How easy is it to unapologetically do the things or create a life that works for you? Hard to do when we are beating ourselves up or trying to fit into other people’s expectations. Being authentic requires self-acceptance and self-compassion. Moira shares how she’s struggled including losing it, waiting, shame spirals, perfectionism, and changing things up. When things go awry, let’s try asking, “what happened?” instead of “what’s wrong?” and see where it gets us. She covers a number of ADHD friendly ways that have helped and what we can do knowing that it is WHEN (not if) we forget all of this.
- self-determination is the ability to make choices and manage our own lives to be ourselves and make the decisions that work for us
- It comes from both self-acceptance and compassion
- Moira shares her take on her own acceptance
- Moira describes how she can struggle with self-compassion and what she does both negatively and positively
- Rain is an acronym that stands for four steps to stop being so hard on ourselves
- R is for are recognizing what is going on.
- A is allowing the experience to be there just as it is.
- I is investigating with kindness.
- N is for natural awareness, meaning having a way to depersonalize the experience. Whatever we experience or happens is not who we are.
- Being clear on why we are wanting to do things differently, greatly increases our ability to make change, build habits and reach our goals.
- what are your goals and aims? Is it to find and root out what is wrong? Or is it where and what your life is at right now?
- Are you headed in the direction you want? Are there any paths that you want to change?
- Do you have a sense of your strengths and abilities, parts of your life you want or need to grow?
- Moira talks about gradually shifting the perspective from “what’s wrong?” to “what happened?”
- Can we consider practicing coexisting with or tolerating something that challenges us
- And remember, we don’t have to start with the hardest things or go all out.
- Moira talks about shame spirals, perfectionism, ability to ask for help
- Who and how much are we comparing ourselves to? We are all flawed humans. No one has their shit together. And we all need help.
- familiar stories and old tendencies resurface
- we are tempted to chuck it all out and return to the well-known patterns
- Moira shares how she acts and feels when she is being hard on herself
- This happens when she forgets to do the things that make her days easier, not forgetting ADHD, but forgetting that maintenance is ALWAYS necessary
- She shares that the way to help herself is to practice self-compassion when things are going well so that when things are really hard, it won’t be too hard to re-start the self-compassion process.
- Moira then goes over a number of things she is likely to forget about what helps her, and that when things are tough is about survival not problem solving how to be more self-compassionate.
- When we understand and accept our ADHD and talk about it then we can shine a light that helps reduce the shame and stigma for everyone.
00:07 You, do you. We’ve all heard that expression. But what does it mean? I take it to mean, be yourself, make decisions that work for you, the person saying is acknowledging their agreement that it’s okay for another person to choose their course. How often do you do that? decide based solely on what you want, or need? How easy is it to unapologetically do the things that work for you? I find it an ongoing process that is getting easier to let myself be me to create a life that works for me and do that without seeking the approval of others. You do you is a pithy way of describing self-determination, the ability to make choices and manage our own lives. How interested are you in having the life you want or making the life you have worked better for you? Sign me up.
00:58 Welcome to the ADHD Friendly Lifestyle, part of the ADHD reWired Podcast Network. This is the place to practice putting on our own oxygen mask so we can breathe and make it possible to show up in our own lives without guilt or shame. I’m your host, Moira Maybin, a woman, Mom, educator, and I have late diagnosed ADHD. We can have an ADHD Friendly Lifestyle that includes more time with our strengths and passions, less with our challenges, has ways to adjust what and how we do things to suit us better, and expand the ways and places that ADHD is understood and accepted. I suspect many of us have asked the same questions I did. Why is life so hard? Why does it seem easier for literally everyone else? There are things that I wish I had known about my ADHD sooner that are allowing me to make different decisions to make my life better and more ADHD friendly. And I want to share them with you. I finally understand that to live well. My lifestyle is not negotiable. It has to work for me. It has to be healthy. And yep. It’s got to be ADHD friendly. Oh, okay, let’s get started.
