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Being Present With Another Person When Your ADHD Would Like To Wander

Being Present With Another Person When Your ADHD Would Like To Wander

Being present with another human being has got to be the most beautiful experience anyone can have. As someone who has spent a life seeking strategies to manage ADHD and pervasive distractibility, this ability has been hard won.

I discovered a powerful and unique strategy for quickly connecting with another human being, one I’m privileged to share with you.

The basic idea of being present doesn’t lend itself to the kind of emotional energy a brain like mine needs in order to stay alert and focused.

Simply being aware of everything in the moment as it arises is wonderful. However, the ADHD mind needs additional stimulation in order to maintain this awareness. Or it can drift off so deeply into itself that the original intention of being present is lost.

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What can one do under these circumstances?

You can begin with the end in mind. When spending time with someone, I suggest making two decisions beforehand.

  1. Decide which of your values you want to show up with during your time together (e.g. love, respect, understanding).
  2. Decide on a strategy for how the person you are with will experience that value as a result of your time together. Say you choose to practice the value of understanding another. I have yet to meet another person who doesn’t want to be understood. Therefore, this is a value that you can use as your go-to value especially when meeting someone for the first time.

Conceptualizing the strategy for understanding another person begins by asking yourself this question: What do I need to believe, say, and do in order to honor this person’s right to be understood by me?

One belief is embedded in the question. The belief that the other person has a right to be understood. You can even reframe that belief to say, “The person in front of me has a right to feel understood.”

It’s important to understand that this strategy is not transactional, as in, I’m not going to do it unless you do it. This is you stepping up in a highly proactive way. Doing your part to create a beautiful moment between you and the person you’re with.

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Whichever belief you choose, these are the next questions to ask

  1. Based on my belief, what would I say in order to help the other person feel understood by me?
  2. Based on my belief, what must I do in order to help the other person feel understood by me?

There is likely a fly in the ointment here and it’s the fact that you are not a mind-reader and could be off-base in your sense of what the other person wants to see and hear in order to feel understood.

Hence, there is a need for promises to check in with the other person by saying, “May I check in with you for a moment? I want to make sure I understand you correctly.”

You then proceed to share what you’ve heard so far, with emphasis on the meaning you infer from what you are being told. You then give the other person an opportunity to confirm or correct your understanding before moving on.

For the mind that already practices a similar strategy, this can seem like common sense. For the mind that is wired for wandering, this can feel at first like a momentous effort, which is why such a concrete instruction is both helpful and necessary.

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How effective listening leads to true mindfulness

There are, of course, mindfulness purists who will likely reject my suggestions, advocating for a mind free of any agenda and simply staying open for whatever arises in that moment.

I don’t believe for one second that even the most mindful person who takes the time to be present for another isn’t at least coming from the belief that giving another person that time and attention is important. So you see, there’s always some sort of desire to be satisfied and that’s okay. As long as the needs of both people are met to the highest extent possible.

Take some time to contemplate this. See if it enhances the degree of focus, intention, and self-determination that you bring to each moment you have the privilege of spending with another human being.

You’ll be grateful you did.

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Oh, one last thing. You can close the time you spent together by saying, “Thank you for helping me to understand you better. You deserve it.”

Thanks for being you.

Featured photo credit: Greatist via greatist.com

More by this author

Brian R. King

Relationship Success Coach for the ADHD Community and Beyond

Being Present With Another Person When Your ADHD Would Like To Wander

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Last Updated on December 10, 2019

5 Smart Reasons to Start Journal Writing Today

5 Smart Reasons to Start Journal Writing Today

Here’s the truth: your effectiveness at life is not what it could be. You’re missing out.

Each day passes by and you have nothing to prove that it even happened. Did you achieve something? Go on a date? Have an emotional breakthrough? Who knows?

But what you do know is that you don’t want to make the same mistakes that you’ve made in the past.

Our lives are full of hidden gems of knowledge and insight, and the most recent events in our lives contain the most useful gems of all. Do you know why? It’s simple, those hidden lessons are the most up to date, meaning they have the largest impact on what we’re doing right now.

But the question is, how do you get those lessons? There’s a simple way to do it, and it doesn’t involve time machines:

Journal writing.

