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Gratitude

As I’ve struggled with writing three different articles over the past few weeks and not yet published a single thing, it finally occurred to me to write about something that I am so absolutely familiar with that I would have to completely snuff it out with perfectionism for it not to get published!  So, with today being the last day of November (the month of giving thanks), I realized that writing about gratitude is just right.  (I was about to say “perfect,” but that is a slippery slope for me!)

I also realized that I wanted to keep it simple because I believe that,

“The simplest things are the most profound.”

So, instead of writing about gratitude, I will simply write what I usually write when it comes to gratitude — a gratitude list.  Then I will be staying in very familiar territory and improving my outlook at the same time!

Here’s what I am grateful for today

People:

* My husband and our marriage of 18 years.  We’ve had our ups and downs, but I am grateful to say that we currently not only love each other but that we are also enjoying each other’s company these days!

* My daughter, who is now 14 years old.  Life sometimes feels like a roller coaster with my teenager, but she is one loving, thoughtful, joyful, creative, talented, intelligent soul who I am proud to say is my daughter.  I am blessed, and I am grateful for her.

* My stepdaughter and her family and what loving arms she has extended to me despite all that she’s been through.  My heart is full.

* My mom, dad, stepmom, sister, brother, brother-in-law, niece, and my stepmom’s family.  Despite our difference and challenges, I am grateful for the love that we share and for the respect that we have for one another.

* Family who are willing and find the resources to come visit us despite the flights and 2-hour trip from the airport involved in getting here.

* The many loving, joyous memories of my stepdad and an appreciation of my step-siblings.

* Fond memories of my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

* Dear friends over the years and all of the wonderful conversations that have brought me joy or helped me through difficult times.

* Delightful new friends I have recently met and “old” friends I have reconnected with.  I never cease to be amazed at how important friendships are!

Experiences:

* The years I’ve had in recovery programs, which have helped me to weather difficult times in relationships and taught me about loving myself so that I could love others.

* The psychologists and coaches I have worked with over the years who have helped me through trying times and facilitated healing of my “ouchies” so that I may more compassionately and effectively coach the people I now work with.

* My business and the opportunity to work with people in a way that I find life-affirming, exciting and joyful!

* All those who have been supportive of my business, especially my husband and his patience for it all.

* My clients’ willingness and courage to journey down new paths, not to mention their amazing creativity and resourcefulness!

* My love of writing.

Opportunities and Resources:

* The joy of watching dance and learning to dance.  So challenging and so mesmerizing all rolled into one!

* My love of swimming and how strong and graceful it feels to move through the water.  For me, rather like a moving meditation.

* The resources for excellent health insurance.

* My home and the opportunity to mold it into a place that nurtures and comforts and provides for my family and friends.

* Plenty of nutritious, delicious food to eat.

* Clothes that keep me protected from the elements and allow me to express who I am.

* My own home office to work in.

* A state-of-the-art computer.  (This had been on my wish list for a long time so it is particularly exciting to name it!)

* A new printer that spits out photos in a heartbeat!

* Financial resources to enjoy Christmas (as long as I keep perspective!)

“A.D.D.-ish”

  • Aha!  I finally found what to call “it”!  You know, that place where you kind of think you might have ADD, but you don’t know if you have ADD?  You’re not sure if getting distracted or being disorganized or procrastinating might mean you have ADD, or just that life is stressful and sometimes overwhelming.

“ADD-ish.”  I heard the term as an aside during a business teleclass I participated in, and I immediately liked it.  In our culture, it’s hard not to be “ADD-ish.”  With information overload and the constancy of communication, not to mention just our regular lives, there is a lot of information to screen in or out and then to process.

And More Questions…

So you wonder if your tendency to get distracted or be disorganized or stay focused is ADD, or is it just a sign of the times?  You are in very good company and plenty of company!  What is important about this question is the answer to another question.  How much is it affecting your day-to-day life?  How much does it bother you that you’re getting distracted or having trouble completing projects or being disorganized?  Do you manage to find some ways to cope with those challenges?  Or do those challenges feel like they’re near constant or looming very large in front of you?  Or perhaps you find yourself somewhere in between?

Answers?

