A very dear friend who has ADHD burst into tears the other day while we were chatting. "Why do I fight with everybody?When I look back on my life, it has been filled with conflict", she wept.
Many ADDers can identify with her anguish. We destroy personal and work relationships with our volatile personalities. It is as though we deliberately go into a self destruct mode but don't know how to stop.
So why are we so volatile? My AHAA light bulb moment came during one of my Living ADDventure® ADHD Coaching sessions. At the core of the problem is my visual, movie making mind; a typical ADHD characteristic.
Somebody says or does something that our supersensitive souls do not like. It is quite possible that we may not have heard correctly or we don't understand the context; it becomes instantly personal! When our self esteem is low, everything becomes personal.
We make a snap judgement based on our own personal belief systems or some past experience and either impulsively explode or equally dangerous, brood and brood and brood.
Our movie making minds go into overdrive replaying the incident over and over until fact and fiction become blurred. Eventually we get worked up into such a state that we need to take action. The 3am vitriolic e-mail, storming into the office and forcing a showdown or suddenly launching into an attack on your spouse or family bringing up every past hurt real or imagined.
The targets of our anger are often bewildered as they have no clue there is anything amiss. Like a dog with a bone we cannot let go.
How Can We Change This Cycle?
We first need to accept that as ADDers we:
- Are supersensitive and emotional.
- Are self absorbed - we see the world in terms of ourselves and judge others by our own belief systems.
- Are Impulsive.
- Are frequently people pleasers due to our low self esteem and then get resentful.
- Don't listen properly and misread body language
- Think in pictures which is a great asset but also a potential enemy.
- The combination of these traits makes us human time bombs ...... but we can change.
We Cannot Change Others - We Can Only Change Ourselves
Being self absorbed we believe that our way is the only way. A big lesson I had to learn was to examine each of my belief systems and ask myself the following questions:
- Growing up, have I blindly accepted what my parents and teachers have told me?
- Why should my religious or moral beliefs be any better or worse than someone else who has a different religion or different set of values?
- What gives me the right to judge others?
- Why should my way of doing something automatically be the only way?
As I worked on this area of my life I became aware of just how dogmatic and unyielding I was. Horror of horrors, I was not always right.