For many a diagnosis of ADHD in themselves or their child can lead to anxiety about being labeled as deficient or different. Others actually welcome the diagnosis because it provides an explanation of symptoms they have experienced but they might also worry about being stereotyped. While there are challenges to ADHD and the focus is often on the weaknesses there are many strengths that individuals with ADHD have and can utilize to balance the difficulties. Harnessing these strengths can help mitigate the stigma of ADHD and can help in the development of strategies to help with weaknesses. This strategy is not meant to ignore or “spin” the challenges but to show that there are positive attributes that should be fostered as a part of managing ADHD symptoms.
Harnessing Your Strengths
Hyperactivity is a common symptom of ADHD and can lead an individual to be in constant motion which might cause difficulty at school or work. On the other hand, the high energy level of these individuals is greater than average and is beneficial when connected to a creative, athletic or other constructive outlet. Many famous performers, athletes and business owners identify as ADHD and have used this challenge constructively. A few examples are singers Adam Levine and Justin Timberlake , baseball star Shane Victorino and entrepreneurs Richard Branson and JetBlue founder David Neeleman. Finding an outlet for this energy that is meaningful to the individual will help direct it in a positive way. At times children with ADHD are kept in from recess, gym or sports as a punishment when giving them this outlet to expend energy is exactly what helps them focus.
Impulsivity is another common ADHD symptom and is characterized by taking action without thinking of the outcome. While there is certainly a downside to this tendency it also leads to greater creativity. An individual who is impulsive is willing to try new ways of doing something without getting weighed down by what if’s and other limiting thoughts. Many who are impulsive are also curious and this strength opens up possibilities, creates idea generation and lends to developing innovative solutions. Walt Disney said “When you’re curious, you find lots of interesting things to do.”
Daydreaming can also be a symptom of ADHD but the strength which corresponds is the ability to let the mind imagine and dream. Einstein stated that “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere”. The ability to imagine and come up with “outside of the box” ideas is a strength that can help lead to new inventive ways to create solutions or develop new ideas. Intuition is also usually keen in many with ADHD which allows for creating and inventing as well.
Many with ADHD hyper-focus which can a challenge in some situations but can also a benefit because this focus will allow them to stay with an assignment until it is finished. Other strengths that are common to those with ADHD are a keen sense of humor, resilience, ingenuity, willingness to take risks , persistence and spontaneity.
Not Ignoring Weaknesses
Exploring strengths is not meant to deny the challenges of ADHD. Weaknesses if not addressed can make it hard to reach our potential. Following a diagnosis of ADHD it is important to look at all available treatment options including medication, therapy, ADHD coaching, brain training, special diets among other treatments. However it is also important to recognize that identifying and using strengths can help in the long term management of symptoms and can help reduce negative self perception. Not sure of what your strengths are? Contact me for a complimentary session to help identify and use your strengths.