Tag Archives: Strengths

ADHD Mayhem to Self-Control: Self-care and leading with your strengths

Change a life of strife into one of thriving with ADHD.Newsletter September 2019

Welcome to Fall everyone,

Love the weather, but I’ve still got a lot of home repair and yard work to finish up.  It’s like going back to school after a long vacation.  I’m getting ready by setting boundaries that protect my time and energy to let me focus on the upcoming projects. I’m also breaking down the entire list to tackle one project at a time and rewarding myself each step of the way.

Fall can be a difficult time difficult for parents and children with ADHD in the family as well. Returning to school brings increased pressure for all family members. Moving ahead without undue stress is a matter of attitude and strategies to inspire action.

I am convinced that for children, understanding ADHD and how it impacts their life is one of the best ways to learn what they need to increase their well-being. For information as well as a bit of fun, see my Kids ADHD Page – Things to read, do and watch. For parents, parent coach Dianne Dempster writes about using self-care for better self-control of parenting skills in  Four Things Every Successful Super-Mom (and Dad) Knows!  Finding a way to support yourself in being the kind of mom you want to be is what is important.

.Managing ADHD is Possible

ADHD pioneer Russell Barkley, Ph.D. explains, “First, we must understand that most ADHD management is not a problem of knowing what to doIt’s a matter of doing what we know.” 

In her mini-workshop for teachers, ADHD educator and advocate Mary Fowler describes in detail many specific tools to help children “do what they know” through simple support techniques. See Increase On-Task Performance for Students with ADHD.

“External scaffolding is needed – like developing habits and routines, getting comfortable with transitioning between activitiesstrategies for starting and finishing projects as well as controlling one’s emotional responses.”

“What you need to know about Attention Deficit Disorder:

  • Accept that supports may be needed across the lifespan of a person with ADHD.
  • Interventions have to happen in the here and now on an as-needed basis.
  • *** The strategies ONLY work when they are used.”

 

The Art of Thriving with ADHD

For adults with a late diagnosis, Thriving with ADHD follows many of the same principles. You may be surprised to know that they aren’t so much about productivity for its own sake but more about how you are feeling about yourself. They are as much about accepting your unique personality quirks and gifts as they are about learning strategies to overcome your difficulties.  Author Kari Hogan says, “Take advantage of your strengths. Identify what you’re strong in and find ways to do more of it.  When you realize “you’re a natural” at something, this is almost always an indication that you are playing to your strengths… “Surround yourself with people who can embrace your differences and who accept you for who you are and for what you are not.” See Tools for Discovering your Strengths for ideas on how to use your strengths to meet your challenges and advocate for yourself. Kari’s strategies are outlined in 16 Steps to Better Self-Esteem for ADHD Adults

  1. “Your first step is STRUCTURE.
    By creating structure, each day, you’re giving yourself a reason to wake up and get out of bed!
  2. The second step echoes the first step. Set up a daily to-do list. This will give you a sense of accomplishment (it gives you a reason to be proud of yourself).
  3. Step 3. FOCUS on your good qualities….”

Community

ADHD communities are extremely supportive and a wonderful place to learn about your diagnosis and what to expect. “When you feel lost and alone, it’s comforting to know that others get it. … My best teachers have been people like me.” Support groups have been a vital part of my own treatment plan. It’s easier to recognize strengths in others than in yourself. Members of my “ADHD tribes” have helped me recognize many talents that I had discounted because of my difficulties in other areas. An online community will do, but meeting in person or through a video Zoom connection is even more powerful. See our sections on Finding Support for ADHD and Options to Personal ADHD Coaching for help discovering your own “safe place.”    For an amazing feeling of community, you might want to attend the 2019 International Conference on ADHD in Philadelphia, PA. Save the date! Thu, Nov 7 – Sat, Nov 9 –  (Earlier sessions for professionals begin Thu, Nov 6.)

That’s it for this month. Remember, focusing on organization and productivity tools can only get you so far. Self-care, self-awareness, and self-acceptance are the keys to self-control and finally being able to bring our lives into order.

Take care,

Joan Riley Jager

ADD freeSources.net

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ADHD: Blessing or curse? Or Somewhere in Between?

July 2019 Newsletter

 

Welcome to July.

Hope your days are not too hot and you have time to relax this summer. If planning and packing for a long vacation is difficult for you or your family, you might try for easier to plan day trips or backyard picnics.

Remember, holidays are a break from everyday routines and challenge normal coping skills. The lack of structure and increased social demands can be a problem for both kids and adults with ADHD. If you need tips on planning vacations, packing, traveling and ideas for the summer break for kids, see our Pinterest Board, Holidays and other Celebrations. Scroll down to find last year’s articles as well.

For myself, spending a lazy afternoon reading in the backyard is just my speed. I like to disconnect and get lost in a new book more than taking a chance on everything going wrong on a trip. I travel not to see the sights but to visit friends and family. I like to walk and talk more than looking for what others consider fun.

My own experience challenges the perception that all people with ADHD are adventurous, always in motion and like doing multiple things at the same time. This month’s author, Michele Cook, however, agrees with this view of Hyperactive/Impulsive ADHD in To the Mom with the ADHD Child. Although she acknowledges that ADHD may well be both a blessing and a curse, Michele offers hope to parents that some ADHD traits can become positive aspects by adulthood.

