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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

  • Embraces change

  • 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

  • Spontaneous

  • 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

  • Resilient

  • Highly empathetic

  • Enjoys being a maverick

6. Perfectionism - demanding very high standards

  • Detailed and meticulous

  • High standards

  • Strong convictions

  • Incredible willpower

  • Know their strengths

  • High integrity

  • Strives for excellence

  • Conscientious

  • 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.


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