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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 September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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