Where to start…
Many a time ADHD can feel as though you’re fighting a losing battle. Your life can feel as though it’s an uphill struggle on a downward escalator. Just thinking about the plethora of symptoms that you have to contend with can make you dizzy enough to stop trying. The overwhelm of not knowing where to start is often a barrier to getting any help at all, which can only make things worse.
Let me share with you an example of how this can play out:
You find yourself without a routine.
You don’t have any meaningful goals to motivate your routine
You’re not organised enough to fit things around your routine
Even if you did have a routine, you get distracted too easily
Your perfectionism means you can’t manage your time effectively
Your procrastination means you always leave the most important tasks till last (while pretending to be busy with the less important tasks.)
You struggle to prioritise tasks because there are so many things you have to get done.
All this overwhelm leads to emotional dysregulation
You start to feel stressed
You’re anxious about getting anything done because there’s so much to do.
You’re under pressure to meet deadlines
Even the fun tasks are challenging because you’re emotionally dysregulated.
You struggle to sleep with all these thoughts keeping you up at night
You wake up the following morning tired and low in energy
Start to get the idea?
This is before we’ve got onto relationships and household domestics. ADHD affects every aspect of our lives. There’s so much going on in our heads that the overwhelm makes us think there’s no point even trying. The result being that nothing changes. From my personal experience I know that my own perfectionism acts in this way. In the past, I've often thought that I had to sort out ALL of my ADHD symptoms before sorting out any of them at all.
It took me a number of years to realise that this all-or-nothing thinking is an arm of one’s inner critic that doesn’t want you to grow.
If you read through the above scenario, you’ll notice that all the symptoms are interlinked with one another. If you develop strategies for one, you’ll often find that it will relieve the weight of your ADHD in other domains as well. For example, setting yourself meaningful weekly goals is likely to give you greater focus in your week, keeping you on track towards what’s really important to you. A meaningful goal can help you distinguish between the important and the trivial. When you start your day with a focus goal, you may find that you’re able to prioritise more clearly throughout the day. What works for me is having a goal card by my desk to help me see the bigger picture whenever my inner-critic starts to kick-in.
I’ve digressed slightly, but the point I’m trying to make is to not let your perfectionism get in the way of your development. If you go down the perfectionist road, you’re not giving yourself a chance. You’ve lost before you’ve even started. It’s a dangerous path to walk, and I know of what I speak.
When I first started being coached, I wanted to start working on everything. I wanted to wish my ADHD away, as if by magic I could make all my symptoms disappear.
The truth is, you can’t perfectionise your ADHD, you can only embrace it! (perfectionise is a made up word, but you know what I mean!). Try to focus on one of your symptoms at a time, and more often than not, you’ll find that things will start to change for the better.