Have you ever stopped in your tracks and thought?
“What did I do well today?”,
“Did I do something of value?”,
“What are the small wins?”.
Society by nature focuses on the negatives. There’s more emphasis on our failures than our successes. Add ADHD into the mix and the list only gets longer. Years of not matching up and being unable to do even the most trivial of things can take a toll on us. All that baggage surely adds up.
Think of your daily life as a backpack. Each time we are faced with disappointment or failure, we toss it into that backpack. The weight on our shoulders gets heavier as more and more are tossed inside as if bricks are being filled into a bag. Years of doing so and we end up with heavy baggage that becomes a part of our daily life. It may be hard to continue, but we muster our strength to keep going.
Once, a professional asked me about the daily ADHD challenges I face, and my response lasted about 3 hours with no break for a breath! When asked about the positives, there I was at a loss for words. It was as if I had been asked the most challenging question. My backpack was filled with bricks and there was barely any room for the good things. If anything, they were surely hard to find. I remember going home and thinking there must be things I’ve managed to draw from. I, however, had not been able to recall them at all.
During my ADHD coach training, we had to keep a success journal. We were asked to list our accomplishments or things in life that brought us joy. I remember going completely blank as if I was waiting at a doctor’s office. Then slowly, I started to recall them. One by one, I listed them down and out it all came like a flowing flood. Five pages in and I was unstoppable! Once a week, I added to the book and a few months in, I had the whole thing filled up! Some were small successes that made more frequent appearances while others were bigger and stood out more, and the best part was that all of it was me!
When I had to write in my success journal, I was stuck at the beginning just after two days. What eventually helped me move forward was something new that I had decided to try out …
… introducing, THE MAGICAL THINGS
The magical things consist of us. Our wins, goals, thoughts, acknowledgements, accounts of joy, and all things unique to us. No rules apply and nothing listed down would be perceived as invalid. There’s no comparison to others. Here, we consider every list to be unique because we are all different!
One of my magical elements was that I got out of bed. Another was that I managed to run 5km. Another was doing the washing. These were small wins I was proud of. After a while, all these elements fused to form little clouds that helped to carry the all too familiar bricks out of my backpack. I slowly started feeling lighter as I kept listing my wins and reflected upon my days. The more evidence I had that I was achieving these little wins and how my days were going, the more the clouds formed to carry away my troubles.
Yes, everyone faces troubles, and you never know how much baggage someone is carrying; however, when ADHD comes into the picture, the backpack gets heavier and there’s a lot more resistance. What helps to make it lighter on you is when you reflect and realize what’s working best for you and what you’re achieving. Put them on paper and do it regularly so that you can always look back.
Researchers have found that people who reflected on their day were 23% more productive than those who did not. When you reflect on your days, you begin to learn more about yourself. You start to realize that you have what it takes to get things done and hence, improve your self-efficacy. Once you believe that you can do something, the process of getting it done becomes easier and for someone with ADHD, this can make a huge difference.
How I listed my magical things:
I wrote down my lists in bullet points on a tiny notepad using colourful markers to make things more fun. Once a week, I wrote for 5 minutes or spontaneously reflected whenever I needed to. Simply repeating these small steps helped me to take the weight off my shoulders. It allowed me to trust myself and believe that I can get things done.
Here are my top I’s to creating the “magical things” list:
Find the method that works for you: I like to list down my magical things on paper but if you’d prefer to draw, journal or record audio, go for it! What’s important here is the concrete evidence you record that can be referred to.
Little but often: Record the magic little but often. When asked to write five pages in the journal, the task can feel heavy like a brick. Make it feel like a cloud instead; make the process seamless and easy. Find some time once a day, every few days, or even just once a week to record the magic.
The more, the better: Keep going and record the wins, big or small. Record as many things that make you happy and help to validate who you are!
Remind yourself: Use the list often to reflect on yourself or as reminders when needed. Find a page, read a win and recall the feeling you felt then
Start forming the clouds: After recording your wins comes recollecting them. Start to remind yourself of the good and embrace them so that you can let go of the negatives. Form those clouds that can carry away the weight of the bricks, one at a time!
Remember, even on the hardest and heaviest of days, there is always some magic that can make things brighter. The magic that makes you unique can always shine through.
You have got this! What was your win today?