I love the many tips she shares that have helped both her and her children manage their ADHD.  She believes that adults can create an environment that can control most of the negative aspects of ADHD.“Having ADHD as a child is miserable, but having ADHD as an adult can actually be an asset.  As long as you learn to manage the energy and focus the energy on the good, you will be great

She continues, “As an adult, your responsibilities are entirely different.  You need to be able to wear many hats, to switch focus many times a day, and to run around for most of the day… For (some) adults with ADHD, this is an environment they thrive in.”

I am NOT one of those people. Where Michele thrives under pressure, the many and varied responsibilities of adult life are often overwhelming and create major chaos in my life.  Yet,  I do not discount what ADHD coach Marla Cummins says In Are your ADHD Traits also your Strengths?

“I see clients all the time who succeed because of their ADHD traits, not despite it!

“It is a double-edged sword, to be sure. A strength can be a weakness and vice versa. The same trait that helps me to persist when others may give up can hinder me in other areas if I let it.”

Therapist Don Baker from Unpacking ADHD has created a meme of these “Mirror Traits of ADHD. “ This illustrates the idea of redefining symptoms as positive traits. This illustrates the idea that what one man thinks of as a disability, another may think of as his heightened ability. Neurodiversity is the idea that neurological differences like autism and ADHD are the result of normal, natural variation in the human experience.  Neurodiversity: Reframing ADHD, offers a number of articles on this viewpoint.

I do agree with Michele that adults are better able than children to create an environment that works for the individual. I like Dr. Charles Parker’s simple idea to explain why the performance of someone is ADHD is so often hit-or-miss. One of his video tutorials claims that ADHD is people with ADHD have way too much on their mind. Most symptoms disappear. when you “Decrease the number of variables and establish structure and reasonable limits for any given task.” You can also harness the Secrets of the ADHD Brain – using interest, a challenge, novelty, urgency or a strong sense of purpose to help spur action. This has been widely promoted by Dr. William Dodson but is echoed by most ADHD experts today.

I cannot agree with the concept of neurodiversity because it denies the very real consequences of ADHD.   A Canadian non-profit recently put out a report, the CADDAC Policy Paper – The seriousness of ADHD (Link works) that outlines damages that can occur.

To quote, “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a chronic neurodevelopmental disorder affecting approximately 1.5 million Canadians…”ADHD is not just a disorder of attention, but a disorder of self-regulation. This means ADHD predisposes individuals to adverse health outcomes and risky lifestyle behaviors such as smoking, alcohol and drug use, and poor diet and exercise.”

“Left untreated it can have devastating effects over the course of ones’ lifetime. ADHD is linked to an increased risk of mood and anxiety disorders, substance abuse disorders, transportation accidents, suicides, injuries, teenage pregnancies, unemployment, underemployment, and incarceration (Barbaresi et al. 2013, Ramsey and Rostain, 2016)…. A recent study (even) found that ADHD can shorten one’s life expectancy by up to 22 years if persistent into adulthood and reduces their healthy life expectancy by 8.4 years.”

Strength-based treatment is indeed the current model of controlling the worst emotional aspects of ADHD and helps us control our symptoms to the point where they no longer rule our lives. Dodson has a great article ADHD’s Common Denominators: 11 Hidden Truths that Unlock Treatment Success from ADDitude Mag. To state, “You have ADHD — so your treatment plan should be based on how people with attention deficit think, feel, and live. Dodson also urges that you “Don’t ignore medication. Medication evens the playing field and makes the changes possible.”

We don’t have to suffer. ADHD impacts all of us differently and the strengths we use to cope are uniquely our own.  Rather than focus on remedying areas where you struggle, you need to use those specific tools that get you “in the zone” and help you start each morning feeling motivated and capable. You can combat the worst of future damage through diagnosis, treatment and attending to other disorders that so often accompany ADHD. The same strategies that Michele Cook names for children also work quite well for adults. Use these and other ideas you find here and in articles and video that include even new strategies. Learn to laugh at your own foibles, apologize, and carry on.

Don’t ever give up on learning the best ways to help your child or yourself live well with ADHD.

Joan Jager

ADD freeSources

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My Five Biggest Weaknesses (and How I am Turning Them into Strengths)

Sit down and consider some of your weaknesses and then make a plan to overcome themGuest post by Michele Cook

Have you ever considered what your five biggest weaknesses are? Mine have been smacking me in the face recently and I figured it was time to face up to them. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want to. In fact, I didn’t even want to face up to the fact that these things existed in my life. I was happy to sweep them under the rug and pretend they didn’t exist. Except that never works. So in a bit of motivation for you and accountability for me, I thought it was high time I put them out there in the light where I could examine them from every angle.

Biggest Weakness #1 – I hate asking for help.

I don’t even like asking my husband for help! I always think of other people are too busy, I don’t want to bother them, they wouldn’t want to help me, I don’t want to put them on the spot – and on and on.  The truth is allowing someone else to help me is a way to strengthen the relationships I have with other people. I get great joy out of helping someone. I feel pride when someone asks me for help. Why would I want to deny someone else that joy? Why would I think other people aren’t willing to help when it is something I enjoy doing so much?

The truth is, I shouldn’t. The truth is, I should be looking to collaborate with people on projects, to ask experts in their field questions, and to just plain ask for help when I am having a rough time. This is number one on my list for a reason and to combat it, I have to diligently squash that little voice in my head every time he pops up. I have to say, “No, I am going to give so and so the opportunity to help”.

So far this has been a struggle, but as I see more and better results, I am learning. My relationships are stronger. My marriage is stronger. I come away feeling like someone else has my back and it’s a great feeling.

Biggest Weakness #2 – I doubt my expertise and life experience.
Sure my life might be great as a cautionary tale but as an expert?

