It might feel impossible but you can make positive life changes with ADHD.
You’ve probably tried listening to podcasts, downloading free ebooks, and listening to all the ADHD online summits. And you probably still struggle to understand why it’s so hard to do the things that seemingly come easily to neurotypicals.
In the Enclave we talk a lot about our goals for the future and the positive changes we want to make that will make those goals a reality.
Making significant changes in our lives is always tough and when you have ADHD, your neurochemistry is actively working against you.
Your distress is palpable to me when I read your emails, DMs, and comments. So I want to share some of what I’ve learned.
Making positive life changes with ADHD
In his article for ADDA entitled Defining Your Life By Your Choices, David Giwerc writes:
“In every situation, and in every moment of our lives, we are given the divine right and choice to think whatever we want.”
Giwerc, by the way, is the Founder & President of the ADD Coach Academy, so he knows what he is talking about.
Thinking is part of the reason why making changes is so difficulty for you and I. Our thoughts are frequently negative and self-defeating.
Humans are evolutionarily wired to focus on negative, threatening stimuli. This is actually a good thing because if we weren’t wired that way we would not have survived life on this planet.
But as Giwerc points out in his article, what we focus on is often NOT productive or helpful to us when we are seeking to make changes in our lives.
He writes, “If you are honest and you see that what you are focusing on is not serving you well, then change it to a thought that will.”
If you want to effect real change in your life, you have to adjust your thinking and your behavior.
Observing your thoughts
Talk to yourself. Seriously, all that crazy stuff in your head – say it to yourself out loud.
Does it sound crazy? Like something you would never say to another person?
Then you shouldn’t say it to yourself.
It’s up to you to do the work to adjust how you think. Many of us cannot do it alone, and this is where a good therapist can be helpful.
We often use thought models in the Enclave. I learned about thought models through a life coach, and I find they are a great tool for identifying and working through our thought patterns.
Changing Negative Core Beliefs
We all have those nasty, negative beliefs that we carry over from our childhood. Many times these beliefs about our worthiness, or lovability affect us more than we know.
Dr. Alice Boyes outlines a system for dealing with this on her website.
The first step is to choose a more positive belief to replace the negative one. After this you need to evaluate whether the belief is stable (you believe it even on good days), or more flexible where the feeling comes and goes depending on the circumstances.
See her website for more tips on changing negative core beliefs.
Much of this is based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
In other words, thinking about your thoughts and then practicing new thought patterns.
Changing your habits
In his popular book The Power of Habit (affiliate link), Charles Duhigg writes that what cues us to start a routine is either something external – like the clock, or something internal – like boredom or fatigue.
Duhigg asserts that you can change a routine if you pinpoint the cue, and keep the desired reward. All you have to do is switch out the routine.
For example, if you feel bored every day at work around 3pm you might get up and walk into the kitchen to get a snack. While you are there, you enjoy a short conversation with a colleague.
Triggered by boredom you went to the kitchen, eating the snack was the routine, and your reward was the conversation!
If you cut out the snack, you are changing the routine. Or so it is believed.
For ADHD folks habit change and formation is much more complicated.
To make changes in your life, you have to look very closely at the routines already in place. You might find that it’s easier to piggyback off of already existing habits.
social support for ADHD
You probably won’t like what I’m about to say, but here it goes:
You cannot manage ADHD alone. Not only do you need medical attention, you also need psychological support, and social connections that, “get it.” And I don’t mean another Facebook group.
You also do NOT need to pay thousands of dollars for a coach. Or a group coaching program. Don’t misunderstand me, there are highly trained, wonderful coaches out there – here is a list.
But coaching is something that you should do only when you can comfortably afford it, and you are in a place where you are ready to commit to a few months of concentrated effort.
Much of the stuff you see on social media is overpriced and coming from people who care more about making money quickly than forming lasting relationships. Buyer beware.
In my experience the best way to initiate change is also the simplest:
Talk to other women with ADHD in a positive, growth-oriented environment like the Enclave.
Taking even this tiny first step is difficult for those of us with ADHD brains.
I know what you’re thinking.
You don’t know how a membership community could help you.
– By giving you a predictable, supportive, secure place to learn and grow.
You don’t know how to tell if it’s, “working.”
– You don’t know if coaching groups are working either, and you aren’t fronting as much cash to find out. I provide a similar level of service, but I offer more accessibility to both me and the other members. I facilitate group conversations that help us heal together.
You don’t know if you can remember** to check in. (Do you forget to check social media?)
– We have an app so you can check in when the mood strikes. Also, because my price structure is reasonable if you forget for a month you aren’t wasting hundreds of dollars. And you can come back any time.
This uncomfortable feeling is part of your growth. Small shifts aren’t always obvious or even visible.
BUT, tiny changes over time often lead to big changes.
If you want to make positive changes with ADHD, you have to adjust your thoughts and your behavior.
Like my mother always said, anything worth having is worth working for. I am bridging the gap between the ADHD experts and coaches, and the women who need support.