Andrew: Most ADHD adults who come to see me for coaching are profoundly affected by low self-esteem and are often without any hope of improvement. Their self-esteem has eroded from living with their challenges, from the criticism and the self-criticism that follows and critically they have lost hope and optimism that they might be able to change their circumstances. Is this what you find too?”
David: For everyone with ADHD, including you and me, we all suffer with the challenges of inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity. These are things for which you can’t show the source and you can’t explain. So the first piece is that ADHD is invisible.
It’s only recently, in the last seven years, that they have identified ADD in adults. So you had this mindset of teachers and people in the workplace that these ADHD kids are problems or these adults are problems because the ADHD is not visible in them.
If I break my leg you can see that the leg is broken and needs to mend. If you have a disease, like diabetes for example, it usually manifests physically and can been seen at least by the medical profession.
ADHD is an invisible challenge that really impairs quality of life and there was no language for it. There were no tools to help. Even once the language used to describe ADHD developed; it remained very scientific and explained ADHD in terms that most people simply couldn’t understand.
On the one hand these ADD adults were relieved that they were able to give a label to what has been going on, but when the doctors started talking in scientific language about pre-frontal cortex, dopamine neurotransmitters and executive function the explanation usually didn’t make sense.
One of the things that we as coaches do, that is so powerful, is to take these invisible challenges and explain them using models and tools in a very common language.
We take these invisible challenges and make them visible. For example the “machine, mind and mission” model helps explain the unique brain wiring in an ADHD brain.
Challenge of brain stimulation
ADHD first and foremost is a challenge of brain stimulation, if you don’t understand what boredom does and you continue to engage in situations that are boring – that don’t stimulate your brain – you will not understand that the harder you try to pay attention the more your brain will shut down.
This is validated scientifically and yet the most of the world has yet to understand this.
Hopelessness comes from being forced to pay attention in areas that don’t stimulate your brain naturally. The ADHD brain needs a certain kind of automatic engagement. Recent research by Dr. Nora D. Volkow, Director of the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, showed:
“a disruption in motivations and sensitivity to rewards” in ADHD.
Reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, this 8-year study shows ADHD is first and foremost a deficit of interest.
Make the invisible visible
If you don’t understand what attention and stimulation do to the brain, you will continue to go down the same road and get into the same situations that you’ve been pressured into, you will continue to manifest and exacerbate your ADHD. So, it is critical to make the invisible visible, giving adults with ADHD a language that explains where their ADHD challenges are going to show up and where their strengths are located.
These strengths have often been buried, many people with ADHD don’t even know they exist and have not been able to access manifest them because of their unknown ADHD challenges. Recent research indicates that 4% of the world’s adult population have ADHD and 85% are undiagnosed, that’s a lot of people running around with something they don’t know about.