Who Do You Think You Are?

Some folks with ADHD think they’re not smart, not creative, not productive, not motivated…not, not, not…fill in the blank. If this is how you think, maybe you should stop thinking about yourself so much and end your relationship with this incompetent slug. You probably don’t label others as harshly as you label yourself. Judging the self obstructs us from proceeding into action. It’s a building block for constructing a negative reality.

Some folks with ADHD think they’re smarter, more creative, and more productive than they are, and they want others to acknowledge their gifts. They feel entitled to rewards despite insufficient effort. If this is how you think, maybe you should stop thinking about yourself so much. You can detach from delusions of brilliance and stop blaming the dimwits who don’t recognize your talent. You probably wouldn’t grant unearned recognition to others. If you can forget the self, you can find a way to sustain effort and accomplish something worthwhile.  

Both of these descriptions are consistent with my early adult life experiences. I was a brilliant failure, unappreciated by magazine editors and music publishers who only published junk. I was failing to learn from failure, and I was failing to appreciate that incremental successes are building blocks for constructing a positive reality. Even later in life, I was both an accomplished writer who published a book and a fraud who wrote only one book.  

Here’s a two-part solution to these obstructive habits: 

  1. Forget the self who is doing, or not doing, and just do. Evaluating the self is less important than evaluating performance. Forgetting your horrible or brilliant self allows room for failing and learning from it. You’re not who you think you are anyway.
  2. Know when to pause doing, and embrace being. You don’t have to think of who you are in order to be who you are. 

In the 1960’s, Beverly Bruan (1930-2010) hosted a children’s TV program called “Romper Room.” Dressed like a bee and holding up the frame of a mirror, she taught kids to be a “Do Bee” and not a “Don’t Bee.”

I invite your comments. How have you been limited by notions of self? How have you learned to live well with your ADHD or other neurological difference?

6 Responses to Who Do You Think You Are?

  • Terry, this is beautifully written and resoundingly brilliant post. Thank you for being you! Or, should I say, doing you?!

  • That is sage advice not just for people with ADHD, but for that class of people called “humans.” In other words, everybody.

    I don’t have ADHD (not much, anyway, I don’t think) and I can identify with everything you are saying.

    Again, GREAT advice, beautifully delivered. Thanks.

  • Terry: This is so WOWonderful!!!! Just a week ago I asked three fellow teachers (four of us did a series on RACE in Sunday School) to critique my performance for the six classes we did together. They seemed reluctant to do that. One of them said:
    “Perhaps you could self-critique and we could offer further suggestions or give feedback to that.” I said I would do that. Your piece challenges me to rethink what I had in mind. I now realize that I wanted to ventilate my feelings of inadequacy in part because of my impulsivity arising from ADHD, as well as my fear that as an old white guy I was doing/saying racist things. I now have to look more carefully at what was happening with me and, thanks to you, what I need to DO next. I’m reminded of sage advice the origin of which I can’t remember: What other people think of me is none of my business. But what I do is or can be anyone’s business. First, I need to end my relationship with that old white guy with ADHD and get on with the business of DOING. wash one dish, all over again…… Thanks, Terry, you crafty devilish angel

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