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Facing the Fear of Change: Why ADHD Makes it More Difficult to Navigate

Facing my emotions has never been easy for me, but the fear of change I would have to say is one of the worst. I don’t like to sit with uncomfortable emotions, it makes me feel queasy and uncomfortable in my skin and I won’t tolerate it. I have ADHD and sitting isn’t easy for me period, but sitting in discomfort is almost impossible. And making major decisions has never been something I’m good at accomplishing. It’s much more simple to just stay the course, keep doing what I’m doing.

As I get older I realize that fear and discomfort are where all the good stuff happens. It’s where you get the change that gives you what you really want in life. And I want so much more! I needed to face my fear of change to get what I want.

F.E.A.R has two meanings:

“Forget everything and run” OR “Face everything and change”

The choice is yours!

Zig Ziglar

As a kid, ADHD was more like ten mac trucks rolling around in my brain. I couldn’t sit and listen to all the little distractions, I needed to move and rid myself of the noise that would never end. When my plans would change or my pattern would get disrupted I would freak out and shut down.

As an adult, I have learned to cope. Now the noise is more like twenty TVs all talking to me at the same time. If I try real hard I can focus on one voice, but it takes some doing. Day-to-day tasks are usually fine, and once I’m in a routine it’s great, I have no problems living my daily life. When a sudden change happens it throws me for a loop. That uncomfortable feeling comes back and I feel like I have to run! The focus gets smashed and the noise rushes in.

In the past, I would push that fear and those feelings deep down and ignore it. I would do all I could to right the ship and get it back to “normal”. I could never face my fear of change. In the last few years, I have just begun to feel the feels and let the emotions make me uncomfortable. I have begun to purposefully disrupt my norm and get into the fear of it all.

Why does ADHD make it different?

For me, the more decisions I have the harder it is to narrow on a sound choice. It’s like if someone gave you the choice of any dessert you wanted if you like that sort of thing, and you could only choose one, but they are all so great. Or even bigger, a trip to one country, when you want to go to ten. Choosing is the hard part.

When you have ADHD your self-esteem isn’t always intact. It starts early, when you get in trouble at pre-school for going your own way, then in elementary school when you can’t sit still or follow along, then in Jr. High and high school when you get in trouble for talking or acting out. It isn’t an easy path, especially growing up in the ’80s when people didn’t really understand ADHD or how to deal with it. My teachers weren’t always kind, leaving my ego bruised and battered. So when you get to the point where you have to make decisions you don’t feel competent to do so and then mixing that with the cacophony of noise you are unable to filter out of your brain. It cripples you.

Then there’s the flip side, thinking about all the horrible things that could go wrong. Your brain runs away with all the crazy and doesn’t stop. How do I face this fear of change? The what if’s all wrapped up in tragedy and horror. I live through all the possibilities in full graphic detail in my mind. Who might get hurt, what will get ruined, what will get broken, how will we make it through? It shuts me down, paralyzes me into inaction. So I retreat back to the safety of my routines, not stepping outside the easy lines, even though I know all the good stuff happens on the other side of fear.

This is how I learned to move forward and face the fear!

Thank goodness I have an amazing husband who encourages me to do things I am passionate about. He supports me in my search for change. He helps me research ways to face those fears and people to listen to or read. I’m lucky, I know this! One of the people he has led me to is Tim Ferris. We discovered him about eight years ago when we read his book “The Four Hour Workweek.” So many great ideas on how to move yourself to a more fulfilling life.

The biggest help we found from Tim Ferris is his exercise called fear setting. HERE is a link that explains it more fully. But essentially it is a three-part written exercise. The first page is where you take action. You list everything about the idea that scares you. Next, you prevent by taking the fears you listed and explore ways you can reduce the likelihood of the worst of your fears from happening. Then, you repair those fears by writing out ways you could repair the damage if the worst of your fears came true. Then you score the idea from 1-10. 1 being minimal life change to 10 being a permanent life-altering in a big way.

The second page is like a journal. You consider the possible benefits of taking the action. All that could go right. What you would benefit from taking the action. Look at all the positives that could come even if you just attempt the idea. Again, rate the idea 1-10.

The last page is to more fully explore the consequences of inaction. What could fail to happen, financially, emotionally, and physically if you don’t take action in 3 months, 6 months, or a year. Do it for each time horizon. HERE is a link to a worksheet to help you get started.

You got this!

I have to say doing this has helped me narrow down big decisions and face those fears that tend to break you down. The last few years I have been trying to boldly move through the fear that has crippled me in the past, I want to live bold and courageous. I want to live the full life for myself and my kids. I want to get to the good stuff on the other side. This is where I began!

Here is another article you might like. The Benefit of Trying New Things

Riki Urban

Riki grew up in Colorado, enjoying the outdoors and the mountains. She is an openminded straight talker, sometimes to a fault, who is constantly striving to better understand herself and her family. She is mother of three teenagers, and a wife of 21 years, married to a Ft. Collins native. She is a fiction writer of three, soon to be, published books, she has been writing for five years. Riki and her family are making use of the pandemic and decided to buy a camper and travel around the U.S. with her family, expanding the pleasures of hiking and sleeping under the stars. She realizes this could be the most amazing thing she has ever done or a total disaster. Riki hopes to inspire and laugh along with you as she shares her struggles of growing up with ADHD and raising a child with ADD. Along with striving for more compassion and empathy for the world and herself. She is delighted, and a bit petrified, to be a part of the incredible We Spot Community.

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