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Shiiiiiiiiiiiine-y Things: Making Decisions – ADHD Style!

Shiiiiiiiine-y things...making decisions, ADHD-Style!
Shiiiiiiiine-y things...making decisions, ADHD-Style!

Never say “yes” to a tattoo artist whose drawing you don’t really like, just to save hurting his feelings.

This is one of the many bits of pithy wisdom I can pass on to you from my 47 years’ experience as an undiagnosed ADHDer.

Also, don’t marry someone you’ve only known for three weeks, even if they are a distant relative, and don’t buy hot pink satin pants or bolero hats even if you are in France. They won’t work when you get them home. Trust me.

I’m making better decisions these days (since my ADHD diagnosis and treatment).

Still, I find myself making snap decisions for bad reasons and regretting it, or having absolutely NO idea how to decide in certain situations.

When I had trouble in the past, I’d call my dad and he’d calmly and logically walk me through whatever the dilemma-de-jour was. He never, EVER, told me what to do, but his gentle manner calmed me down. With his guidance, and my input (from brain and belly), I managed.

Now that dad’s gone, I rely on my closest friends to listen as I talk myself through difficult situations.

In thinking about my decision-making, past and present, I find my decisions generally fall into these categories:

The “Shine-y Things” Decision

Rub your hands together, repeat in a squeaky/creaky voice, “shiiiiiine-y things,” and you’ll get the feel for how I make the Shine-y Things decision. These happen mostly when clothes shopping. Fortunately, I hate clothes shopping. Any shopping, really (with the notable exception of grocery shopping. I’m a food-a-holic).

Clothes shopping almost always leads to bringing home stuff that’s too flashy, doesn’t fit right, or is too young for me. The ultimate beneficiaries end up being the retail store that sold the thing, and the end user – a second-hand clothing shopper (who gets an item that’s been worn once, if at all).

The “Make Someone Else Happy” Decision

This genre of decision invariably ends up making no one happy, least of all me. In trying to please someone else, I usually end up doing something I don’t want to do, and missing something I do want to do. (NOTE: this is different than the, “Make Myself Happy By Making Someone Else Happy” Decision; that one usually works out great for everyone).

The “I Want These People to Like Me” Decision

The other day I offered a compost bin to the community garden where I have a plot this year. I was enthusiastic, and trying to fit in. I wanted to be accepted by the group. Unfortunately, I’d forgotten I’d already offered the bin (which was parked at the ex’s – the one with the garden I can no longer work) to a friend. When I went to pick it up, it was gone. Oops. “I Want These People to Like Me” decisions often backfire.

The “Everyone Else Is So I Better” Decision

Do I look like “Everyone Else” to you? I’m more of a solitary heron than a sheep or a lemming. ‘Nuff said.

The “Better Make This Quick Because I Look Like a Jerk” Decision

A good example of this happens when I go to a restaurant. I’m hungry. Who can make decisions on an empty stomach?  Not me. My dining companions have all decided; have all ORDERED – and I’m still either salivating over, or disgusted by, everything on the menu. I’m a food-a-holic, remember? But a picky one, at that.

This also happens when people ask if I want to do something, like go to a movie. I know they want a simple “yes” or “no,” but it’s not that simple. I mean, what are the reviewers saying? What are the movie options? What times are they playing? What am I doing the next day? Am I willing to forgo what I’m already doing that night? (I’m ALWAYS doing something). Who is the director? Who are the lead actors? See what I mean? And because I can’t just say “yes” or “no,” this one is definitely a “Better Make This Quick Because I Look Like a Jerk” Decision.

The “Avoid It Until It Goes Away” Decision

…which is really not a decision at all, is it? Ok, it’s a decision NOT to make a decision. I’m sure you can guess how well this one works out.

I’m happy to say that since my diagnosis, I’ve made some great decisions. These decisions have put me in a position where I can avoid making decisions. And with the dorky categories listed above, that’s probably a good thing for me.

The over-riding, mega-decisions that have simplified my life are these:

1)      Let myself be my kooky, creative self, no holding back

2)      Don’t worry about it if others don’t enjoy me as I am

3)      Continue to be open and genuine, even about having ADHD

4)      Devote 2010 to my chosen career (writing), even if I starve (which I damn near did)

As a result of these decisions, I’m more relaxed, less confused, and happier than I’ve ever been. Most of my decisions these days are deciding what to do first, from a bunch of stuff I really love doing.

I’ve decided that’s a pretty good way to live.

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Shiiiiiiiiiiiine-y Things: Making Decisions – ADHD Style!

Zoë Kessler, BA, B.Ed.

Zoë Kessler is an award-winning author, journalist, and speaker specializing in women and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD / ADD).

A frequent contributor to ADDitude Magazine, Kessler has also created video, standup comedy, and guest blogs on ADHD and Marriage covering ADHD-related topics.

Zoë, an internationally recognized ADHD expert, has been interviewed on radio and featured in magazine articles, documentaries, and books on the topic of women and ADHD across North America.

Her newly-released memoir ADHD According to Zoë - The Real Deal on relationships, Finding Your Focus & Finding Your Keys (New Harbinger Publications, 2013) about life with ADHD is now available.

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APA Reference
Kessler, Z. (2011). Shiiiiiiiiiiiine-y Things: Making Decisions – ADHD Style!. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 4, 2020, from


Last updated: 20 May 2011
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