Your answers give you some guidelines for how much attention to give this issue because there is already so much to deal with that we don’t want to unnecessarily add more to the pile!  Indeed not.  What I am hoping to do is to shrink your pile by giving enough attention to what NEEDS attention!  If you find yourself frequently

  • distracted,
  • disorganized,
  • and procrastinating,
  • and it’s causing you a lot of grief,

then it needs attention.  Funny thing is, we tend to put off giving it attention, thinking that we just need to try harder.  Haven’t you already been trying harder?  I truly do understand that it is difficult to answer this seemingly straightforward question because, to answer with a “yes” means that trying harder is not working.  That – is – very – hard – to – admit.  Believe me, I get it.  To say, “My best has gotten me where I am” requires a LOT of courage and humility.  And when we’re trying to save face because it feels like we keep screwing up, courage and humility tend to come hard.

But they can come.  And having a bit of encouragement or support can help.  It is no easy task to admit that we need help and then to ASK for help.  However, how long have you been miserable going about it the way that you have?  That long, huh?  Me too.  I was miserable a very long time, first because I just did not know what was wrong (thinking that I was inadequate or incompetent or even meaner words…).  Then, when I finally did begin to suspect that I might have ADD, well, who wants to be diagnosed with ADD?  I certainly did not.  I thought that it was yet another confirmation that I was inadequate.  So, I didn’t go running to the phone to make my appointment with someone who could do the assessment.

“Insanity”?

For a while longer, I kept trying harder.  Have you ever heard this definition of insanity — doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?  When I first heard that definition, I was quite insulted by the suggestion that I might be insane!  I wasn’t insane!  I was just frustrated!!  Well, no, I wasn’t and I’m not insane in the formal definition of the word.  But in the more casual use of “insane”?  Yes, I qualify.  Once I could loosen my grip on the formal definition, I came to love this definition.  It can help shake us loose from our own chains!

Taking Action

It was because I kept getting the same results no matter what I tried that finally led me to make the call to set up the appointment to get the assessment to be diagnosed with ADD.  And I am relieved and grateful that I did.  First of all, it put a name to all those years of misery and feeling inadequate and incompetent.  That was a relief in itself!  Secondly, medication can help improve my day-to-day functioning.  And thirdly, there is now so much more information available to adults with ADD.  There are books; there are support groups; there are oodles of resources online; there are coaches, AND there are other people with ADD.  You’d be so surprised to find out who all has ADD once you begin talking about it.  There are very successful people who are making their way in the world WITH ADD.  It doesn’t mean that they don’t have their challenges or setbacks or frustrations.  They do.  They’re human, and they still have ADD.  But instead of ignoring it or assuming that they are incompetent or inadequate, they give their ADD, and therefore give themselves, the attention that is needed.

So, is your “ADD-ishness” something that is just a small, manageable part of your life?  Or is your “ADD-ishness” something that is causing you enough frustration and self-criticism that it is TIME to do something about it?  If it is time, then go make that call to schedule the appointment.  Or go research it online.  Or go do some reading about it.  You may be pleasantly surprised to discover that you do indeed have ADD!

“Do I Have ADD?”

Do I or Don’t I?

“Do I have ADD?”  Does this question ever pop up for you?  Or, has someone else suggested that you have ADD (often not very kindly…)?

If not knowing is bothering you, or if you find yourself struggling to cope, then by all means, please go meet with a psychologist or psychiatrist who is skilled in the area of ADD diagnosis, and find out!  For many of us, there is HUGE relief in doing so because

1) You finally have a name for what has been ruling your life.

2) You finally have a way of understanding why life has felt so hard.

3) You can then respond more positively to having ADD (and quit giving yourself so much grief).

4) You can learn about ADD, be treated for ADD and have a much better chance of functioning more effectively in your life!

The Upside to a Diagnosis

So, if you are really struggling, it is worth finding out, as much as a diagnosis of ADD is not something that most of us are eager to embrace.  ADD tends to come with a lot of judgment and misunderstanding, particularly for adults with ADD.  That’s so odd because, no, you don’t outgrow it, as people used to think.  The symptoms do tend to subside during adulthood, especially for those with ADHD, (when you have that extra energy that can make it hard to sit still), but ADD and ADHD do not go away.  We often get better at hiding it, or we develop some coping skills that can help, but it doesn’t go away.

