Yesterday we talked about a few strategies for getting unstuck in your ADHD treatment.
Today I’ll talk about another roadblock that keeps us from moving forward: our new-found fabulousness!
No, really. It happens. One day, you wake up, you look in the mirror and you mutter, Where is that clumsy, blurtacious, chronically late, kinda kooky ADHDer who couldn’t find her way out of a paper bag with a GPS?
Frightening, I know. But this can happen: you reach a point in your ADHD treatment when you no longer recognize yourself.
In fact, it’s even worse than that: you don’t even recognize your mirror.
That same morning, you’re shocked as you realize you’re looking into a perfectly polished mirror. You think, Where are the familiar green-blue toothpaste blops?
Gone is the familiar absent-minded ADHDer who used to squeeze the toothpaste onto the bristles, start up the electric toothbrush before putting it into their mouth, and spray gooey green blobs all over the bathroom mirror, wall, and sink. All because they were daydreaming about being the bass player in Wilco.
But there it is: that gorgeous, perfectly polished mirror. And there you are: that competent, unrecognizable person.
How to deal?
Once again, we’ll turn to ADHD expert, psychologist, coach and author, Michele Novotni.
Novotni explains that sometimes hitting a wall means it’s time to acclimate to all the changes that you’ve already made, and to figure out who you are with your new sets of skills.
But what does that entail?
Well, beautiful people, here are a few pointers gleaned from my own missteps and mishaps.
1. Don’t compare yourself to others.
I’ve tried to live by this credo for decades. Yet just last year I found myself writing this (cringe):
I see those who are so much further along the path: the high achievers, the olympic gold medalists, the best-selling authors, the successful entrepreneurs, and I think: how did they get there?
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against acknowledging and admiring others’ achievements; but who am I kidding? I don’t even want to be an Olympic athlete.
It’s ok to learn from others, but do stay focused on your own goals. Don’t compare them with the accomplishments of others. Only you can be you – why not be the best at that?
2. Let go of relationships that don’t fit anymore, and stay open to relationships that do.
Recently I reconnected with an old friend. A pleasant outing turned into a nightmare as I found myself on the receiving end of a heinous, public hissy-fit. I felt shocked, hurt, dismayed, and disrespected.
Even though painful, this incident taught me about my new-found self-respect. I can move on and welcome new, healthier relationships into my life.
3. Be patient.
Personal growth, ADHD or not, is rarely a linear path. While patience isn’t exactly a virtue for most of us, try to cut yourself some slack.
Tweak your treatment as suggested in Part I and have faith that nothing in life is static. Especially not the life of someone with ADHD.
4. Get support to help you learn to trust your new competencies.
Feeling shaky about the changes you’ve made? Like them but don’t quite believe they’ll stick? That might be reasonable, considering a shaky (undiagnosed) past, but doubt will keep you stuck.
Tap into any or all of these resources to reflect back the positive changes you’ve made, and to remind you that you did it, and you’ll keep doing it.
– Support groups
– A therapist or counselor who can help you work on self-confidence and build self-trust
– Positive friendships (aka supportive cheerleaders who think you’re wonderful, won’t hesitate to tell you, and know when you need to hear it)
5. Don’t wait for your parents or siblings to acknowledge the new you.
Some of the most common and most painful complaints I hear from adults with ADHD are that their family members (especially parents) refuse to accept their ADHD; refuse to learn about ADHD or to adjust to the positive changes they’ve made.
This might be tough to hear, but: grow up. You are an adult. You may never, ever have the parents you deserve, or wish you had. If you’re an adult, the parenting is done, already.
On the other hand, anyone can change at any time. You did, right?
It’s a fine line between secretly hoping that your parents will come around, and letting go of expectations and accepting them just the way they are.
After all, that’s exactly what you want them to do for you, right?
Remember that your ADHD diagnosis and treatment is primarily for you. (It’s just a groovy kind of side-effect that others around you also benefit.)
If your family members (the ones you no longer live with, that is) are mired in the past, that’s their choice and their loss. Let it go and get on with it.
6. Take time to celebrate your accomplishments so far.
If you’re feeling stuck and not sure who this new person is, why not get to know her (or him)? Go ahead, go get a piece of paper and a pen right now. I’ll wait.
Got it? Okay, write down all the great things you’ve already changed in your life since your ADHD treatment. Now read that list out loud. (I know I’m sounding bossy, but trust me).
Didn’t that make you smile? Don’t you like yourself just a little bit more? Now that you’re more comfortable – even proud – of this new person, hold on to that feeling and do some more stuff that makes you feel exactly the same way.
7. Hone an attitude of gratitude.
Focusing on negatives is a great way to stay stuck.
Why not nurture a gentle happiness through appreciating what you have, whether that’s a roof over your head or the new-found ability to hold your tongue?
Take some time at least once each and every day to find something to be grateful for instead of feeling frustrated or impatient about what you don’t have, including the ability to be on time 100% of the time (here’s a secret: nobody is on time 100% of the time. Be grateful for that.)