02:17 Being myself and living a life that works for me requires self-acceptance and self-compassion. They are cornerstones of self-determination. Because if we are busy trying to be something other than who we are, and beating ourselves up along the way, we certainly aren’t being authentic or making decisions that work for us. There are a few decisions and things that we as ADHDers would probably say that we’d be happy never to have to deal with again, (like laundry or taxes anyone?), but I have a feeling, we can all stand united in the dream of having a life in which we feel like we not only get to make the choices, and manage our own lives, but that we can do a good job of it. I hope that doesn’t sound like an impossible dream. There is a way of getting there. Remember, I just said that it requires self-acceptance. Having self-acceptance can feel like a tall order. Let’s see it includes acknowledging who I am–a whole person made of many different aspects, that my brain works differently. And comparing it or wishing it was different won’t help me, that I get distracted by shiny things, that I love many parts of myself that include my ADHD, like my fast brain, my sense of humor, and my deep passion for knowing all things ADHD. That my body is not the stereotype and that is harder for me to accept and hide that my ADHD. And I have a cycle that impacts me every day. If I try to pretend any of this is not true, it will bite me in the ass. I also know now that I have to be the one who plots my course my way. But that doesn’t mean I have to do it the hard way or alone. The more I know about my ADHD, have a supportive community and ask for help, the more possible it seems.
03:58 Now that other piece I’m going, to be honest, I’m still having trouble with, is self-compassion. My pattern seems to be that I’m having a hard time because sometimes life is hard, or I didn’t factor in things that I can’t change. I just try to muddle my way through and surprise, surprise, it’s harder or impossible to overcome. And instead of being compassionate towards myself, I’ll get mad at myself for not managing. It usually shows up in a few different ways. Increased ADHD symptoms instead of being calm, cool and collected. And in my wise mind, observing from a distance, I can experience a range that includes full-on losing it, venting and ranting to my family, how and why things are not working or withdrawing, being quiet, sad, disappointed and questioning everything. The good news is that being kind to myself and not losing my shit with my loved ones are high on my intentions list. So I’m on the lookout for when this happens. The feedback loop is much shorter now. And my family is trying to learn how to better support me, the one who supports everyone else to have healthy ways to deal with these thoughts and feelings. So, this is happening less than it did. And when it does, I could accept help, or recognize and take care of myself until I can manage better, the better I get at accepting and factoring in what I can’t change and considering that I’m setting myself up less and less for this to happen.
05:23 My growing ability to have self-compassion helps me to permit myself to do the things with my time, which helped me be the version of me I want to be. And I think, more importantly, to not do the things that make me the version of me that struggles intensely. When I’m on my game, I can realize that I’m not being compassionate to myself, I can stop, notice what I’m doing and be curious about what to do next, I can try to accept whatever is going on in this moment. And without judgment, have openness and kindness, it makes a big difference. Another thing that helps is getting it out of my head. Many of us are verbal processors. So having someone safe to unload with a pet or being on a walk or in the car. And having an imaginary conversation helps to it’s way easier now that people assume you’re talking to someone. There’s an acronym and research on how we can stop being so hard on ourselves and deal with this feeling of overwhelm. It’s called rain. The R stands for recognizing what is going on. A is allowing the experience to be there just as it is. I stands for investigate with kindness. And n is for natural awareness. Meaning having a way to de personalize the experience that our sense of self is not so tightly linked to what happens. Whatever we experience or happens is not who we are. To do this may mean learning how to use our own lived experiences, self-knowledge, and a growing knowledge of ADHD, to challenge some of our thinking and our past experiences, and stories to grow our self-compassion, acceptance, and determination. If you’re interested in rain, there’ll be more information on my website.
07:11 Being able to separate what is happening from who we are is another approach that may be unfamiliar to many of us with ADHD, we spend so much time feeling like we are the problem, or that we are to blame that unlearning. This may take some time, we’re going to use the idea of recognizing what is going on allowing the experience to just be investigating it with kindness, and separating what happened from who we are to consider the next few ideas. So that’s rain again, in case you didn’t catch it. That’s the acronym for rain spelled out again. I don’t know about you. But the numbers of ways and attempts at finding strategies to try and help with moods, habits and patterns that I’ve tried and didn’t help has left me with a heavy dose of skepticism. But you can trust that I wouldn’t share anything with you that doesn’t have both research and my own trials to support it.
08:07 Being clear on why we are wanting to do things differently, greatly increases our ability to make a change, build habits and reach our goals. I want a life that I feel like I can manage be well be pain free, healthy and active in I want joy in my life. I want to feel peaceful within myself doing the things that I like, and those that I know just have to get done. But that the hard parts are not the main part. What do you want out of doing things differently? Here are some questions that you can ask yourself, what are your goals and aims? Is it to find and root out what is wrong? Or is it where and what your life is at right now? Are you headed in the direction you want? Are there any paths that you want to change? Do you have a sense of your strengths and abilities, parts of your life you want or need to grow?
