Sometime ago my wife and I went to a comedy show. I apparently misread the start time on the tickets. We arrived at the arena around six, but the doors didn’t open until seven. We waited around as others started to arrive. I felt a deep sense of satisfaction. We were just watching the people arrive, and looking out into the city. I remember thinking how I never felt this way before I discovered the things that inspired me to start this community. Just a few years before I would have reacted to that situation very differently. I would have been frustrated with myself for misreading the ticket. I would have been impatient waiting for the doors to open at seven. I would have probably been bickering with my wife over the whole situation. I would have been answering work emails and returning phone calls. I want to share a few of the foundational ideas that helped me to move from depression and frustration to a mostly positive and peaceful life. I want to be clear up front that for most people this isn’t something that happens overnight. It is a process that requires some work. I also want to be clear that nothing here should be construed as a replacement for doctor visits, therapy or medication. Here are a few of the main ideas that were the start of my ADHD Awake Life Transformation.
You are not your thoughts or how you feel
We all have an almost constant stream of thoughts that come into our minds all day long. We assume that we willingly created these thoughts, but if we pay attention we see that they just rise naturally. Most of these thoughts are on autopilot. They are generated as a reaction to our environment. Many of those thoughts come from programs that were formed in our minds before the age of ten. The research is clear on this. You can learn to step outside those thoughts, and create some space to evaluate and question them. The purpose of the work associated with this principle is to create space between incident, and response. This community will help you do this by teaching you ways to create that space. It will also give you tools to sort through common thoughts and see the truth that those negative thoughts aren’t you. They are just thoughts that you can evaluate and decide to keep or resolve. Probably the most important aspect of success in this area is the support of other people in the community that share many aspects of your journey.
Perception is not reality
Once you have the tools to create the space between incident and response, you will begin to see that the way you perceive the world isn’t actually the way the world is. To some extent we all believe we see the world as it is. We believe that our view of reality is true and accurate. Sometimes we even project our thoughts on others by telling them or someone else what that person should do. The late Dr. Stephen Covey tells the story in “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” of getting on a train. There was a man with two children. The children were creating quite a disturbance on the train. Dr. Covey had become irritated, and decided to confront the man about his children’s behavior. The man responded that Dr. Covey was right, but that they had just come from the hospital where his wife, and the boy’s mother had just passed away. In an instant Dr. Covey’s whole outlook on the situation had changed. The point of this story is that Dr. Covey had perceived something very different from reality. This is an extreme case, but working to discover reality instead of instantly creating it in your mind can reveal moments that will propel your journey forward exponentially.
The friction of urgency
I remember an urgent request that came through at work several years ago. The CEO of our company needed something, and he needed it quickly. My faster than normal ADHD brain jumped into action and I started assembling the work at a breakneck pace. I finished the work and pushed it up to my boss who was eagerly anticipating it’s arrival. I was proud that I had completed the work. My boss took one look at it and pointed out that I had missed an important part of the work. I was devastated, and calling myself all sorts of names. Now the pressure was really on. I went through two more iterations of this, and missed the deadline by an hour. I was worn our and still calling myself names. Since this incident I have learned that if I had just acknowledged the sense of urgency, but treated the project as an important project instead of an urgent fire drill, that I would have produced better work in the same amount of time. I have proved this theory at least a hundred times since this incident. I want to break this section out into two paragraphs, because this next piece is really important.
Past, Present, and Future
We can only act in the present. We can’t physically do anything in the past, and we can’t literally perform work in the future. I always ask the person I am communicating this with to actually think this through on the as they are confronted with the topic. This is important to think about. The only time we can do anything is now. This is important because our mind is always painting pictures of the past, and future. When you are in these urgent situations your mind can be put into the future consequences, and take your mind off the task at hand. For those of us with ADHD this is common, therefore that pressure doesn’t work as well as it would for some neuro-typical persons. In this situation you can realize that the urgency in this situation is not yours, and that now and the task at hand is the only thing you have to work with. You can choose whether to bow to the pressure, because the urgency isn’t directly yours. It is also important to note that Depression is a result of dwelling on the past, and anxiety is a result of dwelling on the future. The pressure created by this type of situation is all about future consequences, which are best controlled now. This past, present, and future topic was also broken out, because this one has the potential to be a game changer in your journey.
Don’t do this alone
Did you know that if you have two horses pulling a wagon instead of one, that each horse can pull three times the weight than it could have alone. It is the same principle at work when you collaborate with others on a journey like this one. Before I started this transformation I tried to do everything alone. For the first forty five years of my life I made some progress, but over the last three years I have made more progress than I have in the first forty.
These are just a few of the principles that have helped me and can help you to begin a transformation. I want to finish up by saying that no one has their life completely together. Whether you feel like you are starting at ground zero or you have thrived with ADHD, your journey is just beginning. If you are ready to begin your own journey, and would like to secure your place in the community before launch, feel free to reach out. I look forward to hearing from you.