New Year, New Perspectives: Seeing the Strengths Within your ADHD Challenges
I first published this blog 3 years ago, and it is still one of my favorites. It also seemed like a good time to repost it because it is the start of a brand new year, which always feels like a good time for making positive changes in our lives. But, what if we could also experience positive changes in our lives by consciously shifting our perspective and looking at what already exists in a different way? Also, a good reminder that things are not always as black or white as they seem to be:-) Enjoy!
This is a special post because this one was requested by my daughter. She asked me to write a blog about all the good things about ADHD . "Tell me about the strengths, not the challenges," she said. "How about I tell you about the strengths in the challenges?" I replied.
Because sometimes the very challenges that someone with ADHD faces can be their greatest strengths as well. If we can see the strengths context of our ADHD traits, then we can further optimize our success by working with our natural brain wiring, channeling our efforts in a meaningful direction and finding or creating environments that we can thrive in.
So, here are some of the most common challenges people with ADHD face (with definitions) - but from the perspective of it's strength:
1. Distractibility - difficulty focusing on the task at hand.
Interested in many things
Imaginative and creative - lots of ideas
Associative thinkers - can see many possibilities
Intuitive - free flowing thoughts
Can focus well on their areas of passion and interest
2. Hyperactivity - excessive restlessness
Always exploring and discovering
Looks for new activities that stimulates them
Incredible energy and enthusiasm
Driven and open to new experiences
Usually hardworking on their ideas
Willing to continue trying
Idea machines and associative thinkers
Excellent at brainstorming
3. Impulsivity - lack of inhibition
Quick to respond
Creative - "Creativity is Impulsivity gone right" --Dr Edward Hallowell
Willing to go into unexplored territory
Authentic responses in the moment
Gains lots of experience from trying new things
4. Rumination - concentration on negative thoughts
Ability to bring super intense concentration to a topic
Imagination is vivid and strong
Good at anticipating problems so can prepare for them or head them off
Is realistic and practical
5. Emotional Regulation - difficulty modulating strong emotions
Highly expressive and exuberant
Loving and playful
Enjoys being a maverick
6. Perfectionism - demanding very high standards
Detailed and meticulous
Know their strengths
Strives for excellence
Organized -prefers order
Very results/bottom line focused
Has a very discerning eye in area of expertise
Driven to highest levels of achievement in field that matters to them
Just to drive home this point of seeing ADHD traits in their strengths context, here are some highly successful individuals with ADHD: Albert Einstein, Leonardo Da Vinci, David Neeleman, Richard Branson, Michael Phelps, Simone Biles, Justin Timberlake, Whoopi Goldberg, Adam Levine and Emma Watson, just to name a few.
It takes self awareness, intention, effort and support to succeed - but first it takes a shift in perspective to see beyond the problems to the possibilities.