Oprah Winfrey 20/20  CNN  Fox News  Listen to Distraction Now! Neds Memoir  Good Morning America  Dr Oz  cnbc log  youtube Harvard business publishing verified by Psychology Today

Dr Hallowell ADHD and mental and cognitive health

A resource about ADD, ADHD, and mental health

CATEGORIES

RECENT POSTS

RECENT COMMENTS

  • Nomee: Hi Doctor, Wish my prescriber could realize the above mentio...
  • TheADHDGuy1: I call ADHD a condition deliberately, because words and how ...
  • TheADHDGuy1: I was at the ACO conference in Reston VA in April and attend...
  • TheADHDGuy1: I tend to have a mid-afternoon slump at around 2:30pm. I wis...
  • edie: Letter to Dr. Hollowell's blog/response Having raised 3 c...

ARCHIVES

sign-up for Dr. Hallowell�s newsletter

Back to site

Dr. Hallowell's Blog

Archive for April, 2017

Friday, April 28th, 2017

ADHD – No Creative, Productive Outlet

NO CREATIVE, PRODUCTIVE OUTLET: All of us do better when we are creatively and productively engaged in some activity. It doesn’t have to be overtly creative, like writing a poem or painting a portrait. Almost any activity can become a productive outlet that you feel good about. Cooking a meal certainly can be. Even doing laundry can be.

How can doing laundry be fulfilling? By turning it into a form of play, by  turning it into a game. Children show us how to do this all the time. When my son Tucker was younger,  he turned his bath into a creative activity every time he takes one. He adds a few action figures and the game is on. If you are willing to be a little silly and let yourself go, you can turn doing your laundry—or anything else for that matter—into a playful, creative activity.

The more you can do that the more likely the activity will turn into flow, a psychological term invented by the great pioneer of the psychology of happiness, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Flow is the state of mind in which you lose awareness of time, of place, even of yourself, and you become one with what you’re doing. In these states we are at our happiest as well as at our most effective.

The doorway to flow is play. You can play at anything you do. If you have ADHD, play comes naturally to you. So do it!  Play is deep. Play changes the world. Play can turn the most mundane of tasks into an activity you lose yourself in. Play is not a silly, superficial activity. By play, I mean creative engagement with whatever it is you are doing. The opposite of play is doing exactly what you are told to do; that is the refuge of people who have attention surplus disorder. For people who have ADHD, play should come easily. You just have to get shame, pessimism, and negativity out of the way and make sure you’re not so isolated that you get too depressed to play.

     To get out of S.P.I.N., PLAY. As you play, you will find something you like to play at over and over again. With any luck, it will have value to others. That is called a great career: some form of play that someone else is willing to pay you to do.

At core, being stuck means not having a creative, productive outlet. If you hook up to a creative outlet you can’t stay stuck. Oh, sure, you can get blocked. You can have periods of inactivity or frustration. But then you will start to fiddle around—to play—and you will dislodge the block.

Adults with ADHD who stagnate after starting treatment need to find some creative outlet to get going again. Everyone does better with such outlets, but for people with ADHD they are essential for a fulfilling life.

Once you find a creative outlet, or several, you will be much more able to hook your waterfall up to a hydroelectric plant. Don’t say you can’t find it. That’s negativity speaking. Get with someone who believes in you, or listen to the part of yourself that believes in you. Brainstorm. Try this. Try that. You’ll find your hydroelectric plant.

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

ADHD and Isolation

     ISOLATION: Isolation is often the by-product of shame, pessimism, and negativity. It intensifies the shame and negativity, and can lead to depression, toxic anxiety, drug and alcohol abuse, and generally poor performance in all aspects of life.

Staying connected with others is the most important life line any of us has. And yet, as naturally inclined to connect as most people with ADHD are, their shame and negativity can grow so intense as to lead them to cut themselves off.

If you feel this happening to you, do all you can to counteract it. You may feel that all you want to do is to hide. Try as hard as you can not to let yourself do that. Talk to a friend. Go see a therapist. Pick up the telephone and call someone you trust.

Isolation develops gradually, almost imperceptibly, and you justify it to yourself as it happens. “Those people are just a bunch of hypocrites.” “They don’t really want me there.” “I’m too tired.” “I just want to stay at home and relax.” “I need my down time.” “My doctor told me to avoid stressful situations.”
Of course, isolation is better than the company of nasty, disapproving, shame-inducing witches and warlocks. So, as you try to reconnect, do so judiciously. One friend makes for a good start. Have a regular lunch date. Or a weekly squash game!

