ADHD and Radical Acceptance:Ellen’s Discovery

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Boulevard Décarie Montreal, Quebec, Canada, H4A 3J7
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Ellen is a high-performer, but she doesn’t always see herself that way.

On a good day, she knows in her bones that she can be the professional she wants to be.

On a bad day, she identifies with every ADHD symptom she dislikes. It’s as if she IS the symptom. She’ll say, ‘‘It leaked through.” The mask dropped and the ADHD showed.

The twin behaviours of adult ADHD – distractibility and reactivity – undermine her best efforts. When they threaten to show up, she wants with all her might to cover them up. They’re the opposite of how she wants to show herself to the world. She’ll say, “I don’t ever want to experience that again!”

Hiding these symptoms has literally been the fight of her life.

When Ellen talks about her struggle, you can hear the pain in her voice. There’s an intensity, a repudiation of behaviours she doesn’t respect or approve of.

Over the years, this fight has solidified into a self-concept that says her wins were only in spite of herself, not because of herself – her talents, innate intelligence and drive.

Have you been in a fight with your own ADHD symptoms?
Have you been trying to hide them?

Ellen’s life-long default pattern was to take action – any action – to cover up what was going on inside of her. This ‘faux productivity’ was exhausting her. Even worse, it was blocking her from seeing how chaotic and unproductive she actually was.

Today, as she wrestled with this pattern of ‘againstness’, she asked me, “𝐈𝐟 𝐟𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐢𝐬𝐧’𝐭 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠, 𝐰𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥?”

She decided she was ready to do something radically different.

Become who you were always meant to be.

Let’s take the first step together.
Radical Acceptance
The opposite of fighting one’s experience is to accept it all – radically. Only then can we make the changes we yearn for.

But for Ellen, the idea of radically accepting ADHD in her life felt counter-intuitive. She thought she’d have to give up her dream of reaching the heights of her profession. She thought radical acceptance would mean letting herself off the hook.

Ellen asked me, “How will I balance my self-concept with my career? Does this mean I have to accommodate, delegate, make excuses for myself?”

Do you hear the assumptions inside her questions? They reveal an underlying belief that she’s not enough as she is.

This isn’t surprising. By always comparing herself to neurotypical professionals, she was setting herself up to appear ‘less than’. There was no way she could win!

I invited her to slow it all down.

I asked her, “What if all you had to do was to accept – everything? As it is?”

Ellen’s shoulders visibly relaxed. Her face softened.

Instead of fighting her reality, she allowed herself to BE with her experience. She accepted all of it as it was – just for that moment. And in that moment, there was nothing ‘to do’.

As she allowed herself to do the opposite of what she had been habituated to doing, she discovered that the chronic aversion she’d been experiencing seemed to melt away.

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In that moment, Ellen experienced an expansion of possibility, freedom from judgment and reactivity.

She discovered that in this place, she could access her inner resources. She was able to choose the most strategic actions.

Acceptance is just a way of being in a given moment.

Try it on
If you feel ready to explore Radical Acceptance in your life, ask yourself:

Who would I be if I knew that the ADHD was just a part of my experience?

What part of me already knows this is true?

What choices would I make if I knew I was already wise — in my deepest self?

With love and gratitude,

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