It took me a long time to launch my site about farming and rural living because I didn’t believe I was qualified to talk about these things. Forget the fact I grew up on a farm. No need to mention I can give shots and draw blood from most any farm critter. Sure I had a hugely successful garden this year, but didn’t everybody?

Can’t everyone hop on a piece of equipment and operate it? Of course not!

If someone else had said that to me I would have looked at them like they had three heads. Half the people I know can’t operate a lawn mower let alone a backhoe. So why was I feeling so unqualified? The answer lies in both the size of my place (a little over 3 acres) and my knowledge of farming. A three-acre farm isn’t much and my small flock of chickens and herd of goats felt tiny in comparison to many of the farmers I know. And there was the rub. Comparison. That dirty little word that makes us all feel less then we are.

To get over this one, I asked for help. (Go me!) I asked people what they were curious about or what they would like to do with their small acreage. The response was pretty overwhelming and I wound up with a year’s worth of blog posts in a matter of minutes.  Stop comparing and do what you do as good as you can do it.

Biggest Weakness # 3 – I put everyone and everything above myself.
I quit my job so I could focus on farming and writing books, but the truth is I wrote more books and did more for my business when I was working full time. WTF. How could I not have a full-time job and be getting less done?

I had to take a hard look at where my time was going and set some serious boundaries. Many of my friends and family would say “Oh you work from home so you have time to do XYZ”. The truth is, I don’t. Running a business and writing books is serious work, and it takes serious time to get those things done.

I started using my vision statement more and more to evaluate the things I was doing. If it didn’t line up where I wanted to go, the answer was no.

Biggest Weakness # 4 – I loathe self-promotion.

Maybe it’s the introvert in me, maybe it’s that dang little voice in my head, but I truly loathe self-promotion. If you are going to own a business or even if you want to climb a career ladder, self-promotion is part of the game. How would I get customers if I didn’t promote my business? If I didn’t say, hey this is a best-selling item that adds value (or tastes delicious in the case of my sold out spicy pickles) how would people know the option was even available to them?

I had to realize self-promotion didn’t have to be icky. I didn’t have to run around yelling “pick me, pick me!” All I had to do was create excellent products and services and show people their benefits. Instead of walking up and down the aisle at the farmer’s market yelling “GET YOUR SPICY PICKLES HERE!! SPICY PICKLES!! GET EM” HERE!!” I could just point to the jar and tell people it was a top seller.

When someone asks about my book on buying your first horse, I don’t have to tell them my life story and qualifications. All I had to do was to point at the 5-star reviews and show them how my book has helped other people in their situation. This was an eye-opening process to me and I am slowly putting it into practice.

Biggest Weakness #5 – I am easily distracted which leads to disorganization.
If you have read any of my posts on ADHD, this one might not come as a surprise to you, but it was something I thought I had a good handle on. I was wrong. When I started looking at the time I spent scrolling through my Facebook feed or playing games on the phone, I was embarrassed. All these distractions were wreaking havoc on all of the organizational processes I had in place. It’s hard to stay on track when you are watching random videos on YouTube.

This led me to really look at my processes and see what things I could do better and where I needed to give myself some leeway. Here are just a few of the things I did to protect me from myself.

  • I started leaving my phone in the bedroom where I couldn’t hear any of the buzzing or dinging.
  • I close my computer when I am not using it so I don’t hear the buzzes and dings.
  • I schedule play time
  • I brain dumped my to-do list, and then organized it into bite-sized chunks
  • I started using a timer

The truth is that working for yourself takes discipline. A discipline I am slowly developing. Doing just these few things is helping me stay more organized and less distracted. Next, I plan on tackling my processes to see what’s working and what’s not.

What are your five biggest weaknesses? Have you ever considered them or do you just sweep them under the rug? My challenge to you is to sit down and consider some of your weaknesses and then make a plan to overcome them.

 

About the author: Michele Cook is a mother of four, including two boys with ADHD and has ADHD herself. Like most people with ADHD, she has many projects going at once. She is a published author, a blogger, a communications specialist and owns a small farm in the mountains of Virginia. Her motto is “ADHD is my superpower” You can visit her site at Michele’s Finding Happiness 

Originally posted at https://michelesfindinghappiness.com/2018/10/03/my-five-biggest-weaknesses-and-how-i-am-turning-them-into-strengths/

 

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Tools for Discovering your Strengths

Tools for discovering your strengths. Live well with ADHD. Self-advocacy can give you the opportunity to speak for yourself regarding your needs and help to secure the necessary support at work or school and for your personal life. We don’t have to struggle so hard. Developing self-knowledge is the first stepADD Coach Dana Rayburn reminds us, that, “When properly treated, ADHD loses much of its power over our lives. As adults, we can paint a new picture of who we are and what we contribute to the world…” (1)

The goal is to develop your strengths and delegate your weaknesses.

Don’t go it alone, feeling you have to prove yourself over and over again that you CAN persevere! The truth is, delegating the things you aren’t good at, or just plain don’t like, is a good idea for anyone. If you have ADHD, however, it can make the difference between constant struggle and an enjoyable, successful life.

You are uniquely made and have a lot to share with the world. Don’t let self-judgment stop you from becoming all that you can be. For more about learning your strengths, building self-awareness, and developing powerful self-advocacy skills, CONTINUE READING HERE.

 

Thanks for signing up for the latest news. Hope you find a new appreciation for your talents and can use that awareness to make your life more rewarding.

