We all have our own values that are shaped by a lot of different factors. Not least among those factors, though, is our life experience. The things that happen to us influence our priorities, the principles that guide us in life, and what we see as important.

ContemplatingI would say that ADHD is definitely a “thing that happened to me.” Or maybe it’s many things that happened to me – what I mean is, my experiences in life have definitely been different than they would be if I didn’t have ADHD.

So does that mean having ADHD has shaped my values? Impossible to say for sure, but probably yes.

Part of living with ADHD is that you have to find your own way of doing things. The way you’re “supposed” to do things, or the way that most people do things, doesn’t necessarily work for you. You have to find a method that meshes with your brain.

So I’ve come to value letting people find their own way of doing things, possibly more than I would if I hadn’t spent my life coping with ADHD. I try to let other people figure out their own ways of operating, and I appreciate it when others do the same with me – basically, this is the opposite of micromanaging.

More generally, I think finding a method that works for you individually is an important ingredient to happiness. I prioritize making sure there’s room in my life to do things my own way, and I respect other people who do this as well. And when I’m talking about “doing things your own way,” this could range from small things like doing a particular task at work or at home to big things like finding your own path in life or making a career choice.

A related value is recognizing that you shouldn’t assume other people have brains that work like yours does, or that other people are going to act like you do. For example, someone with ADHD might look at my ADHD symptoms and say “well, if I did that, it would be because I was lazy or didn’t care, so this guy must just be lazy and not care.”

The faulty assumption here, of course, is the first part of the sentence: “if I did that.” Different people have brains that work differently, and more generally, they’re coming at things from different contexts. If someone acts in a way that’s frustrating, hard to understand, or just different than what we expect, there might be something we can’t see that’s causing them to behave this way. I try to make a point of remembering this and not making assumptions about where people are coming from or rushing to judgment. Naturally, there are times when I’m more successful than others.

I’m not saying that everyone with ADHD shares these values. In fact, that’s one of the interesting things about ADHD – even though we all have similar symptoms, those symptoms interact with our lives differently. But I do think that in some way, everyone with ADHD has probably had their values influenced by the experience of having ADHD. Do you see ways that ADHD has shaped your values? Please share below!

Image: Flickr/Cindy Snider Re