09:01 Now I know it might be tempting to stop what you’re doing right now and answer these questions. But if you’re driving, please don’t. Otherwise, these will be also on my website. So, you can go back and check them out there. But if you need to pause and answer these questions right now, I can understand.
09:16 If you’re willing to be curious and explore those ideas, trying to figure out your why and having an ADHD friendly lifestyle sounds good to you then I wonder if you can also consider the stories that are coming up to figure out if they’re helping you or part of the problem. For many of us, due to the nature of ADHD, the stigma and misconceptions around it, and our lived experiences, we can become strongly protective of ourselves. And that can show up as defensiveness. When we consider what happened or someone else us what happened. Many of us here instead, what’s wrong with you? What did you do? And that can be ingrained deep. Even when someone tries to reassure us that there was no judgment or blame, we can feel it. We can react that way, even within ourselves or with people we feel safe with. Learning to shift the perspective of what’s wrong to a gentle curiosity about what happened has been a slow gradual process of testing the waters, trying it out with myself and other people. Hey, no judgment here is just what happened. Just information to be curious about. The more I do it, the easier it gets. When we can be interested in the things that we tell ourselves in our mind and self-talk, then it gives us the room to consider alternatives are an ability to see our story differently.
10:40 Many of our old stories don’t help us. And we’ve lived years and years without questioning them. When we understand that they are stories, not fact, and we can change them, we can reinterpret them, they feel as if they are real, but we have that power we are the author. I’d be surprised if there aren’t a few storylines around overwhelm, frustration, and they seem to be on repeat, making life unpleasant or hard. There are ADHD friendly things you can try. One is the RAIN approach. Another option is to consider practicing coexisting just kind of getting along with or trying to tolerate something that challenges you. Instead of trying to stuff it down, pretend it doesn’t exist, or overcompensate. Before you start thinking, I am meaning going deep and starting with the really hard stuff. Here’s an example. Both my son and I struggle with a much slower pace of eating that my husband and daughter enjoy. We pick a few meals a week, no more than one a day, to practice sitting with that discomfort of not wanting to be sitting there anymore, having nothing to do (in our minds) and trying to pass the time by engaging in conversation with them. Sometimes it’s easier than others. Sometimes it’s so painful. I share this as a reminder that we don’t have to start with the hardest things or go all out. But that’s what I mean by practicing coexisting, or tolerating something that challenges me, because it definitely challenges me. And I know challenging our thinking is easier said than done.
There can be many ways that can get in the ways of experimenting both big and small. What if you feel incapable of vocalizing challenges or failures? What if asking for medication or more support is just beyond comprehension? What if it all seems so overwhelming, you don’t know where to start? What is one small step you can take? It could be as simple and as hard as picking a time of the day, or day of the week, or a 15-minute time block to try slowing down, doing less, taking more time for things, having some white space just to notice and see what happens. What comes up? What’s the story like? Then you can ask yourself? What happened instead of what’s wrong? Can we create some new stories or find another truth we can get locked into viewing ourselves are challenges what we have problems with, in a way operating on beliefs that may or may not be true anymore? What if we let go of those assumptions? And we’re curious about questioning if it was true.
13:14 One of the more familiar blocks is shame spirals and shame spiral usually starts with something happening that we might not feel good about. And then we feel some shame. Maybe it’s that I forgot to take out the trash and I miss garbage day. But then what happens is, we start heaping on more and more shame. We remember past event, or we believe that we’re not going to be able to do future events. And so, the messaging is this is what we always do. And this is the way that it always works out a shame spiral that I’ve had to work really hard on is the one of I’m wrong, I did something bad, or that people will think I’m a bad person. Shame spirals can be so familiar that we just accept them. They can prevent us from asking for help or trying differently. If we feel like nothing is going to help our work, then what is left for us? Here’s the thing ADHD are not. We’re all human. And all human beings make mistakes and experience a lot of struggles at different points in our lives. We all need help. We all need each other. Commonly, many people with ADHD treat others with more care than we offer ourselves. It can seem easier to support a friend or loved one and offer them kindness or empathy from a desire to reduce their suffering. How often do you offer that empathy to yourself? While we are typically more likely to do something for someone else, when we do that without having compassion for ourselves can lead to resentment, exhaustion, and burnout. Many of us are worried about being a burden or perceiving that asking for help will be seen negatively by others.