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Improved mental clarity, the ability to see our lives in the big picture, as well as serving as a piece of evidence cataloguing every success we’ve ever had; we are provided all of the above and more by doing some journal writing.

Journal writing is a useful and flexible tool to help shed light on achieving your goals.

Here’s 5 smart reasons why you should do journal writing:

1. Journals Help You Have a Better Connection with Your Values, Emotions, and Goals

By journaling about what you believe in, why you believe it, how you feel, and what your goals are, you understand your relationships with these things better. This is because you must sort through the mental clutter and provide details on why you do what you do and feel what you feel.

Consider this:

Perhaps you’ve spent the last year or so working at a job you don’t like. It would be easy to just suck it up and keep working with your head down, going on as if it’s supposed to be normal to not like your job. Nobody else is complaining, so why should you, right?

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But a little journal writing will set things straight for you. You don’t like your job. You feel like it’s robbing you of happiness and satisfaction, and you don’t see yourself better there in the future.

The other workers? Maybe they don’t know, maybe they don’t care. But you do, you know and care enough to do something about it. And you’re capable of fixing this problem because your journal writing allows you to finally be honest with yourself about it.

2. Journals Improve Mental Clarity and Help Improve Your Focus

If there’s one thing journal writing is good for, it’s clearing the mental clutter.

How does it work? Simply, whenever you have a problem and write about it in a journal, you transfer the problem from your head to the paper. This empties the mind, allowing allocation of precious resources to problem-solving rather than problem-storing.

Let’s say you’ve been juggling several tasks at work. You’ve got data entry, testing, e-mails, problems with the boss, and so on—enough to overwhelm you—but as you start journal writing, things become clearer and easier to understand: Data entry can actually wait till Thursday; Bill kindly offered earlier to do my testing; For e-mails, I can check them now; the boss is just upset because Becky called in sick, etc.

You become better able to focus and reason your tasks out, and this is an indispensable and useful skill to have.

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3. Journals Improve Insight and Understanding

As a positive consequence of improving your mental clarity, you become more open to insights you may have missed before. As you write your notes out, you’re essentially having a dialogue with yourself. This draws out insights that you would have missed otherwise; it’s almost as if two people are working together to better understand each other. This kind of insight is only available to the person who has taken the time to connect with and understand themselves in the form of writing.

Once you’ve gotten a few entries written down, new insights can be gleaned from reading over them. What themes do you see in your life? Do you keep switching goals halfway through? Are you constantly dating the same type of people who aren’t good for you? Have you slowly but surely pushed people out of your life for fear of being hurt?

All of these questions can be answered by simply self-reflecting, but you can only discover the answers if you’ve captured them in writing. These questions are going to be tough to answer without a journal of your actions and experiences.

4. Journals Track Your Overall Development

Life happens, and it can happen fast. Sometimes we don’t take the time to stop and look around at what’s happening to us at each moment. We don’t get to see the step-by-step progress that we’re making in our own lives. So what happens? One day it’s the future, and you have no idea how you’ve gotten there.

Journal writing allows you to see how you’ve changed over time, so you can see where you did things right, and you can see where you took a misstep and fell.

The great thing about journals is that you’ll know what that misstep was, and you can make sure it doesn’t happen again—all because you made sure to log it, allowing yourself to learn from your mistakes.

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5. Journals Facilitate Personal Growth

The best thing about journal writing is that no matter what you end up writing about, it’s hard to not grow from it. You can’t just look at a past entry in which you acted shamefully and say “that was dumb, anyway!” No, we say “I will never make a dumb choice like that again!”

It’s impossible not to grow when it comes to journal writing. That’s what makes journal writing such a powerful tool, whether it’s about achieving goals, becoming a better person, or just general personal-development. No matter what you use it for, you’ll eventually see yourself growing as a person.

Kickstart Journaling

How can journaling best be of use to you? To vent your emotions? To help achieve your goals? To help clear your mind? What do you think makes journaling such a useful life skill?

Know the answer? Then it’s about time you reap the benefits of journal writing and start putting pen to paper.

Here’s what you can do to start journaling:

Featured photo credit: Jealous Weekends via unsplash.com

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