We are talking about why and how we can develop acceptance and how that will help us make changes to have the life we want. Our challenges with ADHD can feel front and center in our lives, almost like it is running the show. We try treatment with medications, strategies, and behavior changes. yet very few of us feel we are making enough or lasting change. How can we change that? It takes understanding and accepting our brains as they are. Instead of trying to fix ourselves, what about learning how to be ourselves in a way that works, for us?
We can build acceptance and growing our self-compassion over time, to help us take care of ourselves, ask for help when we need it, and be comfortable with who we are. Join me, Moira Maybin, as I share knowledge about ADHD to make your life easier, and what choices you have to make your tomorrow a more ADHD Friendly day.
Topics discussed in this episode:
Understanding and accepting our brains 00:05
- What does it mean to be me? to be you? Do we see ourselves as good enough?
- Our challenges with ADHD can feel front and center in our life, almost like it is running the show.
- treatment with medications, strategies, and behavior changes helps
- very few of us feel we are making enough or lasting change
- change takes understanding and accepting our brains as they are.
- Carl Rogers said, “the curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”
Life is harder for those of us with ADHD 03:49
- Comparing the degree of difficulty for people with and without ADHD in areas of family, work, life skills, self-image, social interactions, and risky behaviors showed we do experience more challenges
- Men with ADHD struggle with managing their actions, especially aggressive driving and illegal behaviors
- Women with ADHD report a higher level of difficulty than men with ADHD
- Women struggle most with feeling ineffective, unable to achieve the things they want, and feeling unworthy
Having the courage and acceptance to seek support and ask for help 06:11
- Getting support and asking for help is a hard thing but it is something we can do
- to get rid of shame we need to trade it in for acceptance
- when you are telling someone something you are struggling with, and they brush it off when, “oh, it’s like that for everyone?” it’s not.
- the difference is that our challenges are not some of the time, they are most of the time, and in most aspects of our life—at work, home, and in the community. That’s a big difference.
- If there was someone you cared for, and you knew they were having a harder time than most, would you think it was okay that they got the help they needed?
- Moira sees the choice as either asking for help and support or living a life she doesn’t do well in, wants, or likes.
- Moira has created a community of support and plans on having one for the rest of her life
- We can’t do this alone.
- If you are also a parent or have others relying on you, that you support– who is helping and supporting you?
Support exists in many forms 08:00
- Therapists who understand ADHD, acceptance, and commitment therapy and see you as a whole person can be an excellent guide on this journey.
- for professional support with our ADHD, consider someone who sees you as a whole person, not as symptoms to remove or fix.
- Coaching is another form of support that can help everyone with ADHD if the coach understands ADHD.
- Some coaching that can work great for others, doesn’t fit us so well.
- One of the best forms of support is online groups with helping us normalize what it is like living with ADHD
- You can be anonymous or make yourself known, depending on your comfort level or personal situation.
Emotional Awareness helps us with acceptance 11:16
- Emotions can feel really uncomfortable for many of us, especially if we are not used to thinking or talking about them
- Having professional help can really make a difference with so many conflicting messages and thoughts about how we should feel, react and handle ourselves.
- With practice we can recognize and accept emotions without judging them, then if feels more natural to do so
- Emotions themselves are not good or bad, though they may be scary, especially when they are intense or tied to previous experiences.
- We could take baby steps by considering what thoughts and emotions we have around one part of self-care—sleeping, eating, moving, getting help, and spending time outdoors.
- Moira started working on her awareness in her self-care but didn’t start with the ones she struggles the most with
- With practice and awareness we can ask ourselves if what we are doing, and feeling is a sustainable way of life.
- Is paying attention to ourselves and noticing in the present moment, what is going on internally and externally, in our minds, our bodies, and feelings, without any judgment
- Moira shares that when she began practicing mindfulness over 10 years ago that she was disconnected from her body and sensations
- mindfulness can be learned from books, apps, classes, courses, yoga, and meditation
- the Mindfulness Prescription for Adult ADHD by Lidia Zylowska is very good for those of us who have a hard time slowing down and directing our attention
- Moira shares a few examples of how to pay attention in the moment
- Moira explains how she used that awareness to help herself and make a few changes that improved her day
- When we are able to ask for help, accept support, and learn how to be mindful our awareness increases.
- we can use the information gained to make conscious decisions about what we say and do, we can question our assumptions by checking with ourselves or others.
Video & Audio
Nadeau, K., (2020, Nov. 6). How Lifestyle Determines our Future: Brain-Friendly Habits Essential to Extending and Improving Your Life. [Conference presentation]. International Conference on ADHD 2020, Virtual Event.
Weiss, M., (2020, Oct. 23). Gender-Related Differences in Functional Impairment [Conference presentation]. CADDRA 2020, Virtual Event.