I know this can be a difficult concept to get your head around. Let’s talk about it.

Joan Jager
ADD freeSources.net

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Tools for Discovering your Strengths – Introduction to Self-advocacy for ADHD: Know yourself

ADHD Coaching Strategies

 Vanquish negative thought patterns and help build strategies to master organization and time management.From I want to change my ADD life. What can I do? – A series of short articles by ADD coach Sara Jane Keyzer

How is ADD Coaching and how does it work?

ADHD Coaching is a partnership dedicated to you. ADHD Coaching provides support and encouragement for you to follow your passion and realize the visions of your childhood.

Editor’s note: A coach can be anyone who believes in you and cheers you on. Your friends or family, a mentor, or even an employer can help you find your strengths and develop them. It’s important, however, for both of you to understand ADHD and how it impacts your life so that you can work around it. If you cannot afford a personal coach,  see Alternatives to ADHD Coaching which lists group coaching, self-coaching, and other options.

Finding a Support group, online or in person, can also help.  See my Pinterest boards, Lead with your Strengths and ADHD Coaching Strategies for ideas. If you are not on Pinterest, you can access 50 of ADD freeSources’ boards on Facebook. Look down the left side for the  Pinterest button.

ADHD Coaching will help you vanquish negative thought patterns and help you build strategies to master organization and time management. New confidence and a healthy self-image provide the motor to climb your personal mountains.

Your coach will listen to your stories of pain and frustration and hear your wholeness, your strengths, and hidden resources. Powerful questions open up new vistas to explore. Making choices leads to ownership instead of victimization. The result is a new awareness of self. Your coach is your loudest cheerleader, and they expect you to succeed.

ADHD Coaching starts with an inventory of where you are now and where you want to go. Many clients want some help organizing, managing time, and surviving overwhelm. You will choose two or three areas on which you want to focus in your coaching.

In following sessions, usually held once a week by telephone, a coach will hear your success report, help you explore problems that have arisen and ask you to choose and commit to your next steps for the next period of time.

A successful ADHD coaching relationship requires honesty and a willingness to change. You will do the work of creating new habits. It is important that this is important to you and not your spouse, parent or employer. A coach must be able to be honest with you. It may be hard, but important for you to learn how others see you.

Return to: I want to change my ADD life. What can I do?

If you need help choosing a coach, see: Find an ADD Coach. If you cannot afford a personal coach,  see Alternatives to ADHD Coaching which lists group coaching, self-coaching, and other options.

***See below for our Pinterest boards with more specific ADD Coaching Strategies.

 

Published by Sarah Jane Keyser, Copyright 2006, all rights reserved. Coaching Key to ADD

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16 Steps to Better Self-Esteem with ADHD

Follow these steps to a better, more confident YOU!By Kari Hogan

The reason for making this list is that ALL (or most) ADHD’ers have a low self-esteem issue. I wanted to make this list to help myself as well as others.
Follow my steps to a better, more confident YOU!
After all, I made this list for my tribe!!

Let’s get started!

Your first step is STRUCTURE.
By creating structure, each day, you’re giving yourself a reason to wake up and get out of bed!

The second step echoes the first step. Set up a daily to-do list. This will give you a sense of accomplishment (it gives you a reason to be proud of yourself).

Step 3. FOCUS on your good qualities. Look in the mirror and choose 5 things about yourself that you DO like about you! Write these 5 things down and tape it to the mirror (changing the 5 things each week). By choosing 5 things you do like about yourself, you’re creating hope and mindfulness that goes deep down to create a feeling of inner peace. Inner peace leads to a sense of power and in a matter of weeks, a more confident you!

4. Be your own cheerleader! No one else will do it for you. Your only concern should be you. If you have to, tell yourself, “I can do this”, “I am going to do great”, “I AM worthy”.

5. Learn to LIKE yourself. Meditation works wonders!! Sit in a quiet place for 10 minutes and just breathe in and exhale all of that negativity.

6. Get CREATIVE. Do-it-yourself projects, draw/sketch something, crochet or paint a landscape. Anything that makes you use your mind in a positive, constructive way.

7. Get ACTIVE! This means anything from exercise to waking up your street. You could also try Yoga or Karate. This activates the positive chemicals in your brain- happy vibes! If all else fails, DANCE!

Number 7 would tie in perfect for the eighth step as well, which is,
SEEK SUPPORT. This can be a family member, a close friend, a Facebook support group or any other networking support groups. Enlist someone you trust to get active with you. Killing two birds with one stone is always a plus! By enlisting a close friend or relative, you’re getting the support aspect as well as working those happy brain cells. If you make this a habit and decide, “I’m not up for this today”, that partner will get your butt up and make you do it! Ah, support is great!! That brings me to number

9. All of us could use a little pep in our step and we’re not getting there by loading up on donuts. Try introducing a, once a day, healthy snack. This will promote energy and unlike donuts, won’t bog you down. With time, you can baby-step your way to healthier meals. Instead of that scone in the morning, try a banana and yogurt. Protein and potassium make for a great and energizing way to start your day. An apple with peanut butter is a great option as well. Make that apple and peanut butter a snack and you have a totally guilt-free snack and an afternoon burst of energy!

10. GET Outside or change the scenery. It’s a great way to promote a healthy mentality and a happier you.

11. TAKE CARE OF YOU! The world is an amazing place, but it’s also very stressful at the same time. Take time for yourself. Get a massage, pedicure or do something you love. (We’re nearly there!)

