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8 Things That People With ADD Want You To Know

8 Things That People With ADD Want You To Know
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I had ADD before it ever became a thing. As I stared out the class window back in my school days, little did I know that as many as 11% of children in the US would one day be diagnosed with this attention deficit disorder. This was also before I really understood how my mind actually works.

I didn’t understand why I couldn’t follow most conversations that I was having. It was beyond me as to why I was constantly late or unorganized despite my best intentions.

People got mad at me and I got mad at myself. People thought I was either careless or dumb, which made me believe that I was careless and dumb.

I guess you could say that school, with its structured learning and standardized tests and constant routine, wasn’t my thing. If this article was a letter to my 17-year old self I would be compelled to share some amazing life lessons that I have since experienced with ADD that has totally changed my perspective about seeing it as a limitation.

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I learned that the best way to handle a bad situation in life is to turn a negative into a positive. This is what has worked for me and now I want to share the same with you to help you understand that you are not alone. The way to handle this “disorder” is not to try to make yourself fit in, but to do the very opposite – stand out!

Yes, I have ADD. There’s no shame in admitting this. We need to embrace it. Here are some amazing benefits about this fascinating “disorder” we share together.

1. We will be one of the most compassionate people that you will ever meet.

ADD tends to make us over-do certain things – and being compassionate is no exception. If compassion means caring for the well-being of others than we have it in spades. We have this innate ability to empathize and truly feel when a friend is in need.

Although we can be socially awkward at first, when we finally make a connection you can bet that it will be a bond like no other. We know what rejection means, and we know what intolerance feels like. Our ADD helps us to embody this. In turn, your problem becomes our problem.

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2. We can be a little scatterbrained but we are highly creative.

Growing research suggests that there is a link between creativity and ADD. The idea is that while “normal” minds filter out distractions, the ADD mind is able to somehow connect random thoughts that may have otherwise not been connected, thus forming new creative ideas. People often see us as scatterbrained because we have trouble focusing on a particular topic.

We are busy looking out the window while everyone else is learning multiplication tables. One famous daydreamer was Albert Einstein who said,“When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.”

3. We don’t always finish what we start, but when we do its because we are highly driven to succeed.

Whether its chores as a kid or work assignments as adults, we’re not good at completing tasks that are boring to us. On the flip-side, we hyper-focus on the tasks that are meaningful to us and put forth tremendous energy in tackling them head on. If there is a cause that we are passionate about you can bet that we will do whatever it takes to get the word out.

4. We have a quirky sense of humor that will never leave you in want for a smile.

I didn’t always follow the rules in school and sometimes that ended-up making me the unofficial class clown. The thing about humor is that it takes a good understanding of people and unconventional connections to come up with the funniest combinations. Although I no longer qualify as a class clown, when all else fails it’s my sense of humor that keeps me going.

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5. We see everyday as a new challenge, so problem solving comes naturally to us.

We love trying to figure out how to fit square pegs into round holes. In other words, perhaps it’s a bit of stubbornness but we have a hard time seeing many things as impossible. In fact, the bigger the challenge, the more motivated we are to come up with a solution.

6. We get resilient when the going gets tough.

We may have our special challenges with ADD, but that doesn’t mean we give up easily. Actually, we are known for being stubborn sometimes, to the point to where we keep going and persevering despite social stigmas or lack of popularity. Resilience is not about trying to same thing over and over with no outcome. Rather, it’s about coming up with new ways of thinking to approach challenges with a fresh perspective.

7. We are idea machines that constantly look for new ways of doing things.

Sometimes we can be like an idea machine. What I mean is, we consistently come up with unconventional ideas. There is no magic formula to this. Ideas are just finding patterns that emerge and connecting the dots. For example, Sir Richard Branson who is known to have symptoms of ADD, randomly came up with the idea of Virgin Airlines during a trip to Puerto Rico. He was stranded because the flight was overbooked, but he desperately needed to get to the British Virgin Islands. He was desperate for a solution. Luckily, with ADD, he had an idea machine in his brain.

The story is quite creative. He had an idea that no one else had at the time. As Richard explains: “I had a beautiful lady waiting for me in BVI and I hired a plane and borrowed a blackboard and as a joke I wrote Virgin Airlines on the top of the blackboard, $39 one way to BVI. I went out round all the passengers who had been bumped and I filled up my first plane.”

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8. We have a unique perspective that goes against the grain, yet makes us stand out in the crowd.

We tend to see things from a unique perspective, taking in lessons learned from our many frustrations, challenges, shortcomings, and inspirations. Mixed together, this forms a primordial stew of seeing things from a different angle and an original point of view. What made us get singled-out in grade school is the same thing that has shaped us into some very unique adults.

Conclusion

ADD is not a curable disorder, but it is a treatable one. When you use it to focus on your strengths instead of your weaknesses you will find yourself in quite a different world – a world of creativity, innovation, and warmth like you have never known before. Come fly with us.

Featured photo credit: Image by Alexander Shustov via images.unsplash.com

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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