Moira Maybin 00:05
People are just as wonderful as a sunset if you let them be. When I look at a sunset, I don’t find myself saying, soften the orange a bit on that right-hand corner. I don’t try to control a sunset. I watched with awe as it unfolds. These beautiful words came from psychologist Carl Rogers, who had an enormous influence on creating client-centred therapy. What does it mean to need to be you? Do we see ourselves as good enough? Our challenges with ADHD can feel front and center in our life, almost like it’s running the show. We try treatment with medications, strategies and behaviour changes. Yet very few of us feel we are making enough or lasting change. What can we do about that? It takes understanding and accepting our brains as they are, instead of trying to fix ourselves. What about learning how to be ourselves in a way that works for us? As Carl Rogers said, “the curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” And that’s what we’re talking about today. For show notes and more information on this topic, visit ADHDfriendlylifestyle.com.
Moira Maybin 01:19
Welcome to the ADHD Friendly Lifestyle, 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. There are things that I wish I had known about my ADHD sooner, and I want to share them with you. We are in this together and I am so excited that in upcoming episodes, I will be joined by others who are also creating an ADHD friendly lifestyle. We’re going to be answering listener questions and maybe even poke some fun at our own ADHD. If you have questions or ideas for me, you can share them at ADHDfriendlylifestyle.com. While you’re there, subscribe to the podcast and sign up for emails to be the first to hear what is going on. Thanks for joining me today. Remember to stay tuned to the end to hear how to tell someone you have ADHD without actually telling them you have ADHD. Let’s get started.
Moira Maybin 02:41
There’s a greater understanding now of the impact of ADHD on our lives. Thanks to decades of research. Our hurdle on the journey of acceptance is how we view ourselves. In Episode Five, the one about shame. We discussed how ADHD and shame can run all over our life. If you haven’t heard it yet, I would encourage you to have a listen. The way out of our shame spirals is not found with organization skills, or in a bag of M&Ms Trust me, I’ve looked. It comes from acceptance and that starts with awareness. I am pretty aware that life can feel hard, would being more aware of that actually help? What if we are truly lazier or more irresponsible than the average person? Do we have anything to complain about? Is it really more difficult for adults with ADHD? Maybe the answer is for me to suck it up Buttercup, just get on with it. When we can be so good at creating stories that how bad we are, it’s great that we have amazing Canadian doctors like Dr. Margaret Weiss to share her research with us. Because it clearly tells me that it’s time for a reality check.
Moira Maybin 03:49
Dr. Weiss studied adults with and without ADHD. Unfortunately, the study didn’t include the experiences of non-binary people with ADHD. She did look at family work-life skills, self-image, social interactions and risky behaviors, and found that adults with ADHD do experience more challenges in these areas compared to adults without ADHD. So it’s true that life is harder with ADHD. Okay, we’re not making things up or imagining it. Next, she compared men with ADHD to women with ADHD and found two things. Women with ADHD report having more difficulty, a higher level, than the men and that the men and the women with ADHD were experiencing difficulties with different challenges. Men can find it really hard with how they manage their actions, especially aggressive driving and illegal behaviors. For women with ADHD, we struggle most with feeling ineffective, unable to achieve the things we want, and feeling unworthy. These differences are important because it means there’s no one size fits all approach for treatment and support. How much we struggle With what is going to be different for each of us. To sum it up, life is tough for most people. And there’s evidence showing that when you have ADHD, it’s harder and even harder when you are a woman with ADHD.
Moira Maybin 05:13
I believe I can do hard things. But do I have to make it harder for myself? Are there ways I can be resilient and plot an easier course? Yes. If we work on decreasing stress, and improving our ability to cope then the shame gremlins can go on a permanent vacation. Woohoo, that’s good news. And acceptance and awareness work together. If we’re not aware of something, how can we accept it? I think some of us have had that experience of thinking we are aware of something and finding out uum, oops, we didn’t have a clue. We need support. We need support that is ADHD friendly. That can be hard if you spent decades hiding and pretending. If you were here, then maybe you’re willing to try something just on the edge of your comfort zone.
Moira Maybin 06:11
Getting support sounds a lot like asking for help. How good are we at that? I know, I know. This is a hard thing that I think we can do. humor me. And let’s connect the dots. feeling shame sucks. I don’t want that. So to get rid of shame, we need to trade it in for acceptance. Acceptance comes from awareness. There’s one more piece to it. Oh, yeah. accepting that having ADHD means that life feels more difficult than it does for people without ADHD and it actually is more difficult. So you know, when you’re talking with someone, and you’re telling them something that you’re struggling with, and they brush it off with, “Oh, it’s like that for everyone.” It’s not. When people say that about ADHD in general, I’m usually able to politely share that the difference we experience is that our challenges are not some of the time. They’re most of the time. And in most aspects of our life, at work at home, and in the community. That’s a big difference. If we accept that as true, then it’s asking for help and support also, okay? If there was someone you cared for, and you knew they were having a harder time than most, would you think it was okay that they got the help they needed? I know I would.
