Andrew: It’s important to wake up and start with a pleasant ease-in to the day. ADHD adults are emotional, so if the start to our day isn’t a positive one, a day can turn into a series of distractions and avoidances. I see mornings as critical. What’s your experience David?
David: That’s such a key point. We say “what you pay attention to grows” and continues to grow because the invisible thoughts create a neurology, chemistry, in your brain.
If you have a belief that you’re supposed to start your day off with the most boring task or what others think is the “valuable” but will not ignite the centers of attention in their brain they are going to have a very difficult time getting the engine in their brain started.
If you feel guilty about not doing the tasks you are supposed to do at the expense of those that you want to do you will get nothing done. This pattern has been reinforced over and over, because of the guilt you have focused on every day for most of your life.
“I’m supposed to do something and I’m not doing it, so therefore I must be doing it wrong and feel guilty.”
Start the day off with things that you do well
These beliefs are very powerful and self-defeating and they’re illusions based in neither proof nor evidence. There’s nothing written in any publications, any books, any schools that say we can’t start our day off with things that we do well, yet the rest of the world does just the total opposite. So absolutely a bad start can ruin a whole day and it can ruin your life if you stay in that pattern.
Andrew: I like the point about guilt, because guilt is common emotion in ADHD, yet it’s a pretty pointless emotion isn’t it?
David: It is. It’s worthless. Now I will say this, though, about it, I think worry is even more worthless. I think if guilt bothers your conscience, you change it. Maybe you’re feeling guilty about something that you could have done better and you didn’t think about it, and so you apologise. I feel guilty that I didn’t do this, but I’m going to correct it. Okay, that says a lot about that person’s character. But guilt is more often about the past.
When you worry about something that you have no control over and you continue to worry about it, knowing you can’t do anything about it, then that’s a really useless emotion. If guilt helps you to improve or take action in a more caring way then it’s okay. But when it’s used to make somebody do something that’s not good for them or someone else then it’s very manipulative.
Andrew: Spending days or months feeling guilty and not actually making any changes is miserable. Feeling guilty and doing nothing is depressing.
David: I think, Andrew, you’ve hit on one of the foundations of why many ADDers ruminate. Because they feel they haven’t done something/anything well enough and people constantly reinforce that in them. They’re feeling “I’m not up to standards”, ”I’m not up to snuff”, “I’m not doing it the way I’m supposed to be doing it”, “I’m not doing it well enough”, everything becomes a feeling of guilt.
When I hear people saying “I’m sorry” all the time I get upset, there’s something wrong with saying I’m sorry when you can’t do something that you’ve been mandated to do. There’s something very morally and ethically wrong about that.