If you are an adult with ADHD, you probably have countless examples of times when you wish you were more intentional.
Maybe you spoke or acted sooner than you would have liked – you were impulsive. Alternatively, your daily planning consisted of whatever came to mind.
So, after the fact you end up thinking…
- “I wish I wouldn’t have said that. I was just upset about…”
- “I really don’t have time to do that. Why did I promise…?”
- “I can’t believe I did that! It would have been better to…”
- “It is already 6:00 pm. I meant to…”
For all of these instances and more I want to introduce you to the power of the pause.
You will find many uses for it. Promise.
Managing Your Emotions
Challenges managing your emotions, like anger, is one of the hallmark symptoms of ADHD.
A pause can help.
The first step to incorporating a pause is both acknowledging that you are less likely to respond the way you want when you are angry and deciding that you want to be more intentional about how you communicate your anger.
Then, in order to stop before it is too late, the next step is to be aware of the physical warning signs. The cue. You know… the knot in your stomach, buzz in your head, the clenched teeth, etc.
So, when you feel anger welling up inside you, you can decide to pause and plan how you want to respond. Because when you do this you can be more intentional and in control.
Doing What Is Important
How about being more intentional in your day to day activities?
It can feel at times as though you have to just “do, do, do” just to keep up with everything on your plate. The danger is that, in the daily rush, you may end up being busy, but not necessarily doing what is truly important to you.
I’m sure you already know that planning will help you achieve your goals. But, when you think of taking the time to plan, thoughts like, “I don’t have the time now” go through your head.
So, how do you commit to taking the time?!
The secret is trusting that pausing (often) and planning will likely save you time and energy. The hard part is to believe this before you have the actual evidence that this is true. Not easy, especially when you are already feeling overwhelmed.
Try carving out some time to pause and plan daily and weekly for a few weeks.
The evidence of its usefulness will follow… And I bet you will have an easier time committing to pausing and planning on a regular basis.
Having A Conversation
Another place where a pause can be really helpful is in conversations.
Conversations can also be a challenge for some adults with ADHD…
- The give and take can feel like you are following a bouncing ball, and you just can’t catch it. So, maybe you end up not participating.
- Alternatively, you may talk too much or ask endless questions. It could be your impulsivity at play. Another possible reason for this is that when you are in control of the conversation you don’t have to worry about the back and forth.
Hmmm… Do either of these ring true for you sometimes?
If you know this is your tendency and you want to be able converse differently in certain context…
- Instead of jumping in when there is a lull in the conversation, practice pausing and allow the other person to pick up the conversation. It will take time to get comfortable with this.
- When the other person is speaking, take a beat – pause. Instead of thinking about what you want to say next, really listen. Acknowledge what they are saying and ask questions that draw out their story.
It could look like this:
Steve: Wow, work is really hard. I have this one project… (lull in conversation)
Cory: Hmm…(pause) Sounds rough. What’s up?
Steve: Well… (tells story)
Cory: I have been in a similar situation. What are you are you going to do about yours?
Steve: I don’t know. What did you do?
Notice how in the above scenario Cory did not launch into his own story when there was a lull in the beginning or when Steve’s story reminded him of his own work woes.
This is not easy and might be uncomfortable in the beginning, but with practice you can become better at pausing and engaging in conversations the way you want, when you want.
Questions For You
Full speed ahead may be you modus operandi now. But pausing can help you to be intentional and really operate the way you want.
Where are you going to pause today? In what way will pausing help you?