Moira Maybin 07:27
I have come to terms with this reality that I can either ask for help and support. Or I can live a life that I don’t do well in, want or like I’ve created a community of support for myself, and I plan on having one evolving as I do for the rest of my life. We can’t do this alone. If you are also a parent, then you have others relying on you that need your help and support. Do they also have ADHD or other challenges? Mine both do, who’s helping and supporting you?
Moira Maybin 08:00
Support exists in many forms. therapists who understand ADHD, acceptance and commitment therapy, and see you as a whole person can be an excellent guide on this journey. I have had multiple therapists until I found one that is a great fit. When we look for professional support with our ADHD, consider someone who sees you as a whole person, not as symptoms to remove or fix. Coaching is another form of support that can help everyone with ADHD. If the coach understands ADHD. Some coaching that can work great for others doesn’t fit us so well. We need ADHD coaching that can take into account how sometimes the ADHD wins. And how do we adjust for that without judgment? I had a kid come home from school today, due to out-of-control allergies, I had to reshape my day. And that’s no one’s fault. Similarly, if I wake one morning, put my clothes on inside out without noticing that the milk in the cupboard and the sugar in the fridge, it might be a day that I take using power tools off my list. I don’t want to lose an arm. Is there really any difference in my examples? In one I’m making changes to help my child and the other to help myself. That’s what I mean about sometimes ADHD wins. And that’s no one’s fault. It’s also okay to reshape our days when we need more care for ourselves.
Moira Maybin 09:27
One of the best forms of support is online groups. We can get different things from different groups. I get support and accountability from the ADHD reWired community. And I also belong to groups for moms with ADHD, teachers with ADHD, Canadians with ADHD, and there’s probably more that I don’t remember. You can be anonymous or make yourself known depending on your comfort level or personal situation. normalizing what your life is like finding out that what you thought was only your weird or painful thing is sharing with others can be absolutely amazing. Other people really get the way we live and instead of being afraid to show just how messy our kitchens are, we post photos of them and declare that we’d be welcomed in each other’s homes. This is a taste of freedom that can lead to acceptance.
Moira Maybin 10:17
This is probably also the time for my full disclosure, that I became aware of a new situation with my own home. A few episodes ago, I shared my long history of needing organization and tidiness. And then I was relaxing a little bit. Well, on the weekend, I actually looked at my house, and it’s very messy. And that’s pretty normal, though. The person who cares about this the most is my mother, and she hasn’t been in my house for over a year due to COVID. And I’m going to warn her to either look away or say nothing on the topic. Living in a part of the world where we haven’t had people in our home for over a year now has allowed me to let go of the expectation of what my house should look like, and accept that I want to put my energy into other things. I was the last holdout in my family of four. Seeing how others live their lives with ADHD has helped me with that.
Moira Maybin 11:16
Another way to help with acceptance is to be able to identify our emotions, that can feel really uncomfortable for many of us, especially if we’re not used to thinking or talking about our emotions. It’s times like this, that having professional help can really make a difference. We can have so many conflicting messages and thoughts about how we should feel, react and handle ourselves. With support and practice, we can recognize and accept emotions without judging them. And it becomes more natural to us. It can help to remember that in and of themselves, emotions are not good or bad, they may be scary, especially when they are intense or tied to previous experiences. We don’t have to start with demons, we could take a baby step by considering what thoughts and emotions we have around one part of our self-care, sleeping, eating, moving, getting help spending time outdoors. Again, we don’t have to start with the hardest one, I actually spent time improving all the others, before turning my attention to the one I struggle with the most. If we start to be curious about our emotions in the moment, proud, afraid, uncertain, hopeful, hopeless, we can ask ourselves if what we are doing, and feeling is a sustainable way of life.
Moira Maybin 12:33
If this is coming across that I think this is easy. It’s far from that. Learning how to be mindful, paying attention to ourselves, what is going on internally and externally in our minds, our bodies and feelings? Without any judgement? It’s noticing, and noticing requires directing our attention slowing down. Yeah, that’s hard. We can struggle with our awareness of not only our feelings but so many other things. Now we need to notice them too and not have thoughts about it?
Moira Maybin 13:04
When I started this process years ago, I was surprised to realize that I live mostly in my head, barely felt anything going on my body, except extreme pain, and only notice my emotions when they would get big. I have been learning about mindfulness for over a decade. To try it out mindfulness can be learned from books, apps, classes, courses, and through yoga and meditation. I think Netflix even has a series called headspace on mindfulness, and it looks pretty good. One book that helped after sitting on my shelf unopened for a year was the Mindfulness Prescription for Adult ADHD by Lydia Zylowska. Her approach really helped me develop my mindfulness in an ADHD friendly way. Nice for those who have a hard time with slowing down and directing our attention. At my website, ADHDfriendlylifestyle calm, I’ll post some links to both videos and audios on becoming more mindful with ADHD.
