ADD & Looking in the Mirror
In my years of real-life experience in learning to manage and overcome Adult ADD, one of the steps that has proven to be beneficial is looking at myself in the mirror, figuratively speaking. I don’t need to look in the mirror literally, I see enough literal reminders every morning after my shower of my receding hairline and what are supposed to be distinguished wrinkle lines of experience - also known as crow’s feet around my eyes :)
Getting back on topic and away from my wandering ADD moment of vanity…whether through ADD coaching sessions or in pushing myself to grow and learn about ADD, I need to ask myself: what have I done to get to where I am today, on a regular basis? That includes the good and the bad. One topic that quickly comes to mind is communication.
A lot of people with ADD need to visit how they communicate. I did, and it was a real eye opener. Communication skills like listening, focusing, interaction, body language, voice tone and understanding how others communicate is tremendously important. May ADD patients suffer from these challenges and need to learn improved ways and skills around communication. I’ve often wondered how I am perceived when I communicate? So, why not have a look at it and that is exactly what I did. I actually recorded a business presentation I had to make while rehearsing and then watched it. I faced the hardest critic I ever encountered, who ironically had the same receding hairline and crow’s feet as I did Imagine that, what a coincidence!
I looked closely at what my body was doing during my presentation; I paced back and forth, expressed myself with my arms and hands and was fidgety with my hands. I listened carefully to how I spoke, and realized when I used certain tones, spoke too quickly and wasn’t communicating clearly. I also analyzed my listening skills during meetings and casual conversations, and came to the conclusion I needed to do a better job of focusing on what people said. I also need to develop strategies to capture and retain more information while listening to others. Oh, and one other key point…I learned to shut up and listen! Many ADDers interrupt conversations and talk over others.
These various challenges of communication can be applied to every part of life: the work place, a personal relationship and as a parent, to name a few. I took these personal findings and incorporated them into my ongoing ADD coaching with Adult ADD Coach Pete Quily. Day by day, week by week, month by month and year by year I worked on improving these communication skills and have accomplished some wonderful things with how I communicate. The proof lies in some of the compliments I receive from friends, professionally and by people who observe my parenting. We need to continually be aware of communication as well. Just because we learn and acquire new skills does not mean the work is over and you receive an automatic induction into the ADD Communication Hall of Fame. (There really isn’t an ADD Communication Hale of Fame. Good idea though, right? No.)
Part of working through the challenges of ADD is becoming aware of who you truly are, and that is a hard experience for anyone. We all have aspects of ourselves that we don’t like, so don’t feel like you are alone when you reflect on who you are. Nobody is perfect and everyone can improve and become better. You’ll need a plan, it will take time and the commitment required will be hard work. Simply have the courage to understand who you are, how ADD impacts you and work at making yourself better. Acknowledging your ADD weaknesses and challenges in that mirror will be the hardest step you take.
Jeff wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for ADHD.