I realized that I forgot one really important piece in yesterday’s ADHD Life Hacks post. As good as any system that I develop for myself is – I recognize that adaptation will be regularly necessary.
Being a person with ADHD – I easily fall into the all or nothing zone. Take journaling for example – I journaled 21 days in a row recently, and then I missed a day. Guess what?!?! Haven’t touched it since. I’m really good at doing things perfectly and consistently up until the moment I quit forever.
It’s not surprising – this is a really common struggle for the neruodiverse crew.
Many of the constructs that shape our perception of the world exist as dueling binaries: good & evil, male & female, black & white, all or nothing, Republican or Democrat. Because of this many people develop the tendency to sort their world into either/or piles.
One of the most common behavioral manifestation of this is my pattern: bouncing between striving for perfection & complete disengagement. (And let me tell you, that makes it really hard to achieve any type of growth/success in a capitalistic society.)
The key to combatting this all/nothing dilemma is to practice living in the grey
(also referred as Walking the Middle path in DBT).
To move away from that dualistic place we must begin to see life as a spectrum. When we get too close to either endpoint (on any spectrum but especially all/nothing), then we’re likely off balance. The closer we can find ourselves to the middle – the more balance we achieve in life.
I have experienced creative & therapeutic burnout at times. The way I’m wired, in the society we live in – it wouldn’t be realistic for me to think I won’t experience this again in the future. Thus I’ve accepted burnout is a vulnerability I should have a game plan for.
During these phases my urge is to completely shut down. To go to that place of zero productivity. But I have learned if I allow this to happen, I will spend my entire life playing catch up.
When I have the urge to completely disengage – I adjust my standard to one more reasonable to my current emotional / mental / physical state.
I said in my last post I aim to accomplish 5 tasks per week day (or about 30 tasks per week). When I’m in burnout that number might get reduced to 14 – two tasks every day.
This works on 2 levels psychologically:
- It’s the bare minimum to maintain my life. It in no way provides the necessary momentum for growth, but it will protect me from having a huge undertaking to dig myself out of.
2. Rarely do I ever just accomplish two things in a day. Once I have engaged to do that much, then I’ll likely naturally build on that momentum. I hold myself accountable to the two things that are the most urgent. Accomplishing those necessary tasks will release reward chemicals in the brain increasing motivation to engage in other tasks.
When that brain boost doesn’t result in extra productivity, that’s ok too! I still have a success I can claim for the day.
During these periods – I also practice a lot of non-judgmental stance. I do not beat myself up for being human. If there is a time where just keeping my head above water is the goal, then that is an acceptable and achievable standard.
I’m not going to live my whole life in this place. It would be stagnant and disheartening. And life has taught me that the cycle will pass. A reminder that on the upswings – we should still aim for balance in our lives. When feeling motivated and creative and productive – it is imperative to not fall too far down any one rabbit hole. Getting tunnel vision can lead to just as many consequences as completely shutting down.
So we walk towards the middle, and we adjust ourselves as we go, and we adjust ourselves as we go, so forth and so on…
Namaste my loves 💗
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