I call it the “ADHD shadow.”
Our ADHD shadow represents just how visible our ADHD challenges are to ourselves and others. Although it would be nice, our ADHD challenges aren’t just going to magically disappear. They stick to us like a shadow, ever present (even at night – you just have to look harder).
When we need to do something that is complex and has many moving parts, and especially something that we are very reluctant to do – taxes, in my case – our ADHD shadow is apt to be very long and very visible. Why? Because our struggles with particular executive functions (e.g., time management, sustained focus, organization, prioritization, etc.), are that much more apparent in that circumstance. We have a long shadow like one seen in the early morning or late afternoon.
However, when we are doing what we love, what we are good at and what we value, we are “in the zone,” and nothing can stop us. It could be playing on the soccer field, painting a picture, or doing a school/work project that is particularly intriguing. We are totally present, positively hyperfocused, and the things that we typically struggle with just aren’t getting in the way. In those circumstances, we have a short shadow like one you might see at noon.
As Thom Hartmann has proposed, ADHD is more of a context disorder. ADHD shows up in some contexts much more than others; in those circumstances when we are being asked to demonstrate the very skills that we struggle with, our challenges are more apparent to ourselves and to others.
The trick, then, is to discover (or rediscover) in what contexts or circumstances we are at our best, when our ADHD shadow is at “high noon,” barely noticeable to ourselves or to the outside world.
To help figure that out, you might think about – or write about – a time when you were at your best. In all likelihood, whatever that circumstance was, you were doing something that you valued, something that you brought energy to and that gave you energy, something that you did well – and you hummed along, showing yourself and the world what you were capable of.
Questions to ponder:
- What were the circumstances of your being at your best?
- What were you doing?
- What was present and what was absent?
- In what way were your strengths demonstrated?
- How might you take these lessons and apply them to current situations?
The more you know about yourself and the contexts in which you are at your best, the more easily you can engineer your life to have more of those successful “high noon” moments.
And if we can be of assistance as you work to discover how you can be at your best while working around any ADHD challenges, contact us at info@FocusForEffectiveness.com. We would be delighted to help you shorten that proverbial ADHD shadow and help you flourish with ADHD.