Learn about ways to connect here.

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

ADHD and Pessimism and Negativity

Yesterday, you learned how to handle SHAME.  Today, I’m tackling how to handle Pessimism and Negativity associated with ADHD.

Pessimism and Negativity: Pessimism and negative thinking create a roadblock that conscious intent can actually dislodge like a battering ram if properly aimed. Pessimism and negativity—which may be boulder-sized due to years of failure and frustration—block your growth at every turn. If every time you have a new idea or go to meet a new person or begin to play a game you feel, “Why bother? This won’t work out well,” you constantly reduce the chances that anything will work out well.

One remedy for pessimism is to achieve some successes, but in order to gain those successes you may need to overcome your pessimism. Sounds like a Catch-22, doesn’t it? But there is a way out of the Catch-22. You can control what you think, to a certain degree. You need to work on dismantling your pessimism. That does not mean you should become a foolish, empty-headed Pollyanna. However, it does mean you should escape the embrace of Cassandra, the doom-sayer inside of you.

Controlling what you think is the domain of what is currently called cognitive therapy. Aaron Beck, and his student David Burns, have written superb, practical manuals on how to break the shackles of negative thinking. Also, Martin Seligman describes a method for achieving optimism in his book, Learned Optimism.

My favorite book on this topic for the ADHD audience is The Art of Living, by the Roman philosopher Epictetus, as translated and put into a modern idiom by Sharon Lebell. One reason I like to recommend it to people who have ADHD is that it is short—under 100 pages. Another reason is that it has stood the test of time, and then some. Epictetus lived over 2000 years ago. He is the true father of cognitive therapy. His basic, guiding principle is that a person should determine what he can control and what he can’t and then work on what he can control—similar to the serenity prayer used in Alcoholics Anonymous.

One element of life we can control, at least somewhat, is how we think. Epictetus began his life as a slave. Ordered around every day, poorly fed, beaten, and abused as a slave, he evolved a way of thinking that refused to intensify his suffering by adding to it with wretched thoughts. He was so persuasive in teaching others his methods that he was released from slavery and became renowned as a great philosopher. His words were written down by his students and compiled into one of the first and best “self-help” books ever, a book that was so useful in dealing with difficult situations that Roman soldiers often carried copies of it as they marched off into battle.

It worked for Roman soldiers, and it can work today. I highly recommend this slim volume if you suffer from excessive pessimism or persistently negative thinking.

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

ADHD and SHAME

Today’s blog post will focus on  the SHAME & ADHD (the “S” of S.P.I.N”)  Tomorrow’s blog will focus on P – Pessimism and Negativity.

     SHAME:  The older you get, the more shame you are apt to feel if your ADHD is undiagnosed.  You feel ashamed of what a mess your pocketbook always is in.  You feel ashamed of how late you usually are, no matter how hard you try not to be.  You feel ashamed that you haven’t made more of the abilities you were born with.

The shame may penetrate to deeper levels.  You may feel ashamed of your thoughts, desires, and predilections. You may feel the only way you can be accepted is by putting on a mask, and that the real you is fundamentally flawed.

Such shame is toxic.  It is also traumatic.  It raises your stress hormone levels and eventually corrodes your memory and executive functions.  While your fifth grade school teacher may have planted the roots of that shame, you are now the one who intensifies it.  You imagine harsh judges everywhere, as if the world were swarming with strict fifth grade school teachers.  You project the harsh judgments you are making of yourself out onto everyone you meet.  Soon the world becomes like a huge set of judgmental eyes, looming down on you, and your only option is to hide.

With a therapist, with a friend, with a spouse—with someone, because it is all but impossible to do this alone—you need to talk through or “confess” what you take to be your sins.  As you do this, you will discover that they are not nearly as bad in the eyes of others as they are in your eyes.  It is all right that you have messes.  People enjoy your unpredictable remarks, and those who don’t can look elsewhere for friends.  It is all right that you are late.  Sure, it would be good to try to be on time, but as long as people know you are not just blowing them off, they can forgive lateness.  If they can’t, you don’t need them as friends, either.  How boring it would be if everyone were “normal.”  Where would Monty Python or Mel Brooks have come from?  Remember, what is strange today becomes truth or art tomorrow.

