ADHD and Attachment – The Aha! Approach
ADHD doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Which is a darn shame, because if it did, we could just throw out the bag and be done with it.
But no. Sadly, ADHD symptoms are another layer of being human. Even without the ADHD we’d still have some garden-variety insecurities, human frailties and foibles, and perhaps – attachments. (Why am I thinking about the vacuum again? I must need to clean my house).
In my post ADHD Treatment: Have We Been Taking the Wrong Approach? we explored why I think it’s so important to establish a solid foundation of self-worth before expecting any other ADHD treatment to be as effective as it could be.
I stated in that post: …it wasn’t until I got my recent Aha! moment that it all came together.
The Aha! moment I was referring to was when I consciously articulated that …until we address our underlying emotional hypersensitivity, we won’t achieve our best and highest potential as individuals living with ADHD.
The Aha! plot thickens
This past Monday night, I had the pleasure of hosting a Psych Central webinar called Cultivate Empowering Beliefs – How to Create Personal Freedom and End Self-Sabotage. The webinar featured Mike Bundrant, who writes our NLP Discoveries blog here at Psych Central and is the co-founder of the iNLP Center.
I was very excited about Mike’s presentation because his webinar description read, in part:
“If you tend to sabotage your plans in life, it is because of personally held, conflicting beliefs.”
As a late-diagnosed adult with ADHD, this struck a chord with me. After all, conflicting beliefs are core to the experience of late-diagnosed ADHD, at least for many of us. In fact, the book title You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Stupid, or Crazy?! was built around these conflicting beliefs.
You know what I’m talking about: it’s that experience, as a child, of simultaneously being overtly or covertly told you’re stupid, etc., while inside you have this niggling feeling that in fact you’re quite intelligent (and having experiences and occasional successes that back up that intuitive perception).
That’s just one of many examples I could cite.
That chord of recognition swelled into an entire symphony when the webinar blurb continued:
“Conflicted beliefs manifest conflicted behaviors.”
Again, a familiar manifestation for late-diagnosed adult ADHDers.
Like a self-fulfilling prophecy, having experienced being perceived (and labelled) as stupid, when we’re under stress or feel anxious or are overly tired or otherwise in some way vulnerable or emotionally compromised, we create the very situation we want to avoid: we stumble into doing (or saying) something that appears “stupid.”
ADHD and the Aha! Approach
Having resonated with Mike’s webinar description, and wanting to address my own emotional vulnerabilities, I eagerly anticipated his offer of a solution to these difficult, even soul-crushing experiences.
In a lovely example of synchronicity, Mike’s solution to conflicting beliefs is called the Aha! Approach.
Mike’s webinar was general enough that anyone could benefit, but as someone with ADHD, I highly related to one of the very first slides in his presentation. This was an example of what Mike called “Limiting Beliefs:” “I am unlovable;” “I will be left” and “I don’t deserve to be happy”
Bummer beliefs, yes?
Mike continues by covering a topic I think is critical to those of us trying to manage our ADHD: self-sabotage. As in the example above, how many of us turn early negative childhood experiences into self-sabotaging behavior? Yes, our ADHD symptoms get in the way. That’s why there’s ADHD treatment.
But – when we realize we also get in our own way by living down to the expectations of others from our past – be they parents, teachers, neighbors, bullies – whoever – these are self-sabotaging acts.
So, when someone comes along and claims to be able to help us stop this part of the equation, hey, I’m there.
In the webinar, Mike talks about three different types of attachments: the control attachment; the deprivation attachment; and the rejection attachment.
He goes on to explain how we can identify our personal attachments, the pattern they create in our lives, and how to stop the cycle and escape their grip.
Of course I was keen to hear Mike’s approach, which he developed with his wife Hope. They call it the Aha! method. The AHA acronym stands for “Awareness / Halt / Act”
Hope was passionate enough about the Aha! method to hold herself up as an example.
In a vivid illustration of the AHA method, she related a recent personal experience on video as part of the webinar. Through her experience, Hope demonstrated how the process works and how she uses it in her daily life. (Kudos to her for her honesty and authenticity. Her personal example added depth and clarity to the presentation).
The tribe was represented!
I was delighted to see our tribe represented at the webinar when one of the attendees asked the pertinent question: “Awareness seems like a challenge sometimes” (I perked up immediately) “…recommendations for how to pay attention, become more aware?”
What a great question! We adults with ADHD can have difficulty being aware of our own behaviors, or of anything, really. Would the Aha! method work for us too?
Mike’s answer? I’ll let him speak for himself (you can hear his answer in the Q & A session during the last 15 minutes or so of the webinar). You can also watch the entire webinar below, or go to the Psych Central YouTube channel here.
What do you think?
Please let us know what you think of the Aha! approach, especially as it relates to your experience as an adult trying to manage ADHD symptoms (fyi: the slide presentation begins after my intro to the webinar).
Kessler, Z. (2013). ADHD and Attachment – The Aha! Approach. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 31, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/adhd-zoe/2013/06/adhd-and-attachment-the-aha-approach/