Doing to the world - It is not all about me

ADHD is full of paradoxes and this post illustrates one of the common ones. We do good things for the wrong reasons.

One of the differences between ADHD Coaching and other forms of Coaching is teaching the person with ADHD to stop focusing on themselves but to focus on others. Life revolves around us and we are totally self absorbed. This was a concept I really struggled with. I had spent my life doing good for others focusing all my attention on their needs rather than my own.

So how could I be self absorbed?

It was a real light bulb moment when Dave said to me, "how often did you ask those people if they needed or wanted your help?" Oops. Yes this is what we do. We see a need and jump in boots and all without finding out the facts. Low self esteem, impulsivity and codependency which are all frequent companions of ADHD make for a dangerous mix. It ultimately leads to heartache, emptied wallets, and broken relationships. We give and give and give on our terms and then when we aren't appreciated and our expectations aren't met, we get hurt and resentful and angry.

For most of my life I have collected waifs and strays, given the shirt off my back and leapt in to save the world. In a nutshell I had no boundaries so this is a huge lesson I have had to learn and have to continually work on. Two steps forward and one step back.

street beggarHaving become aware of this it has made me more aware of the same behaviour in others and this was brought home to me very vividly a few years ago. Dave and I attended a meeting with about a dozen or so other people involved in small businesses most of which were NGOs or NPOs (non Govt organsiations and non Profit organisations). We were all struggling with the same problem. No money!! Cars and homes had been re-possessed and for each one of us life was a daily struggle.

But ... we were following our passions which were to do good and make a difference in other peoples lives.

Dave, who was leading the meeting asked a vital question. "Why should anyone care why your business/charity/organisation exists?" This was a huge wake-up call for all of us including Dave and I. The standard response was that we were doing what we were passionate about. We were each so focused on what we were doing and assumed that those on whom we lavished our money, time and love would be so appreciative that they would rush to pay us for our efforts. It doesn't matter whether you are running a non-profit or a for-profit business you need to earn sufficient money to put food on your table, pay the bills and cover the cost of running the company/organisation. Needless to say most of us had ADHD.

This is a major issue for ADDers. We are passionate, we are super generous with our time and money but it is so often for the wrong reasons. We want people to like us and we impulsively say "yes" without thinking about the consequences. We react to whatever pops up, we don't plan and we don't think. Business plans are too hard and boring especially when it comes to the financial side.

We frequently become workaholics putting in far more hours in a desperate effort to prove ourselves worthy and when the appreciation doesn't come we get resentful so we resign or throw a major hissy fit and get fired. Of course it is never our fault.

People with ADHD are never average and it is not something we should aspire to. However we do need to learn to set boundaries, have realistic goals and learn to make decisions that are rational. These are important lessons to teach our children.


Living ADDventure® offers ADHD Coaching via Skype or Face to Face if you are near our office in Kwa Zulu Natal. Complete this form to book to find out more. (It will open in a new window)


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