To manage your ADHD you first have to know how it shows up. Identifying how ADHD
shows up for people with ADHD can be challenging because ADHD executive function deficits manifest in awareness challenges. Awareness of what matters to you, of what you do that causes you problems, of how you create clutter, of how your behavior affects others, awareness of what works to get things done. Whether taking action or stuck, opportunities to learn along the way often don’t register.
One way to practice developing awareness is to consciously watch yourself as you move through your day, with curiosity, not condemnation. Notice what lights you up and brings you pleasure. Watch yourself in your struggles to be on time, start tasks, stay on task, complete tasks. Note what pulls your attention away from important tasks. Pay attention to what your brain does when it’s bored. Notice what bores you. Notice when you get in conflict with others.
When you deliberately watch yourself, you create the opportunity to get to know how your ADHD shows up. There are common characteristics to ADHD, but it doesn’t show up the same way in everyone with the disorder. For example, some people are able to be on time. Others are never on time. Some are very defensive and unwilling to look at their challenging behavior. Others are willing to look at their behavior so they can learn from it, etc.
To identify how your ADHD how shows up, observe yourself for a day. Make yourself your project for the day. Make a list of every situation that is challenging, any action that annoys someone else, any situation that makes you feel irritable or angry, any time you don’t follow through on an action, any situation that is stressful, any time you shut down and get stuck, any time you put yourself down. Your list will show you how your ADHD shows up.
Once you are aware of how your ADHD shows up you can release the bat of self-criticism from your hand and view your challenge areas as ADHD symptoms. When you are no longer beating yourself up for actions that stem from ADHD executive function deficits, you can begin to seek ways to address problem areas.
Watch your behaviors with curiosity, not judgement. ADHD management begins with self-awareness and knowledge of hour your ADHD shows up.