12. TRY SOMETHING NEW! This is a way to get out of your comfort zone. Say you decide to try Yoga, well, some of those stretches are hard to do. Go with me on this. You sign up for a class, get in there and do better than other first-timers. That will boost your confidence and make you proud that you were able to try something new and excel! If you don’t do as well, hey, practice makes perfect and you’re working your way up to a brilliant confidence level while achieving a goal. That is definitely something to be proud of. It’s a double plus!

13. LEND A HAND! This is a no-brainer for me. I love helping. It makes my inner self-pleased to do something completely selfless and the reward- a smile on someone’s face. Examples of ways to help out are volunteering, helping an elder struggling to carry groceries, etc. Get creative and look around. There’s always someone out there that needs a little assistance.

14. STEP IT UP. Comfort zones are hard to get away from but in order to succeed anywhere in life, you must step it up. Put on a smile (even if you’re not feeling it.) You never know who will see your smile and it impacts their day and mood positively or, to go a bit further, your smile could save a life. I’m not kidding – Those people that are lonely, that never get noticed, the ones that keep a frown because no one cares – You notice. STEP IT UP, greet them. You may be preventing them from ending their life.

15. MEDITATE every morning to promote a peaceful mindset and every night before bed to promote a healthy, restful night’s sleep to wake refreshed and ready to begin your day.

16. BABY STEPS. Nothing happens overnight (Rome wasn’t built in a day), contrary to beliefs and otherwise. Start out slow and work your way up. All good things come with time, so be patient.

Finally, REINFORCE STEPS 1-16 each and every day. A healthier mind and body lead to a happier and more confident YOU!

Follow these steps to a better, more confident YOU!Allow yourself to follow these steps and you will surely improve your esteem!
Just remember, I believe in you!

 

About the author: By Kari Taylor-Hogan of ADDing to the Mayhem: MOMX3 with ADHD – “We put the fun in dysfunctional.” Helping get the word out about self-esteem.   Originally published at https://addingtothemayhemmomx3withadhd.wordpress.com/2015/02/09/16-steps-to-better-self-esteem/

 

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Self advocacy for ADHD: Know yourself

Tools for discovering your strengths. Live well with ADHD. Self-advocacy can give you the opportunity to speak for yourself regarding your needs and help to secure the necessary support at work or school and for your personal life. We don’t have to struggle so hard. Developing self-knowledge is the first stepADD Coach Dana Rayburn reminds us, that, “When properly treated, ADHD loses much of its power over our lives. As adults, we can paint a new picture of who we are and what we contribute to the world…” (1)

The goal is to develop your strengths and delegate your weaknesses.

Don’t go it alone, feeling you have to prove yourself over and over again that you CAN persevere! The truth is, delegating the things you aren’t good at, or just plain don’t like, is a good idea for anyone. If you have ADHD, however, it can make the difference between constant struggle and an enjoyable, successful life.

Negotiate with other workers/family member/friends/employees for help in areas where you struggle. (Hint: Ask them for help in areas where they shine – or at least don’t mind doing with the right incentive). What can you offer or trade to make their lives easier? Make it a point of honor to follow through with your end of the deal.

 

1st  Name your challenges both at home and at work. What are your weaknesses?  When and where do they cause you the most problems? For basic challenges of ADHD, refer to any ADHD symptom checklist. The official DSMV diagnostic criteria or any of the ADHD screeners we list are good choices. You need to separate your ADHD from yourself.  You are NOT the disorder. Your symptoms cause certain behaviors, like being late or missing deadlines, but they don’t define you.

It’s also important to identify the situations when problems are most likely to show up. Being in a hurry, under stress, and during times of transition between places or activities are common reasons. Certain environments can also bring out symptoms. Being unable to move about freely, noise levels and visual distractions are just a few. We often think of ADHD as involving “getting things done,” but don’t neglect to note emotional reactions and uncomfortable social interaction as challenging symptoms.

2nd  Know exactly what your strengths are. Your values, talents, and skills are all contributing factors. You probably have a general idea, but the more specific you can be, the better. According to Myers-Briggs Type Indicator practitioner, Nila Nealy,You don’t need someone else to tell you what your strengths are. Your heart knows them. Still, I believe that sometimes we take them for granted or are so sucked into the “you must be broken” viewpoint that using tools other people have created can be helpful.” (2) Don’t forget that you have friends and family that can also help you identify your strongest points. (After all, they know you, love you anyway and are probably your biggest fans)

“Give yourself permission to proceed with identifying, embracing and integrating your unique brain wiring into your life,” ~ ADD coach and trainer, David Giwerc. “The standardized ways of learning, processing information, and performing may not work for you…Your job is to discover the options that naturally work for you and integrate them into your daily life…Educating others in your life about what works best for you, can help you facilitate home, school and workplace environments that…serve you.” (3)

Another reason to utilize these tools is that self-esteem is a core issue of ADHD and you may not be comfortable “claiming” your strengths without outside verification. Don’t neglect to ask those who know you well what they think are your strongest points. Your friends and family are likely to be your biggest fans. Don’t let self-denigration get in the way of accepting their positive feedback

3rd  You can’t wait until you ‘get over’ your ADHD before you start your life. Develop strategies that reshape how you approach life. Leading with your strengths rather than your weakness allows you to fully express yourself in new ways.  It’s about accepting yourself and making good decisions based on what you do naturally, without the struggle. It is based on getting the help that you need to highlight your ability rather than simply shoring up your weaknesses.

