ADHD Mindfulness Training: The Mr. Miyagi Method
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This post is written by one of my ADHD coaching clients, Joshua. He has succinctly captured how and why ADHD Coaching can be helpful. Thank you Joshua. I wish you luck as you enter law school, and I am really impressed by your ability to illustrate how you have made small, subtle changes to work with your ADHD, instead of against it.
Sometimes, what is considered a weakness can turn out to be a great strength. I have lived my entire life with ADHD. For most of that time, I have viewed my ADHD as a major disadvantage, and I refused to take it seriously. I was content with procrastinating as long as possible, getting grades less than my potential, making impulsive and irresponsible purchases, and coming off as rude by not being able to keep focused in a conversation. Seeking to handle these issues in a healthy way had never even crossed my mind.
My brain needed intensity in order to successfully function, so pushing deadlines was my way of getting motivated to finish a project in college. That same desire for intensity made it difficult to give some work any attention at all. If I could not find the intensity for a class or assignment, I chose to do something that could provide that stimulation instead. If the idea of buying something that I did not need popped into my head, I would buy it just as quickly as I got the idea. If a conversation with my fiancée contained anything other than getting to the point, I would wander off to play guitar or piano without even thinking about it.
The negative stigmas of ADHD of always being disorganized, irresponsible, and rude had been reinforced my whole life by teachers and peers. It held me back academically, professionally, and personally. Fortunately, I was still able to do decently well in school, land an excellent job before graduating college, and still maintain relationships with understanding friends and family. Although I did not fully understand it, when I did get that intensity that I needed, I was unstoppable. However, without it, I struggled.
Soon after college, I started seeing that although I managed the struggling, I could definitely do better. An ADHD coach was recommended to me, and I decided that it was time to take control of my ADHD instead of letting it control me. It turned out to be the best decision of my life. I learned why I felt physically unable to do something unless it brought me a specific brain stimulation from intensity. I learned why I was so cold and calculated in my approach to solving problems, and I also learned why it sometimes gave people a negative impression of me. I learned why my neurological makeup made me the way I was, and I learned how to turn the disadvantages into advantages.
Through various mental and meditative exercises, my ADHD coaching helped me to be able to create the intensity that I need to accomplish the things that did not naturally provide that stimulation. My patience and attentiveness have increased greatly. While I once got distracted at work while waiting for the computer to load by going on my phone, now instead I will update my work calendar, respond to an email, or have other work accessible and ready. My self-awareness has greatly increased. While I once went from talking about wedding planning with my fiancée to playing guitar or piano without even noticing the transition, I now mentally observe my impulse to wander off and refocus myself back into the conversation. My impulsiveness is under better control each day because I have become more aware of my mental processes. When I once bought a computer as soon as the thought to do so came into my head, instead I am now quick to discuss the exciting prospect of buying a Play Station with close friends who, by talking to, help me to get a better grip on how unreasonable such a purchase would have been.
For me, ADHD has never been an excuse, but for so long it was a cumbersome hurdle. By taking the initiative to get coached on my brain’s functions, I have not only felt better and more confident in all aspects of my life, but I have the successes to show for it. The advantages that come with having control over my brain’s need for intensity have allowed me to succeed very rapidly in the workplace, and I plan to bring that knowledge to do the same with law school.
While I did not know this at the time, my ADHD coach was teaching me mindfulness, the ability to be present to each and every activity in my day. My Coach was kind of like Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid. He taught how to be present and mindful in each and every moment, but he did not announce that. We talked about a variety of things and part of our conversation always revolved, effortlessly, around how our brains worked. Anyway, I feel fully ready to tackle the challenges of law school. WAX ON, WAX OFF!