADDmanagement.com .