As an adult with ADHD, focusing on what you can’t do may come so naturally that you cannot see the positive aspects of who you are and what you have managed to achieve. Helping to define your “purpose” in life is a great way to inspire action. Partly due to our feelings of shame and inadequacy, we tend to believe that something that comes easily to us has little value. But the ADHD brain “lights up” when we are interested in something and many of our struggles fade away when positively engaged.

These few simple questions from Nancy Ratey’s The Disorganized Mind: COACHING YOUR ADHD BRAIN TO TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR TASKS, TIME, AND TALENTS (Link works) may help get you started.

  • What are my strengths?
  • What seems to come naturally to me?
  • I enjoy doing ________________________ most in life.
  • What special skills or attributes do people notice about me?
  • What kinds of positive feedback do I receive from others?

You can also reflect on these points from the ADDitude Magazine article by ADD Coach Robert Pal, “What are my Strengths? Repairing Self-Esteem after an ADHD Diagnosis.”

  1. What do people say you are really good at?
  2. What activity gives you energy?
  3. What’s working in your life?
  4. What do you think you’re good at?
  5. What do you enjoy doing?
  6. What’s important to you?
  7. What are you looking forward to in the next two to three weeks?
  8. What are you proud of?

These 9 Questions to Ask Yourself to Help you Find Your Passion can be another starting point in learning to value your strengths rather than dwelling on areas where you struggle.

  1. “What is something that you are really good at doing? Something that comes naturally to you? Something that you do with hardly any effort or difficulty?
  2. What is one thing that when you do it, you forget about the time, about eating, about using the bathroom, or about any of your responsibilities? Meaning, you are so focused that you naturally forget about everything else.
  3. What is something that you can talk about for hours, and when you talk about it, it lights you up, gets you excited, and gives you energy?”

You can download the complete list at Follow your own rhythm.com

 

There are also many Tools for Discovering your Strengths. 

Discover your Strengths by assessing your values. – In recent years, some people have proposed that ADHD itself conveys certain strengths. In 2015, the VIA Institute on Character, in conjunction with the ADD Coach Academy,  conducted a research study to identify whether there are indeed specific strengths of people who have been diagnosed with ADHD. (5) Instead, but not surprisingly, the study found that most people with ADHD had shared difficulties in areas related to impulsivity and sustaining attention. Their weakest ”Strengths” were Prudence, Self-regulation [self-control] and Perseverance. Although the qualities of Creativity, Humor, Kindness, and Teamwork did rank slightly higher in people with ADHD, their highest “Character Strengths” were uniquely individual.

What was a revelation, however, was that when individuals worked in accordance with their highest values, their weaknesses proved to be situational. That is, they were far less of a factor in getting things done when interest inspired action. As David Giwerc explains, “When you focus on what ignites your heart and your positive energy, you will always be able to self-regulate.” (6) That is why a “Strength-based” approach works so well. You can continue to struggle to “will” yourself to do work which does not inspire you, or create an environment where your interest and urgency based nervous system works with you to achieve what you desire. The eight-minute video at the bottom of the page explains more about character strengths and their place in creating a meaningful life.

VIA Signature Strengths Questionnaire – Top 5 strengths – Click on Take the FREE Survey -Well researched test (VIA stands for Values in Action -120 questions in 15 minutes

VIA Youth Survey Register here (Also FREE, but for ages 10-17) Takes approximately 10-15 minutes to complete.

VIA Reports – Take the VIA survey, but receive more in-depth reports of your personalized profile. Learn what all 24 of your strengths mean and how they can help you reach a more optimal, positively fulfilled life, whether you are using for yourself or with others. ($10 for youth, $20 to $40 for adults)

The VIA survey is also available for free at Authentic Happiness at Penn State. Results are not as complete.

 

Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator Tests

MBTI is what it says it is, an indicator. It points you to the general area of preferences you have for interacting with the world, taking in information and making decisions. Some ways just may feel more natural than others. The MBTI assesses how you get energized as well as the ways you perceive and express yourself.

Official MBTI assessment with certified professionals  ($50 or $150 with person-to-person feedback from a certified MBTI practitioner.

The Open Extended Jungian Type Scales was developed as an open-source alternative to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. A statistical comparison of the OEJTS with three other online MBTI alternatives found that this test, the OEJTS,  was the more accurate. 50 questions. 5 to 7  minutes.

16 Personalities – FREE Informal assessment of Types

If you want to investigate even further, I recommend the Gallup book,  Strengths Finder 2.0 – Buy the book. ($18  (+ S&H) Use the code within to take the online test. *One use only.   Your Goal is to Identify your top 5 talents. (You can take the test online at Gallup’s Clifton Strengths, but the book provides great personal stories and ideas for using your strengths at work and in your social life.) Top five strengths are the same price as the book ($20) but a report on all 34 strengths is $89. You can upgrade with book purchase for $69)

 

Remember, the first step towards advocating for yourself, for receiving the help that you need, is getting to know yourself.  Explore those areas where you struggle as well as those where you have competency and shine. You are so much more than your symptoms. Don’t battle endlessly with your challenges. Ask for help. Discover your strengths, your best self.  Create a more positive future for yourself. You deserve it.