14:48 I’m always surprised at how many people with ADHD like myself, really feel like we should have it all figured out. And we should be able to do all the things because we feel like we have to be that ultra-independent? I don’t know. There are two more ways you can try asking for help. One is put it to yourself or the person you’re asking that this ask for help is something temporary that you could use support with? And secondly, how about remembering that a lot of us are helpers because of how good it makes us feel. By letting someone else help you, you’re contributing to their sense of self-worth.
15:24 Another very common challenge to acceptance, compassion, and determination is my old friend perfectionism. Some people with ADHD are surprised to learn that they experienced perfectionism because they see themselves as never finishing anything or much. So how on earth could they be a perfectionist? Well, perfectionism is not doing everything perfectly well, if you don’t finish things, because you don’t think you could ever do it right? Or well enough, that is perfectionism. The thing is never done well or good enough. Research shows us that trying for perfection, decreases motivation, and we struggle with that enough anyways. It’s also pretty exhausting. Because nothing is ever done or good enough. When we are self-compassionate and kind towards ourselves, we can consider breaking things into smaller manageable piece of versus expecting perfection, we can practice trying on the idea of self-improvement, and being able to make mistakes without them being a reflection of our self-worth. Mistakes are not wrong. They are just what happened and provide information so we can readjust and move forward. Over time, if we can realize that there’s no such thing as perfection, we can turn into recovering perfectionist, self-compassion, plays against perfectionism and self-criticism. and reducing perfectionism has also been shown to provide huge benefits and well-being. If like me, you struggle with perfectionism, but it’s not helping you. Try putting these statements on post it notes, where you can see them regularly. Good enough is better than not done. And anything is better than nothing. I also like good enough, is good enough. When we bring our struggles into the open, when we ask for help. When we can be self-compassionate, then our helping can become reciprocal. The more we hear it, say it, see it, the easier it gets for everyone. I know that what I’m sharing here is making easier for myself. It’s making it easier for my kids. It’s making it easier for you, when we can normalize what it is like to have ADHD, when we can understand and accept our ADHD and talk about it, then we can shine a light. And that light helps reduce the shame and stigma for everyone that will lighten everyone’s load.
17:49 So, what happens when I forget how to be compassionate to myself? First of all, this is when not if that’s when familiar stories resurface. And when we are tempted to chuck it all out and return to the well-known patterns that we don’t want to return to. But they sound strangely attractive. Old tendencies can show up when we are not at our best. Are you ready for a treat? Here am I at my most challenged, I can feel like there is no way I can succeed, especially when I am becoming easily sidetracked by the moment. And then I can lose sight of who and what I truly want to be, then it’s not too long before I start feeling like nothing will ever work. And it can be hard to avoid wearing myself under the covers for a while. Followed by my war cry of I’m going to try and get on top of all the things right now. Even if I don’t want to. If both of those show up at the same time, I suggest you clear out and give me a wide path. As I may rage Queen all over everything. Friend in my hand would say Hulk smashing from his wall of awful model. And he’d be right. simmering under all of that is panic, anxiety, despair, sadness, that it seems like there will never be enough time for all the things I need to do, let alone all the things I want to do and feel good at the same time. Previously, I could have spent years in that cycle. Now I would hope for less than a day, maybe a few if everyone else around me was overwhelmed too. Or I closed myself off from the people who can help me transition out of this. So, what then when this does happen?
19:27 Well, this happens when I forget to do the things that helped me have fewer hard days. I don’t think I’ve been forgetting I have ADHD. But I forget that I need maintenance all the time. Because I am a delicate fucking flower. I will start with knowing I will need reminders. Because I can forget to ask for help. I can forget to do the things that helped me. I forget what trips me up and I can slide back into familiar patterns very easily. This is a given. So, when things are going well that is when I need to develop fallbacks, and failsafes, for when things won’t be going well, I need to practice when things are going well, so that when things are feeling hard, it’ll be easier to do, because it’s familiar.
20:14 This growing self-awareness can be used as a tool to check in on and be honest with myself, we all have familiar ways of dealing with things, we have fine-tuned neural pathways in our brain, that may not work in our best interest. When we cope with stress, grief crisis, or whatever it is, we tend to go back to familiar ways to deal with them that may or may not serve us well. Here are the things that I have learned that helped me and I need to hear them on repeat, when anything is harder than getting enough food, water, and sleep are so important to how I’m going to be when I feel the ADHD is loud, going outside, or even brief activity helps. That means I’ve forgotten how important moving my body is, both during and after activity, that it immediately increases serotonin and dopamine. And that decreases my ADHD symptoms.
