Communicate Your Expectations:
A dear friend of mine, a duke of the ADHD kingdom is always late. I’m not talking in minutes; I’m talking in hours. My frustration would be at a 19 on a scale of 1-10. Finally I said, “I know this is hard, but when we get together, I expect you to be on time, or at most 15 minute late. If this happens again, I’m just going to cancel because my time needs to be respected.”
He was upset, but he understood. When he hit the 16 minute mark, I called him and said, “Sorry man. This isn’t going to work out. Let’s plan again soon.” I stuck to my guns and he’s been on time ever since. Even though we have ADHD minds, we don’t have to be ADHD doormats.
We’ve all uttered the phrase, “I know exactly what he was thinking” when there is a conflict or argument. We know exactly what they did wrong and why they did it. We can see them plotting at the whiteboard and waking their handlebar mustache.
The stark truth is we don’t know what a person was thinking. When we think we do, our mind races and we plan our revenge or merely our response. The best response we can come up with is “I know X happened— I’m just trying to understand. Can you help me out?” We give them a fair shake, a chance to respond. I mean, aren’t we offended when people think they can read our mind?
Sometimes People are Actually Wrong:
This took me about 40 years to understand.
In most conflicts, arguments, or decision quality, I always assumed I was in the wrong. I always started in a place of defense because whatever I wanted or desired was secondary to what the other person needed. But as Bréne Brown would say that isn’t wholehearted living.
Our ADHD mind will run from conflict and we will capitulate to avoid it. Whether it is what restaurant to choose or how we want to be treated in a relationship, we get to have a choice and we deserve to have a voice.
“Your ADHD pisses me off!” one of my friends said.
It was the fact that I lost my keys (again x 20). She might as well have hit me with a frying pan. I went from panicked to angry to crushed.
I can’t bury my ADHD or pull it out like a thorn. But she was wrong. It wasn’t my ADHD that hurt her, it was simply losing my keys (that everyone does sometimes).
It was my behavior that created the impact, not who I was. As I pulled them out of the couch cushion, I looked at her and said, “It’s about the keys. I’ll do better in this area.” And I did.
Forgive Yourself, Take it Easy:
Our ADHD can be our worst enemy in social situations. When we make a mistake or flub something, we immediately shift into condemnation: “You are so stupid. Why did you do that?” But we all make mistakes. We all are worthy of love, belonging and most importantly, grace and forgiveness. Forgive yourself your mistakes and move past them. No one should carry an anchor of regret. Let it go and attempt again.
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