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Written by Pat Pughe-Parry Pat Pughe-Parry
Last Updated: 21 December 2016 21 December 2016

TearsA 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 pdfLiving 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.

SadCoupleHow Can We Change This Cycle?

We first need to accept that as ADDers we:

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:

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.


ListenLearn to listen

I also realised that I had not always listened properly and got the wrong end of the stick and drew incorrect conclusions. My mind would be so busy on my own stuff that I did not pay attention to what had been said, and more importantly HOW other people were saying things.

Perhaps they were having a bad day and letting off steam and their comments were not directed at me personally.

We need to take our attention away from ourselves and focus on the other person paying more attention to their words and body language.

Use our mouths less and our ears more.

Ask Questions

Repeat what we think we have heard to confirm our understanding. If we don't agree with their opinion ask the person to explain why they feel that way and don't immediately dismiss their viewpoint.

They just might be right!

Take a timeout

If you can't reach consensus and you feel yourself getting angry, request a timeout so that you can actively think about what has been said in a rational manner. Write down your thoughts and don't just brood in your head. Writing brings reality.


Does it Matter?

Do you have to win every time?

Is it worth destroying a friendship, working relationship or marriage just because you don't agree on everything?

MoveOnResolving the Conflict

Once you have been through the above you can make a decision that is right for you.

1. If you were wrong, apologise and move on.

2. If you believe you have been wronged, write down why you think this is the case and how you would like to see the relationship working in the future.

3. Use "I" messages to explain to the person your opinion and hopefully you can resolve the situation.

4. Obviously you won't always have a positive outcome and you will not get on with everyone you meet or work with. Sometimes you have to agree to disagree.

5. If the relationship has turned toxic you have the choice to walk away and MOVE ON! Cut the movie and throw it in the trash can.

I have found it much easier to be happy rather than fight to the death to be right.


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