Moira Maybin 14:01
I started with a few activities that you can try right now. Can you feel your feet on the ground? What your clothes feel like against your skin? Thank you for being dressed during this podcast. Do you feel any physical sensations going on inside of your body? What do you hear around you? Can you do this without having any expectations or thoughts on what you’re experiencing? Just noticing that’s being mindful and aware. I still remember from a decade ago, how amazed I was that I could feel the back of my legs and my chair. Who knew?
Moira Maybin 14:40
When I wrote this, I was aware of my eyes being sore due to the brightness outside my window and my tummy resting against my desktop as I leaned forward, and that I had a headache. I also had a slight sense of worry from uncertainty about how long it would take me to complete this writing. If it takes longer than I think, what will that mean for me and my day, I’m noticing all of that without any thoughts or judgment of how I should be feeling or thinking, or any expectations to do anything about it.
Moira Maybin 15:10
What did I do with that information? Well, I paused in my writing, shut the blinds and took something for my headache. And I know I wouldn’t have noticed either enough to do anything about it if I hadn’t been thinking about being mindful for this episode. Again, I go back to the example of considering if it was another person who had bright lights in their eyes and a headache. I would hope any of us would take a few minutes to help with that. But I wouldn’t do it for myself if I don’t actively cultivate that awareness.
Moira Maybin 15:39
And it also seems I am still on a steep learning curve with this podcast, including how much time to schedule for writing, especially when I suck at estimating time on a good day. So I will note how it is going now and I concerned about timing. When I returned to this The next day, I realized that what I had thought would be this one episode, ‘s now been split into four. It would seem that I’m not totally clear on how many ideas can be expressed in the 20 to 25-minute episode. I guess having too many ideas is better than having them. I don’t know, this is probably a good spot to wind it up for today. Especially since it turns out there still is lots left to say.
Moira Maybin 16:17
When we are able to ask for help, accept support, and learn how to be mindful our awareness increases, then we can use that information to make conscious decisions about what we say and do. We can question our assumptions by checking with ourselves or others, we become less reactive and better able to notice when we need to switch things up to meet our own needs. We can whip it out when we are being tormented, stuck waiting in an office or when a child is pressing your buttons and dropping them off on the side of the road is not an option. By practicing mindfulness when I don’t need it, it helps me feel peaceful. And then when I’m losing it, it can help me stay above water. That’s helping both my awareness and acceptance.
Moira Maybin 17:14
Okay, you’ve done the hard work by staying to the end your reward. Here are the main takeaways from today’s episode. Number one, we can learn to accept ourselves just as we are, we’re able to make decisions and take actions to help ourselves instead of trying to hide or for damage control. Number two, it is true that we experience more struggle with life than those without ADHD. And if we can accept that, can we ask for help, they can also make it less taxing for us? Number three, building awareness and acceptance of life with ADHD is easier when we have support in more than one way. Online support groups can be great to normalize our experiences and find community. Both therapy and coaching help people with ADHD. Finding practitioners with a good understanding of ADHD, and a good fit with you is important. Being more aware of our emotions helps with acceptance. Mindfulness is something we can learn and practice in many ways. Some are better suited for those with ADHD. The Mindfulness Prescription for Adults with ADHD by Lidia Zylowskat is a good one.
Moira Maybin 18:24
I have made myself a sign that is posted by my computer that reads, “Practice of Acceptance. I have ADHD, and I get distracted by shiny things. And that makes life harder. What makes things easier is having less required of me. When I have fewer things, I have more bandwidth, and can manage better.” Another disclosure, it was my therapist who came up with that for me. I have looked and read this daily for almost a year now. And it helps as someone who not only wanted to do all the things, but also felt that I should be doing all the parental things, the teacher things, the friend things, the wife things, the daughter things, and on and on. My Practice of Acceptance Reminder helps me often practicing accepting what is, and saying no to the things I don’t want. So I can say yes to the ones I do.
Moira Maybin 19:14
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.
Moira Maybin 19:40
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, respected 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. Moira Maybin 21:14
And now for a new feature inspired by the ADHD community and Tik Tok called tell me you have ADHD without actually telling me you have ADHD. “So I’m late for the next thing because I had to finish up a call about the first thing while driving from the second thing, and I’m going to be even more late because I messed up my drive-thru order. So I have to go back and fix it. Because I can’t stand the texture of the ketchup, they put on my burger.” If you want to tell me you have ADHD without actually telling me you have ADHD, visit my Facebook page and continue the thread we started there. Maybe you’ll hear yours on a future episode. Stay tuned for the next episode as we work together to build our friendly lifestyles together. Thanks for listening. See you later.