Not only does shame hurt, it also is the chief cause of a huge problem in adults who have ADHD, namely, the inability to feel good about their achievements.  It is common for ADHD adults to be all but impervious to positive remarks.  Whatever they have legitimately achieved they feel must have been done by someone else, or by accident.

One of the main reasons adults with ADHD can’t take pleasure in their own successes and creations is, simply, shame.  They feel too ashamed to feel good.  They feel too defective to feel nourished.  They feel it is practically immoral to feel proud of themselves.  Healthy pride is such an alien emotion that they have to look back into the dim recesses of their childhoods to find the last time they felt proud of themselves, if they can find an instance even then.

Shame prevents you from allowing your best self to emerge.  Shame gets in the way of every forward step you try to take.  You call a business and instead of asking to speak to the president or person in charge, you figure you’re too small potatoes for them, so you speak to an underling who can do nothing for you.  You apply for a job, but instead of making a strong case for what you can do for the company, you present a self-effacing persona that is charming, but uninspiring.  You go shopping for clothes and pick outfits that allow you to recede into the background as much as possible.  You shake hands, but have trouble making strong eye contact.  You want to ask a question at a lecture, but you fear that your question is a stupid one.  You have a bright idea, but you don’t do anything with it because you figure it must not be that good if you thought of it.  You do all the work on a project, then don’t speak up when someone else gets credit for what you’ve done.  When someone doesn’t call you back, you assume it was because they found you lacking in some way.  And on, and on.

Try as best you can to override your feelings of shame.  When you shake hands, make eye contact and give a strong handshake, even if you feel second-rate.  When someone doesn’t call you back, assume they’re simply too busy and give them a call.  If, indeed, they do find you lacking and reject you, don’t internalize their judgment.  Look elsewhere.  You don’t want someone who rejects you, anyway.  And remember, rejection in one place is just the first step on the way to acceptance somewhere else, unless you let that first rejection stop you.

It is heartbreaking to watch an adult contribute wonderfully to the world, only to feel every day as if she hadn’t.  It is painful to watch an adult work hard and do much good, only to feel as if someone else had done it.

To allow the adult who has ADHD to take deserved pleasure and pride in what he has done, he needs to detoxify the shame that has plagued him for years.

To detoxify his shame, he needs to engage in a deliberate, prolonged process.  It will take some time.  But it can and should be done.  As long as he feels intense shame, he will never feel the kind of joy in life that he has every right to feel.  He will stay stuck in a painful place. Instead, with someone else’s help, he can work toward accepting and enjoying his true self.

If you struggle with this issue, you should try to get rid of the people in your life who disapprove of you or don’t like or love you for who you are.  Get rid of or avoid the people who are overly critical of you rather than accepting of you.  Get rid of the harsh fifth grade school teachers in your life—and within yourself.

Getting rid of that witch within you will be a lot easier if you get rid of the ones who surround you.  Your shame has allowed them to stay.  You have felt that’s what you need—daily reprimands, daily belittlements, daily control.  But that’s the opposite of what you need.  It’s your shame that’s let those people into your life.  Your determination not to be ruled by shame any longer will send them away.

You need acceptance.  You need people who see the best in you and want to help you develop that.  As you surround yourself more and more with people who see more good in you than you see in yourself, the frightened, ashamed you will start to feel less afraid, less ashamed, and you will dare to feel proud, a little bit at a time.

 Check back tomorrow to learn about Pessimism and Negativity.

 

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

ADHD Experts Help Children Succeed

Join Dr. Hallowell and other experts 4/27!

Help your child succeed – they’re trying real hard but NEED you to advocate for, listen to & LOVE them!

Tune into Live Broadcast:  Kids in the House 

11 AM (PST) Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Children with ADD and ADHD face unique challenges both at school and at home. Hear from the top educational psychologists, parents of children with ADD and ADHD, and others about how to obtain a proper diagnosis, which medications to use and which to avoid, and special ADHD Parenting Tips that will help you support and encourage your child.

Kids in the House

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

Distraction Podcast on New and Noteworthy

We’re thrilled to have featuring us as a new and noteworthy audio podcast!

Please tell your friends and write a review. Thanks for helping us achieve this distinguished accomplishment.

Send Dr. Hallowell's Blog Posts to My Inbox!

or follow my blog through RSS 2.0 feed or FeedBurner.

©1994 - 2017, Dr. Edward Hallowell and the Hallowell Centers,
All rights reserved. Content may be used only with prior permission.
css.php
Social Media Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com