We all think about making changes. And, when you have ADHD, the thoughts may come fast and furious. But, which ones do you act upon?
As is customary, recently, many people made New Year’s Resolutions. If you did, how is it going?
Last year around this time, I wrote about the necessity of creating the right conditions for following through on your resolutions. If you haven’t read it, yet, here it is: Happy New Year! It’s An Idea, A Wish, A Resolution – You Decide…
I typically do not make resolutions at this time of year because it just seems, well, arbitrary. If I am not ready to make a change on January 1st, I imagine I will feel like Sisyphus in my efforts to create the right environment.
And I am not a fan of rolling rocks up hills or taking arbitrary actions. I am sure you are not either!
ADHD and the Six Stages of Change Model
Carlo C. DiClemente and J. O. Prochaska’s Six Stages of Change model is the perfect tool to gain clarity on your readiness to make a change regarding your understanding and management of your ADD.
The Six Stages of Change:
- Precontemplation – you deny that your ADD symptoms are problematic or that you even have ADD and avoid change
- Contemplation – you are willing to consider that that your ADD symptoms are problematic and change may be necessary
- Determination – you are committed to change and start making plans to understand and manage your ADD
- Action – you implement your plans
- Maintenance – you are building new habits and addressing any relapses to old habits
- Termination – you have reached the desired change and no longer have to put any effort into making a change
By knowing which stage you are at, you can determine what actions to take and what support you need to move forward.
Trying to take action or to enlist support before you are really ready to commit to change can feel like a futile effort and be extraordinarily frustrating.
ADHD and the Precontemplation Stage
In the Precontemplation stage, we are not ready to make any changes. In fact, in this stage, we deny that we have any problems. So, of course we have no need to make any changes.
Dr. DiClemente identified four reasons: reluctance, rebellion, resignation and rationalization.
If you are reluctant to acknowledge your ADD challenges, you simply may not understand the impact it is having on your life. Alternatively, it may be a matter of inertia; you just do not have to the motivation to seek out more information.
You may be very committed, even if it is to your detriment, to continuing to live your life on your own terms. You view the idea of needing to change with suspicion, and you rebel by resisting the idea that you may have ADD.
If you have been diagnosed later in life, or are first getting a glimmer that you may have ADD, you may have dealt with a lifetime of frustrations and challenges. So, it is typical – and understandable – that you are not ready to jump on the “change band wagon” right away.
Instead, although you may be overwhelmed, you may have given up hope that anything can get better and you are resigned to living your life the way it is. I hope that is not the case for you. Because it can get better.
Maybe you have decided that your ADD is just not a problem for you. You may rationalize that your ADD symptoms are a problem for others, and that you have no need to change. Then, again, if that is the case, you are probably not reading this.
You Are Where You Are
And – it’s ok. This model is not about making judgments. If you are in the Precontemplation stage, that is where you are right now. When you are ready, and possibly with support, you will move to the next stage.
As I often say, less is more.
So, I will leave you with the questions below to think about this first stage.
- Were you ever in denial and unwilling to accept that your ADD symptom were problematic for you?
- If you were being forced by external forces to make a change before you were ready, what did it feel like?
- What was it that motivated you to consider making a change?
I think that this information is so rich and valuable that I’ve decided to go a bit deeper than usual. I will be writing about the next stages in a series of upcoming articles.
Please stay tuned for next week’s installation.