Can you think of a time when you were worrying about an issue, but not doing anything about it? Just worrying…
I mean the kind of worrying that seems to take over your brain; it is like a record that is stuck playing over and over again. Some call it ruminating or perseverating. Maybe you are even doing this right now.
If you are an adult with ADHD, you can’t afford to rent out this valuable real estate in your head. You have too much on your plate that you want to accomplish to devote your time and energy to just worrying.
If you feel stuck and are tired of thoughts flooding your mind, there really are steps you can take to make a molehill out of what seems to be a mountain
Maybe you are not ready to create a solution for whatever is worrying you. Maybe you just want to talk and be heard. That is ok. Let your family member, friend, coach or therapist know that is what you need.
And when you are ready to be more proactive, you may ask for help looking at your thoughts more critically. Often it helps to process aloud with the help of someone else. Below are some ways to do this.
Is It A Problem?
The first step is to figure out if it is something that needs a solution.
Sometimes the answer to our problems is a change in our perspective. Remember the serenity prayer?
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Of course, things are not often black and white; you will need to decide what you want to work on changing and what you want to accept.
So, ask yourself: “Do I want to devote the time and energy necessary to resolving this or do I want to adopt the attitude of “it is what it is.”
The time and energy we spend worrying about an issue is not necessarily directly correlated to its magnitude.
So, if you find yourself spending a great deal of time worrying about even relatively smaller issues and it is affecting your ability to attend to what you really want to do, the first step is to create a plan to address it.
For example, maybe you are worrying about particular emails that you have been putting off responding to. You may be procrastinating because:
- you don’t know how to respond.
- you think it might cause you more work.
- you are frustrated with the sender.
We’ve all had emails like this.
Time to create a plan and move forward. Your plan might include:
- setting a goal of sending some sort of response within 24 hours
- opening it, if you have not yet
- figuring out what the sender is really requesting
- asking clarifying questions of the sender, if you are unclear about any part of it
- finding out more information from others, if needed
- writing a draft, but waiting 24 hours to send, if you feel it would be good to review
- asking for help
Having a plan can help stop the thoughts from just swirling about in your head and get you into action.
Sometimes your worries are not about specific tasks, like responding to emails, but about larger life issues.
However small or large your worry, knowing that you can figure it out, can help minimize the amount of time you spend worrying about it.
Below are some examples of statements you may make and questions you can ask yourself to begin to be more proactive about an issue.
“I can’t do____ well.”
Is this something that I want to learn how to do better? If it is, what resources can I access so I can learn to do “it” better.
“I have too much to do and I’ll never get everything done. I don’t even have time to spend with my family and friends.”
What are my priorities? What do I want to keep on my plate or put on my “maybe someday” list? Alternatively, are there tasks I can delete because I really don’t intend on doing them? Do I need to support to figure this out?
“I hate my job…”
What is bothering me about my job? Is there something that I have control over that I can change to make my job better for me? Am I willing to have a conversation with my boss or colleague to try to address the issue that is bothering me?
If the issue that is bothering me is not within my control or I don’t want to address it, do I want to work on “accepting what is”? Is it time to make a graceful exit?
When you have a plan you will feel more in control of the situation and less reactive.
Willing To Experiment
But, of course, even if you have a plan, you are not in control of all of the factors involved in a successful outcome.
And sometimes wanting the perfect outcome may keep you stuck from even trying to resolve an issue you are worrying about. Seeing your plan as an experiment can help you not be attached to the plan itself and more willing to try and change course, if necessary.
ADDed Perspectives Bottom Line
Just as Rome was not built in a day, many problems are not solved in a day.
Of course, it takes time and energy to be thoughtful about how you want to address your worries. And, as an adult with ADHD, you may feel like you don’t have time to plan. After all, you already feel that you have too much on your plate, right?
If this is the case for you, it is helpful to think about how worrying robs you of the time you could be spending on your personal and professional pursuits. What if you used this time to create a plan forward?
Though it might be nice to become worry free, for most of us this is not a realistic goal. But you can spend less time just having troublesome thoughts swirl about in your head.