Home » ADHD » Blogs » ADHD Millennial » Figuring It Out Yourself

Figuring It Out Yourself

In life, there are some things you have to figure out for yourself. That’s even more true when you have ADHD.

In school, for example, I did a lot of figuring it out myself. In fact, I’ve always been better at teaching myself things than learning them from other people.

Part of it is the traditional structure of how learning happens, with lectures, verbal explanations, and a list of topics to study provided externally, without regard for personal interests. That type of learning isn’t especially accommodating of inattentive lapses, or fluctuating motivation based on how engaging the topic at hand is.

PuzzleOn the other hand, when I’m free to put my energy into topics I find interesting, to select the sources I’m learning from, to pace myself based on which learning activities I need to put in more and less time on, I can usually have some success in teaching myself things. So even if I wasn’t a good student in the traditional sense, I was able to compensate at least a little by teaching myself some things.

There’s a more general point here about ADHD. When you have ADHD, often the “typical” way of doings won’t work well for your brain. You’ll need to figure out a different way of doing things that does work well for you.

In short, coping with ADHD isn’t something that you can learn from a textbook. To be sure, books about ADHD, support groups, therapists and ADHD coaches can all provide invaluable insights and tips. But in the end, there’s still going to be an element of figuring it out yourself as you work out how to apply what you’ve learned about ADHD to your life.

For example, you’ll have to figure out how to do the job you have in a way that accommodates your ADHD symptoms. As a result, the day-to-day details of how you approach your work might look different from your coworkers. And if that’s not possible, sometimes you’ll have to figure out how to get a new job altogether, a job that can be done in a way that accommodates your symptoms.

You’ll also have to navigate the relationships in your life given your ADHD symptoms. That will include mitigating the potential for ADHD symptoms to damage those relationships and figuring out if, when and how to disclose the fact that you have ADHD. All of which will depend on the nature of those relationships and the specific people involved.

My point isn’t to make coping with ADHD seem like an insurmountable challenge, or to say that you have to do it alone. In fact, it can be done, and discussing the challenges you encounter with mental health professionals and other ADHDers will make a difference.

The amazing thing is that people with ADHD already do a lot of this problem solving without necessarily realizing it. If you have ADHD, you’ve probably already done a lot of figuring it out yourself, regardless of whether you have a diagnosis.

Granted, figuring it out yourself usually involves a certain amount of failure. You can’t teach yourself something without trial-and-error experimentation. That’s how it goes. Just don’t forget to acknowledge the amount of problem solving you have done in your own life up to this point in order to cope with ADHD, and don’t forget that those skills are there for you to build on going forward!

Image: Flickr/Liza

Figuring It Out Yourself

Neil Petersen

Neil Petersen writes regularly on psychology, ADHD and education. In addition to ADHD Millennial, he writes about psychology at Psych Central's AllPsych blog and about ADHD at He can be found on Twitter at @ADaptHD_blog

No comments yet... View Comments / Leave a Comment



APA Reference
Petersen, N. (2019). Figuring It Out Yourself. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 25, 2020, from


Last updated: 4 Sep 2019
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.