That’s why it’s so important to learn about it and get connected to other people who seem to be managing it OK or who have a positive attitude despite it!  We need to know that we’re not alone in our challenges with ADD, no matter how old we are.

The Downside to Not Knowing

The problem with not knowing that you may have ADD is that you expect yourself to be able to cope with life like someone who doesn’t have ADD.    That’s like expecting someone with Type 1 diabetes to have good blood sugar without insulin.  It ain’t gonna happen!  Someone with diabetes who doesn’t know they have diabetes is not going to feel very well because they don’t have the insulin their body needs to function well.  Someone with ADD who doesn’t know they have ADD is not going to cope very well because they don’t have the resources or possibly medication they need to cope well.  But you don’t know WHY in either case because you don’t know what’s going on!

What Do You Mean, Forgive Myself — For Screwing Up?

Once you know what’s going on, you can learn about yourself, ADD and why you respond to life’s challenges in the way that you do.  You can then cope more effectively by taking advantage of the resources and treatment that are available and can help!  You have probably been expecting yourself to handle certain parts of your life without the skills or resources that you need.  That’s not very fair, is it?  But that’s what we tend to do to ourselves (or other people do to us) because we (or they) don’t understand!  You may choose to take medication, work with a therapist or work with a coach.  (If you’d like to learn more about working with me as your coach, click here.)  You might even decide to take advantage of a professional organizer who understands ADD and can help you create an environment that works better for you.

The next step is forgiving yourself for all that you have not handled as well as you would have liked because of your ADD!  It is so important to go back and look at how ADD has affected you and to forgive yourself.  You have always been doing as well as you have been able to do with the skills and resources that you have had!  It is so important to give yourself the understanding and compassion that has been missing all along!

With Acceptance Comes Change     

With a bit of light shed on the subject of ADD in your life, you are in a better position to move forward, to stop fighting the way you are and instead ACCEPT the way you are.  As you accept those things about you, you can much more effectively begin to learn about strategies for living life a bit differently.  It’s not about saying, “Gee!  I’m so happy I have ADD!”  But it is about saying, “Well, I have ADD.  Now what?”  It puts you in a much better position to respond more effectively to the challenges in your life.

Reversing the Irreversible

“One can never change the past, only the hold it has on you, and while nothing in your life is reversible, you can reverse it nevertheless.”    — Merle Shain

What a juicy quote!  I love the challenge to our thinking of this quote.  There’s nothing for us to do about the past because it remains as it is.  However, “the hold it has on you” can be changed.  This is ever so important for all of us but is especially important for those with AD/HD.  Most of us with AD/HD have leftover negative experiences, judgments (from ourselves and others), criticisms that haunt us, or just a more negative view of ourselves than is accurate.  That’s because the symptoms of AD/HD can be so frustrating and challenging — to us and to others!

So, if it is indeed possible to change the hold that your past has on you, what might that look like?  One of the most powerful things to do is to change our perspective, and one of the ways to do that is to simply back away a bit.  Instead of “not being able to see the forest for the trees,” back away from the trees enough to be able to see that there is a forest there!  Sounds really simple, and it is, in some ways.  But it can feel a bit more tricky when it comes to our own lives, which can feel like they’re “up close and personal” because they are!

Nevertheless, when it comes to our past, that is a little bit easier than what is current.  Sometimes it can be helpful to imagine that you are telling something about your past to the most compassionate person in the world that you can imagine — someone who is always able to see how a past situation might have been really challenging and how you might not have responded as well as you would have liked to have responded.  And they always see you with compassion in that situation, having done the very best you could have.  And guess what?  That’s because you did do the best you could have.  If you had been able to do any better, you would have.  You did as well as was possible for you at that time, at that age, with whatever internal and external resources were available to you.  We were often missing some resource that would have allowed us to respond differently somehow.

Practice seeing yourself with that kind of perspective, with the perspective that comes from having a broader view of things and is more compassionate.  It does take practice, especially because we may have become used to being judged by others or judging ourselves harshly.  And it is so very worth it.  Then, you can begin to experience what Merle Shain was talking about when she wrote “…while nothing in your life is reversible, you can reverse it nevertheless.”

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