 

Another article that helps you define your strengths. Be the Best Version of Yourself: Explore your Strengths by Marla Cummins

The Science of Character – Values in Action – VIA Character Srengths

Sources

1) “What ADHD Awareness Really Means” by Dana Rayburn  http://www.danarayburn.com/add-adhd-coaching-2/what-adhd-awareness-really-means/   (Harvested 9-12-2013) No longer online. Find the article on the Way Back Machine – https://archive.org/web/

2) “On Self-Awareness” – Excerpt from the “Human Condition”- Blog by Nila Nealy -http://www.nilanealy.com/  Saturday, January 10, 2009  (Harvested 9/14/2010)

3) Excerpt from Permission to Proceed: Creating a Life of Passion, Purpose and Possibility for Adults with ADHD (pages 76-77) by David Giwerc, MCC, Founder and President, ADD Coach Academy (2011)

4) The Disorganized Mind: Coaching Your ADHD Brain to Take Control of Your Time, Tasks, and Talents by Nancy A. Ratey (2008) (Link works)

(5) Character Strengths Classification http://www.viacharacter.org/www/Character-Strengths/VIA-Classification

(6) Podcast from the 2015 ADHD Awareness Expo – The Best Things about Adults with ADHD with David Giwerc

 

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Encouraging Self Advocacy in Teens

Tools to help students with ADHD discover their strengths and learn to ask for help to overcome their difficulties.
During their younger years, it is the parents responsibility to speak up for his or her child to get their needs met at school. However, as  therapist Louise Levine writes,

Doing everything for your children may make you feel like a successful parent but it may not let your child be a successful person.”

“Before children leave the protective shelter of home and zealous parenting, we need to help them practice basic techniques and instill competencies that will enable them to:

Feel comfortable conversing about their disability,…

Identify their warning signs,…

Advocate for themselves,…

(Have systems in place that)… will help them…manage their lives, and

Have a sense of humor about ADHD….and their own particular foibles.” (1)

For all children, the ability to view the future with hope is central to their future success. According to the Gallup Student Poll, hope, engagement and well-being are all factors that have been shown to drive students’ grades, achievement scores, retention, and future employment. (2) For students with ADHD, knowing that they have areas of competence and strengths that can help them overcome their difficulties gives them hope.

Realizing that many of your weaknesses are not personal but symptomatic of the disorder and exploring strategies to address specific problem areas provides a sense of power and competence they may not have felt before. Knowing that asking for help is often met positively builds social trust. Being skilled in requesting options to standard requirements at school can also help students to re-engage with learning. The ability to affect their environment and how people react to them increases self-esteem and, in turn, affects their sense of well-being.

For those with ADHD, knowing there are ways around your difficulties that don’t involve constant struggle is truly liberating.

We have found a few strength assessments and self-advocacy programs that can help your teen through this process.

Evaluate Strengths

FREE – VIA Strength Survey for Children (VIA stands for Values in Action) Measures 24 Character Strengths for Children – Well researched

FREE – Interest Profiler – Discover what your interests are and how they relate to the world of work. The Interest Profiler helps you decide what kinds of occupations and jobs you might want to explore based on your interests.

strengths explorer $ – The Strengths Explorer For Ages 10 – 14 – Package includes: Downloads for Youth workbook, a parent guide, a teachers guide, and one online access code. ($10 for code)

Self-advocacy for ADHD: Know Yourself On-line resources for identifying learning styles and personal strengths as well as exploring interests. Know why your personal style is important. Pursue self-evaluation as well as talking with friends,  parents, and teachers about what they perceive as your strong points.

 

EBook

BUILDING A BRIDGE From School To Adult Life – A Handbook for Students and Family Members to Help with Preparation for Life After High School (92 page Workbook – Includes strengths and interests survey as well as self-advocacy tips)

 

1) Kids with ADHD are Natural Born Leaders by Louise Levin, Marriage and Family therapist – SmartKidswithLD.org – http://www.smartkidswithld.org/getting-help/adhd/kids-adhd-natural-born-leaders/ (Link works) – Harvested March 19, 2015 (Copy and paste URL to link to article)

2) Gallup Student Poll – Hope, Engagement, and Wellbeing http://www.gallupstudentpoll.com/home.aspx – Harvested March 19, 2015

 

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Be the Best Version of Yourself: Explore your Strengths

Be the Best Version of YourselfBy Marla Cummins

What do you think of when trying to manage your ADHD? When starting down the path of managing their ADHD many adults, at least in the beginning, may assume they are broken.

If this is the case for you, you may focus your time and energy on trying to fix yourself. Because that is what you do when something is broken. You fix it, right?

But what if you decided you were not broken? What if instead you were able to adopt the perspective that you just operated differently? What if you decided to rely more on your strengths?

Your approach to managing your ADHD could look quite different.

Talents That Come Naturally To You

The key to managing your ADHD is to  identify, build on and work in domains that utilize your strengths as much as possible, while still managing around your weaknesses when necessary.

For now let’s focus on your strengths.

One definition of strength is:

“…an innate or learned characteristic that you possess, or behavior you exhibit, that when applied consistently allows you the greatest chance of successfully reaching your goals.”

You could also say that strengths are talents that come naturally and easily to you – you do not have to work so hard to express them.

You may even possess strengths that you utilize in one area of your life that you do not yet realize can be applied to help you in other areas. It is also possible that there are things that come easy to you that you do not even realize are your strengths!

The trick, of course, is to identify these assets and examine how you can use them to help you accomplish your current goal(s).

Identifying Your Strengths

You are probably intimately familiar with your weaknesses. If you are like many other adults with ADHD, you may focus an inordinate amount of time and energy on patching up your weaknesses.

Try putting away your “sewing kit” for a bit and pick up your “weights.” I hope you will take the time now to focus on ways to identify your strengths. The ideas below can help get you started.

Reflection

Before looking outside yourself try this exercise. You may be surprised by what you find.