21:12 That the maintenance and care of my ADHD takes persistence, time support and coaching. When I practice sharing what is worrying me, sometimes just saying things out loud, can help me come up with a way of moving forward, I will need to make room for what comes up and find ways to get it out. journaling, talking to myself going outside singing. This is a big one. It’s never a failure. It’s a chance to ask What happened? What can I learn from this? If I got to do it again, what could I do differently, how or what could be changed to work or fit better. I don’t do that one in the middle of it. That’s for after when things are better. Again, in the middle, it’s about survival.
22:00 Self-compassion can include creating spaces that are ADHD friendly. And even though I keep moving things around in my house, improving flow efficiency function, really just how it feels. This environmental restructuring really helps a lot, especially for women, I need to practice self-compassion when things are going well. So that when I really need it, it’s not too hard to do it. I need to show myself and others how I want to be in the world, and how I want the world to be when we can normalize self-acceptance, compassion, and what it’s like to have ADHD. When we understand and accept our ADHD and talk about it, then we can shine a light that helps reduce the shame and stigma for everyone. That’s where I’m going to leave it for today.
22:56 Okay, you’ve done the hard work by staying to the end, your reward. Here are the main takeaways from today’s episode. self-determination is the ability to make choices and manage our own lives. It comes from both self-acceptance and compassion. So, we can be ourselves and make the decisions that work for us. Rain is an acronym that stands for are recognizing what is going on. A is allowing the experience to be there just as it is. I is investigating with kindness. And as for natural awareness, meaning having a way to de personalize the experience. Whatever we experience or happens is not who we are.
Being clear on why we are wanting to do things differently, greatly increases our ability to make change, build habits and reach our goals.
23:45 Changing our approach instead of what’s wrong to what happened encourages gentle curiosity without judgment. And so, we can consider alternatives without blame. We can consider practicing coexisting with or tolerating something that challenges us. Instead of trying to stuff it down, pretend it doesn’t exist. And remember, we don’t have to start with the hardest things or go all out. If you find yourself in a shame spiral or battling the urge to give up or double down on something. Please remember, we are all flawed humans. No one has their shit together. And we all need help.
24:19 It’s a given that it’s when not if we forget all of this. And when that happens, our old tendencies can show up, we can forget to do the things that help us have fewer hard days. I need to practice self-compassion when things are going well so that when I really need it, it’s not too hard to do it. When we understand and accept our ADHD and talk about it. Then we can shine a light that helps reduce the shame and stigma for everyone.
24:47 I hope you enjoyed today’s show. This is the place for the late diagnosed women, moms professionals. Those who want to understand ADHD be heard and know they’re not alone. We can have an ADHD Friendly Lifestyle. That includes more time with our strengths and passions less with our challenges and has ways to adjust what and how we do things to suit us better, and to expand the ways in places that ADHD is understood and accepted. I’d love to know your thoughts about today’s episode. There are lots of ways to get in touch. You can check out my website, ADHDfriendlylifestyle.com, and email me from there, or comment below on the podcast. All questions will be anonymous perspective and appreciated. And I can’t wait to continue this conversation with you. Please remember, I am not a doctor. The information presented in this podcast does not replace the individual recommendations from your health care providers. You can help by subscribing to the ADHD friendly lifestyle on Apple podcast, or the podcast player of your choice. You can also spread the word by sharing the podcast with the people in your life and by taking the time to rate and review.
25:56 I am thrilled to be part of the ADHD reWired Podcast Network. Every week you can find new episodes of ADHD reWired with Eric Tivers, sharing interesting interviews and stories. Will Curb has amazing tips and insight at Hacking your ADHD. Brendan Mahan hosts ADHD Essentials focusing on families, parents and educators. And my fellow Canadian MJ hosts ADHD Diversified, diversifying the voices and experiences of ADHD and mental health. All of these podcasts, including the ADHD friendly lifestyle are available to everyone, everywhere podcasts are available. You can join all of us at our live Q&A every second Tuesday of the month at 1030. Pacific to ask us question, go to ADHDrewired.com/events and register. Stay tuned for the next episode as we work together to build our friendly lifestyles together. Thanks for listening. See you later.