The Problem with Resolutions for ADHD People (or at least ADHD me)

Of course on this day, the word Resolution has greater import than normal. We ask each other what we are going to do for a New Year’s resolution. We even ask ourselves. Sometimes, often I think, what we tell others and what we tell ourselves may be very different.

Others:  I’m going to get in shape, I’m going to save money, I’m going to…

Ourselves: I’m going to get in shape (I hope), I’m going to save money (until something happens again), I’m going to try…

We (I) make blanket, positive self-affirming resolutions. “This is the year of ME!” “No more being too quiet.” “I’m going to get in the best shape of my life!” Are examples. The Black and White thinking that comes with those type of proclamations. That I must NEVER be quiet again. I subscribe to that type of thinking.  Not the being quiet, which would suck but, the All or Nothing, which makes resolutions hard. I think a lot of ADHD people have this hurdle, but maybe it’s just me.

We make fun of the crowded gym (ruining OUR space if we were there before), and bet against others success, instead of encouraging them and at least trying. I had decided to not do the “get in shape with everyone else on January 1, and had RESOLVED to go earlier. And somehow, never quite made it. I was sick. I got up late. I took too long to get something else done. But in the end, it didn’t get done.  I was the poster child of “Do Not” in Yoda’s admonishment of “Do. Or Do No. There is no try.” And in a lot of ways I use that to fight some of the ADHD thinking – I work hard to never say “I’ll do that later” as later has a nice ring to it that never seems to happen. So it’s either NOW, or a scheduled point in the future with time and date to do (not to try).

In terms of Resolutions, the New Year is an artificial trigger point. Nothing wrong with that. It’s a nice symbolism to get something to turn on. But I find for me, that too often, something will “Click” with me and I am now “On” – Fitness, Clean Eating, No Swearing (Ok that one’s a fucking lie, never happened). And just as suddenly, I’m “Off”.   The middle ground, much like Try, is missing. I get the black and white, I understand it, we’re old friends. It understands me, and that middle ground, just doesn’t work well for me. So when I drop that workout. I failed. When I eat that donut, I failed. Others say “Just start up again” but that isn’t as easy as it sounds when you feel you failed so utterly. One donut in one day may as well be 365 donuts in 365 days…so guess what? “Fuck it.” (Not the donut, the bothering with trying) And so throughout the year, I have a lot of “Resolutions.” That don’t quite make it. Some do. But enough don’t and the black and white monster is usually rearing its ugly head.

As I started writing this, I looked up the word Resolution. (as a side note, I was proud of myself, because I didn’t get distracted and end up on a Wikipedia Linked Article Safari for the three hour tour, I just stuck to the definition)  One of the Synonyms stuck with me. Intention.  And while I know some people view that as a positive word, much like Resolution, or Purpose. I find it negative.  There is as much evil in that word as there are hookers at the Republican (or Democrat) National Convention. Most of those hookers are in three-piece suits, by the way.

Intentions are evil. As in the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Or the “But I intended to…”  I have a lot of those. Intentions. In fact, for a long time I would wash my laundry but be in such a rush, it would stay in a ball thrown on top of my ironing board. When I needed the ironing board, the mound of clean clothes would move to the bed, and then hopefully make it back to the ironing board. I always “Intended” to put them away. A good friend quipped that I had an “Ironing board full of good intentions” That’s stuck with me. And while I still have good intentions, they aren’t AS wrinkled or piled as before. But I remind myself often of the “Ironing Board of Good Intentions” as it is a vivid picture for me.

Another part of the Resolution definition is “A firm decision to do or NOT DO something” (Yoda is the king of resolution).  In the general world, of America at least, there is a feeling that “NOT DO” is bad. But to me, I kind of like the idea of perhaps doing less, leaving things behind, divesting.

So what do we (I) do about Black and White Thinking (Success and Failure) and Intentions/Resolutions. This is not a good mix, in my already foggy head.  I still have trouble with Black and White, even while recognizing this limitation of mine.

A favorite book of mine recently is the wonderfully simple (unlike life in general) “The Four Agreements.” Agreement Four is my favorite. “Always do your Best.” Sounds black and white. But then Ruiz (the author) explains it in a manner that means the world to me – Your best can change from day to day. If you are sick, clearly you cannot do as well as the day before. It removes the black and white and makes it a little murky but still each day you can ask yourself “Did I do my Best for what I could do Today.”

And this is where I can do a resolution. The Intention. Do my best. Doesn’t mean I will always do well. But as well as I can for that day.

So for one day, I willl cut down (quit?) drinking the nectar of the gods. (Diet Coke)

And for one day, I will be more active.

And for one day I can divest, reduce, leave behind a bit.

…as best i can.

And if you can do that to…well David Bowie had it right.

We can be Heroes. Just for one Day.






2 responses to “The Problem with Resolutions for ADHD People (or at least ADHD me)”

  1. iSabell Avatar

    I think you can ditch the ironing board all-together and just have a closet full of clothing that requires “no” ironing eh? Maybe throw out all the ideas that others have for resolution and find out what you really believe in. At least, that’s what I did. I haven’t ironed anything since college when I threw out the old wardrobe for a new one that fit me and my needs/habits better. This may sound like a cop-out, but hey, I’m so much happier now that I’ve thrown out everyone’s ideas of what I should resolve to do or be and just… was/am. After all, next year is just another day in the line-up of never-ending days.

    1. Erik K. Avatar
      Erik K.

      Isabell, yes the rule is to simplify and divest for me. But as with concepts, they are easy to understand but possibly harder to do. Hopefully I will continue to do so. (and maybe others seek to simplify and divest). And yes, my resolution list is light for the now.

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