You can answer these questions in one sitting, or you may take a couple of weeks as you observe yourself in action. No doubt, reflection takes longer than answering questions on an assessment. However, taking more time may uncover hidden strengths that a quick assessment may not reveal.

  1. To start with the most obvious, what are your strengths? This is not the time to be modest!

 

  1. What activities capture your attention and keep you consistently engaged? Often the activities that we get excited about participating in are those that use our strengths. What are the strengths related to these activities?

 

  1. What types of tasks do you learn and understand quickly, and which are challenges you approach with a sense of joy? If you are a “natural” at something, there may be a strength related to the skills required by the activity. What are your strengths related to these tasks?

 

  1. What are you passionate about? How are your strengths related to your passions?

 

  1. Under what conditions and in what environment do you work best? When these conditions are present and you are in this environment, what strengths do you notice?

 

  1. What are the strengths you can use most directly related to achieving your goals?

 

  1. If you are not able to complete this exercise on your own, ask one of your “fans,” such as a friend or family member, to help you. Who would you ask? If you have someone in mind, ask him or her to help.

After reflecting on your strengths, you may be curious enough to go beyond these questions in order to learn more about your strengths.

ADHD Strengths

It is also important to remember that your ADHD symptoms can be strengths. Whether your ADHD symptoms are strengths or weaknesses depends on the context. To identify how your symptoms are strengths think about how they help you in various domains.

For example, my willingness to take risks, persistence, creativity, energy and sense of humor have been instrumental in my business success. But that same energy and humor, if not managed well, can be a distraction in some settings, like in “very serious meetings.”

What strengths do you have that come from your ADHD? In what context(s) can they serve you?

Check out Lara Honos-Webb book, The Gift Of Adult ADHD, to explore more about the gifts of ADHD. (Link works)

Assessments

There are many assessments you can use to learn more about your strengths in the various domains of your life. If you’re interested, I encourage you to continue this exploration.

VIA Survey

If you are interested in exploring your character strengths, the VIA Survey of Character StrengthsCharacter is a great place to start.

Kolbe A Index

The Kolbe A Index measures your instinctive way of doing things, your strengths. You can use this information in both your personal and professional life. ($49)

DiSC

DiSC is another assessment that gives you insight into your behavior and personality, designed primarily to help you understand yourself and colleagues in the workplace. ($29)

MBTI

By finding out your personality preference as measured by the Jungian Personality types (or MBTI), you can make decisions about your current environment and future goals. (free) More information on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

StengthsFinder 2.0

The Gallups Clifton Strengths is also a popular assessment to uncover your strengths. Top five strengths are $20 but a report on all 34 strengths is $89. (Currently on sale for $50) If you’re interested, You can find a 20-minute video by Marcus Buckingham, co-author of both Strengths Finder 2 and Now Discover Your Strengthshere.

 

Imagine The Possibilities!

Theoretically, I think you could do many things you want, given the right amount of persistence, dedication, and time.

However, I am just as interested in your journey as I am in you reaching your end goal(s). And, if you also think the quality of your journey is just as important as reaching the finish line, then using your strengths along the way is critical.

Because when you are operating from your strengths you are more in flow and life is just easier. As Dr. Seligman, founder of the Positive Psychology Movement notes, using your highest strengths leads to…

  • more positive emotions
  • more engagement in life
  • better relationships
  • more meaning
  • and more accomplishments

Wouldn’t that be nice?!

Once you know your strengths you can make choices that will work best for you in creating the life you want.

What Is Next?

Ok, so you know that knowing and utilizing your strengths is helpful. Great. But now you may be wondering, “After I figure out my strengths what do I do?” Here are a few options to ponder.

Choose What You Do

Put yourself in situations where you can apply and use your strengths.

If you have some freedom in what tasks you do at work, think about choosing those that will draw on your strengths. Likewise, if you are considering a career / job transition, incorporate what you know about your strengths into your decision.

Another example is volunteering outside of work. You may be afraid of getting stuck with some administrative task, if you offer to help. So, if being outgoing is one of your strengths, offer to greet new members at the meetings. And when asked to take minutes say, “no!” Well, maybe say, “No, thank you, but I can do…”

Where else can you put yourself in the “right situations” that rely on your strengths?

Negotiate, Delegate, Barter, Decline…

There are things that need to get done both at work and at home. Ideally, everyone would just get to do those things that play to their strengths. That will likely not happen for you, right?

But once you know your strengths you can be more strategic. And start to think about how you could spend more time and energy doing tasks that draw on your strengths.

Could you…

  • ask to “trade” tasks with someone for one that better suits your talents?
  • delegate a task so you have more time for others that suit you better?
  • barter for a task that will use your strengths?
  • just say, “no,” so you have more time to operate in domains that use your gifts?

Just because you have been doing things a certain way up until now doesn’t mean you have to continue that way.

What could you change up?

Become More Skilled

We know that strengths are not fixed. They can both grow stronger or atrophy. It is up to you.

As you discover your strengths you could choose to focus your attention on a particular strength to make it stronger, if you think it would serve you. Because strengths can be learned, practiced and cultivated.

What is one strength you have that you would like to improve?

ADDed Perspectives Bottom Line

When you are using your strengths you will be fueled by the motivation that comes with performing tasks that come easier to you.

And be the best version of yourself!

Oh, and the journey will just be more enjoyable…

 

By Marla Cummins. Please visit Marla’s website at www.marlacummins.com for additional articles and resources on Adult ADHD. Original article can be found at: http://marlacummins.com/adult-adhd-your-gifts/

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