I stood in my little beachside bungalow kitchen this morning, second cup of coffee in hand, slant sunshine spilling through the slats of the opened window, as the sensation that a puddle of thick, black tar had begun encircling my feet. This wasn’t a physical sensation, but rather a purely mental one. I feared that hours would tick by as I stood frozen like a mammoth at the La Brea Tar Pits while my kitchen morphed into that place that so many of my ADD clients know all too well, the place I call The Land of Resistance. My mug of coffee grew lukewarm as I stood there with the sunshine warming my pajama sleeve. I wasn’t budging, not the slightest move; I was most definitely there. Over time, an ADDer comes to recognize this place more readily. For those of you who are sick and tired of being swept into this nasty place and suffering from its ugly consequences, such as missing deadlines, not completing assignments, or tripping over mounds of dirty laundry on the floor, I bring good news: there is a way out.
Know Where You Are and Get the Heck Out
In order to flee the Land of Resistance, you need to know that you’re there and then you get the heck out. The first step is self-awareness. That’s a tough one for those of us with ADD. We tend to notice every sound, smell, and moving thing (SQUIRREL!) before we remember that we’re also in the room, but it can be done. The trick is to use the second step, pausing, which goes hand-in-hand with self-awareness. We need to learn to stop what we’re doing so that we can check in with ourselves.
Pause? I have ADD!
How does someone with ADD possibly pause you ask? Strategies! One is to set an alarm to go off periodically throughout the day. The message “Hey Kat!” pops up on my phone as my reminder to pause and ask myself how I’m doing, to see what I’m working on (or what I’m NOT working on), or to notice that I’m off playing with some other bad guy in the Land of Resistance. A similar but slightly different strategy is to have someone, such as a friend or coach, give you a call or text randomly throughout the day or week to remind you to check in with yourself. Another way to remember to pause it to use “triggers.” Triggers are things like hearing your dog bark, getting a text, or walking into a different room. Each time your chosen trigger occurs, pause for a moment to check in with yourself. After some time using strategies like these, you’ll begin to check in with yourself more regularly and get yourself set to move in the right direction.
When you’ve learned to catch yourself in the Land of Resistance, you can leave. In order to leave, you need to take a step. Yes, you just read, “take a step,” not “run a marathon.” This is one of the best secrets that I share with my clients, and I love to watch their squished up tight faces relax into a smile when I tell them this part. Really, all you have to do is one small thing. Pick ONE thing that you can do toward that thing you are dreading. You don’t have to slay the monster with one rock. For instance, people often grumble, “I have to do my taxes” as if it’s one thing to do. That’s a monster. To do your taxes you have to do all sorts of little things; you have to get the tax forms, sort through your receipts, make a file with a pretty printed label that says, “2013 Taxes,” and more. Remember, everything we do is made up of lots of little tasks.
Grab a Pebble and Toss it
The Second Law of Motion states: “If an unbalanced force acts on a body, that body will experience acceleration, that is, a change of speed.” Once you’ve begun to move, you are on your way out of the Land of Resistance. Come on, who of you with ADD don’t love acceleration? Acceleration = becoming unstuck. After you experience the ease of being able to take one step, it will be easier to take the next one.
I challenge you to give this a try this week. Be sure to let me and my readers know how this goes for you by leaving us a comment below. And by all means, enlighten us with your own strategies to remind yourself to pause.