Neurotypical Does Not Equal Perfection
Learning to Accept Your ADHD Self
I've noticed a pattern. I've noticed that ADHDers, like myself, are extremely resistant to self-acceptance. Am I right?
I have a theory, that the reason why ADHDers are resistant to accepting themselves is because they are afraid that accepting themselves means accepting that they will never improve. Acceptance just feels like another form of giving up and we think it looks like this:
-I'm late because I have ADHD (Oh well!)
-I can't start because I have ADHD (Watcha gonna do?)
-I'm forgetful because I have ADHD (I tried!)
-I'm overwhelmed because I have ADHD (*Shrug*)
-I'm sensitive because I have ADHD (*Sigh*)
Etc etc etc...end of story.
Does that hit home?
But the thing is, we WANT to improve. We don't want to be late, unorganized, paralyzed, forgetful, and sensitive forever, so instead of accepting ourselves with kindness, compassion, and understanding, for fear of staying EXACTLY how we are, we beat ourselves up. We shame ourselves into action and we punish ourselves for our inactions.
We withhold food, water, sleep, socializing, and even bathroom breaks until we get shit done. We create huge unrealistic to-do lists and expectations and we hold ourselves to them (or at least try to). We play all of our past "failures" on loop in our minds as a cautionary tale. We try to force ourselves into being neurotypical no matter how much it doesn't fit.
ADHDer, early on in my diagnosis I remember looking at neurotypical people and thinking, “That’s it. That’s the goal.”
To me, that was the standard to strive for. That was the end game.
But I’ve learned a few things since…
Neurotypical does not equate perfect.
Neurotypicals are just humans. That means, just like us, they are doing the best they can with the cards they’ve been dealt.
These cards include their:
-Messy family dynamics
-Other medical diagnoses
And everything else that makes being a human so damn difficult.
They fall short like the rest of us. They disappoint like the rest of us. They fuck up HUGE like the rest of us.
The underlying reason may be different, but the end result is the same: Imperfection. They are not better than us, but they are also not worse than us. They are just humans doing the best they can with the parameters set.
I can tell you from experience, the withholding of the necessities until I do something productive works, but at what cost? I can also tell you from experience, that no matter what, you will never be neurotypical. You will always have an ADHD brain.
Why not accept it then? What would that look like?
I've switched tactics because I have learned that self-acceptance does NOT mean stagnation.
For me, self-acceptance has two parts: Accepting where you're at, then compensating with strategies that fit your brain.
The formula looks like this: "I'm ___(insert symptom)___ because I have ADHD, so ____(insert strategy)____."
-I'm late because I have ADHD, so I need to set an alarm for transition time and keep my stuff by the door.
-I can't start because I have ADHD, so I need to write down all the steps and see where to start.
-I'm forgetful because I have ADHD, so I need to write stuff down in my phone.
-I'm overwhelmed because I have ADHD, so I need to outsource.
-I'm sensitive because I have ADHD, so I need to pause and take a breath when my heart starts to race.
The strategies will be different for everyone, but the important thing is actually using strategies.
In yoga there is a practice called Ishvara Pranidhana, which is the practice of surrender. It's surrendering to a higher power and surrendering to what is. My friend, you have an ADHD brain. That's just what is. What would life look like if you could surrender to that and give your brain what it needs—support.
So my friend, in case you are trapped comparing and striving for a neurotypical standard, please let me remind you: There is no end game.
Your only job is to be you and no one has BEEN you before so there is no point in comparing.
PS. My membership takes care of ADHDers' bodies, minds, hearts, and souls! Seriously. SERIOUSLY!
-Yoga classes for all levels with time for questions after each class
-Mindfulness practices and pose tutorials in a HUGE recorded library
-Body doubles so you can work along side other ADHDers to help you do the hard/boring things
-Powerful live guided journaling practices
-Special events to help you set intentions and follow-through
-ADHD-friendly supports to prevent any shame surrounding consistency
-And membership to a non-judgmental, supportive, loving, and hilarious ADHD Slack community (Seriously, I love them SO MUCH!!!)
Follow me at @adhd.yoga and check out my online studio at adhdyoga.ca.
About the author
ADHDer here! I'm a certified yoga teacher and ADHD coach-in-training. I empower ADHDers to take care of themselves through movement, breath, and the occasional f-bomb. Follow me at @adhd.yoga and check out my online studio at adhdyoga.ca.
Very well written. Keep up the good work!
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